NHL Odds and Picks: Betting Predictions for Golden Knights vs. Canucks Game 4 (Sunday, Aug. 30)
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): Alex Tuch (89) and Jacob Markstrom (25).
- Betting odds for Sunday's Golden Knights vs. Canucks NHL playoff Game 4 have the Knights listed as significant -200 favorites.
- The over/under has been set at 6 -- the highest total on Sunday's slate -- following a 3-0 Vegas win in Game 3.
- Check out our full betting preview of the matchup below, including analysis for both teams and a betting pick.
Golden Knights vs. Canucks Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-200 [BET NOW]|
|Canucks Odds||+170 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 (-116/-104) [BET NOW]|
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
It was a slow death. In Game 3, the Vegas Golden Knights jumped out to a 2-0 early lead in the first period, and the Vancouver Canucks could never make up ground on what should have been a surmountable lead. The Golden Knights tendered a surgical performance in the final two frames, allowing one high-danger chance at 5-on-5 over that span.
There are oodles of reasons why the Canucks trail 2-1 in this series, but with regard to betting, the relevant question is: How should one bet on the Golden Knights given that hockey is a fickle sport?
DraftKings lists the Golden Knights moneyline at a gaga -210. Clearly that line is not advisable. However, a wager on the Golden Knights to win in regular time is at -132. Yes, please!
But I’m spoiling the ending by telling you it was the butler all along. Let me explain why Vegas has Vancouver over a barrel.
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Vegas Golden Knights
In Game 3, Vancouver had the last change, but head coach Travis Green didn’t appear interested in running away from a matchup that Vegas clearly desires: Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller facing Vegas’s defensive pairing of Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb. Green acceded to this matchup with the last change, though there is growing evidence that these two Golden Knights defensemen are successfully stifling Horvat and Miller.
In 16 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time of 5-on-5, Vegas has created 14 shots while allowing only five when the Canucks’ top forwards are pitted against Vegas’ shutdown defensive pair. Horvat and Miller have an expected goals of 41.42%; the Golden Knights are more than doubling them in shot attempts.
In fairness to coach Green, the other Vegas defensive pairings also have exemplary numbers, so there isn’t an obvious better option. But trailing in the series and desperate to find scoring, Vancouver needs to get creative, because the status quo is failing.
The scary part for Vancouver is that it could be worse. The Golden Knights have had the better expected goals in every game and outshot Vancouver by double-digits at 5-on-5. The Canucks are a fascinating weathervane. Even though they beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round, they are now being throttled by the Golden Knights in every metric. It begs the question: What makes Vegas special? Read on.
One thing the Golden Knights do better than any team in the NHL is create mismatches for their players without the puck. The Alex Tuch goal from Game 3 is Exhibit A. Nicholas Roy skipped a pass to Tuch who was bolting down the weak side, opening the door for a breakaway goal.
Vegas has sprung a player without the puck into space time and time again. This predated their meeting up with the Canucks, but it has become a through line in this series. For future opponents to beat Vegas, they will need to mitigate this scoring mechanism.
On the Tuch goal, two Canucks forwards were attempting to forecheck, and their other three skaters were hovering around the top half of the neutral zone. For Vancouver, the forecheck is occupying a middle ground that is untenable.
The Canucks need to have a forecheck that can earnestly wrest them possession so they can initiate the cycle, or they need to pull back and pack the neutral zone. By Vancouver’s Tyler Motte futilely attempting to chase after Shea Theodore, and Brandon Sutter giving perfunctory attention to Alec Martinez, two Canucks are caught deep in the offensive zone without any real chance of disrupting the breakout. The result was catastrophic: Suddenly, Jordie Benn is in a foot race with Tuch. Advantage Tuch.
For the Canucks to make this a series, they need to beat the Golden Knights by deploying the only two weapons in their arsenal: their power play and faceoffs. Vancouver is 1-for-11 on the man advantage, and in Game 3 they failed to convert on a 5-on-3.
Give Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner credit where it is due. On the power play, Lehner has faced 21 shots and staved off 20. In Game 3, he made a spectacular save off Horvat in the slot.
Overall, I think the Canucks’ instincts are on the right track. After barely creating any power play opportunities in Game 1, they had a handful in Games 2 and 3. Forward Antoine Roussel is instigating, and their puck-carriers may want to be a little lighter on their skates. They need those man-advantage chances to overcome Vegas’ 5-on-5 dominance.
The Canucks are the superior team on faceoffs. Game 3 was their worst outing, but they still won 58% of draws. The Canucks should design as many set plays off draws as possible, because sometimes this does yield prime chances for them.
In Game 2, a faceoff play saw Elias Petterson shed William Karlsson in the slot before executing a quick-deke goal. In Game 3, Vancouver ran a set play in its own zone that utilized Quinn Hughes coming out of the penalty box. His tap-pass in the neutral zone nearly allowed J.T. Miller to finish the sequence with a goal, and it did draw a penalty. Unfortunately, the Golden Knights are wise to their weakness on draws against the Canucks, and they subsequently kept tighter gaps most of the time after lost faceoffs.
Gap control is the most overlooked quotient of Vegas’s control of the series. Recall Game 1 when Mark Stone deflected a shot for a goal that gave Vegas a 3-0 lead. Defenseman Schmidt had time to change the shooting angle before firing it into the slot where it found Stone’s stick. Vancouver’s lack of pressure on Vegas’s playmaking defensemen is a huge problem.
Juxtapose that with Vegas, where the Canucks’ top-six forwards have no time and space. Horvat, Pettersson, Miller, and the other top-six forwards are challenged on entries and squeezed on the cycle. In the defensive zone, the Golden Knights overload on the puck below the goal line, because they understand Vancouver is reluctant to dedicate too much manpower below the circles for fear of the counterattack. This leads to a lot of one-and-dones for the Canucks.
Betting Analysis and Pick
Save for a massive meltdown, the conditions of the series heavily favor the Golden Knights. At +120 on DraftKings, the Vegas puck line also is worth considering, because there should be an exhaustion concern for Vancouver. Horvat played 21:10 in Game 3, and that was a minute or two less than Pettersson and Miller.
Vegas rolled four lines in Game 3 with Karlsson logging the most ice time at 18:16. With the Golden Knights’ top-six forwards well rested and the Canucks fatigued, Vegas is the pick. It just depends on whether a bettor wants the regular-time bet or the puck line.
Pick: Vegas -132 to win in regular time; or Golden Knights puck line +120