Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||+108|
|Time||Friday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via FanDuel|
The Golden Knights will head home to T-Mobile Arena desperate to avoid falling into an 0-3 series hole after a tough 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2, after what was a greatly improved effort. Game 3 will be played in front of a 100% capacity crowd, which should make for an absolutely electric atmosphere inside the fortress.
InGame 2, we saw a contest much more in line with what was expected between these two powerhouses, an excellent affair played at an incredible pace with a ton of speed and skill on display for both sides and two Vezina-candidate goaltenders going toe to toe. That was much different from the Avalanche’s 7-1 thrashing in Game 1, a game Vegas never appeared ready for.
The Golden Knights pushed hard, particularly through the end of the second and third period, but ultimately fell 3-2 with Mikko Rantanen beating Marc-Andre Fleury on a twisted wrister on the power play, 2:07 into the first overtime.
Vegas led on expected goals 2.98-2.69 in the game and certainly could feel like they were step for step with the Avalanche after being blown out in Game 1. In fact, the Knights were probably even the better team for much of the contest.
One big positive for the Golden Knights was the play of their second line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith. The line controlled play to an xGF of 68.0% in the contest, with Smith breaking through with a pretty backhand finish to tie the game midway through the second period with Marchessault earning an assist. Marchessault also hit the inside of the post late in the second on what would have been a huge marker that possibly could have changed the result of the contest.
The line was instrumental in the Knights’ 2017-18 run to the final, skating as an elite top unit at the time. If they can find somewhere near that form behind the top unit of Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson, the Golden Knights have a top six fit to compete with anybody, even the Avalanche.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Even with a team as strong as this Avalanche group, sometimes you still need your goalie to make some tough saves to win a game and Phillip Grubauer did just that in Game 2. We saw in last year’s postseason just how much Grubauer still means to this Avalanche group, with Colorado ultimately falling to Dallas in the second round, although with a number of other injuries and relevant current players not with the team.
The Avalanche power play currently sits at a ludicrous 43.1% success rate in the postseason, and Vegas will need to figure out a way to slow that unit down if they want to succeed. Case in point coming in Game 2, as the Knights were the better team at even strength yet lost in large due to two power-play goals against. Staying out of the box would be a good start, as the Knights took 12 penalty minutes to the Avs’ 6 in the game.
An incredibly deep and talented Knights group has very quickly found itself in an essentially do-or-die spot tomorrow night against an Avalanche team firing on all cylinders. We can expect Vegas to be at their absolute best and most urgent here, but will it be enough to fare better than they have in the first two games of the series?
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Avs are the clear favourite to win the cup, and deservedly so. Anyway you want to look at it, this roster is just scary good. Colorado is analytically far and away the best in the league, and when you watch the group that comes as no surprise.
The Golden Knights were clearly step for step with the Avs on Tuesday in Game 2 however, but ultimately could not find a way to get the result they needed. Vegas will now return home to what should be an incredibly lively atmosphere, with T-Mobile Arena set to return to full capacity for the contest.
In Game 2 we saw Vegas find their identity, playing a very up tempo, aggressive game and taking the play to the Avalanche at 5-on-5 for extended periods of time. With their season essentially on the line in this one, we should see the Golden Knights come out flying in front of what should be a notably lively crowd.
Colorado will do their best to have a killer instinct up 2-0 entering the fortress and not let the Vegas into this series, but I think it will be hard for the Avs to match the Knights energy and sense of urgency in this one. Considering that Vegas already could have fared better in Game 2 given some better puck-luck, I actually see value in backing the Knights to take advantage of a favorable spot and finally hand the Avalanche a postseason loss.
Pick: Golden Knights +108