Saturday NHL Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Golden Knights vs. Canucks Game 3 (Aug. 29)
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson
- With the series tied 1-1, the Canucks take on the Golden Knights in Game 3 of their NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs series on Saturday.
- Michael Leboff explains why he would take Vancouver in this matchup if the price is right.
- Check out Leboff's full betting preview below for updated odds, picks, and comprehensive analysis before the puck drops at 9:45 p.m. ET.
Game 3: Golden Knights vs. Canucks Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-200 [BET NOW]|
|Canucks Odds||+170 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 (-120/-103) [BET NOW]|
|Time||9:45 p.m. ET|
You should always prepare to be surprised when betting on the NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who was confident the Vancouver Canucks would put up a fight against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2, given how Game 1 went down.
I certainly didn’t think the Canucks would play as well as they did — and I bet on them.
It wasn’t all that surprising the Canucks won — upsets happen all the time in the NHL, and Vancouver is a dangerous team. But how they did it was shocking.
Vegas led the NHL with a 56.5% expected goals rate and a 54.8% shot attempt rate during the regular season. The Knights were the league’s preeminent possession team. Vegas carried that form into the postseason, posting a 60.8% expected goals rate through 10 games.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Canucks were a bottom-10 team by expected goals during the regular season and have struggled to drive play during the playoffs. Vancouver has a 46.8% expected goals rate through 12 postseason contests, but it has survived thanks to some spectacular goaltending from Jacob Markstrom.
Vancouver is allowing just 1.72 goals per hour (5-on-5) during the playoffs, but according to xG models, that number should be 2.72. In other words, Markstrom is saving the Canucks one goal per hour at 5-on-5. That is sensational and likely unsustainable.
Game 2 was a different story, though. Markstrom still was splendid, saving 1.37 goals above expected, but the rest of the Canucks pitched in, too. Vancouver outscored Vegas, 3-1, at 5-on-5 and won the expected goals battle 2.49-1.97. You usually need a lot of luck to get a +180 underdog across the line, but the Canucks deserved to win on Tuesday night.
I’m not expecting a similar script for Game 3, though.
The Canucks are built to win games through their talent, and it works because they have game-breakers at both ends of the ice. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat provide a lot of scoring and playmaking punch at the top of the roster. Quinn Hughes does the same on defense. There’s enough skill on this roster to make up for its defensive shortcomings, but at some point, you’d expect Vancouver’s GA to catch up to its xGA.
|Vegas Golden Knights||Vancouver Canucks|
Odds via DraftKings
I think it’s pretty clear how the betting market sees this matchup at this point. After a 5-0 loss in Game 1, the Canucks got as high as +195 at DraftKings before getting bet down to +175 before puck drop, but eventually things settled down and Vancouver closed at +175.
At the time of writing, the Canucks are a tick below where they closed on Tuesday night (check out our updated odds page to shop for the best number). Considering this is right in the middle of where they went off for Games 1 and 2, I wouldn’t expect any major market movement, though Vegas figures to attract more action.
At this price, it’s Canucks or pass for me. At +170, you need the Canucks to win 35.7% of the time. Their skill and goaltender make them dangerous at that number, but I’m going to wait and see if the number rises a bit.
Another thing to keep tabs on is what Vegas does with its goaltenders. Robin Lehner wasn’t great in Game 2, but he’s a better goalie than Marc-Andre Fleury at this point in their careers. If Fleury gets the nod, I’d grab Vancouver at +165 or better.