MONTREAL – Let’s talk about Las Vegas. Not the city, not the team, but the punters.
They have the Golden Knights as big favorites against the Montreal Canadiens in the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup. And by massive we mean that you would have to bet $ 450 on them just to win $ 100.
That’s an implication that Vegas has an 82 percent chance of winning this series, an incline to Pisa’s level with just four teams remaining.
Perhaps the Canadiens can add that to the bulletin board in their dressing room, which we imagine already houses our internal Sportsnet predictions, which, as you know, were unanimous in suggesting that they would lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1.
We are inclined to have them pick up on what people were saying about their chances against the Winnipeg Jets in Round 2, after they came back from a 3-1 loss to Toronto and won in seven games. No one personally reached out to share that information, but Tyler Toffoli had this to say after the Canadiens completed the Jets’ four-game sweep at the Bell Center on Monday: “No one seems to believe in us.”
“The only people we have are us and our fans, who clearly, with the small number of fans in the building, sounded so much more than it was, they are behind us,” Toffoli continued.
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This matters. People can say no: On Friday, former Gold Knight Nick Suzuki was the last Canadiens player to suggest that he doesn’t care what other people think, but he always does.
And not just in Montreal.
Here’s what Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer said after his team eliminated the Presidents’ Trophy winner Colorado Avalanche from the playoffs on Thursday: “I don’t think there was a person in the hockey world. “When we were down 2-0, that would predict we’d finish this in six, at home tonight. That was real. There was a lot more talk about getting swept up and embarrassed, and could we even win a game?”
“So I think we have a group with a lot of pride, and they just blocked the noise and got to work and fought and scraped and scratched and found their way.”
We just remind you that the Golden Knights finished tied on points with the Avalanches in the regular season, but this is just a taste of how much teams will take even a shred of doubt on their ability as a personal snub. Teams thrive on that doubt. Add another log to the fire for them and it serves as something of a rallying cry, even if neither of them care to admit it at the time.
So even if the Canadians don’t want to get into that right now with their comments, it could play a considerable role in how things turn out for them in Game 1 on Monday, and in the series trailer, against a team. they finished 23 points and 16 places ahead of them in the standings.
Do you think you know how this year’s playoffs will play out? Before each round, from Round 1 to the Stanley Cup Final, predict the winners and the number of games in each series and answer some supporting questions.
This is a Las Vegas team that won 40 of 56 games, a team that is four lines deep, with star talent scattered over two of them and scorers, checkers and thugs filling the other two. They have superstars on defense and a goalkeeper, Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been named a finalist for this year’s Vezina Trophy.
If there is consensus that the Golden Knights are going to hit the Canadiens squarely in the mouth, that confidence in their ability, after they won a very close seven-game series against the Minnesota Wild and defeated the Avalanche team more loaded since then. Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy were dressed in their uniform – it was won.
But if there’s one thing the Canadiens have shown in these playoffs, it’s that they’re very comfortable being an underdog.
“If people doubt you, I always like to prove them wrong,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “When people think we can’t do something, it’s always good … it’s another layer where you can gain energy or another challenge.
“But it comes from within. Everything around you can be seen as something that can wake up your team, but at the end of the day, it’s really inside: what’s going on in the group and the way they want to handle things and the way in which we want to face challenges and face adversity “.
The Canadiens have done an exceptional job of balancing living up to their own expectations and rising well above what others have had for them. They are on a seven-game winning streak and haven’t lost more than 435 minutes of play.
Montreal goalkeeper Carey Price leads the playoffs with a .935 save percentage, every Canadiens forward has scored at least one point in his 11 games and the defense, by the numbers, is the stingiest next in foot.
The Canadiens may be last among the four teams left in the power game, but they are still clicking close to 20 percent there despite starting the playoffs 0 of 15. They face a Las Vegas penalty that he has allowed eight goals in 28 attempts, while his own penalty has scored more goals than allowed.
When you add it all up, the discrepancy between the two teams is not as great as the odds or rankings would suggest. There are also not many differences in the way both teams are built: with a great goal, a versatile and physical defense and four extended lines in balance.
“You don’t beat a team like Colorado without (depth),” DeBoer said Thursday. “We are the sum of our parts. We don’t have that superstar power that they have.”
He could have been describing the Canadiens, so you might want to put a few bucks on the line in a surprise. You’re still taking a fair degree of risk, but the payoff seems to be worth it.