Heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights separated themselves from the field as the top sports betting favorites to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
After all, the two West Division teams finished with a league-high 82 points in the regular season with both accumulating 19 more points than fourth-place St. Louis. Despite losing home ice advantage on May 10 in a 2-1 defeat to Colorado, the Golden Knights (+350) still opened the playoffs as the top choice at William Hill. Following a four-game sweep of the Blues, however, the Avs emerged as the lone favorite at DraftKings with odds of +250, while the Golden Knights (+500) fell to third choice behind the Boston Bruins (+450).
The odds shifted even further on Memorial Day weekend, after the Avs dominated a fatigued Golden Knights squad 7-1 in Sunday’s Game 1 of the West Division Finals. Then, on Monday, the Bruins fell to the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Casey Cizikas that evened the series at one apiece.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Avs had odds of +135 at DraftKings to win the Stanley Cup, considerably ahead of defending champion Tampa Bay and Boston, which had odds of +400 and +550 respectively. The Golden Knights lingered far behind in fourth, at +900.
The Avalanche could place Vegas in a deep hole with a win in Wednesday night’s Game 2.
Colorado raced out to a 4-0 lead on Sunday over the first 25 minutes after Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner allowed a pair of relatively soft goals to Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Rantanen opened the scoring at 4:55 of the first by beating Lehner to the glove side with a backhand. MacKinnon scored two goals on the night, including a goal at 4:03 of the second when he eluded Lehner with a wrist shot through the five-hole.
Update: MacKinnon has added another goal and an assist late in the 2nd period, moving him alone into 3rd all-time by this criteria with 66 points (28 goals & 38 assists) as his @Avalanche now lead 6-1 tonight in Game 1 of their 2nd Round series with the Golden Knights https://t.co/R5QgONv3LH
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) May 31, 2021
Lehner appeared for the first time in the playoffs, as Knights coach Pete DeBoer decided to rest Marc Andre-Fleury. While the Avs received a week off after knocking out St. Louis, the Knights returned on short rest after defeating Minnesota 6-2 in Friday’s Game 7. DeBoer has not named a starter for Game 2, but Fleury is widely expected to return for the matchup. On Tuesday, Fleury was nominated along with Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer and Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay for the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s top goaltender.
It marked the first time in Fleury’s 17-year NHL career that he has been nominated for the illustrious award. Fleury ranked third in the NHL this season in goals-against average (GAA), save percentage, and shutouts. Fleury recorded career-bests in GAA, at 1.98, and save percentage (.928).
Despite Fleury’s anticipated return, a rush of money has come in on the Avs at top books nationwide. At PointsBet, which operates its U.S. headquarters in Denver, wagers on the Avs represent about 90% of the series handle. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Avs had odds of -450 to win the series with the Knights a decided underdog at +350.
Even before the lopsided opener, the Avs had distinguished themselves from the field in the futures’ pool. At the time, the Avs by far represented PointsBet’s top liability nationwide, company spokesman Pat Eichner told CoBets.
The disparity also exists at several other major books. At DraftKings, the odds on Colorado jumped to -500 on Monday following the Vegas loss. Before the series, DraftKings gave the Avs odds of -215 to win the series, with Vegas at +175 to pull off the upset. The public backed the Avs on 63% of all bets and 72% of the handle. The Avs also moved to -500 on Tuesday at BetMGM, where the Knights stood at +360 to win the series.
Column: Pete DeBoer has coached long enough to know which buttons to push and which to avoid after a blowout defeat in the playoffs. The last thing you do now is change the message.https://t.co/BafMi4iemE
— David Schoen 🗞🏒 (@DavidSchoenLVRJ) June 1, 2021
Prior to Sunday’s Game 1, the Avs had odds of +450 at PointsBet to win the series in five games and odds of +650 to sweep the Knights. Those odds moved to +250 and +300, respectively, on Tuesday.
Avalanche-Golden Knights Series Odds at PointsBet:
- Avalanche in 5: +250
- Avalanche in 4: 3/1
- Avalanche in 6: 4/1
- Avalanche in 7: +475
- Golden Knights in 5: 22/1
- Golden Knights in 6: 10/1
- Golden Knights in 7: 7/1
Large futures bets
Several DraftKings customers will receive considerable payouts if the Avs win their first Stanley Cup since 2001. One DraftKings bettor placed a $4,200 wager on May 16 on the Avs to win the Cup at +375. Another customer placed a $10,000 wager on the Avs to win it all at +450. The wager placed last month has a payout of $19,950, while the latter contains a payout of $55,000. A Washington, D.C., bettor at William Hill also placed a $13,000 wager on the Avs at +550 that will pay $84,5000.
The wager marked the highest singular futures bet the company took before the start of the playoffs, said Nick Bogdanovich, who serves as director of trading for William Hill US.
If Vegas hopes to claw its way back into the series, the Knights will have to place the clamps on the Avs’ top line of Gabriel Landeskog, MacKinnon, and Rantanen. After recording an astounding 183 combined points in the regular season, the trio combined for eight points on Sunday. The line also added five goals after scoring nine combined in the opening series against the Blues.
At the start of the series, BetMGM set the Avs’ total for the series at 17.5 goals (-110).