- The Vegas Golden Knights will host the Montreal Canadiens as the teams begin their Stanley Cup Semifinal series at T-Mobile Arena.
- Vegas is heavily favored in the series and in Game 1.
- The Golden Knights are also the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
Although the world is slowly regaining some normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs still has some unusual characteristics. Most relevant to this series is the fact that these teams will be playing out of their division for the first time this season. Montreal even takes it a step further–Monday’s matchup at T-Mobile Arena will be the first time the Habs have played outside of Canada all season. Vegas will get their first taste of action ‘North of the Border’ for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday at the Bell Centre.
The ‘division only’ schedule for 2020-2021 along with the lack of common opponents makes this series a bit more difficult to handicap. The Golden Knights demonstrated their pedigree coming back from an 0-2 hole against the President’s Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche to win four straight and advance to this point. The question that is more salient–how good is Montreal? They clearly benefited from the ‘all-Canadian’ division but even so they didn’t exactly overwhelm this season going 24-21-11 for 59 points. That’s 23 fewer than the Golden Knights and were this an ‘ordinary season’ the Habs wouldn’t have even made the playoffs.
The disparity in regular season performance–along with the perception that Vegas is the best team remaining in the playoffs–means that if you want to get involved with the Golden Knights you won’t be getting any deals from bookmakers. At Circa Sports in Colorado, VGK is +100 to win the Stanley Cup ahead of Tampa Bay (+250), the New York Islanders (+400) and the Canadiens (+1250).
In Game 1, the Knights are also overwhelming favorites–and not just in Las Vegas. They’ve definitely been bet in their hometown with most books showing VGK at -270 or higher to win Game 1. They’re -280 at the SouthPoint, -275 at the Mirage, -280 at Caesars and -265 at the Westgate. Then again, they’ve been taking money everywhere. In Colorado, they are -262 at Circa Sports, -265 at Rivers, -280 at PointsBet, -263 at William Hill and Draft Kings and a whopping -280 at FanDuel. BetOnline.ag has VGK installed as a -262 favorite in Game 1. The puckline has Vegas -1.5 and +100 or +105 just about everywhere. The total on the game is 5.5 UN -125 or -130 depending where you’re playing.
There are no discounts for the series price either. Vegas is -520 at Circa to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals with takeback on Montreal at +410. At SouthPoint, Vegas is -550 with a +425 takeback on the Habs. SouthPoint opened Vegas at -420 but have taken a lot of money since.
Does Montreal have a chance? The way Carey Price has been playing between the pipes they definitely do. Here’s what VGK GM Kelly McCrimmon said about the series:
“I compare it a little bit to Minnesota when you look at the quality of those top four defensemen that Montreal have. … And then I think real good balance up front from the forward group. Confidence. Speed. Well coached by Dominique Ducharme. And those are things that I think we’ll need to deal with.”
Games 1 & 2 at the T-Mobile Arena will start at 6:00 PM Pacific/9:00 PM Eastern on Monday and Wednesday and be televised on the NBC Sports Network in the US. Games 3 and 4 are on Friday and Sunday at the Bell Centre starting at 5 PM Pacific/8 PM Eastern. Friday’s Game 3 will be on the USA Network while Game 4 will be back on NBCSN.