Andrew Berkshire picks out his four best NHL bets for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights.
This could be it! The Vegas Golden Knights have put the Florida Panthers on the brink, leading them 3-1 in the series as the teams head back to Vegas.
The Golden Knights could win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history on home ice, just six seasons into their existence. Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith can potentially lift the Stanley Cup against the team that viewed them as expendable. Can they pull it off?
Vegas Golden Knights to win
As the series has gone on, the Vegas Golden Knights have been like an anaconda, slowly tightening their grip on the end goal. Each time the Florida Panthers try to make a move, Vegas constricts them into having no options, from breaking through Sergei Bobrovsky to playing Matthew Tkachuk so hard that he’s struggling to take shifts while nursing injuries.
The same thing has been true by the underlying numbers too. While the Panthers are getting shot attempts – 55.2 per cent of them at 5-vs-5 – they’re not getting into the dangerous areas. Vegas has controlled shots, expected goals, scoring chances, high-danger scoring chances, and actual goals.
It seems unlikely that they’ll give Florida life now.
Under 5.5 total goals
The games in Vegas to start this series were very high scoring, but with the stakes so high at this point, it would be shocking if this one turned into a barn burner. Sergei Bobrovsky has found his game a little bit, and the refs are allowing some wild cheating defensively.
Unless the Panthers have an explosion of offence hidden within them, this game should be very similar to the previous two.
Jonathan Marchessault to score 1+ points
Not only is he the favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy with his postseason-leading 13 goals, he’s been beyond clutch the longer the postseason goes. As well as those important goals, he’s also riding a nine-game points streak.
He now has an opportunity to put the final cherry on top of his brilliant postseason and playoffs career. Since he joined the Vegas Golden Knights six seasons ago, only eight players have produced more than Marchessault’s 70 playoff points heading into this one.
Brandon Montour to score 1+ points
An absolute weapon from the point this season, Montour has carried his great regular season through to the playoffs, scoring eight times in the postseason, including the last two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
With the injury to Matthew Tkachuk, expect the Panthers to simplify their offence a little bit and look for bounces. The most dependable player for them at getting pucks through has arguably been Montour. He’ll get plenty of opportunities tonight.