Yesterday afternoon, we discussed how the Vegas Golden Knights were going through an unlucky patch. The results on the scoreboard just weren’t matching the Knights’ effort or play.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning blitzed the New York Islanders 8-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. That impressive victory came right on the heels of Tampa’s pretty easy 4-1 series win over the Boston Bruins.
Naturally, all of the east coast American books moved Tampa Bay to the favorite to win the Stanley Cup at a consensus line of around +115.
“The perception has definitely changed on Vegas recently,” Rampart Casino race and sports director Duane Colucci told NBC Sports late Tuesday night. “But in the first game against Dallas, the Stars knew they could get away with some roughhouse tactics because Reaves wasn’t in the lineup. You saw the big hit on Reilly Smith early. The Stars were on the brink last year too and people are hip to that. They were so close to beating the Blues last year [Dallas lost in overtime in Game 7].”
Vegas and Dallas were deadlocked in a 0-0 tie at the time of my discussion with Colucci, who has watched the Knights very closely over the last three seasons. I told Duane it felt like Vegas just needed to break the seal and score a goal or two for Stella to get her groove back.
“They have to get a goal or two though,” Colucci quipped. “Especially if you’re going up against Tampa. I mean, come on, Kucherov had five points the other night. Vegas has to dig deep and find it. Marchessault hasn’t been consistent, Stastny hasn’t been scoring, Mark Stone had zero shots the other night. That’s unacceptable.”
Vegas finally found the back of the net a few times and evened up the West Final one game a piece with a 3-0 win. And with that, the Knights are back to around a -250 series favorite in Las Vegas.
So how would Colucci line a potential Vegas-Tampa Bay series in the Stanley Cup Final?
“Before the conference finals, it was really close. Obviously, because we’re in Vegas, you’ve got to look at a -120, -125 series line on the Knights. If you’re on the East coast, you’re looking at a swing on Tampa being maybe -120. The Knights looked really tough up until this last stretch of games. It’s a close series… unless we see Tampa beat the Islanders 8-2 every game.”