The Pacific Division champion Vegas Golden Knights (51-24-7) will begin their first-ever postseason by hosting the Los Angeles Kings (45-29-8) on Wednesday as home favorites for Game 1 of their first-round NHL playoff series.
The Golden Knights set almost every record imaginable for an expansion team this year while the Kings are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 but have won the Stanley Cup twice in the past six years despite not winning the division.
NHL betting line: The Golden Knights opened as -155 favorites (wager $155 to win $100); the total is at 5.5 goals, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NHL betting pick, via OddsShark computer:3.6-1.8, Kings (NHL picks on every game)
Why the Kings can pay on the NHL lines
Los Angeles has a huge edge in experience even though the team has missed the postseason twice in the previous three years. Before that, many were calling the Kings a potential dynasty, although three long seasons which resulted in hoisting two Stanley Cups ultimately caught up to them.
While they did not perform better than Vegas, the Anaheim Ducks or the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific, that has not mattered in the past. They were the third-best team in the division both times they won the Cup.
Why the Golden Knights can pay on the NHL lines
To say the Golden Knights, sitting at +750 on the Stanley Cup odds, caught the league by surprise this year would be a major understatement. Making the playoffs in their first year is shocking enough, but winning one of the most stacked divisions in hockey has proved they are indeed for real.
What happens now is icing on the cake, although you can bet veterans like goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and winger James Neal will make sure the youngsters know the postseason is a completely different animal. Fleury and Neal both made it to the Stanley Cup final last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, respectively.
Smart betting pick
These teams split four regular-season meetings, and defense was the difference. The team that found a way to score three goals or more won each game, including two that were decided in overtime.
Vegas was 20-4-3 versus divisional opponents before losing its last two meaningless games while Los Angeles ended up 13-11-5, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. That was the difference in the division standings, and combined with a strong home-ice advantage, why the Golden Knights won it. Bet the home team to start strong and hand the Kings a series-opening loss at T-Mobile Arena.
NHL betting trends
Los Angeles is 4-2 in its last six games.
The total has gone over in four of Vegas' last five games.
Vegas is 5-1 in its last six games at home.
All NHL odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.