Vegas has been the best shot-blocking team in the postseason and with the series shifting to FLA Live Arena, a place the Panthers love to let it rip, there will be a ton of chances for that trend to continue — read more in our NHL picks below.
Through two games, it’s been a fairly one-sided Stanley Cup Final and now the setting turns to FLA Live Arena where Paul Maurice and the Florida Panthers have to adjust to the Vegas Golden Knights and their 2-0 series lead.
With the Cats on the ropes, winning the Corsi battle, and returning home where they fire a ton of shots on net, is this the best matchup for the league’s best shot-blockers in the Golden Knights?
I break it all down in my NHL betting picks for Golden Knights vs. Panthers below. Be sure to also check our Robert Criscola’s three favorite Game 3 prop bets!
The Vegas Golden Knights led all teams during the regular season in blocked shots at 17.93 per 60 minutes. In the postseason, those numbers have jumped to 18.63 per 60 which also paces all playoff teams. Aiding these block numbers is a team that has also posted the worst Corsi% of all 16 postseason squads.
Vegas is happy giving up low-quality shots from the outside, which their elite blue line is happy to step in front of. In this series alone, the Knights’ defense has blocked 27 shots through two games, or 73% of the team’s blocked shots.
The beautiful thing about the Golden Knights is they run all six defensemen at roughly the same rate as Alex Pietrangelo leads blueliners with 21:18 time on ice per game in the series while the fifth-most used rearguard, Zach Whitecloud, has been playing 18:50 per game in the series.
Nicolas Hague and Zach Whitecloud are D-partners who also play on the second penalty-kill unit, which is important as bettors could see more penalties in Game 3 after what transpired on Monday. With the Knights scoring four power-play goals so far in the series, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Florida Panthers had their fair chances with the man advantage on Thursday night.
Whitecloud is the better value of the two at Over 1.5 blocked shots at -150 but putting the two Over 1.5 blocked shots together at +180 equates to true odds in the SGP. This is also the better avenue as the scoring for this metric isn’t 100% accurate and laying juice is a little more worrisome.
Making this a high-volume shot-block game is that the Panthers throw a ton of shots toward the net at home and finished the regular season with the third-highest home Corsi and second-highest home Fenwick. Vegas has also played with the lead for the majority of this series and blocked-shot chances increase when defending a lead.
Vegas blocks more shots than anyone, plays its defense at roughly the same minutes, and now goes on the road vs. an opponent that shoots a lot on home ice. This is an optimal shot-blocking matchup and the potential for Florida power plays makes it even better.
First things first here, bettors are getting pretty much true odds with this SGP and not losing any value with multipliers.
Whitecloud has the best value of all the Vegas players with a blocked shot market and will see nearly 20 minutes, gets PK2 time, and faces a team that shoots more at home than the majority of teams in the league.
Vegas could get shorter than EVEN money and the market is already moving its way. The Vegas blueline is making life difficult for the Florida forecheck and the Golden Knights are reactionary to the Panthers’ extra-curriculars.
Bobrovsky is not seeing the puck as well as he did before and Adin Hill is certainly playing above expectations. Both teams have managed to get decent quality chances on net and considering the Over is 2-0 in the series, Florida hasn’t helped much in the scoring department.
The Panthers opened as a -125 home favorite for Game 3 but have already moved to -120 by Wednesday afternoon. Considering Vegas closed as short as -140 in Game 2 and home ice is worth as much as 25 points (50 points total for a venue change), there is still some room for the Knights to get shorter than their current +100 moneyline price.
Florida has not received the type of goaltending in this series that it did in its previous 11 games. Sergei Bobrovsky has stopped just 38 of 46 shots through two games and was pulled in Game 2 after allowing four goals on 13 shots.
Bobrovsky was the main reason the Panthers were stacking wins and whether it was the time off or just a streak running out, bettors should not be expecting the same goalie that posted a .954 SV% over Rounds 2 and 3.
Another issue that will be difficult for the Panthers to adapt to is the play of the Vegas defense. Florida took advantage of a physical offensive forecheck vs. the Leafs and Canes but are now facing a much bigger Vegas defense. The Panthers are not winning as many battles on their dump-ins and are struggling to control play in the offensive zone.
Making things worse, Florida can’t capitalize on its high-danger chances with just one goal on 15 chances, per Natural Stat Trick.
Yes, Vegas has been the benefactor of plenty of power plays and has a +4 goal differential with its special teams, but even at 5-on-5, Vegas has outscored the Panthers 8-3 in the series with a 71.53% high-danger GF%. I’m happy to take Vegas as short as -110.
Because of the play in net for Florida, the total has moved from 5.5 to a flat 6 and I think the Over is in play for Thursday night.
Through two games, there’s been a total of 14.20 expected goals, and considering the animosity coming out of Game 3 with the misconducts and the Jack Eichel hit, bettors could continue to see more penalties in this series. There were 18 total power plays in Games 1 and 2 with a total of four goals scored on the man advantage.
Coming into the series, both clubs had some of the worst playoff penalty kills, and heading into Game 3, neither club has a PK at 70% or better, ranking in the Bottom 4 of the 16 playoff teams.
The move from 5.5 to 6 isn’t as substantial as the move from 6.5 to 7 as a 3-2 game will likely always have an empty-net opportunity and if the Panthers are trailing 4-2 late, bettors could see a goalie pull with plenty of time left on the clock to hit the Over.
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