Updated June 11, 2021 - 5:39 am
The Golden Knights are the biggest series favorites in a Stanley Cup semifinal in 31 years..
After closing out their second-round NHL playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche with a 6-3 win in Game 6 on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena, the Knights were installed as -500 favorites over the Montreal Canadiens (+375) at Station Casinos sportsbooks.
The price was -450/+375 at the Westgate, -450/+350 at BetMGM and -435/+350 at Circa Sports.
“I can’t remember a price like this in the semifinals. Usually, you don’t see weak teams get to the final four. On paper, it looks like a complete mismatch,” Westgate vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “It’s hockey. If one team struggles to score and a goalie plays out of his mind, that always gives you a chance. But it would be shocking to me if the Knights didn’t win this series.”
According to SportsOddsHistory.com, there have been three favorites in the Stanley Cup semifinal round (previously Conference Finals) since 1988 that were -450 or higher. Boston (-450) beat Washington 4-0 in 1990, Calgary (-1,500) beat Chicago 4-1 in 1989 and Montreal (-600) beat Philadelphia 4-2 in 1989.
The Knights are -260 favorites over the Canadiens (+230) at the Westgate in Game 1 on Monday at T-Mobile Arena. They’re +105 on the puck line (-1½), and the total is 5½.
Montreal, led by goalie Carey Price, earned the fourth seed in the North Division with a 24-21-11 regular-season record. It erased a 3-1 series deficit to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, then swept the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 in the second round.
“Taking nothing away from Montreal, which has won seven straight games, but this is a team that was 24-21 and, under a normal playoff format, wouldn’t have even made the playoffs,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “You can make a case now that the Knights are the best team in hockey. They won four straight games against Colorado, and the Knights are clearly the team the betting public is going to back.
“The atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena with a full building now is off the charts, and the Knights are on a different level than Montreal has seen in the first two rounds of the playoffs.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Knights were the largest favorites in semifinal history.