NHL Playoffs Odds, Preview, Prediction Golden Knights vs. Canadiens Game 4: Can Montreal Take Commanding Series Lead? (Sunday, June 20)
David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Carey Price.
- Having won two straight, the Canadiens go for a 3-1 series lead on Sunday night against the Golden Knights.
- Montreal will be without its head coach due to a positive COVID-19 test, but goaltender Carey Price makes up for whatever the Habs have going against them.
- Carol Schram breaks down the betting value in this matchup and which side she's backing in Game 4.
Golden Knights vs. Canadiens Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-185|
|Time||Sunday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via bet365|
Back on home ice on Friday night but without their head coach, the Montreal Canadiens took a 2-1 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights on an overtime winner from Josh Anderson.
It was Anderson’s second goal of the night after he forced overtime by pouncing on a loose puck served up by Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:55 left in regulation.
After dropping a 4-1 decision in Vegas in Game 1, the Canadiens eked out a 3-2 win in Game 2 and returned home to the Bell Centre with the series momentum on their side. Then, head coach Dominique Ducharme returned a positive test for COVID-19 on Friday and was required to self-isolate. The Canadiens looked shell-shocked, as they were swarmed by the Golden Knights in the early stages of Game 3.
But as Montreal goalie Carey Price said after the game, “We just don’t quit, pretty much the easiest way to explain it. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity and we keep responding well to it. Not having Dom behind the bench was another twist we have to deal with.”
The Canadiens have now won nine of their last 10 playoff games and will have home-ice advantage for Game 4, but the oddsmakers are still calling them significant longshots.
Are they worth your money?
Not All The Data Favors Vegas
One of the top teams in the regular season, Vegas finished the year tied for top spot in the league standings. Ranked third overall in offense and tops on defense, the Knights boasted the best goal differential in the NHL, and three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury had turned back the clock to deliver another stellar season at age 36.
After grinding out a tough seven-game series against the Minnesota Wild in the first round, the Golden Knights looked like they were peaking at the right time as they smothered the highest-scoring team in the league, the Colorado Avalanche, in Round 2.
But speedy center Chandler Stephenson was a key part of the Golden Knights’ defensive system, and he missed Games 2 and 3 with an upper body injury. Vegas coach Peter DeBoer is not revealing when he might be back or even whether he made the trip to Montreal.
Now juggling his forwards, DeBoer has lost the chemistry that had been working so well. Since Stephenson was sidelined, Nicolas Roy is the only Vegas forward who has scored. The team’s other three goals in Games 2 and 3 were all scored by defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
In the first three games of the series, Vegas has dominated, outshooting Montreal 106-79 and accumulating nearly 54% of the scoring chances at 5-on-5. The Golden Knights looked unbeatable as they took a 30-8 lead on the shot clock after two periods of Game 3. But the scoreboard read 1-1.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Canadiens hold a slight edge in expected goals in the series so far, at 51.21%. Their slight edge in high-danger scoring chances (50.77%) has translated to Montreal scoring two-thirds of the high-danger goals so far in the series. They’re seizing the moment.
Montreal Refuses To Lose
Carey Price’s $10.5 million cap hit is the highest of any player in this series, and he has been worth every penny for Montreal in these playoffs. Price is boasting a .932 save percentage and 2.10 goals-against average.
Offensively, though, a disproportionate amount of the Canadiens’ scoring has come from the lower end of the salary scale, whether it’s the self-possessed youngsters Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield or greybeards Corey Perry and Eric Staal.
As valuable as that depth scoring has been, Habs fans must be breathing a sigh of relief that Anderson broke out of his funk on Friday.
With just one goal in the playoffs so far, back in Game 1 against Toronto, Montreal’s second-leading scorer from the regular season threw the monkey off his back when Fleury gift-wrapped the game-tying goal. Anderson was a beast in overtime, and was rewarded when his heady play at the offensive blue line set up the give-and-go with Paul Byron that led to the game winner.
Anderson’s revitalized confidence makes him another legitimate scoring threat for Vegas to worry about.
Golden Knights vs. Canadiens Best Bet
Also working in Montreal’s favor: The Habs are now 4-0 in overtime in these playoffs, while Vegas is 1-3. And while it sounds like Ducharme will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after his positive COVID test, it’s good news that there were no other positive results from Saturday’s latest round of testing.
Presumably, the Canadiens will continue to go forward with assistant coaches Luke Richardson, Alex Burrows and Sean Burke running their bench. Before Friday’s game, Ducharme was feeling well and able to work on the game plan with his staff.
On the ice, Game 3 also reminded us how random hockey can be. With so much on the line, the significance of every call and non-call is amplified. And a single mistake, like Fleury’s puck-handling gaffe, can spell the difference between winning and losing.
The Canadiens aren’t getting much love from the officials so far in this series, either. The power plays through the first three games are 10-5 in favor of Vegas, but Montreal has the only goal scored with the man advantage — in the losing cause in Game 1. Don’t be surprised if the calls eventually start to even up. In the meantime, the Canadiens’ penalty killing has been airtight for 10 straight games.
With the pressure now squarely on the shoulders of the Golden Knights, there’s a lot to like about Montreal’s chances. At +165, I like them even more.
It’s worth a bet to take Montreal to stay hot and go up 3-1 over Vegas.
Pick: Canadiens +165 (play down to +140)