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The Vegas Golden Knights looked hungry in their huge 6-4 win over St. Louis on Thursday. The scoreboard didn’t really tell the tale though as the Blues scored four goals on just 17 shots. Needless to say, the choice between the pipes for Vegas won’t be an easy one this weekend.
As for Colorado, their goaltending performance on Thursday night saw Pavel Francouz record his first playoff shutout. The team looked like the best in the West or perhaps even the league throughout their absolute annihilation of the Dallas Stars. They’ll be primed and ready for this Western Conference deciding tilt on Saturday.
The Vegas offense is fun to watch but the goaltending question mark is a big one. We like Colorado to win and take the first seed in the conference with a 2-1 hard-fought victory in regulation.
Colorado Avalanche to win -110
|Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche Information|
|What||Golden Knights vs Avalanche|
|Where||Rogers Place, Edmonton, AB|
|When||August 8, 2020 – Game Time: 3:00 PM|
|How to Watch||NBC Sports, Sportsnet|
The NHL’s return to play format will come down to this to decide the top seed in the Western Conference. We’re not sure the league could have done a better job with the scheduling to restart their television broadcasts as the Golden Knights and Avalanche will battle for supremacy just a week into the new schedule.
Both of these teams are a perfect 2-0 through their first pair of openers beating the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues respectively. A win in this game means they’ll be facing the worst-ranked team from the Western qualifying rounds when the quarterfinals begin next week.
We mentioned the Blues shot total last game earlier in this article. To that end though, the Golden Knights tallied a total of 38 missiles on Jordan Binnington. If it wasn’t Shea Theodore from the point, it was Alex Tuch down low or Mark Stone hacking at the garbage. Vegas was all over St. Louis offensively and they’ll need to stay hungry if they want to survive this one.
Defensively, it’s a bit of a different story for the Knights. They played quite well and shut down the Blues with a number of timely blocks and turnovers but Marc-Andre Fleury flat out was just not very good in the end. It was easily one of his worst games in recent memory which leaves their starting goalie in this game a bit of a question mark. Do they stick with their number one or turn to deadline acquisition Robin Lehner to turn the tides?
Either way, the Golden Knights haven’t really been struggling at either end of the rink. It is that crease question though that led us to side with Colorado with our earlier prediction.
Forget about the scoring, the defense, the goaltending. Let’s just talk speed for a second. Watching Colorado play is like watching a game from the ’90s in fast forward. Nate Mackinnon, Matt Calvert, Nazem Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Joonas Donskoy, etc. The list goes on. The wheels on this team are unlike any other. They very well may be the quickest in the league.
With that said, they’ll need to keep flying because the Golden Knights pose a very tough test. A win over Vegas would go a long way in picturing what kind of Avalanche team we’ll see from here on out though. All signs point to a conference finalist (at least) but that could depend on Saturday’s result.
If Colorado can set the tone early and overwhelm the Knights with their quick attack they could force some loose pucks and drive the board their way. If Vegas struts their Western supremacy of old early and often though it could be a major blow to these Avs.
If Philipp Grubauer, who started the majority of games heading into the return to play, gets rocked we could have a controversy on our hands early. Francouz looked fantastic against Dallas, but either way you slice it a goalie debate in the quarterfinals is never a good thing.
Don’t look now, but the Golden Knights could be facing the same decision come Sunday morning.
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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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