While hardly anyone had predicted this pairing, everyone is surely salivating at the idea of seeing Carey Price and Marc-André Fleury going to save in order to save. And why shouldn’t they be? Two of the elite elite safety nets go head to head with a place in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final on the line.
Fleury and his team advanced to the semi-finals after a hard-fought Game 7 victory over the Wild in the first round and what some might call a surprising second-round victory over the Avalanche. They lost the first two games of Round 2, so it would have been an assessment just before the puck fell for Game 3; However, let’s also remember that while Colorado won the Presidents’ Trophy, they only did so thanks to a win in the last game of the regular season and because they held the tiebreaker (wins regulatory) against Vegas.
However, we can say that Canadians are a surprise. Montreal started the season on fire, but the flame quickly died out and Claude Julien and his staff were slipped in late February. Then things changed a bit and the team entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the North Division. Now, the Habs are king of the North after giving the Maple Leafs another first-round outing despite a 3-1 runoff in the series and a sweep from the Jets, who had just swept the Oilers.
Both teams are looking to win the best trophy in the sport. It’s been 28 years since the Canadiens – or any Canadian team – have drunk the Cup and Vegas still has that newborn scent in its fourth year of existence. The Golden Knights won almost everything in 2018 and reached the conference final in 2020. But before these teams can even think of realizing their Stanley Cup dreams in 2021, they must face off where only one will move on. .
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Montreal Canadiens: schedule, odds, distribution, prediction
Stanley Cup Semi-Finals Schedule
|Dated||Match||Time (TV channel) / Results|
|Mon 14 June||in Vegas||9 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Wednesday June 16||in Vegas||9 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Fri 18 June||to Montreal||8 p.m. (USA, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|Sun 20 June||to Montreal||8 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|*Mar. June 22||in Vegas||9 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)|
|*Thu. June 24||to Montreal||8 p.m. (USA, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|*Sat. June 26||in Vegas||8 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)|
(* If necessary)
In the US, every game in the Golden Knights-Canadiens series can also be streamed on fuboTV, which offers a 7-day free trial.
The teams did not face each other in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s a look at some stats against the other six (for Montreal) or seven (for Vegas) teams in their respective divisions (via NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick):
|3.39||GF / GP||2.82|
|2.18||AG / GP||2.95|
|53.37||CF% at 5v5||54.50|
|119.1||xGF at 5v5||100.16|
|104.38||xGA to 5v5||89.07|
|54.76||HDGF% at 5v5||51.61|
(Ratings by FanDuel )
It’s difficult to gauge how the offenses will play out in the playoffs compared to the regular season. Both teams saw their goals per game drop (Vegas to 3.08 and Montreal to 2.55), but they both persevered. And both get production across the range.
The Golden Knights playoff points leader is William Karlsson with 11, but four players have eight points (Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Pietrangelo, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone), three have seven points (Mattias Janmark, Alex Tuch and Reilly Smith) and three have six (Nicolas Roy, Shea Theodore and Nick Holden). In fact, 21 players have at least one point, and that includes goaltender Marc-André Fleury.
According to Natural Stat Trick, Vegas has a Corsi For percentage of 54.32 and leads the playoffs in shooting attempts (691), expected goals for (27.97), scoring chances for (296) and high danger chance for (122). It’s a team that clicks on all the cylinders and is able to score at key moments.
There is a similar offensive structure on the ice. The Canadians are also getting production from the top to the bottom of the roster. Tyler Toffoli leads with 10 points, followed by 18 players with at least one point. They have also had seven different players winning home games, with Toffoli, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki scoring in extra sessions.
Speaking of the kids, Kotkaniemi, Suzuki, and 2021 Hobey Baker winner Cole Caufield provided a much needed jerk to the lineup. The top two scored four goals apiece while Caufield tallied four assists – including his Suzuki overtime goal setup in Game 5 against the Leafs and Toffoli’s series final against the Jets, also in extension. Montreal will need the legs of the youngsters in this series to keep pace and get around the big, solid defenders of the Golden Knights.
Edge: Golden knights
Great and strong defenders, you say? Look no further than Alex Pietrangelo, who has — no surprise here — stepped up his game. He’s posting playoff numbers that follow in the same way he led the Blues in their first. Stanley Cup in 2019. At 5v5, he has an individual Corsi For at 68 and an Individual Expected Goals at 1.19, and he leads the team in Expected Goals for (10.8) (by natural stat trick).
But he’s not the only defender to watch. Zach Whitecloud led a spectacular playoff campaign in 2020 and took his game even higher in 2021. In his first full season in the NHL, the 24-year-old defenseman has become the key to the Vegas defense. He leads the squad in Corsi percentage (59.11) and scoring chance percentage (60.54) in the playoffs.
Beyond those two, the Golden Knights have Shea Theodore, Nick Holden and Alec Martinez. The latter is the only player to have adapted with a CF% lower than 50 (he is at 46.41).
Translation: You don’t spend a lot of time in Las Vegas.
A big part of that is that the Golden Knights outfitted one of the best defensive forwards in the game as Mark Stone (2021 Selke finalist) and the fact that when the puck is in their court they block shots to the left and to the right; Vegas leads the league with 249 blocked shots and an average of 19 blocks per game, most of the remaining teams in the playoffs.
Montreal’s defense relies on play between the posts, but defenders have also managed to silence some of the biggest names in the games. Rocket Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews scored a goal and Mitch Marner was dropped from the table in the first round. Jets forwards Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor collected two combined points in the second round.
The group should get a boost with the return of Jeff Petry to the squad. Montreal’s top regular-season blue-line points producer missed most of Game 3 and Game 4 against the Jets after getting his hand stuck in a camera hole above the boards and dislocation of two fingers. Jon Merrill, who hasn’t played since May 27 due to injury, is also traveling to Vegas with the team.
Edge: Golden knights
This series is entirely devoted to goalkeepers: Marc-André Fleury and Carey Price. Two guys with busy careers who can control the games from start to finish. It will be the must-see TV.
Fleury vs Price 2021 playoff comparison
|24.8||SA / 60||30.2|
|.936||Sv% at equal force||.938|
|.893||Sv% high danger||.877|
|25.39||Avg. goal distance||26.27|
Despite heavy hitting at both ends of the ice, Vegas’ power play and power playoffs were better in the playoffs at 14.3 and 71.4 percent, respectively. The Montreal special team was not meh at all. After putting a chicken egg in their first 15 chances against the Maple Leafs, the Canadiens are 6 for 17 with a man advantage since then. They were 82.4 percent effective when short-staffed.
Key players to watch
Max Pacioretty (VGK): Who doesn’t love a tempting scenario? The ex-Canadian captain will surely love nothing more than sending his old team to play golf. It was shipped west three years ago and thrived in Sin City. He missed the first six games of the playoffs (after missing the last six games of the regular season) but came back strong in the roster. In seven games, he has four goals and four assists with a team record of 1.14 points per game. He didn’t play much against the Canadiens in his career, but had two points (goal, assists) in three games against the franchise, which made him a first-round draft pick in 2007.
Cole Caufield (MTL): Speaking of first-round players, Caufield injected a ton of energy into the Canadiens roster. As mentioned, he set up several big goals – and that was after being a good scratch for the first two games of the playoffs. Caufield is a pure goalscorer, and although he’s yet to score a goal in the playoffs (four assists, three of which aren’t shabby primaries), he’s come close. He has a whopping 34 shooting attempts (of which 29 exceeded defense) and 22 shots on goal.
Golden Knights playoff history against the Canadiens
These two teams have never met in the playoffs.
Last five playoff appearances
Vegas Golden Knights
|2020||Lost in conference final to DAL in five games|
|2019||First round loss to SJS in seven games|
|2018||Lost in Stanley Cup Final to WSH in five games|
|2020||First round loss to PHI in six games|
|2017||Lost in the first round to NYR in six games|
|2015||Second round loss to TBL in six games|
|2014||Lost in conference finals to NYR in six games|
|2013||Lost in conference quarterfinals to OTT in five games|
Prediction of the Golden Knights vs the Canadiens
It will all depend on which keeper can beat the other.
Prediction: Golden Knights in 6