Vegas (0-0) at Winnipeg (0-0)
When: Saturday, May 12th 2018
Where: Bell MTS Centre, Winnipeg
Time: 7:05 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Winnipeg -135/5.5
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The Winnipeg Jets took care of the NHL’s top regular season team in the Nashville Predators, and now will get a chance at the third-best in the Vegas Golden Knights, as the Western Conference Finals begin Saturday night at Bell MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. While the Golden Knights have been sitting at home in the desert since last Sunday, the Jets are only a day removed from a grueling seven games series with the Predators, knocking off the defending conference champions on the road Thursday night. Vegas swept Los Angeles in the opening round, finished off the San Jose Sharks in six games and have allowed more than three goals just twice, but figures to be pushed by Winnipeg’s high-powered offense that scored four goals or more five times against the Predators. The Golden Knights have plenty of speed and rely on center William Karlsson – who has added four goals in the playoffs after scoring 43 during the regular season. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been outstanding for Vegas, and will be tested by Jets’ center Mark Scheifele, who has scored a NHL-high 11 goals in 12 postseason games. Vegas won the season series 2-1 and outscored the Jets 12-11 in the three games, while Winnipeg out-shot the Golden Knights 95-89 and went 4-for-14 on the power play.
Karlsson’s linemates, forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, each have 11 points in 10 playoff games for a Vegas team that finished their inaugural season with 109 points and won the Pacific Division title. Fleury, who played with Pittsburgh as they won the past two Stanley Cups, has posted a .951 save percentage and a 1.53 goals against average with four shutouts. Vegas has another veteran who’s experienced plenty of postseason action in forward James Neal, who boasts seven playoff points (three goals) and has 90 games of postseason experience – the first 80 coming with Pittsburgh and Nashville.
Winnipeg’s top line of Scheifele along with forwards Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor have combined for 16 goals and 23 assists this postseason, while trade-deadline acquisition Paul Stastny scored twice in Game 7 against Nashville and has 14 points. We haven’t even seen the best out of forwards Patrik Laine (44 regular-season goals, three in the playoffs) and Nikolaj Ehlers (29 in the regular season, zero in the postseason). Bruising defenseman Dustin Byfuglien finished the Nashville series with four goals and four assists. Netminder Connor Hellebuyck, playing in his first postseason, has two shutouts, a .927 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average in winning eight of 12 starts.
The Jets have home ice and are favored in this series, but Vegas has been rested and have the defense and goaltending to slow down Winnipeg. The Jets were better on the road in the Nashville series, while the Knights have been terrific anywhere they play. I’ll take Vegas to steal Game 1.
Pick: Golden Knights +125
- Golden Knights are 4-0 in their last 4 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Golden Knights are 7-1 in their last 8 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Golden Knights are 11-2 in their last 13 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Golden Knights are 5-1 in their last 6 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Golden Knights are 4-1 in their last 5 road games.
- Golden Knights are 8-2 in their last 10 overall.
- Golden Knights are 5-2 in their last 7 games following a win.
- Golden Knights are 27-11 in their last 38 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Golden Knights are 9-4 in their last 13 Saturday games.
- Golden Knights are 41-19 in their last 60 vs. Western Conference.
- Jets are 6-1 in their last 7 Saturday games.
- Jets are 42-11 in their last 53 home games.
- Jets are 11-3 in their last 14 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Jets are 20-6 in their last 26 vs. Pacific.
- Jets are 16-6 in their last 22 games following a win.
- Jets are 5-2 in their last 7 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Jets are 40-17 in their last 57 overall.
- Jets are 7-3 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Jets are 45-21 in their last 66 vs. Western Conference.
- Jets are 44-21 in their last 65 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Jets are 35-17 in their last 52 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Over is 4-1-1 in Golden Knights last 6 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Under is 4-1 in Golden Knights last 5 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Under is 3-1-1 in Golden Knights last 5 road games.
- Under is 10-4-1 in Golden Knights last 15 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Under is 12-5-1 in Golden Knights last 18 games following a win.
- Under is 4-0 in Jets last 4 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Under is 7-1 in Jets last 8 home games.
- Under is 8-2 in Jets last 10 games following a win.
- Under is 6-2 in Jets last 8 Saturday games.
- Over is 24-10 in Jets last 34 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.