The quest for Lord Stanley's Cup begins Saturday night with game one between the Florida Panthers and the Vegas Golden Knights. It is time to continue our NHL odds series with a Game 1 Stanley Cup Final Panthers-Golden Knights prediction, pick, and how to watch.
The Panthers began their quest for the cup as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They drew the best regular season team in the history of the NHL in the Boston Bruins. The Panthers found themselves down 3-1 in the series against Boston but battled back. They won three straight games to move on. In the next series, they took out the Maple Leafs in five games. Then it was a sweep of the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. After going down 3-1, the Panthers have won 11 of their last 12 games.
The Golden Knights began their quest with a game-one loss to the Winnipeg Jets. They then won four straight to move on to the second round. In round two it was a six-game series against the Oilers, but the Golden Knights prevailed once again. Against the Stars in the Western Conference finals, they went for the sweep. They took a 3-0 series lead over the Stars but lost the next two. They finished out the series in dominating fashion, with a 6-0 win in the last game to win the Western Conference. Now the two teams face and one season will end with lifting the cup, while the other will end in disappointment.
Here are the Panthers-Golden Knights NHL odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NHL Playoffs Odds: Panthers-Golden Knights Odds
Florida Panthers: +1.5 (-225)
Vegas Golden Knights: -1.5 (+184)
Over: 5.5 (-118)
Under: 5.5 (-104)
How To Watch Panthers vs. Golden Knights
Stream: TNT App/NHL PP
Time: 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT
*Watch NHL games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Panthers Could Cover The Spread
Any conversation for the Panther has to start with Conn Smythe favorite Sergei Bobrovsky. Since taking over the starting job for game four of the Boston series he has been amazing. He has a .935 save percentage in the playoffs and a 2.21 goals-against average. In the last two series, his worst game was allowing two goals on 24 shots to have a .917 save percentage. The only time he allowed three goals since the Boston series was in the final game against Carolina. He let in three goals on 39 shots for a .923 save percentage.
Second, Florida has to continue to capitalize on the power play. Vegas has to most penalty minutes in the playoffs so far and will give up power plays. Florida is converting on 27.9% of power play chances so far in the playoffs. The power play was a major reason for their sweep of the Hurricanes. They scored four power play goals in 14 chances in the series. They scored on the power play in three games, resulting in three wins. The Panthers also did well on the penalty kill. In the last three games of the series, they did not allow a power play goal. The only game in which they did not score a power play goal and also allowed one to go to four overtimes in game one.
The primary player to watch on the ice for the Panthers is Matthew Tkachuk. After not scoring a goal in the series against Toronto, but adding five assits, he came out big in the series against the Hurricanes. He scored four goals and added an assist in the series. He now has nine goals and 12 assists in the playoffs, and he will need to be scoring more if the Panthers are going to win.
Why The Golden Knights Could Cover The Spread
The story for the Golden Knights should start with the goalie as well. After Laurent Brossoit went down, Adin Hill stepped up. He has a .937 save percentage so far in the playoffs and a 2.07 goals-against average. Hill has had a couple of struggling games in the playoffs though. He allowed four goals on 34 shots in a loss to the Stars, and also four goals on 33 shots in a loss to the Oilers. Beyond that, he has been amazing. He had two shutouts in the Dallas series and his goaltending is a primary reason the Golden Knights are playing for their first Stanley Cup.
The primary focus for the Golden Knights has to be shot selection. They can score when they push the puck to the front of the net and get high-danger opportunities. This does not need to be an offense that shoots 35+ shots a game. They scored four goals on just 16 shots against Dallas, and also six goals on 29 shots. Their highest shot output of the Dallas series, 39 shots, actually ended up in a loss. In that game, they struggled to get in front of the net and were settling for long-distance or wide-angle shots throughout the night.
Jack Eichel will also be a key player for the Golden Knights. He has 18 points so far in the playoffs, with six goals and 12 assists. Many of those assists have gone to William Karlsson, who has ten goals so far in the playoffs. Eichel has been most effective scoring when on the power play, so Florida needs to limit their penalty. He has five of his 18 points on the power play, including three goals. Karlsson has been effective in five-on-five play. The Golden Knights have only lost two games in the playoffs when Karlsson scored a goal.
Final Panthers-Golden Knights Prediction & Pick
Game one should be a tight and low-scoring game. Both teams went to two straight overtime games in their last series to open it up. With how both goaltenders are playing this may be another one. The biggest key in this game will be the power play. If Vegas ends up in the box too often, Florida will capitalize. Between that, and the Panthers having the better goaltender, take the Panthers in this one.
Final Panthers-Golden Knights Prediction & Pick: Florida +1.5 (-225) and Under 5.5 (-104)