In only a matter of four games, less than a week, the Vegas Golden Knights have gone from one of the best stories in hockey history to one of the best bets to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The Golden Knights not only opened as the favorites in their second-round matchup against the San Jose Sharks, but they are now officially championship contenders. According to bookmakers, the Knights currently have the second-best odds of winning the Stanley Cup (4/1), just behind the Nashville Predators (7/2).
The expansion team has come a long way since opening the season as a 200-to-1 longshot to win hockey’s biggest prize.
After sweeping the Ducks in Round 1, the Knights continue calibrate everyone’s expectations. They’re now even bigger favorites in the second round than they were in the first round of the playoffs. Vegas opens as -140 favorites to win the series against San Jose, better than their odds of -135 against Anaheim in the opening round.
Sin City vs. Silicon Valley
It’s a curious betting line for the series considering that San Jose not only had a better regular season than the team Vegas just eliminated, but the Sharks also looked equally dominant in a first-round sweep where they limited the Ducks to just four goals.
The Golden Knights do have home-ice advantage in the series, however, and they collected seven of a possible eight points in the regular season, posting 3-0-1 mark against the Sharks.
Surprises have become the norm for the Golden Knights, and the betting public wants a piece. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has seen an unprecedented amount of betting on hockey, with the action on the Golden Knights approaching NFL-like levels at times.
“I have been booking hockey games for 31 years, and you can’t compare this year to any other year,” Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay told USA Today. “This will definitely be a record year for the number of bets we’ve taken on hockey and the amount (of money) we’ve taken on hockey. It all surrounds the Golden Knights team.”
Stanley Cup MVP Odds
A couple of Golden Knights are also in the running to take home the Conn Smythe trophy, handed out to the playoff MVP. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is currently the favorite, but Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury is gaining ground after posting a pair shutouts in the opening round:
Pekka Rinne (NAS) +850
Andrei Vasilevsky (TB) +1400
Marc-Andre Fleury (LV) +1600
At +3000, Las Vegas forward William Karlsson is also among the top-15 favorites for playoff MVP, while Jonathan Marchessault is paying +4000 and Reilly Smith is at +5000.
The first game between the Knights and the Sharks may be as much as a week away as they wait for the NHL to wrap up the rest of its opening round. No date has been set yet, but we do know that it will be at T-Mobile Arena, and we know Vegas (-135) is favored over San Jose (+125) in Game 1.
It will mark just the eighth time in NHL history that that two teams that swept the previous series will meet in the next round.