We will find out who’ll get the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference on Saturday, August 8, when the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Colorado Avalanche. Both teams have won their first two games of the 2020 Stanley Cup Round-Robin Qualifiers, and the winner of Saturday’s showdown will finish atop of the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights and Avalanche have met twice in the regular season, and the Avs have been victorious on both occasions. Now, let’s see what the bettors can expect from their Stanley Cup Qualifiers matchup.
The Golden Knights are without Max Pacioretty, and the 31-year-old winger scored 32 goals and 34 assists this past regular season. The Avs are missing winger Colin Wilson due to a lower-body injury, and Wilson hasn’t played since October 26, 2019.
Colorado is a slight -115 fave to beat Vegas, according to BetAmerica. The Golden Knights are -105 dogs on the same platform, while BetMGM offers a 5.5-goal line on the totals and both over and under pay -110 each.
What’s at Stake?
As I’ve mentioned, the winner earns the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, while the losing team will satisfy with the No. 2 seed. If the game is tied after overtime, we’ll see the shootout.
Both Vegas and Colorado have been perfect in the bubble thus far. The Golden Knights opened with a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars, overcoming a 3-1 deficit thanks to four third-period goals. They were down 2-0 and 4-3 against the St. Louis Blues, but the Knights scored three unanswered goals in the third period.
On the other side, the Avs opened the qualifiers with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Blues, while they thrashed off the Stars 4-0.
The Avs are undefeated in four straight encounters with the Golden Knights. Since they joined the NHL in 2017, the Golden Knights have lost five of their eight meetings with the Avs. The previous three matchups between these two foes went in the over and produced seven or more goals.
Colorado’s defense looks good in the bubble. Philipp Grubauer had 31 stops against the Blues, while Pavel Francouz saved all 27 shots against the Stars. Grubauer should get the starting call Saturday against Vegas, and he was 12-4-2 with a 2.63 GAA and a .916 save percentage in the regular season.
On the other side, Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on just 17 shots against the Blues, while Robin Lehner yielded three goals on 27 shots against the Stars. I assume Fleury will patrol the crease against the Avs, and he went 16-5-5 with a 2.77 GAA and a .905 save percentage in the regular season.
The Golden Knights are the most efficient team in the bubble despite playing without Max Pacioretty. Back in the regular season, they averaged 3.15 goals per game (13th in the NHL), while the Avs were the fourth-most efficient team in the league with 3.37 goals per contest.
The stake is enormous, so we should expect a cautious approach from both teams. Anyway, I don’t trust their defenses too much, while both clubs can score at will. Therefore, I would ignore the stake and go with the over on the totals. The last three head-to-head duels went in the over, and the Avs have netted at least four goals in each of those three contests.
When it comes to the side bet, I fancy Colorado’s chances to finish atop the conference. The Avs’ defense looked good this week, and they’ve dominated the Golden Knights in the regular season. Back in October, Colorado beat Vegas 6-1 as a +145 road dog and 7-3 as a +115 road dog.