The Vegas Golden Knights wrapped up the round robin mini-tournament preceding the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the weekend. Nevada’s local team walked away from playing three games without a loss.
Victories against the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche give the Golden Knights the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs.
Golden Knights limited in home ice advantage
The Golden Knights will play a best of seven series against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago went 3-1 in their best of five series against the Edmonton Oilers. The Blackhawks are the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights are favored to win the series versus the Blackhawks; however, home ice advantage has a different meaning this year.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are being played in two bubbles. The Golden Knights and Blackhawks are located in the Western Conference bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
There isn’t a traditional fan-influenced home ice advantage since the games are being played without anyone in attendance. Having said that, the better-seeded teams do have a couple of advantages.
This year, the first two rounds of the playoffs will be reseeded each round. The team with the lowest seed will always take on the team with the highest seed. Since Vegas is the No. 1 seed, they’ll play the worst team remaining in the division in the next round of the playoffs.
There’s one traditional home ice advantage that will still have an effect on every game. The home team will make the last line change.
This allows the home team to dictate the on-ice matchup before each faceoff. Since the Golden Knights are the home team in this matchup, they’ll have this slight edge in four of the seven games in the series.
Golden Knights matchup against the Blackhawks
The first game of the series takes place in Edmonton on Tuesday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. PT. Vegas will be the home team for the first two games of the series. Here’s the rest of the schedule (note that game time is only available for the first four games of the series):
- Aug. 13 at 2:30 p.m. (Vegas home)
- Aug. 15 at 5 p.m. (Chicago home)
- Aug. 16 at 3:30 p.m. (Chicago home)
- Aug. 18 time TBA (Vegas home)
- Aug. 20 time TBA (Chicago home)
- Aug. 22 time TBA (Vegas home)
“They’re a good team,” Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore told NHL.com about the Blackhawks. “I watched most of their games in the play-in round. They’re fast, they’ve got the skill, they’ve got the goaltending, they got everything, so it’s going to be a good matchup.”
Mark Stone was the leading scorer for the Golden Knights in the round robin games. The right-winger led the Golden Knights with five points (two goals, three assists) in the first three games.
Goalie Robin Lehner could see more time in net than previously expected. Coach Peter DeBoer was gauging Lehner’s play in the round robin games against that of starter Marc-Andre Fleury. There could be a shift in playing between the pipes for the rest of the playoffs beginning in game one of the series.
This could be a big series for Lehner’s future in the league. The goalkeeper is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
The Golden Knights won two of three games against the Blackhawks this season. One of those victories came by way of a shootout. The Stanley Cup Playoff games play overtime periods until there’s a winner. There won’t be a shootout if a game ends in a tie during regulation.
Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks betting odds
When series odds were first posted for the matchup, the Golden Knights were -250 favorites versus the Blackhawks who were +205. Bettors pounded the early odds and as of the writing of this article, the Golden Knights are -300 favorites to win the series at BetMGM on Monday morning.
Odds continue to move toward the Golden Knights, as they’re now -340 at William Hill sportsbooks.
“As we saw in the qualifying round, anything can happen,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US. “In the NHL, the dogs are always pretty live. It’s the one sport where the No. 8 seed can beat the No. 1 seed no problem.
The Golden Knights are a massive -210 favorite to win game one of the series at Station Casinos. The Blackhawks are +175 to win the first game as the road team in the series. The over/under total for the game is 6.5 goals.
The Golden Knights are now the 9/2 favorite to win the Stanley Cup at the Westgate Superbook, according to VP of Risk Management Jeff Sherman. The Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning are tied for the second favorite at 6-1.
Stanley Cup updated
Golden Knights 9/2
Blue Jackets 40/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) August 10, 2020
Bettors looking for a simpler wagering option can wager “Yes” that the Vegas Golden Knights will win the Stanley Cup at Circa Sports at +520 odds. On the other side, a “No” bet against the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup is -820.