NHL Playoffs 2021 Series Preview: Golden Knights vs. Canadiens

No one expected this series to happen but here we are for the Semi Finals of the NHL Postseason with the Vegas Golden Knights against the Montreal Canadiens for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. An original six team in the Habs vs. the league’s newest franchise in Vegas. 

Montreal was the worst team going into the playoffs playing in the very weak North Division. The Habs only won one more game than the Ottawa Senators and they wouldn’t have made the playoffs in any other division. The Golden Knights were on the opposite end of the spectrum and were only a tie breaker away from winning the President’s Trophy with the best regular season in all of hockey.

Vegas had a tougher route to get here, beating a very capable Minnesota Wild team in seven games in the first round and then only needing six games to knock off the President’s Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche, who were the Cup favorites going into the playoffs and going into the West Finals. 

Montreal got here by beating the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round as huge underdogs where Toronto blew a 3-1 lead. Then after a huge hit at the end of Game 1 on Jake Evans got Winnipeg’s best player in Mark Scheifele suspended for the rest of the series, the Habs shocked people again as they swept the Jets.

Vegas has been a wagon the whole season and I said several times throughout the year that the winner of the West out of the Golden Knights and the Avalanche, would go on to win the Stanley Cup. I still completely believe that. The Knights have been lead by incredible goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, getting scoring depth from all four lines and a great shut down defense. The Habs have also been lead by goaltending and Carey Price is proving that he’s worth the 11 million dollars per year that he’s getting paid.

I think though Montreal’s running into the end of their season in this series though. I think Vegas is the much better team in every aspect of the team and that the Knights end up winning this series in five games. I’ve said all year that I think the top of the West was the best in hockey and that the North Division has been awful. Since neither of these teams have played each other all year, this is where we find out how true that is. But on the playoffs alone, the fact that the Leafs lost in the first round to Montreal, a team that wasn’t good at all the entire regular season and Winnipeg swept the Oilers and then got swept by the Habs after a regular season that was all over the map for all of Canada, shows me that none of these teams have been good. Add to that, none of the Canadian teams have had fans in their buildings the entire season up until around 2500 fans last round in Bell Centre, while the Fortress in Vegas has had fans all season and for the playoffs has been the loudest building in hockey with a full capacity sold out barn. The Canadian government is allowing the Habs to travel back and forth from the US for this series, but I think that only hurts Montreal. When you haven’t had fans in the building for the whole season and then you have to deal with Vegas, that’s not going to end up good for the road team. Also, the Habs will be without Jeff Petry, by far their top defensemen who’s out with injury. 

Vegas is far better statistically than Montreal in all aspects of the game this season, averaging 3.39 goals per game vs. the Hab’s 2.77. Vegas is allowing less with a 2.18 goals against average vs. Montreal’s 2.89. 

Vegas is the better team here that played in the better division all year. As I said, I think the Knights win this series pretty easily. Although this should be a good goaltending battle between Price and Flower, Vegas’s offense and scoring depth will be what wins them this series. After Game 5 of the West Finals where Vegas beat Colorado in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead, I saw a ton of value in Vegas to advance to the Cup Finals at -150 and am glad I jumped on it for 2 units when I did because now, Vegas is an astounding -500 to win this series. I’m also going to add another 2 units with Vegas to win the series in six games or less.

I have futures on Vegas, Tampa and the Islanders all to win the Stanley Cup and with the way I structured it, I win 4.9 units if the Knights win the Cup. I’m riding that for this series and doing no hedges on Montreal to start. I just don’t see a way the Habs win the Cup. 

In Game 1, I think Vegas starts off the series with a big win at home, so I’ll take Vegas in regulation for 2 units. I’d lean the puck line and the under too but I’m not betting either of those.

Open Futures:

2u Stanley Cup Champions: Vegas Golden Knights (+700)

2u Stanley Cup Champions: Vegas Golden Knights (+185)

2u To Reach Stanley Cup Finals: Vegas Golden Knights (-150)

Series Bets:

2u Golden Knights to win series in six games or less (-186)

Game 1 Bets:

2u Vegas in regulation (-134)

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