NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction for Golden Knights vs. Avalanche Game 2: Will Colorado Finally Lose a Playoff Game? (Wednesday, June 2)
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Marc-Andre Fleury.
- Colorado hosts Vegas again for Game 2 of their playoff series following a 7-1 humiliation of the Golden Knights on Sunday.
- The Avalanche have looked unbeatable this postseason but finished the regular season with the same amount of points as Vegas.
- Pete Truszkowski explains below why he thinks Vegas may finally be able to put a chink in Colorado's playoff armor.
Golden Knights vs. Avalanche Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||+164|
|Time||Wednesday, 10:00 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday night and via FanDuel.|
Through the first two-and-a-half weeks of the NHL postseason, no team has looked more dominant than the Colorado Avalanche. They swept the St. Louis Blues in commanding fashion in Round 1, and then followed that up with an even more impressive performance to open up Round 2. Colorado won the President’s Trophy as the league’s best team in the regular season, has the best underlying metrics of any team and remains the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
Many expected the Vegas Golden Knights to be substantial competition for the Avalanche considering the fact the two teams finished tied in points during the regular season. The series is far from over, and it’s only been one game, but Colorado sent a strong message with their 7-1 trancing of Vegas in the opener.
Will the Knights be able to find their footing and make this a series, or will Colorado continue to be dominant on their path to what looks like an inevitable Stanley Cup?
What We Learned In Game 1
Colorado finished first in the league in terms of 5-on-5 goal differential, expected goals, shot attempt share and high danger chances. These are the four main categories we look at to judge how good a team really is beyond their on-ice results, and Colorado leads the league across the board. It’s not like one side of the ice carries another either, as the Avalanche rank first in expected goals scored per hour and expected goals against.
Vegas has nothing to be ashamed of in their own right. They ranked second in 5-on-5 goal differential, sixth in expected goal rate, fourth in shot attempt share and eighth in high danger chance percentage. They ranked second in expected goals scored while struggling a little more in their own zone, ranking near league average in terms of expected goals against.
This begs the question: What went so wrong for Vegas in the series opener to cause such a disgusting final score?
By all indications, it shouldn’t have been that ugly. Our friends over at MoneyPuck agree with that. Based on their “Deserve to Win O’Meter” which takes into account shot quality and possession metrics, Colorado only came in at 53%. In all situations, Colorado had a 2.63 to 2.39 expected goal advantage. The 5-on-5 expected goal discrepancy was just 1.35 to 1.18, even after being adjusted for score effects.
Coach Pete DeBoer made the decision to go with Robin Lehner between the pipes in Game 1, and it did not work well. After a hard-fought, seven-game series win over the Minnesota Wild, it’s understandable if the 36-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury needed a game off. Starting Lehner was hardly a “white flag” move as the Swedish netminder posted a +4.5 goals saved above expectation in the regular season and has been among the league’s best goalies for the past three seasons.
However, Lehner gave up a soft goal early on a Mikko Rantanen backhander, and Vegas never recovered. Colorado kept coming offensively, and Lehner wasn’t his usual sharp self. Once the floodgates opened for Colorado, they weren’t getting stopped. As the game unfolded, Vegas increasingly made mistakes and took dumb penalties. When all was said and done, Lehner fished seven pucks out of his net.
It would be absolutely shocking if Fleury wasn’t back in between the pipes for Vegas in Game 2. If Lehner made some early saves on some questionable goals, there’s no doubt it’d be a different game in the opener. Hopefully for Vegas’ sake, Fleury can provide a better goaltending performance.
On the Colorado side of the ice, it’s the Nathan MacKinnon show. MacKinnon had his third three-point effort of the playoffs (in just five games, mind you) as he cements himself as the runaway favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. MacKinnon along with linemates Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog posted a 62.5% expected goal rate in the opener. There is no better line at this point of the playoffs.
Golden Knights vs. Avalanche Best Bet
If you want no part of stepping in front of this Avalanche freight train, I can’t blame you. They’ve looked extremely impressive all season, and they’ve elevated their game to an insane level in this postseason. They haven’t played a close game yet, posting a +19 goal differential through five games. Yes, their average margin of victory is almost four goals, and their closest games have seen them win by “just” three goals.
However, Vegas should offer Colorado some stiff competition. These teams finished tied for the most points in the league during the regular season. Vegas is a very good team with plenty of elite talent such as Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Shea Theodore and Marc-Andre Fleury. They also have tremendous depth with players such as Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez and William Karlsson.
At this price, I can’t see myself laying such heavy juice with Colorado. I expect a better goaltending performance from Fleury than the one provided by Lehner in Game 1. I also expect a more focused effort from Vegas. They seemed to get away from their usual disciplined game on Sunday.
Colorado was rested after their sweep of the Blues. On the other hand, the Knights were less than 48 hours removed from a Game 7 victory. Vegas was likely more emotionally and physically worn out than their counterparts. With both teams now on even footing, we’ll see whether the Golden Knights can make this a competitive series.
Pick: Golden Knights +164 (up to +155)