Stanley Cup Final Odds, Best Bets: Expert Picks for Panthers vs Golden Knights Game 1
David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Vegas Golden Knights
- Panthers vs. Golden Knights Game 1 takes place tonight as the Stanley Cup Final kicks off.
- As the best-of-seven series gets underway, our NHL experts have identified two key betting angles.
- Check below for their three picks for tonight's game, including a moneyline and a few player prop bets.
We're down to two teams as the best-of-seven NHL championship series kicks off tonight (8 p.m. ET, TNT).
Below, check out our hockey crew's top picks, including a moneyline bet and two player props.
Vegas Golden Knights Moneyline (-130)
Grant White: And it all comes down to this. After an exhausting regular season and an unrelenting playoff run, the Vegas Golden Knights host the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Obviously, both teams are equipped with top-caliber players and systems; still, the hosts have a pronounced analytics advantage, leaving an edge in backing them in the series opener.
Vegas has outplayed its opponents in nine of its last 16 playoff games, which is a noteworthy accomplishment when adjusted for the quality of competition. Moreover, they've held opponents to nine or fewer high-danger chances in all but five of the playoff games. Again, all three teams they faced averaged north of 10 quality chances per game, putting them among the top 13 in the league. Vegas has been up to the task so far this postseason and will be ready for what Florida has to offer.
Conversely, the Panthers have been outplayed in six straight games, posting a cumulative 41.7% expected goals-for rating. That drops their postseason benchmark to 46.6%, fifth-worst among all playoff teams. Worse, they've allowed at least 10 high-danger opportunities in nine straight contests.
Depth scoring is one of the most significant assets in the playoffs, and the Golden Knights have that in spades. That gives them yet another advantage over the Panthers that isn't reflected in the current moneyline price.
We're playing that advantage and backing Vegas to win on Saturday night.
The Pick: Golden Knights ML (-130 at DraftKings)
Jonathan Marchessault Anytime Goalscorer (+195)
Tony Sartori: Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final gets underway on Saturday evening with the Vegas Golden Knights hosting the Florida Panthers. After a quiet opening series against the Winnipeg Jets, Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault has exploded over the past two rounds.
Burying nine goals over the past 10 games, we are going to back Marchessault to keep the hot hand going against Florida. This postseason, he leads the Knights in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) at five-on-five.
The Barbeshev-Eichel-Marchessault line has been – by far – the most dominating line for Vegas this postseason, with all due respect to the fourth line (Carrier-Roy-Kolesar) that has played extremely well in its own right. That aforementioned first line has generated an xGoals% of 60.5% this postseason, producing an excellent 3.45 xGF/60.
By far, the biggest concern in backing Marchessault to score is Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who is putting together one of the strongest stretches of goaltending I have seen in quite some time. However, considering Florida's weak play at the blue line, I am still unsure of how much longer this stretch can sustain.
Either way, +185 is too good a price to pass up.
Sergei Bobrovsky & Adin Hill Both Over 30.5 Saves (+470)
Greg Liodice: When a team makes the Stanley Cup Finals, goaltending is always a big part of it, no doubt about it. For the Florida Panthers, goaltending has meant so much extra. Sergei Bobrovsky is on a run that is hard to replicate. After a mediocre regular season, the former two-time Vezina Trophy winner is making everyone remember his name.
In 14 games, the man they call “Bob” is playing to a jarring .935 SV% and an incredible +19.7 goals saved above expected (GSAx). During every game he started except for two, Bobrovsky has registered more than 30 saves and in turn willed his team so close to the promised land.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, Adin Hill wasn’t supposed to be here. Coming into Sin City, Hill was viewed as a third string netminder, but due to injuries, he got more action. With an injury to Laurent Brossoit in the middle of round two, Hill looked steady and didn’t waver from the bright lights of the playoffs.
He stifled the offensive juggernaut of the Edmonton Oilers, and he shut down the high0octane Dallas Stars. Amid the nine starts of these playoffs, he’s playing to incredible numbers with a .937 SV% and a +6.4 GSAx.
Both teams are more than capable at peppering shots to the net. With FanDuel offering a parlay of both Bobrovsky and Hill achieving over 30.5 saves at +470 (listed under "Player Performance Parlays"), it’s hard not to see the opportunity. These have been two of the most exceptional netminders in these playoffs, and I think there’s a solid chance to make some extra dough here.