For the second straight year, the Vegas Golden Knights have gone cold at the worst time. Last season, the team struggled to score goals against the Dallas Stars in the semifinals, which led to Vegas’ elimination. Now in the semifinals again, the Golden Knights have been unable to solve Carey Price, scoring just 2.1 goals per 60 minutes. Another similarity between the way last season ended and how this one appears to be trending is the fact that a defender leads the team in goals. In 2020 it was Shea Theodore leading the way with seven goals; this time around, it’s Alex Pietrangelo with four goals. With so much of the team's offense flowing through the blue line, it’s no wonder the Golden Knights’ forwards have barely chipped in. All the problems that plagued the team in the semifinals last year against the Dallas Stars have returned to haunt them against the Canadiens.
Can they turn it around and win Game 6?
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights generate 14 low-danger shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five, which accounts for about 50% of the team’s total shots in that situation. That is simply an optimal strategy and while the blame can be placed on the players, a great deal of it should also be pinned on the coaching staff. Vegas has a good group of forwards, especially on their first two lines, but this isn’t the first time that they haven’t been utilized properly. Too much of the team's offense flows through its defenders and it’s a problem that I don’t think we should expect to be fixed prior to Thursday’s game. However, despite what we’ve seen in the series thus far, the Golden Knights are still a favorite to extend the series to seven games.
Should they be? Absolutely. However, bettors shouldn’t necessarily feel confident about their chances of doing so. Prior to the series, I estimated that the Golden Knights should be priced at -158 on the road, but my assessment of the teams has changed, even if only slightly. Now, I believe that the Golden Knights should carry a price tag of -147 on the road, and that’s not much different from what we’re seeing offered at most sportsbooks. The -136 moneyline price at Circa Sports in Las Vegas is a good measuring stick for bettors looking to back Vegas on Thursday. The Golden Knights are worth a bet at -138 or better, but at -145 there just isn’t enough value to justify a wager.
As far as the Canadiens are concerned, while they very well could pull off another upset here, I believe that the value in betting them to do so has disappeared, so I won’t be betting on them to win this game. Clearly they’re capable of winning the series but betting a team at home with + 125 odds a few days after they were + 150 -- and north of + 200 on the road -- is what I would call reaching. If you’re determined to bet the Canadiens on the moneyline, at least shop around. You can play + 120 at BetMGM or + 125 at William Hill, but why do that when you can take + 137 at WynnBET or + 135 at the Golden Nugget. Be sure to catch Prime Time Action on Thursday for more analysis and player prop picks.