NHL Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Saturday, August 15): Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks Game 3 Preview
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Stone
- The Vegas Golden Knights (-177 odds) and Chicago Blackhawks (+150) meet Saturday for Game 3 of their first-round series.
- Michael Leboff details how to look for the best price on the Blackhawks as underdogs in the matchup.
- Check out his game preview below.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-177 [BET NOW]|
|Blackhawks Odds||+150 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||6 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
If you bet the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday you had to be happy with what you got. A big underdog (between +175 and +190 depending on the sportsbook), the Hawks were able to push the Golden Knights to overtime.
Chicago would eventually lose, but getting a team at a big price to sudden-death overtime is never a bad thing. If someone gave you +175 odds on a coin flip, you’d take it every time.
The Blackhawks were fortunate to get to overtime on Thursday, as they were outplayed at 5-on-5 by the Knights. Vegas had the best expected goals rate in the NHL during the regular season and Chicago’s defense was shambolic, so it’s not surprising to see the Knights control play thus far.
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.
Chicago really only knows one way to play, which is to trade chances with the opposing team and hope its stars are able to outscore its defensive transgressions. That strategy can work in small samples against weaker opposition (i.e. the Edmonton Oilers), but it won’t pan out if the Blackhawks aren’t getting great goaltending from Corey Crawford.
Crawford is always capable of stealing a game or two, but he’s not been great in this series, which is further exasperating Chicago’s problems against Vegas.
Not only have the Knights won both games, but they’ve imposed their will at 5-on-5. Vegas boasts a 4.56 to 2.71 expected goals edge and has attempted 28 more shots than Chicago through the first two games. If goals are your thing, the Knights look good there, too, with an 8-2 advantage at 5-on-5.
That’s why I am a bit perplexed by the odds for Game 3. After closing above -200 for Games 1 and 2, the Knights have moved all the way down to -177 at the time of writing for Game 3.
|Vegas Golden Knights||Chicago Blackhawks|
Odds via DraftKings
Considering the rest of the market seems to have this game closer to where it landed in Games 1 and 2, I am expecting DraftKings’ current price to move away from the Blackhawks and inline with the rest of the market (check here for best odds). That means, if you have access to that number and want to bet Vegas, I’d do it sooner rather than later.
You’ll never catch me laying this kind of juice on an NHL game (especially in this tournament) because the margin for error is razor thin if you eat this type of chalk. In a variance-heavy sport like hockey, I’d rather steer clear of steep prices.
I don’t win betting pucklines so I never play them, but I could see an argument being made for wanting to take Vegas at -1.5 goals. Chicago’s defense is so forgiving that, if the Knights do win, there’s a pretty good chance it’s by more than one goal. There’s some serious blow-out potential in this matchup.
There are some intriguing prices on Chicago around the market, most notably at bet365, which is hanging the Hawks at +170 as of 6 p.m. on Friday evening. If that number creeps up to +180 I’d jump on the Hawks. At that number you need Chicago to win just about 36% of the time to have value and I think they tick that box.
The Pick: Chicago Blackhawks +180 or better