What was deemed the most lopsided playoff series in thirty years has turned into the most intriguing matchup of the postseason thus far. Receiving zero respect throughout the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens return to the desert tied with the vaunted Vegas Golden Knights.
Once again, the Knights are heavy favorites on home ice as the ‘Habs continue to receive little recognition for their fine play.
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Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Montreal Canadiens (+195) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (-230)
Carey Price and his teammates continue to stymie Vegas with their physical play and tight-checking defensive tactics.
Corey Perry has discovered the fountain of youth, routinely becoming the Canadiens’ best player each night and occasionally chipping in on the scoresheet – despite almost being beheaded in Game 4.
Brutal missed call on Corey Perry. Bleeding and everything pic.twitter.com/16e44UNB0Z
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 19, 2021
A major reason Vegas has struggled in this series is due to the offensive struggles of Mark Stone. Throughout the first four games of the semifinals, he has been held pointless. Much of this has to do with the stout defensive play of Phillip Danault as he gives Stone a taste of his own medicine.
How bad has it been? Well, he has been limited to a mere five shots and a -1 rating – not good by anybody’s standard, let alone him.
The good news is the Knights are privy to the last change on home ice, so they can better matchup Stone and his teammates to further unlock their offense. Only two of the Knights’ ten goals have come from their forward group thus far in the series.
Below, we’ll analyze how these teams have matched up analytically 5v5 based on their series performances to date:
Number’s courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
CF%: 46.29 (MTL) 53.71 (VGK)
GF% 41.18 (MTL) 58.82 (VGK)
xGF: 9.03 (MTL) 7.9 (VGK)
HDCF%: 59.52 (MTL) 40.48 (VGK)
The Knights continue to drive play with their strong possession game; however, the Canadiens have done a stellar job of keeping their shots and scoring chances to the perimeter – indicated by the large discrepancy in high danger chances in Montreal’s favor.
Another looming question is who will Vegas start in net? After a major gaffe in Game 3, Marc-Andre Fleury was benched for backup Robin Lehner, who made 27 saves whilst facing seventeen high-danger scoring chances.
I personally expect to see Lehner back in the crease to keep their momentum going. This move would also allow Fleury to receive further rest as this certainly is not the last we’ve seen of him.
The narrative tonight will unquestionably be centered around the Knights’ home-ice advantage and intimidating home crowd – perpetuating the ridiculous theory that NHL players are intimidated by a raucous crowd like a group of peewee players.
As a group that enjoys the challenge of being the road team and the victim of numerous missed penalty calls in the previous match, I believe we’ll see a motivated and resilient Canadiens squad steal another one in T-Mobile Arena.
Betting Picks: Montreal Canadiens (+195) or better; Brendan Gallagher to score (+320) .5u
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