Although I’ll openly admit I’ve been daydreaming about how much fun a Colorado-Vegas playoff series would be, I knew the Knights didn’t get any favors when they drew Minnesota in the first round. The Wild are physical, well-coached, deep on the blue line, and have a confident goalie in Cam Talbot. They played Vegas well all season. The Wild can throw a wrench into things. They can steal a game, or a series.
And that’s what Minnesota did Sunday — it stole Game 1. Although Vegas hit the ice with an immediate storm — 19 shots in the first period, 42 for the game — it couldn’t solve Talbot. And all bets are off when a game gets to overtime. Joel Eriksson Ek converted from the slot — a rare defensive breakdown from Vegas — and the game was clinched.
Zig-zag theory dictates that you go back to the beaten favorite in this spot, especially if it’s an entity you believe in. And I do believe in the Knights — the depth of the roster, the quality of the leadership (Mark Stone had a brilliant year and deserves the Selke Award, and maybe down-ballot MVP consideration). Marc-Andre Fleury had the lowest goals-against average of his career, a nod to his fine play and the fortress that Vegas built in front of him.
You can punch a -160 Vegas ticket at Bet MGM if you like, but I’ll use stronger conviction and trim the juice somewhat. My official recommendation is Vegas to win in regulation time, which is +100 at BetMGM. Not every team has a legitimate home-ice push — and sometimes the nervous energy at home works against a team — but Vegas, even with a partial set of fans, gets a boost from its crowd. I expect another strong start in Period 1, and Talbot can’t be superman forever. The Wild are a good hockey team, but Vegas might be a great one, a Stanley-contending one. Look for the evener tonight.
Pick: Vegas wins in regulation, +100 (1 unit)
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