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Golden Knights’ season sequel doesn’t pay off at sportsbooks

A sequel is seldom as good as the original. But there are exceptions, starting with “The Godfather: Part II,” which won the Academy Award for best picture in 1975.

The sequel to the Golden Knights’ magical inaugural season was a critically-acclaimed thriller full of plot twists that saw them overcome adversity before emerging as Stanley Cup contenders for the second consecutive year.

But from a betting standpoint, the sequel was comparable to “Caddyshack II” for Vegas backers.

In other words, it was a flop.

After the expansion Knights soared over their season point total last year and won the Pacific Division, they finished under this year’s point total — which opened at 95½ and closed at 101½ — and placed third in their division.

Inflated Knights

Entering the 2018-19 season finale, a $100 bettor would’ve lost $969 wagering on the Knights in every game this season, according to Covers.com.

Of the NHL’s 12 biggest losers on the betting board, Vegas is the only team with a winning record on the ice.

That contradiction is explained by inflated prices this season on the Knights, who were at least 2-1 favorites in 18 games.

“Last year, they were not anywhere near those prices,” Westgate sportsbook manager Jeff Sherman said. “They came in as large favorites this season based on what they did last year.”

Vegas was a minus 180 favorite in its season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights lost that game, four of their first five and 13 of their first 22 — dropping a home game during that stretch to the Vancouver Canucks as a minus 280 favorite.

Detroit rocked city

The Knights finished 24-12-5 at T-Mobile, but they were at least 2-1 favorites in six of their home losses.

They lost three of their last four home games as heavy favorites, including a stunning 3-2 defeat March 23 to the Detroit Red Wings as a 4-1 favorite.

“When you lose as a minus 400 favorite, you have to win five games just to cover that,” handicapper Dana Lane said. “Stanley Cup (finalists) are not teams you want to play on the next year. Their money line is going to be jacked up and it’s going to be jacked up even more because you’re Vegas’ team.”

Bettors looking to play the Knights at smaller prices on the puck line (-1½) were equally unfortunate as Vegas went 32-49 overall and 18-23 at home.

The Westgate won a high five-figure decision on the Knights’ point total. It was the largest decision the book had ever had on point totals or win totals on the four major pro sports.

Books also won on the Calgary Flames claiming the Pacific Division crown.

“We had a large liability on the Knights,” Sherman said. “There wasn’t too much preseason interest in the Flames.”

NHL handle up

But there was more interest in betting on hockey overall this season.

“Our (wagering) handle is up 18 percent this year from last year at the same time,” Sherman said. “The Knights games got a lot more action last year, especially their home games. Their games still outright other games, but the higher prices this year diverted some of the action elsewhere in the NHL.”

Vegas backers can still recoup their losses if the Knights embark on another hot streak in the playoffs.

Stanley Cup futures

But if the Knights win the Stanley Cup, bettors will cash tickets ranging from 8-1 to 14-1 rather than up to 500-1, as was the case last year at the Westgate.

“We still have a six-figure liability on the Stanley Cup futures, but last year it added up a lot quicker at the longer odds,” Sherman said. “We’ve taken a lot of decent-sized wagers on the Knights in the 12-1 range.”

The Knights are the 8-1 second choice to win the Stanley Cup behind Tampa Bay, the 9-4 favorite. They also are No. 2 in tickets and money wagered on Stanley Cup futures, behind the Lightning.

William Hill sportsbook will actually win money on futures if Vegas hoists the Cup after it sweated out a multimillion dollar liability last year.

“Last year, we were rooting for the Knights to win even though we’d get our heads caved in,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “This year, we’re rooting for them to win and we won’t get our heads caved in.”

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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