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Golden Knights in rare spot as series underdogs against Oilers

Updated May 3, 2023 - 7:04 pm

Most of the best series in the first round of the NHL playoffs involved teams that play contrasting styles.

Opposites attract again in the second round when the Golden Knights meet the high-flying Edmonton Oilers starting Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.

“Vegas’ style and Edmonton’s style is very opposite each other, and matchups involving teams that have been opposites have been great series in the first round,” Circa sportsbook manager Jeff Davis said. “That could be the case here as well.”

The Oilers are -152 favorites at Circa sportsbook to win the series against the Knights. Station Casinos and the Westgate SuperBook list the Knights, who won the Pacific Division ahead of Edmonton, as +130 series underdogs.

The last time the Knights were underdogs in a series was 2021 against Colorado in the second round when they eliminated the Avalanche in six games.

The only other playoff series the Knights weren’t favored in during their first five seasons came in 2018 against Winnipeg in the Western Conference final. The Knights went on to win in five games.

“It’s definitely an intriguing series,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “Just because of the success that Edmonton has had, the perception is Edmonton is ready to take that next step. I think there’s a number on indicators out there that you’re going to see some Oilers love as well.”

The Knights won four straight against Winnipeg in the first round after dropping the opener to advance. Following a shaky performance in Game 1, goaltender Laurent Brossoit posted a 2.05 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in the final four games of the series.

Brossoit, who played parts of four seasons with the Oilers from 2014 to 2018, will have to duplicate that effort against his former club.

Edmonton is led by league MVP favorite Connor McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl and topped the Los Angeles Kings in six games in the first round. The Oilers’ power play clicked at a 56.3 percent (9-for-16) in the series after setting an NHL record during the regular season.

“I believe that if you’re going to beat Edmonton, you obviously need a team that’s very responsible on the defensive end and doesn’t take penalties,” SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “The Knights seem like the kind of team that would give Edmonton trouble.”

The Oilers are +170 favorites at Circa to win the Western Conference. The Knights are listed as the +315 third choice, with Dallas second at +231.

Davis said the Knights are “far and away” Circa’s biggest liability in the Stanley Cup futures market, and the series has seen strong two-way betting action.

Edmonton is a -109 favorite over the Knights at Circa in Game 1. The Knights are -101 and -255 on the 1½-goal puck line. The total is 6½.

The Oilers went 3-1 against the Knights during the regular season and have won four straight at T-Mobile Arena dating to 2021.

“We’re definitely Knights fans, but many times on the business side of it, we’re rooting against them,” Esposito said. “I’m going to be interested to see how this series plays out and if we’re actually rooting for the Knights from the business side of it as well.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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