Six active franchises have never won a Stanley Cup, but that number will drop by one this month as the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights open Stanley Cup Final on Saturday in Sin City with Vegas as -130 Game 1 favorite at BetMGM. Despite their favored status, the Golden Knights are not taking a ton of action. Sergei Bobrovsky is the +200 favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Click here for series betting strategy.
Vegas is also -130 on the series line and is Florida at +110. Florida is taking 64% of the bets and 89% of the money in the second Stanley Cup Final appearance for both teams. For Game 1 on the moneyline, just 33% of the bets and 40% of the money is on host Vegas, which is the third franchise in the past 90 years to make at least two Stanley Cup Final appearances within its first six NHL seasons. On the total of 5.5 goals, 63% of the action and 71% of the handle is on the Over.
The Golden Knights were an expansion franchise when they lost the 2018 Finals in five games to Washington. Six players who skated for Vegas during that series remain with the team. Vegas has won 10 playoff series since entering the NHL in 2017-18, which trails only the Lightning (13) for the most among all teams over that span. Tampa Bay has two Cups in that time. Bruce Cassidy is the fourth head coach in the past 20 years to lead a team to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season as head coach after the club failed to qualify for the postseason in the preceding season.
Bobrovsky had lost the Panthers' No. 1 goaltending job to journeyman Alex Lyon entering the playoffs, but Bobrovsky took over as the starter for a struggling Lyon in Game 4 of the first round and hasn't given the job back since. The Russian is 11-2, and his .935 save percentage is tops among all goaltenders who have made at least one start this postseason.
Should Bobrovsky maintain that mark through the end of the Final, he would establish a Panthers record for highest save percentage in a playoff year, topping Roberto Luongo's .934 SV in 2016. Bobrovsky's 11 wins are one shy of the franchise single-season postseason mark. John Vanbiesbrouck went 12-10 during the Panthers' only other run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.
Tkachuk is second in the playoffs with 21 points and fourth with nine goals. He had the game-winning goal in Games 1, 2 and 4 of the last round against Carolina – coming in the fourth overtime, OT and with four seconds remaining in regulation, respectively. By comparison, the Golden Knights have 16 players who have scored at least one goal this postseason. Jack Eichel is their Conn Smythe favorite at +350 and has six goals and 12 assists in these playoffs.
Tkachuk is the +400 favorite to be the top goalscorer in the series with Eichel next at +500. That there's at least one shutout in the series is +105, with No at -125.
All four games in the Panthers-Hurricanes Eastern Conference Finals were one-goal games, as were three of six in the Western Conference Finals between the Golden Knights and Stars. The seven total one-goal games in the round before the Stanley Cup Final were the most ever when the round was completed in 10 games or fewer. Road teams are 46-37 through the conference finals, tied with 1987 for the second-highest road win total in one playoff year behind 2012 (47).
Vegas and Florida split two regular-season meetings, each winning at home. The wild card Panthers entered the postseason at +3500 to win the Stanley Cup Final. Those would be the longest odds for any Stanley Cup champion in more than three decades. Florida is up 14.07 units on the moneyline this postseason, making it the most profitable team in the last five postseasons.
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