Despite many experts and pundits around hockey circles already anointing the Vegas Golden Knights as the Western Conference Champions, there’s still a series to get through.
Vegas got a steady dose of reality in Game 2 against a young and unafraid Canucks squad. Vancouver certainly doesn’t boast the depth of the Golden Knights, but their high-end skill can definitely pose issues.
Robin Lehner wasn’t all that great between the pipes in Vegas’ 5-2 loss in Game 2, and whispers have begun to circulate that the Knights could and should turn to longtime starter Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3. Expect confirmation of that about thirty minutes prior to puck drop.
Though Vegas remains the top 5v5 team left in the tournament, their conversion rate on high danger scoring issues remains a concern. They consistently control play, but should be running over teams like Vancouver that more often than not, cannot match up. The fact that the Knights are again stumbling early in the post-season, does raise some eyebrows.
In Game 3, the Canucks become the ‘home’ team with last change becoming a nice edge for Travis Green’s group. This will allow Vancouver to control personnel matchups, and potentially capitalize on any advantages they think they possess.
Game 3 should set the tone for the remainder of this series. Will the Knights simply shake off a lackluster Game 2 outing and rout an untested Vancouver side? Or will frustration seep in and force this series to go longer than most would’ve predicted? As always, read on beneath the odds for a game preview and betting analysis on Vegas vs. Vancouver, Game 3.
Golden Knights vs. Canucks Betting Odds:
Vegas Golden Knights (-185)
Vancouver Canucks (+165)
Over 6 (-106)
Under 6 (-104)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Golden Knights vs. Canucks Pick:
While much is being made about the Canucks dominating in Game 2, don’t overreact to the ebbs and flows of these playoff series. Vancouver got their one victory, and did so in a way that isn’t conducive at all to long-term success.
The Canucks were still soundly outplayed despite winning by a 5-2 scoreline, and it’s highly unlikely the Knights will receive that quality of goaltending the remainder of what should still be a lengthy post-season run. Robin Lehner can and will be better, and if not – Marc-Andre Fleury remains a solid option.
Right now, it’s beyond clear that the Knights can simply do what they want with Vancouver at 5v5. They’re a versatile bunch and can beat teams in a plethora of ways. Vegas enter Game 3 currently operating at 61% expected goal clip at 5-on-5 this post-season. They’ve obliterated Vancouver in that regard, and despite heroics from Jacob Markstrom – expect the Canucks to come back to reality on Saturday night.
Vegas boasts exceptional depth, something Vancouver doesn’t have at all. Their bottom-six forward corps is comprised of AHL-level talent, and though the Canucks do have elite skill at the top of their lineup – the Knights’ strengths continue to nullify it. There isn’t much space for Elias Petterson when he’s forced to go against Mark Stone each and every shift.
While the Canucks are always an intriguing option due to the play of Markstrom and their quick-strike ability on offense, there just isn’t enough substance to this lineup to expect them to beat Vegas in such a pivotal part of this series. Game 3 will be a tone-setting game, and the depth of the Knights across all four lines should start to lean on a youthful Vancouver squad and assert their dominance.
Though it’s a big price to lay on the moneyline, it’s come down quite a bit throughout the day, and is more palatable compared to Games 1 and 2. Nothing has changed though in terms of valuing these sides. Vegas also can be played on the -1 line, where a one-goal victory grants you a push. Either way, expect the Knights to rebound in a huge way come Saturday evening.
Pick: Vegas 5-1