Welcome back to the Friday edition of NHL best bets. We’ve got the same two series on tap tonight as we did on Wednesday: the Canadiens and Jets will play Game 2 in Winnipeg, while the Avalanche and Golden Knights shift their series to Vegas for Game 3.
All eyes will be on Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg for the early game after the Jets’ Mark Scheifele took out his frustrations on Montreal’s Jake Evans in the waning seconds of Game 1, sending Evans off the ice in a stretcher. Best wishes to Evans on a speedy recovery. And even though the Knights are down 0-2, they injected a bit of life into the series by taking the Avalanche to overtime last game.
With only one bet on tap tonight, let’s see if we can head into an exciting sports weekend with a win.
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Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche: Game 3 (COL Leads 2-0)
It took six games, but the Avalanche were finally tested in Game 2. After out-scoring their opponents 27-8 through their first five playoff matchups and not winning a game by fewer than three goals, they needed overtime heroics to extend their series lead to 2-0. Despite the loss, I liked what I saw from Vegas after their choppy play in the Minnesota series and their 7-1 drubbing in Game 1.
There’s no denying that Colorado has dominated the scoreboard in this series — they’ve outscored Vegas 10-3 — but a deeper dive reveals that the Golden Knights have been the better team at 5-on-5. This was especially true in Game 2. According to MoneyPuck’s “Deserve To Win- O’Meter,” which takes each game’s stats and metrics and runs it through a simulator 1,000 times to determine each team’s estimated chance to win, Vegas had a 56.1% win probability in Game 2. Their CF% was 61.9% compared to just 38.1% for Colorado — they fired 72.9% of the shot attempts, captured 69.4% of the expected goals, 56.1% of the scoring chances, and 52.9% of the high-danger chances. Yet they somehow couldn’t find a way to sneak the winner by Philipp Grubauer.
Also, although they lost Game 1 by six points, MoneyPuck’s “Deserve To Win O’Meter” still tabbed the Golden Knights with a 47.7% win probability. That’s scarily close to a coin flip. Something has got to give for the Knights, and a return home to their building in front of their rowdy fans, who are allowed to fill the building at full capacity tonight, should do just the trick. Vegas went 21-5-2 at home during the regular season, and they’re in full-on desperation mode tonight. Their season is already on life support, and a loss tonight would all but send them packing.
Vegas really needs to figure out how to slow down the Avalanche powerplay, and I believe that they finally will tonight. Colorado is scoring at a 43.1% clip on the man advantage in the postseason, an absolutely absurd and unsustainable rate. It’s driven them to early leads, timely goals, and obviously, wins. The going gets much tougher on the road, though, and Vegas had the top penalty-killing unit in the NHL this season. Look for the Golden Knights to get the specialty teams corrected tonight, which will go a long way towards a potential victory in Game 3.
I love the spot for the Golden Knights, as they’re coming home down 0-2 and have no choice but to pull out a victory. It’s a key spot for the trailing team in a series to get a win — case and point: Carolina’s victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday. Plus, Vegas is too good of a hockey team to be plus-money underdogs at home against anyone, even if it’s the Avalanche.
The Pick: Golden Knights ML +108 (Good to +100)
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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.
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