Game 3 Preview: Back at Home, Habs Hope to Slay Golden Knights

NHL Jun 18, 2021

Locked Up Even at 1-1, Montreal-Las Vegas Semi-Finals Resume with Canadiens Now Holding Home Ice Advantage

The Montreal Canadiens hope to be rude and unpleasant hosts this evening when they (un)welcome the Las Vegas Golden Knights at Centre Bell.   Face off is at 8 pm EST.

So far, the best-of-seven games series has been difficult to analyze.  It all depends on how we look at things.  Is the glass half full or half empty?

Montreal got exactly what it wanted by splitting the first two games in Las Vegas. That sets up a situation where the Canadiens now enjoy home ice advantange, since the Habs could possibly host 3 of the next 5 playoff games, assuming it goes the distance.  Montreal has to be pleased with where they are right now – heavy underdogs with a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals if they can somehow win three more games.

Las Vegas certainly hoped to be up 2-0 at this point, especially after winning Game 1 with relative ease by a score of 4-1.  The Golden Knights looked like the better team and must have thought Game 2 would produce a similar outcome, but that wasn't the case.  Montreal jumped out to a shocking 3-0 lead before the home team came alive and closed the gap to a 3-2 final.  Nonetheless, in two games Las Vegas has outplayed Montreal (according to stats – including shots on goal) in 4 of 6 periods.  

Translated into the odds on tonight's game, bettors apparently still don't believe in Montreal.  The Habs have been underdogs in virtually every playoff game, so far – and this is no exception.  Montreal is +140 at home tonight, which comes back at a whopping -175 if you pick Las Vegas.

Worth noting: One interesting adjustment that has been made after two straight UNDERS: Games 1 and 2 each produced 5 goals.  So, the total on tonight's game is 5, not 5.5.

PREDICTION:   We touted Montreal in this series getting back anywhere from +370 to +425 depending on the betting location (Las Vegas odds were ridiculously shaded in favour of the hometown Golden Knights).  It's hard to buck the hope that the Canadiens will somehow find a way to win.  

Sure, the Golden Knights do have the stronger roster.  They have the superior W-L record in the regular season.  Perhaps they've even defeated better opposition to get here.  However, there are intangibles that don't show up in a box score.  On the bench, things happen that cannot be predicted.

The Canadiens playing in the confines of home deserve more respect than they're getting.  This is especially true as Montreal has come out of the locker room on absolutely fire and outplayed the Golden Knights in most of the first period of both games. Assuming this instensity continues, the Habs chances to win are probably much better than +145.

We also have Price in the goal, who has shown he can keep up with the brilliance of Fluery on the other side of the rink.  Fluery looked uncharacteristically shaky in Game 2, while Price did enough to get the win.

In a game tonight that should be close, and perhaps low-scoring according to the total, the value might typically be with the Canadiens on the puckline.  Taking Montreal at +145 is a good value bet just to win the game.  However, taking Montreal +1.5 (goals) seems like a safer bet.  However, laying -200 is too high.  So, we'll pass on that option based on the numbers.  We'd like something cloer to -150 to pounce on that, which we can't find.

Instead, look to the Canadiens to continue starting games hot and playing aggressive.  Playing at home in front of a boisterous crowd, this should even be more true for tonight's game.  Montreal is currently +120 in the First Period.  We think that's where the value is in a game that's very difficult to predict.  

So, we're touting Montreal +120 to come out of the First Period with a lead.  That's the bet.  

SCORE FORECAST:  Montreal 1, Las Vegas 0 – end of First Period