The Action Network is providing NHL.com readers with odds and analysis for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today, a look at Game 6 of the Semifinals between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens.
Golden Knights at Canadiens Game 6 odds
Golden Knights odds: -140
Canadiens odds: +115
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Note: If you’re new to betting, the Golden Knights’ -140 odds mean a $140 bet would profit $100 if they win the game. Conversely, the Canadiens’ +115 odds mean a $100 bet would net $115. Convert odds using The Action Network’s Betting Odds Calculator.
Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s what makes this time of year so special. It’s what makes the NHL such a fun sport to watch. But no matter how many times we are reminded about the magic that happens when the tournament starts, it still somehow manages to catch us by surprise.
The Montreal Canadiens had the fewest points of any team that qualified for the postseason. They were the fourth-biggest longshot on the board entering the tournament. They were down 3-1 in their Round 1 series against the favored Maple Leafs. They were the biggest underdog of the postseason according to their series odds against the Vegas Golden Knights. They are one win away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1993.
Oftentimes when we’re dealing with a bona fide Cinderella Story like the Canadiens the assumption is that lady luck is heavily involved. Big underdogs usually need the lion’s share of the bounces to pull an upset in a best-of-7, let alone three of them. But that isn’t really the case in this series. The Canadiens have earned their 3-2 series lead, just like they earned their four-game sweep against the Jets and how they earned their comeback win against the Leafs.
The Habs have spent nearly 118 minutes with the lead through their first five games against the Knights. Since losing Game 1, Montreal has only trailed for 16 out of 240 minutes of game time. The Canadiens may be a Cinderella, but they are also ruthless.
A lot of that ruthlessness is showing on defense, where the Habs have held the Knights to 10 high-danger scoring chances in the last two games. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights have tallied 234 chances in this series. A whopping 123 (52.5%) of those chances were graded as low-danger chances by Natural Stat Trick. In other words, the Canadiens may be giving up more shot attempts than the Knights, but they are doing a great job of protecting the house and making life easy on Carey Price. The goalie deserves credit for another great series, but the Habs defense has been the story so far.
Since Game 1, the Habs have allowed just 2.19 expected goals and 8.66 high-danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. To post those kind of numbers against a team that led the NHL in expected goals per 60 during the regular season is shocking.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play. xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.
And if you need further proof of just how impressive the Canadiens have been in this series, look no further than the betting market. The price on Montreal has cratered since its last home game:
Game 3: Knights -175/Canadiens +145
Game 4: Knights -185/Canadiens +150
Game 6: Knights -140/Canadiens +115
Of course, that kind of market movement does present opportunity. It’s hard to find value on a team at +115 when you could have had them at +150 two games ago, but what about an elite team that is now being offered at a 45-cent discount due to a couple of down performances? Or to put it differently, if I offered you the Knights at -140 to win this game a week ago, would you have taken it?
Michael Leboff covers the NHL and more at The Action Network — a sports media company that builds products and creates content to inform and entertain the sports bettor.