FILE – Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) plays in the first period during an NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., in this Friday, March 5, 2021, file photo. After waiting five years for Kirill Kaprizov to leave Russia for the NHL, the Minnesota Wild’s level of satisfaction with their floppy-haired, easy-smiling left wing has met the extraordinary expectations that surrounded his debut season. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
- The Wild and Golden Knights play Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series on Sunday, May 16th
- Vegas went 3-4-1 against Minnesota during the regular season
- Read below for the odds, game preview, and betting pick
The Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights are primed to meet in Round 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 1 will be played on Sunday, May 16th (3:00 PM EST) at T-Mobile Arena and will be broadcasted on NBC.
Vegas is listed as -180 home favorites to take the opening game of the series despite just winning three of the eight regular-season meetings. That included five straight losses.
Should you bet the Golden Knights to take a 1-0 series lead, or does Kirill Kaprizov and Minnesota spring an early upset?
Wild vs Golden Knights Game 1 Odds
|Team||Moneyline at DraftKings||Spread||Total|
|Minnesota Wild||+150||+1.5 (-180)||O 5.5 (-115)|
|Vegas Golden Knights||-180||-1.5 (+150)||U 5.5 (-106)|
Odds as of May 15th
Kaprizov Keys Minnesota Offense
The Wild could not wait for Kirill Kaprizov to come over from Russia and all the winger has done is deliver again and again. He is the front-runner for the Calder Trophy after a 27 goal, 51 point rookie campaign. This includes the last five games where Kaprizov had four goals and four assists along with 19 shots on goal and 12 scoring chances.
So, @Stathead has era-adjusted point totals for hockey, and gives Kirill Kaprizov 44 adjusted goals, 82 adjusted points for his rookie season. Here’s every rookie ***IN NHL HISTORY*** who matched or exceeded both. #mnwild pic.twitter.com/epqjwMAn5p
— Tony of the USS 10KRinks.com (@OhHiTony) May 14, 2021
The Minnesota winger ranks respectably when it comes to adjusted goal scoring. A projected season of 44 goals and 38 assists is quite impressive. Just to see Kaprizov’s name with some of the top rookie wingers of all time speaks volumes here. The Russian shoots at a 17.2% clip and makes the most of his scoring chances.
The main concern for Minnesota going up against Vegas is not Kaprizov. Vegas will have a difficult time containing the forward at times throughout the series. He is expected to get his points. There is a bigger concern for the Wild and it has little to do with their offense which looked better over the final month of the season.
2021 Stanley Cup Odds Tracker
Minnesota and Their Goaltending
The Vegas Golden Knights have two of the better goaltenders in the league in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. Now, Minnesota’s biggest wildcard going into this series will be who is in their net. Kaapo Kahkonen started off well but had a rough end to the season where he gave up ten goals in his final two starts — including seven on 27 shots versus the St. Louis Blues.
Cam Talbot has hardly fared much better allowing three or more goals in each of his last five starts. That includes eight in the final two meetings with the Golden Knights (one win, one overtime loss). His save percentage in those games was only .879. Talbot had three starts with a save percentage of .850 or below in that five-start segment.
Cam Talbot makes a great sliding save on this 2 on 1. Good, long push and full extension to keep the puck out of the net. #threesavesaday #hockeytwitter #mnwild pic.twitter.com/aNJ0GiCW49
— Rob Gherson (@goalie_school) May 13, 2021
Can Cam Talbot get back to the form shown above? The 33-year old goalie will be making his third career NHL series start Sunday after posting a .924 save percentage in the previous two postseasons for Edmonton and Calgary respectively. The concern is will Talbot be able to turn things around against a Vegas team that is third in goals per game (3.39) and fourth in shots per game (32.7).
Wild vs Golden Knights Series Odds
|Team||Odds to Win Series|
|Vegas Golden Knights||-240|
What’s The Best Bet?
The Golden Knights are strong favorites to win both Game 1 and the series because they hold some advantages in goaltending, defense, and scoring balance. Their duo is net is far better than Minnesota’s and it is not an accident that Lehner and Fleury combined to give up just 2.18 goals per game and win the Jennings Trophy (least goals allowed in NHL).
The Golden Knights have the best goaltending in the NHL.
Vegas NHL ranks-
Shots against: 6th
Scoring chances against: 17th
High danger chances against: 21st
Goals against: 1st
Fleury has been spectacular. Lehner has been awesome. That’s what I’ll end on.
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) May 4, 2021
The only question for Vegas may come down to health. No one knows the status of Max Pacioretty just yet for Game 1. Even then, Vegas managed to win seven of their final ten games. Bet on whichever Vegas goalie starts to hold down Minnesota enough and the Golden Knights balanced offense and stout defense (league-best +1.21 goal per game differential) leading the team to a Game 1 victory.
Pick: Vegas Golden Knights ML (-175)
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A journalist veteran for over two decades, Chris has taught the gamut of fantasy hockey sports online from injuries to news to prospects, and more. He has bet on several sports and written sports betting articles about the NBA, MLB, NCAA football, the NFL, and NHL for USA Today.