The series we’ve all been waiting for is here, the Vegas Golden Knights vs. the Colorado Avalanche for the West Division Finals. I’ve been anticipating this series the entire season and think could end up being the best series of the entire playoffs and the winner of this series goes on to win the Stanley Cup.
During the regular season, these two powerhouse teams ended the season tied on points for the best in the NHL with the Avs winning the President’s Trophy solely based on a tiebreaker. In games against each other during the regular season, both teams went 4-4 with five of those games determined by just a goal. Vegas shut out Colorado in two games with a 1-0 win and 3-0 win and the Knights only edged out the Avs on total goals for the regular season in games between them 18-17. So they played very tight.
To get here, the Avalanche cruised through the first round, sweeping the Blues in an easy series, winning by at least three goals in all four games. Vegas had a much harder matchup in the first round against the fiesty Minnesota Wild where it took a full seven games to put them away. The Wild were a scary team coming into the playoffs so it didn’t surprise me that the series went a whole seven in a defensive and goaltending clinic by both teams. Vegas turned on the scoring later in the series and the addition of Max Pacioretty in the lineup sparked some scoring in their dominant 6-2 win.
Statistically both of these teams are powerhouses and two of the best in all of the NHL. Colorado was first in the NHL in goals for, averaging 3.52 goals per game. Vegas was pretty close behind them, third in the show, averaging 3.39 per game. On the other end of the ice, both teams were just as stellar. The Golden Knights backed by Marc Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, led all of hockey with allowing an average of only 2.18 goals per game. Colorado has an awesome back end as well and they were third in the NHL, allowing an average 2.36 per game. Interestingly, Colorado and Vegas both had a 1.27 goal differential for the season.
During the first round of the playoffs, both of Fleury and Grubauer were fantastic in goal. Flower averaged on 1.71 goals against and Grubauer was close behind him averaging 1.75. Nate MacKinnon, who’s by far the best player remaining in the playoffs, leads the playoffs with six goals while only having played four games.
Like I said earlier, I think these are the best two teams in all of hockey this season and the winner of this series goes on to win the Stanley Cup. I banked on that earlier in the season and got two unit futures on each of these teams at nice prices of +700 for Vegas and +650 on Colorado. I gained a ton of value on those with the Avs now at +200 to win it all and they pretty much hedge themselves having both teams.
I think the well rested Avs will have the slight advantage to win this series. Although I’d give Vegas the edge defensively, Colorado has the best scoring line in hockey and the best player in the playoffs. If this turns into an offensive battle, the Knights won’t be able to keep up with the Nate Dogg and Avs. I think the price on Colorado to win this series at -215 is way too high though for me to bet on it, so I’ll lay off betting the series and just stick to betting it game to game.
For Game 1, with Colorado at home on a full week’s rest where Vegas is on the road after a hard fought series and their Game 7 win less than 48 hours ago, I’ll go with the Avs to start the series with a win. I’ll take Colorado ML for a unit.
On the regular season series between these teams, under 5.5 was 6-2 with the defense playing a key factor. In the first round, Colorado’s offense shined against Binnington and the Blues and the over hit in three of those four games with the Avs scoring at least four goals in all of those games. The Vegas/Wild series trended under going 4-3. I’d lean the unders in this series but I want to see a few games first to see if they become offensive or defensive battles before jumping on either side of the over/unders.
2u Stanley Cup Champions: Vegas Golden Knights (+700)
2u Stanley Cup Champions: Colorado Avalanche (+650)
Game 1 Bets:
1u Colorado ML (-185)