Top NHL Betting Pick for Thursday, June 24th (2021)

I’ll be honest. I did not expect the Montreal Canadiens to be one game away from the Stanley Cup Final. While the Habs deserved credit for getting out of the North Division, I fully expected the Vegas Golden Knights to impose their will and advance to the final with ease.

Instead, the Canadiens are a home-ice victory away from their 35th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and their first since 1993. The question is, does Vegas have enough resolve to send the series back home for a Game 7?

Call me stubborn, but I’m confident they can.

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Vegas Golden Knights (-135) at Montreal Canadiens 

Some might describe this Game 6 price as a buy-low opportunity on Vegas after losing 4-1 on home ice in a pivotal Game 5. Montreal’s done an excellent job suppressing quality chances in their defensive zone and has been opportunistic on the counterattack. Vegas has had plenty of offensive zone time but has struggled to do much with it.

However, Vegas’ top playmakers haven’t shown up much in this series. Mark Stone has essentially been nonexistent and doesn’t have a point in the series. Stone drives many Vegas’ offense and needs to get more involved for the Knights to have a prayer.

When Vegas does get a good chance, Montreal goaltender Carey Price has mostly slammed the door shut. Price has given up only seven goals in Games 2-5 and has posted a .946 save percentage.

Vegas coach Peter DeBoer looks to be making another change between the pipes on the other end of the ice. DeBoer swapped Robin Lehner for Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 4 after Fleury’s gaffe behind the net cost his team Game 3. Lehner performed well, stopping 28 of 29 shots in Vegas’ 2-1 OT win. However, DeBoer went back to Fleury for Game 5, which might’ve been the wrong decision, as Fleury allowed three goals on 28 shots in the loss. It now appears DeBoer is going back to Lehner in this do-or-die showdown.

Robin Lehner is occupying the starter’s net at the Golden Knights’ morning skate.

— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) June 24, 2021

It truly might not matter who’s in net for Vegas if they can’t generate more offense. So call me stubborn, but I still believe in the Golden Knights. They’re the deeper, more talented team. And an elimination game could be just what the Knights need to control the pace and generate better scoring chances. At this discount, I’m willing to take one more plunge on Vegas.

Thoughts on Lightning-Islanders Game 7 

If Wednesday night’s game was the last one in the Nassau Coliseum, then it certainly went out in style. The Islanders simply don’t die, even after giving up 10 unanswered goals between Games 5 and 6. My initial hunch for Game 7 is to ride with the underdogs.

Nikita Kucherov’s injury has me a little worried, and I suspect he won’t be at 100% even if he plays. And I’ll trust Barry Trotz over just about any coach in an elimination game. Plus, anything can happen in Game 7, and I’m willing to ride with a gritty underdog that’s capable of controlling the pace and won’t be intimidated by the moment or environment.

Early Lean: Islanders +145

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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