Is this where the magic carpet ride of the Florida Panthers comes to an abrupt halt?
Questions like that were asked about the other team in their market – and another #8 seed, we might add – as the Miami Heat lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. But the Heat roared back in Game 2 to “steal” one in the Mile High City.
Could the Panthers do the same in Sin City?
There was much to be desired in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss, in which the Vegas Golden Knights got some miraculous saves from Adin Hill and punctuated their performance with an empty-net goal to power past Florida.
Hill left an empty net of sorts, which Nick Cousins was ready to take advantage of. But Hill literally extended his stick as far as he possibly could and kind of swung it. And incredibly, he could swat it away, despite being out of position. Cousins had been fed by Matthew Tkachuk, the Hart Trophy finalist with three game-winning goals in the previous series with Carolina, and was ready for another hero turn.
But the Panthers ran out of heroes on this particular evening.
Here are the Stanley Cup odds for Game 2, which starts at 8 PM ET on Monday at the T-Mobile Arena, as they are posted at BetOnline:
Vegas Golden Knights -131
Florida Panthers +119
Over 5.5 Goals -121
Under 5.5 Goals +101
And on the puck line……
Panthers +1.5 Goals (-225)
Knights -1.5 Goals (+195)
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As much praise as Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky has gotten along the way in these playoffs, Hill might not only be the better story but, the better bet for the Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP of the playoffs). Unlike Bobrovsky, he doesn’t have two Vezina Trophies on his mantle. Hill is a journeyman who has just emerged as a hero. And this is his first chance to play in the postseason.
His goals-against in the playoffs is at the 2.00 mark with Saturday’s victory, and he has compiled a .937 save percentage, which is even better than Bobrovsky’s.
Okay, you want this to be an even better story? Vegas did not begin the playoffs with Hill as the #1 goaltender. He only came in because of an injury to Laurent Brossoit.
And we guess we can say… so far, so GREAT.
Hill is a mountain of a man (see what we did there?) at 6’6″, and so there is a natural difficulty in being nimble, flexible, etc. And he is attributing his ability to adapt to his study of yoga and the exercises accompanying it.
These playoffs, and the teams that have advanced to this point, have largely been the story of the two goaltenders. Hill is giving the Golden Knights something almost superhuman, whereas anything less might have caused things to go the other way. And the same thing could be said for Bobrovsky, although, as we pointed out, Hill has posted better numbers both on the field and on NHL betting sites.
When we take a look at BetOnline’s revised and updated odds to win Conn Smythe, Bobrovsky’s presence at the top is not unexpected, but Hill’s odds seem quite high, considering all he’s done:
There’s quite a ways to go in this series. But if Hill can supply some more drama – and more spectacular play – he will make that +800 look like something valuable.
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