The Vegas Golden Knights came into existence in 2017, yet have already made a Stanley Cup Final and are the No. 1 seed in the West as they prepare to face the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.
Game 1 of this best-of-seven series should be very telling as to how this matchup will go. Can Vegas maintain its momentum and build on a rich, albeit brief, tradition of excellence? Or will Chicago's core of championship-tested players rise to the occasion?
Prior to the puck dropping late tonight in Edmonton, check out abe Insights' betting preview for wagers analysis, statistics to consider and the best odds across all major sportsbooks so that you can optimize your betting experience on Knights-Blackhawks.
Date: Tuesday, August 11
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Blackhawks 37%; Golden Knights 65%
Spread: CHI +1.5 (-155); VGS -1.5 (+140)
Moneyline: CHI +170; VGS -185
Focusing on the goaltender situation, Vegas went with Robin Lehner as the starter for two of three round-robin contests, and he delivered wins in both. Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury is plenty capable as the backup, yet he allowed four goals on 17 shots in his last outing.
To the credit of oft-criticized Chicago crease guarder Corey Crawford, he came up big in Game 4 of a high-scoring series against the Oilers. Crawford made 43 saves in a 3-2 clinching victory over one of hockey's most electrifying offenses.
2.23 vs. 1.80: In terms of combined goals allowed per game over the last two periods, the Knights yielded almost a half-goal less than the Blackhawks did. If the underdogs don't start fast, they could be in for a rough evening.
82.1 vs. 76.6: Chicago does have a big edge in one key special teams area, as it fielded a top-eight unit in penalty-killing percentage during the regular season. Meanwhile, Vegas struggled mightily in this area, ranking 27th of 31 teams.
.918 vs. .852: The good news for the Golden Knights is that Lehner was remarkable in 2019-20 when it came to save percentage on a power play. He was tied for first in the statistic among goalies who'd made 30 or more starts, whereas Crawford slotted in at 31st.
What's scary about Vegas' undefeated run through the round-robin tournament was that it was accomplished without leading scorer Max Pacioretty. The explosive forward has cleared COVID-19 protocols in Edmonton and will be in action for Game 1.
"It gives us more depth. It adds our leading scorer back into our lineup," said Knights coach Peter DeBoer of Pacioretty's return, per NHL.com's Danny Webster. "He helps our power play, he helps in a lot of different areas."
Pacioretty just adds another weapon to an already-loaded Knights attack, which averaged five goals a night against the best the West had to offer in the prior three fixtures. However, the Blackhawks got plenty of practice against a top-flight offense when they stood toe-to-toe with the Oilers and took them out.
Chicago has some firepower of its own among its forwards, highlighted by longtime franchise cornerstones Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews. Kane is the more prolific scorer, and he's due to truly erupt after notching just three goals in as many prior postseason series.
Between Kane, Toews and Crawford among others, the Blackhawks have plenty of holdovers from their multiple Stanley Cup teams of the prior decade. Despite only sneaking in to the West playoff picture as the 12th and final seed, they've made good on their opportunity thus far, so don't put it past them to pull another upset.
The goal total is definitely above the typical NHL line, and it makes sense, because odds are, this is going to be a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair. Despite Lehner's stellar play for Vegas and Crawford's fine outing to help the Blackhawks advance, look for bettors to put more action on the Over.
Given the gambling history associated with the Golden Knights' home state, but also the iconic nature of the Windy City sports scene, sentiment bias isn't likely to be at play here. Thus, look for wagers to slightly favor Vegas' spread and moneyline, but expect bettors to hedge with Chicago as the outright winner due to the strong payout.
Note: Odds current as of 1:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 11.
Back to top