This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
NHL Bets for April 20: Expert NHL Picks and Props for Jets vs. Golden Knights
The Winnipeg Jets (47-33-3) continue their Western Conference Quarterfinals series for Game 2 against the Vegas Golden Knights (51-23-9) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday. Puck drop is scheduled 10 p.m., and the game can be viewed on TBS.
The Jets picked up the unlikely victory in Game 1, showing off surprising offense, and a little bit of grit, too.
As far as the latter is concerned, perhaps no one showed more toughness than Winnipeg forward Morgan Barron. In a flurry of activity in front of the VGK net, with bodies flying everywhere, Chandler Stephenson cracked Barron from behind, and the forward's face landed on the skate of a sprawling Laurent Brossoit. The blade of the goalie's skate clipped Barron under the visor near his right eye.
Luckily, it wasn't on the eye, or it could have been a career-ending injury. Instead, he received 75 stitches, and returned to the game wearing a bird cage on his helmet. He finished with three shots on goal and five hits, playing 10:44 TOI, including 1:31 during shorthanded situations. Barron, a Halifax, NS native, is a hockey player and Maritimes tough.
As far as the surprising offense, Winnipeg and Vegas had none in the first period. However, just 84 seconds into the second, Connor beat his former teammate Brossoit, and Pierre-Luc Dubois followed just 62 seconds later to hush T-Mobile Arena. It wasn't until William Karlsson struck with just 4:11 left in the period, slicing the lead to 2-1, that the crowd got off its hands for a brief period.
However, Blake Wheeler calmed the crowd with an even-strength goal from Nino Niederreiter and Nate Schmidt, while Adam Lowry bagged a couple of empty-net goals to stun the crowd, and the favored West's top seeded Golden Knights, 5-1.
It was much publicized about Jack Eichel playing in his first NHL playoff game, and he laid an egg, going scoreless with a minus-3 and two shots on goal. It wasn't all bad, as he dished out three hits and blocked three shots.
Connor Hellebuyck (37-25-2, 2.49 GAA, .920 SV%, 4 SO - regular season) won his 17th NHL postseason game, and he lowered his career GAA to 2.42 while posting a .921 SV% with three shutouts in his 36 playoff appearances.
Brossoit (7-0-3, 2.17 GAA, .927 GAA - regular season) was making his first-ever NHL playoff start, and just his second-ever postseason appearance. The Port Alberni, BC native spent three seasons as the understudy to Hellebuyck, but never got into a playoff game for Winnipeg. His previous appearance was mop-up duty for the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the first round against the San Jose Sharks, stopping six of eight shots. The inexperience showed, and the difference was goaltending in Game 1.
Despite all of what I just said in the paragraph above, I still expect the Golden Knights to come out early and bury the Jets. Vegas will have a ton of urgency in Game 2, as it can ill-afford to head to Manitoba in an 0-2 hole for Games 3 and 4.
Vegas actually opened as high as -175 at some shops, and the money has flowed in on Winnipeg. Never side with the public. Back VGK on the money line, squaring the series at 1-1.
Sports betting is now live in Massachusetts and hockey fans can get in on the action at BetMGM with the BetMGM Massachusetts Bonus Code and receive a first bet bonus worth up to $1,000.
NHL Puck Line Bets for Jets vs. Golden Knights
- Golden Knights ML (-150 at BetMGM)
The Over cashed in Game 1, with the Jets nearly taking care of it all on their own with the five goals and a line of 5.5. That was shocking, as the Jets closed the regular season on a 3-1-1 Under run, while going 10-3-1 in the final 14.
In fact, Winnipeg had scored three or fewer goals in 13 of 16 games prior to the five goals in Game 1. Of course, two of them were of the empty-net variety, but still, it counts on the scoreboard. And Over bettors can send their "thank-you" notes to Lowry for the 2nd ENG late.
Vegas has cashed the Over in seven of the past nine games at home. They rolled up 3.3 GPG, ranking 14th in the NHL, and the power play was 18th at 20.3%, which was a little below average. On defense, VGK allowed 2.7 GPG, and the kill was just 19th in the league at 77.6%. If the Jets score, look for it to be on the man advantage.
I don't expect fire-wagon hockey, but six total goals should be easily attainable, perhaps with Vegas on top 4-2 when the dust settles.
NHL Totals Bets for Jets vs. Golden Knights
- Over 5.5 (-112 at BetRivers)
Check out BetRivers during the NHL playoffs and get signed up with the BetRivers promo code for a great new customer offer. RotoWire has a full list of all credit card betting sites with all the sportsbooks that are accepting major credit cards.
NHL Player Props for Jets vs. Golden Knights
For Game 2, I like the NHL player props for at least one guy on each side. I think familiarity is going to help with one player, and another will get a long-awaited award.
For the Jets, forward Mark Scheifele came close to striking gold in Game 1 against Brossoit. He was a teammate of the then-backup goalie, and he knows the tendencies of the tendy better than most anybody on the Winnipeg roster. I think Scheifele is able to break through and light the lamp in Game 2.
- Mark Scheifele Anytime Goal Scorer (+185 at FanDuel)
On the other side, Jack Eichel played his first seven NHL seasons without qualifying for the postseason, including last season's disappointment in his first year with VGK. The wait ended Tuesday in Game 1, but Eichel perhaps had some jitters, and the Golden Knights just didn't show up.
Expect Eichel to get that much-anticipated first goal in the postseason in Game 2, and at plus-money, he is a little bit of a value, too.
- Jack Eichel Anytime Goal Scorer (+120 at FanDuel)
Normally I don't toss in three prop plays, but I couldn't avoid this one. Forward Jonathan Marchessault had a fairly quiet game, going without a shot on goal. He did have an assist in his 16:47 TOI, but I expect him to be more involved.
Marchessault had three or more shots in each of his final four regular-season games, and he had two goals and four shots in his most recent game against the Jets in Winnipeg Dec. 13. He had at least three SOG in each of his three regular-season games vs. WPG, too. Go over 2.5 on SOG.
- Jonathan Marchessault Over 2.5 SOG (-140 at FanDuel)