Jets vs Golden Knights Game 1 | NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Eichel.
- The Vegas Golden Knights host the Winnipeg Jets in the first game of their NHL playoff series on Tuesday night.
- The total has been set low at 5.5, which has raised the eyebrows of NHL expert Ryan Dadoun.
- Continue reading for his analysis of Jets vs. Golden Knights Game 1 and his betting prediction.
Jets vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-154|
|Over/Under||5.5 (-112 /-108)|
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Vegas Golden Knights earned the top seed in the Western Conference, so they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets, who claimed the second wild-card spot, in Game 1 of their first-round NHL playoff series.
The Golden Knights are the clear favorites, but there are some potential heroes on Winnipeg’s side who might prove to be the difference Tuesday.
Continue reading for my Jets vs. Golden Knights Game 1 preview and pick.
If anyone is going to tip the scales in favor of Winnipeg in the opener, Connor Hellebuyck is the most obvious choice. Winnipeg’s goaltender is coming off another strong season in which he posted a 37-25-2 record, 2.49 GAA and .920 save percentage in 64 contests. He’s also red hot going into the playoffs, winning his last three starts and saving 80-of-83 shots in that span.
The Jets aren’t nearly as impressive up front though. Winnipeg ranked 21st offensively with 3.00 goals per game. However, the Jets do at least have a solid offensive core of Kyle Connor (31 goals, 80 points), Mark Scheifele (42 goals, 68 points), Pierre-Luc Dubois (27 goals, 63 points) and offensive defensemen Josh Morrissey (16 goals, 76 points).
Outside of that group, it will be interesting to see how Blake Wheeler does. The 36-year-old has seen his production drop from its peak, but he still had a solid season with 16 goals and 55 points in 72 contests. At his age, he’s running out of opportunities to fight for the Cup.
Nino Niederreiter is another noteworthy contributor. The Jets acquired him from Nashville back in February to help bolster their secondary scoring, and he’s done well, providing six goals and 13 points in 22 contests since the trade. Niederreiter tends to struggle in the playoffs though, collecting an underwhelming seven goals and 13 points over 53 postseason outings dating back to 2017.
The Jets will be hoping that this time will be different for him, because when facing Vegas, Winnipeg needs all the help it can get.
Vegas Golden Knights
The fact that Vegas finished with the best record in the conference is remarkable when you consider the injury setbacks it endured.
The Golden Knights were missing one of their best forwards in Mark Stone for roughly half the season, one of their top defensemen, Shea Theodore, was limited to 55 contests and No. 1 netminder Robin Lehner didn’t play at all. Lehner is still gone, but Theodore and Stone are good to go, making the Vegas team Winnipeg will face one of the best versions of itself.
With Stone set to play for the first time since Jan. 12, it looks like Vegas is planning on rolling three pretty intimidating lines. Ivan Barbashev, Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault will make up a first unit that compares favorably to most of the top lines in the league.
After that trio, the second unit is projected to be Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and Phil Kessel. At the age of 35, Kessel isn’t the star he once was, or even the headline player on that line, but the two-time Stanley Cup champion is still one to watch given his experience.
That allows Stone to join a third line of Michael Amadio and Chandler Stephenson. Stone is an amazing two-way forward who has averaged nearly a point per game (203 in 218 contests) since joining Vegas, and Stephenson recorded 16 goals and 65 points in 81 appearances this season. To have that duo on the third line gives Vegas a luxury of options that will strain the Jets’ defense.
The biggest potential downside for Vegas is that Logan Thompson (lower body) is unavailable, so Laurent Brossoit will be in goal. Brossoit had a 7-0-3 record, 2.17 GAA and .927 save percentage in 11 contests in 2022-23, so he shouldn’t be overlooked, but the 30-year-old is a journeyman with just one game worth of NHL playoff experience, so starting him is far from ideal.
Jets vs. Golden Knights Pick
Oddsmakers see Vegas as significant favorites in Game 1, to the point where taking the Golden Knights on the moneyline comes with a lower potential payout than I’d like. Grabbing them on the puck line offers a far better possible return, but the gap between these two teams isn’t great enough that I feel comfortable grabbing that bet.
Instead, I’m recommending the over, which is set fairly low at 5.5 goals.
It’s true that Hellebuyck is a top-tier goaltender, but I think the over is still a good bet after factoring in Vegas’ potent scorers but questionable goaltending. The Jets have some significant offensive threats, too, so I think oddsmakers might be underestimating how much scoring there’s going to be.
Pick: Over 5.5 (-120 | Play to -130)
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