Vegas, Florida Eyeing First Stanley Cup Title
What a difference a year makes. A season ago, the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t even make it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Florida Panthers headed into the postseason with high hopes after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with an NHL-leading 122 points, only to be swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
The Golden Knights, who play the first two games at home, are favored in the first game of the Stanley Cup Final according to the NHL picks.
The Golden Knights rank third among the 16 playoff teams in goals per game and fourth in goals against heading into the franchise’s second Stanley Cup Final. Vegas has won Game 1 in each of the last two series, but so have the Florida Panthers.
There are plenty of NHL betting options heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Aleksander Barkov and Nick Cousins each had a goal and an assist in the two games against the Golden Knights.
When looking at the NHL predictions, the prop bet is set at -175 for Barkov to have a point in Game 1. He is also listed at +900 to be the scorer of the game’s first goal.
Jack Eichel is tied for the team lead with the Golden Knights with two points in the two regular-season games against Florida. He has three goals and 13 assists in 19 games against Florida, most coming when he played in the Eastern Conference with the Buffalo Sabres. The sportsbook has Eichel as one of the top candidates in the Conn Smythe odds as the MVP of the playoffs. Eichel (+450) trails only Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (+225) and Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (+300) in the Conn Smythe odds.
Game 1 is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights are priced at -130 to win the series opener, with the total set at 5½. The second game is also at T-Mobile Arena before the series shifts to Florida for Games 3 and 4. Vegas is 6-3 at home and 8-1 on the road in the playoffs.
“We know they’re good at home. They have lots of energy in the building and it’s a fun atmosphere to play in. We’re going to be ready, for sure.”@JamesonCoop has the notes & quotes from today’s practice! » https://t.co/jPvZ5Fc1NK pic.twitter.com/6PoRbAIroE
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 31, 2023
The Golden Knights begin the series priced at -120 to win the franchise’s first NHL championship. According to the NHL betting lines, there are +450 odds for either Vegas to win the series in seven games or Florida to emerge victorious in six. For those predicting a quick series, a four-game sweep by the Panthers comes in at +1200 with Vegas at +1000 to win the title in four games.
Can Panthers Shake Off the Rust?
A few extra days of rest is never a bad thing during the grueling journey to the Stanley Cup Final, right?
The Florida Panthers haven’t played since May 24 after completing a four-game sweep of the Metropolitan Division-winning Carolina Hurricanes. Vegas took care of the Dallas Stars in emphatic fashion out west with a 6-0 win in Game 6.
Will those extra days of rest prove to be a benefit or a detriment to a Panthers team that had plenty of momentum with 11 wins in the last 12 games?
The Golden Knights have scored twice as many goals in the first period as the Panthers. However, Vegas has also allowed the most goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Florida has had no issues coming from behind in the postseason and it won’t be a surprise to see a little rust entering its play early in the series opener. The NHL odds favor Vegas to get the jump in Game 1.
- Pick: Vegas to be first team to two goals (-115)
Life of Reilly
The last time the Golden Knights were in the Stanley Cup Finals, Reilly Smith had three goals and three assists to go with 11 shots on goal in the five games.
While Smith has been held to two shots or less in each of his last five games, it is worth taking a chance of the veteran forward, who spent two seasons playing with the Florida Panthers, topping the 2½ shots on goal mark.
Smith had three assists in the last three games against Dallas, another team that Smith used to play for. Will he do the same against the Panthers?
- Pick: Reilly Smith To Top 2½ Shots on Goal (+150)
Get Ready to Rumble
Vegas has a 3-1 record in overtime games in this year’s playoffs. That sounds impressive until those who bet online realize that the Panthers are 6-0 in overtime games in the 2023 postseason, with five of those wins coming on the road.
Florida has played eight consecutive one-goal games and won seven of them. The Panthers are 9-1 in games decided by one goal and 3-3 in contests decided by more than one goal. For the Golden Knights, there haven’t been as many down-to-the-wire games so far, but Vegas is 4-1 in one-goal affairs.
The best odds for Game 1 are for Vegas to win by one goal as that carries a price of +300 compared to +320 for the Panthers.
- Pick: Golden Knights to Win By One Goal (+300)
Getting Back to Work
Matthew Tkachuk did everything short of getting between the pipes to make some saves in the previous series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tkachuk had four goals. Two of them came in overtime and another with less than five seconds to play. He is no stranger when it comes to facing the Golden Knights. During his run with the Calgary Flames, Tkachuk had eight goals and eight assists in 12 games.
Based on how he has been producing in the postseason, Tkachuk is second among all players with +160 odds to be an anytime goal scorer and is at +850 to be the game’s first goal scorer.
Tkachuk typically saved his best work for the biggest moments so that is why going with him as an anytime goal scorer would be the best way to proceed..
- Pick: Matthew Tkachuk To Be An Anytime Goals Scorer (+160)