By Charles Jay
The Vegas Golden Knights are going to do whatever it takes to stay alive, but they are going to have to get better than they have received so far from their goaltender. That’s where things start, as play gets underway in game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Thursday night at 8:05 PM ET at the T-Mobile Arena. The Washington Capitals have the 3-1 lead in games, so this is “curtains” for the Knights of they don’t come up with a big effort. Remember that at BetAnySports, you can get reduced juice prior to the start of the game, and then, after the first puck is dropped, you can step in with Live Betting Ultra and place wagers continuously throughout the game itself.
The Knights are obviously one of the greatest stories of this or any NHL season, and they are the first expansion team that has beaten previously-established teams to reach the Cup final (we note that the St. Louis Blues went to the Finals in 1968 but beat only other expansion clubs to get there). Their architect, general manager George McPhee, did a masterful job, not only using picks in the expansion draft, but also orchestrating trades with other teams during that phase, and stockpiling future amateur draft selections. The point is, although veteran players have fueled this team’s first-year success, it isn’t as if they are about to get old, or that Vegas’ future has been mortgaged. And Gerard Gallant, who had been fired in Florida after experiencing great success, is in line for the Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year.
This might not be the season for them to win it all, however. The Capitals, who, unlike Vegas, have endured years of frustration trying to put themselves in position to win a championship, have been getting a little something extra from just about everybody. They have been highly efficient in shooting, have converted on one-third of their power plays, and have defended the Knights to the extent that they have probably kept the Vegas offense well off-balance. They are damn good on the road as well, going 9-3 in these NHL playoffs.
In the Stanley Cup playoff betting odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, the Knights are favored to keep this series going:
Vegas Golden Knights -170
Washington Capitals +150
Knights -1.5 Goals +170
Capitals +1.5 Goals -200
Over 5.5 Goals -110
Under 5.5 Goals -110
One problem for the Knights thus far is that they have to deal with the goaltending of Braden Holtby. But an associated issue has been the defensemen, who have blocked 85 shots. They are really laying themselves down for the team, and the Knights players freely acknowledge that they can’t find lanes to shoot through. How will that change? Well, that’s a really good question. The Golden Knights have to force that issue with some puck movement. That’s one thing the Caps have been able to do just fine, and it reflects on the Vegas defense. There have just been too many cross-ice passes, which often leaves Marc-Andre Fleury out of position.
Fleury, who has been on Stanley Cup-winning teams the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was nothing short of glittering coming into this series, as he had a 1.68 goals-against average. But he has sputtered here, giving up 16 goals already. On the other hand, Holtby has kept himself relatively mistake-free, and he made “The Save” in Game 3, which was almost miraculous in denying Alex Tuch a goal in the waning moments. Holtby, incidentally, came into the Finals having held the Tampa Bay Lightning – who led the league in scoring – without a goal for the last 159 minutes.
And talk about efficiency – the Caps scored six goals on 23 shots in Game 4, with three coming during a furious flurry in the first period that ended things, for all intents and purposes. Gallant believes his team caught a couple of unlucky breaks early that may have made it a different game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean luck is going to go their way in this one. They’ll need more production from their #1 line, which has just one goal in the last three games.
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(The preceding information has been furnished for news matter only)