Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Picks, Game 6 Preview, Prediction: Can Vegas Pull Off Upset and Finish Series? (June 10)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Marc-Andre Fleury.

Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Game 6 Odds


Avalanche Odds +115
Golden Knights Odds -135
Over/Under 5.5
Time | TV Thursday, 9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.

“Uh oh.”

Depending on how stubborn you are as a Colorado Avalanche backer or fan, you’ve uttered this phrase at some point during the series. Even the most ardent believer had to have finally given in on Tuesday night when Mark Stone was rolling towards the Avs net with a step on a pair of chasing Colorado defenseman, firing the overtime winner over the shoulder of the Avs’ goaltender, Phillipp Grubauer.

Sometime from when Stone was sprung to when he sniped it, the last holdouts finally uttered the defeated two-word phrase:

“Uh oh.”

As we look towards Game 6, we’ll investigate the various points where a more discerning viewer may have made this lamentation and how those moments are telling when it comes to how we found ourselves with everyone’s Stanley Cup favourite on the brink of second-round elimination.

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Early Games Were Deceiving For Avalanche

Colorado routed Vegas in Game 1, but the score was deceiving. The underlying metrics pointed to a far more evenly played game than the 7-1 score indicated. The Avalanche had the slightest of edges in Expected Goals 5v5 at 1.27-1.25, and the even-strength High-Danger Chances were a 5-5 draw. How could this be? Well, Robin Lehner’s -4 Goals Saved Above Average for the game is a pretty good hint. Game 1 was more like a 3-2 game from the play on the ice than the lopsided score on the board.

This type of thing happens often in hockey, so there was no reason for concern. However, maybe that first warning shot should have come in the next game — not from the sound of a Golden Knights goal, but the rhythmic sounds of pucks consistently ringing off the goal posts.

Vegas was better than Colorado in Game 2, but between Grubauer’s stubbornness and some bad luck for Golden Knights shooters, the game went to overtime despite a 2.02-0.98 advantage for Vegas in even-strength Expected Goals. The Avs scored a power play goal in overtime to give them a 2-0 series lead. It was easy to not be concerned for most.

 In Game 3, the Avs appeared poised to pull off an improbable win despite being outplayed throughout, only to see Jonathan Marchessault bank one in to tie it and Max Pacioretty tip one in for the eventual game-winner that kept Vegas alive. Maybe some more Avs backers joined the ranks of the cautiously concerned.

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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.


Fleury Keeps Knights Afloat

It became very real in Game 4. The Golden Knights proved their dominance of Game 3 was more than just a change in venue and a subsequent push. Let’s look at some of the basic 5-on-5 metrics for those games in Vegas:

Avalanche Golden Knights
Expected Goals 5v5 For (Game 3) 1.09 3.76
High-Danger Chances 5v5 (Game 3) 4 15
Expected Goals For 5v5 (Game 4) 1.22 2.67
High-Danger Chances 5v5 (Game 4) 5 17

Uh oh. That’s ugly unless you’re a Vegas resident. Even those of us with Avalanche futures have to admit that we may have been caught red-handed. While a bet on Colorado to win the West at +125 and the Stanley Cup at +500 has only gained in value, it became clear after Game 4 that the Avalanche would likely needed to rely on their two remaining games at home in order to advance.

That’s why the series’ final “uh oh” came in Game 5. The Avalanche took their turn to dominate the run of play, but a 2-0 lead during the second intermission, disappeared like a volunteer at a Vegas magic show in the third period. Stone scored his goal, and now the Avalanche have to do something that the numbers in the above chart suggest may be near impossible.

Add in that Vegas is done giving away goals with Fleury back in between the pipes after the Game 1 fiasco, and the Golden Knights are frustrating the Avalanche in all three zones. While Game 5 should have been won by Colorado, that’s what Fleury is for. The Vezina nominee is there to keep the Golden Knights in games when they’re second-best like on Tuesday night.


Betting Analysis & Pick

When you’re beat, you’re beat. This year’s edition of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have shown us that once the writing is on the wall, it might as well be in permanent marker. The Canadiens polished off the Jets, the Lightning showed their killer instinct in Carolina, and the Islanders took no prisoners with a chance to eliminate the Bruins.

Using solely regular season priors, I would make the Avalanche a considerable favourite even in Vegas. However, we have enough information through this series to see that the matchup here is more relevant than what happened against the Sharks or Kings in February. Using just these fresh numbers, Vegas becomes the team that should be close to -200 favorites at home, the way Colorado was when this series started what feels like forever ago before the first of many “Uh ohs”.

Pick: Golden Knights (-135 or better)

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