Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks Odds: Where To Find Betting Value On Game 4

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Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

  • The Golden Knights lead the Blackhawks, 3-0, heading into Game 4.
  • So where's the betting value on Sunday night's matchup?
  • Sam Hitchcock analyzes the odds.

Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks Odds

Golden Knights Odds -195 [BET NOW]
Blackhawks Odds +165 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6 [BET NOW]
Time 6:30 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN

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We were never supposed to get this. When Chicago wiggled by Edmonton, my mind swirled. The Golden Knights live on the rush and the Blackhawks are hopeless to defend it. Couple that with Vegas’s campy jerseys, and I was prepared for an amusing, rollicking series. It might not have been the most polished hockey, but the Oilers-Blackhawks’ qualifying series had the kind of nonstop action that tickles one’s most basic desires. Arthouse flick? Nah. Give me Michael Bay and Nicolas Cage!

The Chicago-Vegas series has been fun, but not quite the beer-hockey defense I pined for. Vegas has forechecked more than anticipated, although the Blackhawks’ defense has been as laden with mistakes as one would have guessed given the Golden Knights’ high-pressure offense.

Betting moneyline for this doesn’t make a lot of sense. On DraftKings, the Golden Knights are at -182, which doesn’t offer any value. And only a masochist would grab the Blackhawks at +155. But the puck line for Vegas is +150. Hmmm …

Vegas Golden Knights

After missing Game 2, it is a promising sign to see Max Pacioretty back and yucking it up with his teammate, Mark Stone. The early returns from Pacioretty are that he looks A-okay, as he leads Vegas forwards who have played more than ten minutes in expected goals and boasts an expected goals against of less than one per 60 minutes. The puck has followed him around like a magnet.

Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson have both been eviscerating the Blackhawks’ diaphanous defense, submitting expected goals per hour of 3.13 and 3.08 respectively. Game 2 hero, Reilly Smith, comes in at 2.94.

Now that Pacioretty is back to accompany Mark Stone, the Marchessault, Karlsson and Smith line can be reunited, and that is bad news for the rest of the league. In Game 1, the Karlsson line accounted for three of the four tallies and nearly doubled the Blackhawks in shots when it was on the ice. In Game 3, it didn’t score at 5-on-5, but it finished with the highest expected goals and outshot Chicago 7-3. Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton tried to employ the Jonathan Toews line to shut them down last night, but the shutdown line got squashed.

The biggest problem with wagering on the Blackhawks is that they don’t have an answer for the Golden Knights’ speed. This has been a mostly unmanageable problem in the first three games. The most obvious targets of ire are the Chicago defensemen.

In Game 3, the shorthanded goal by Vegas’s William Karlsson was precipitated by Duncan Keith’s bumbling with the puck. On the Patrick Brown tally, Adam Boqvist failed to take away Brown’s stick despite trying to latch onto him. Vegas’ pressure has overwhelmed Chicago’s deficient defensive group. But that shouldn’t downplay the impact of the Golden Knights’ speed, because the strain they place on the Blackhawks’ forwards results in a flurry of scoring chances that Chicago can’t stanch.

Vegas’s transition game gets a lot of traction from indirect stretch passes and running ladder plays on entries. If the Blackhawks’ forwards had provided sufficient back pressure, at least that would have given their defensemen cover for trying to jump the stretch passes in the neutral zone or keeping a tighter gap on the puck carrier on the entry.

It wasn’t a stretch pass, but on the Tomas Nosek goal in Game 2, when Keith tried to stanch the entry in the neutral zone, the puck slipped through him, and instead of having help underneath, the Chicago forwards had gone for a line change.

Chicago Blackhawks

Watching Chicago toggle lines for Patrick Kane and seeing how goaltender Corey Crawford responds to the barrage of shots have been the two most interesting subplots for the Blackhawks.

In Game 1, Kane played with Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach. It went poorly, as they allowed a goal and finished with a 24.18% expected goals share.

In Game 2, DeBrincat was switched out for Drake Caggiula and Dach stayed at center. But Kane also saw action with DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. Bingo! Each line created a goal and posted relatively respectable expected goals.

In Game 3, Colliton tried the same formula and the results were mostly positive. Both lines created offense and weren’t the worst defensively. Unfortunately, this is the silver lining, as the non-Kane lines combined for only four high-danger chances. With their forward depth very thin and the Toews line getting pummeled, Chicago has been forced to double-shift Kane frequently.

Of the playoff goaltenders who have played five or more games, only Capitals netminder Braden Holtby has a worse Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) than Crawford. Crawford has let in several soft goals, although he has also made a few tremendous saves. The problem is that Vegas has had time and space to shoot high where Crawford is weak, and Chicago has just had to hope they miss the net or hit the iron. In no one’s estimation is that a sustainable strategy.

My pick

The Golden Knights are very skilled, fast and deep. But this is a team that is also fighting some injuries. It is in their best interests to put this game away early. Chicago’s defense offers ample opportunity for Vegas to get this done. I hate the moneyline for both sides on DraftKings, so if one were to bet, the puck line for Vegas at +150 makes the most sense.

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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