- The Vegas Golden Knights have miraculously made the Stanley Cup finals in their first season in existence.
- The last obstacle for hockey’s biggest underdog is the Washington Capitals, a massively talented but historically underachieving group.
- Who’s the favorite, and which team will write the perfect ending to its storybook season?
As long as 500/1 to win the Stanley Cup at some sportsbooks entering their first season of play, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights are now just four wins away from making said sportsbooks pay a hefty price for their disbelief.
Holding a 6-1 record at T-Mobile Arena to go along with home-ice advantage in the finals, the Knights enter the 2018 Stanley Cup finals as slight favorites over the Eastern Conference champion Washington Capitals.
Before the series gets underway on Monday (May 28th, 8:00 PM ET), find all the information you need to make an informed wager, below, including a comparison of key statistics, a breakdown of the betting odds and trends, and our consensus pick for the series winner.
How They Got Here
While the Knights’ top line of Jonathan Marchessault (8 goals, 18 points), William Karlsson (6 goals, 13 points), and Reilly Smith (2 goals, 16 points) has been as lethal as any in the league this year, Vegas’ playoff train has been powered by the lights-out goaltending of Pittsburgh castoff Marc-Andre Fleury and his .947 SV%.
Fleury is surrendering fewer than two goals per game (1.68 GAA) and managed to quiet Winnipeg’s potent offense in the Western Conference finals, holding the Jets to just six goals over the final four games of the series, all Vegas wins.
But now Fleury may be facing his toughest test of all in the form of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and the quick-strike attack of the Capitals. Washington isn’t the dynamic offensive force it’s been in recent years — employing a much more balanced game-plan under Barry Trotz — but at the same time, still features the greatest goal-scorer of this generation, a host of other top-tier snipers, and a bottom six that is generating quality chances.
Kuznetsov (11 goals, 24 points) and Ovechkin (12 goals, 22 points) enter the finals sitting one-two in playoff scoring.
Goalie Braden Holtby has bounced back from an uncharacteristically poor regular season (2.99 GAA, .907 SV%) by going 12-6 with a 2.04 GAA and .924 SV% in the playoffs. Oh, and he also enters the finals on a 157-minute shutout streak, which includes blanking the NHL’s best offense (Tampa Bay) in both Game 6 and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
All statistics from 2018 playoffs unless otherwise indicated.
|2.87||GOALS FOR / GAME||3.47|
|1.80||GOALS AGAINST / GAME||2.47|
|-2.1||SHOT DIFFERENCE / GAME||+4.8|
|2-0-0||REGULAR-SEASON HEAD TO HEAD||0-2-0|
Betting Trends & Odds
|-140||ODDS TO WIN SERIES||+120|
|-128||GAME 1 MONEYLINE||+116|
|-1.5 (+205)||GAME 1 PUCKLINE||+1.5 (-245)|
|Over 5.5 (+110)||GAME 1 OVER/UNDER||Under 5.5 (-121)|
|Under 2||OVER/UNDER STREAK||Under 3|
MTS Consensus Pick
This is a tough series to handicap; it features one team that’s nearly unbeatable at home, thanks to a completely dominant goaltender, versus a team that’s (more recently been) nearly unbeatable on the road … thanks to a completely dominant goaltender.
Holtby’s play this postseason has been a tremendous feel-good story, given his prior lack of playoff success. But in reality, he was extremely lucky to post a shutout in Game 7 against Tampa Bay. The Bolts hit the iron multiple times and his subpar rebound control was constantly putting the puck back in dangerous areas.
We expect Washington to have a slight advantage during 5-on-5 play, and a more marked advantage on the power play, but not enough to make up for Vegas’ edge between the pipes.