The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs keep rolling on with another full slate of games on Thursday. It has been a very profitable start for us in Round 1, especially after a 2-0 day yesterday. The Isles and Flyers both came through in the Eastern Conference, and today we’ll shift to the West – where the Blackhawks and Knights will face-off in a crucial Game 2.
After a slow start in Game 1, the Knights finally took over, completely asserting their will on the Blackhawks. Though Chicago was able to score at will against a porous Edmonton side, that isn’t going to be the case vs. Vegas in this series. Robin Lehner is steady in goal, and though the Knights might lack big marquee names on their back-end, they play a disciplined and well-structured game, as outlined by their top-notch head coach in Pete DeBoer.
For Chicago, if they are going to come back in this series, they’ll need to prioritize getting their skilled talent to prime scoring areas. You simply cannot beat the Golden Knights from the perimeter over a 7-game sample. This is still a team littered with skill and speed, and they need to be clinical when/if they do get chances. That starts on the powerplay, where Chicago was woefully ineffective back in Game 1.
With many pegging the Golden Knights for another deep Cup run, do the Blackhawks have what it takes to derail their hopes? The bookmakers certainly don’t think so, as the current series price with Vegas leading 1-0 is now a staggering -670 for the Knights, or roughly 83%. Keep reading on beneath the posted Game 2 odds, for our betting analysis and team preview for the Hawks vs. Knights. Enjoy!
Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Vegas Golden Knights (-201)
Chicago Blackhawk (+180)
Over 6 (-111)
Under 6 (+101)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks Pick:
Throughout the course of this past regular season, the Vegas Golden Knights were the best 5-on-5 team in the NHL. The Blackhawks quickly found that out in Game 1, easily succumbing to a more powerful side, 4-1.
The Knights generated a ton of chances, and many of them high-danger ones as well. It’s actually remarkable that Vegas was only held to four goals, when you take a peek at the post-game box score.
How can Chicago limit those chances, or stop them? Well, they can’t. They aren’t deep enough and don’t possess anywhere near the defensive ability to do so. Chicago’s best options are playing much like they did in the Qualifying Round – show no respect to their opponent and trade chances shift-after-shift.
Chicago boasts elite offensive talent, but are quite top-heavy. But on their top two lines, they boast impressive skill that needs to make Vegas defend without the puck. The likes of Patty Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik can all score, and all need to push the pace.
In Game 1, it seemed as if Chicago was so worried about not losing and preventing chances, that they actually deviated quite a bit from what made them a successful group the round prior vs. the Oilers.
Expect Hawks’ coach Jeremy Colliton to really tinker with his matchups, and he’ll start by freeing up Patrick Kane to allow him more offensive freedom. While that is a strategy that could magnify their issues, Chicago has a talented netminder in Corey Crawford who can and will bail them out, if they do decide to take more chances forward.
Chicago is too talented to be held to just one goal, and should be able to improve their power-play proficiency. Chicago taking more chances though will likely further open things up for Vegas, especially on the counter-attack. As a result, at a lofty posted number of 6, I definitely lean over in what promises to be a wild, and wide-open second game. Chicago knows it’s their only path to success, and expect some offense on Thursday evening.
Pick: Vegas 5-3