The Vegas Golden Knights versus the Montreal Canadiens are set for round three of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 1 is tonight in Vegas and will start at 9 PM ET.
Before I get into my semifinals preview and prediction, here’s where I stand after two rounds. I am a humble 4-8, so don’t go to Las Vegas with my picks this season. With that being said, I did correctly select the Lightning beating the Hurricanes.
Let’s dive into round three.
Canadiens vs Golden Knights Semifinals Preview
#2 Vegas Golden Knights vs #4 Montreal Canadiens
This will be the first meeting between these two teams this season.
Offensively, the Golden Knights are the better team. They scored 3.39 goals per game during the regular season to the Canadiens 2.82. In the playoffs, the Knights are scoring at a 3.08 goals per game clip. Meanwhile, the Canadiens are the lowest scoring team left at 2.55 per game.
On the defensive side of the puck, the Canadiens are the best remaining in the post-season with a minuscule 2.18 goals allowed per game. As you can imagine that has a more to do with Carey Price than anything else. The Knights are not too far behind, only allowing 2.38 goals against per game.
“The motivation is obvious on both ends, both [Pacioretty] playing his old team and the history there and the guys that Vegas sent there playing against us,” DeBoer said. “Obviously great history there. Any time you move on from a team, you always have better memories once you’re removed from some times past and gone by. And I know talking to [Pacioretty], he has great memories of Montreal and his time there and great respect for the organization.”NHL.com
Canadiens vs Knights Prediction
Offense: Edge Golden Knights
The Golden Knights offense is very similar to that of the Islanders only with a little more scoring depth. They are opportunistic scorers and get goals when it matters most. William Karlsson leads the Knights with 11 points in 13 games. However, their best players is former Habs forward, Max Pacioretty. He has 8 points in 7 games and is second among active players in the playoffs with 1.14 points per game. Only Nikita Kucherov has more at 1.58.
Montreal has been getting contributions from many players this postseason. Undoubtedly, free agent signing Tyler Toffoli is the heart of the offense. His 10 points in 11 games leads the team with Nick Suzuki in second with 8 points.
Defense: Big Edge Golden Knights
Overall I like the way the Knights play as a 5 man unit between the defense and forwards. Their blue-line has Stanley Cup experience on it with Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez. Pietrangelo is second in scoring among active defensemen in the playoffs with 8, only Victor Hedman has more with 11. The entire group is fantastic with Shea Theodore and Zach Whitecloud playing fantastic hockey too. It doesn’t hurt to have a Vezina Finalist in Marc-Andre Fleury to bail you out too.
The Canadiens leading scorer on defense is Joel Edmundson with 3 points in 11 games. That really doesn’t bode well for the Habs prospects in this series where scoring will be at a premium.
Goaltending: Edge Canadiens
Carey Price. ALL STOP. Nothing else to say really.
Price leads all goalies in the playoffs with a stunning .935 SV%. His GAA is also under 2 with an astounding 1.97. Let’s not forget he stoned the high powered attack of the Maple Leafs in round one, then stonewalled the Jets in a sweep. He’s the best goalie in the postseason and if the Habs win this, it will be thanks to 31.
To be fair, Marc-Andre Fleury is no slouch and experiencing a career resurgence too. Fleury leads all remaining playoffs goalies with a 1.91 GAA. His .923 SV% is impressive as well. He man not outdo Price, but with all the other advantages in Vegas’ favor MAF should come out victorious.
Final Predictions: Golden Knights in 5 games