Wild vs. Golden Knights NHL Odds & Pick: Betting Market Is Too High on Vegas (Thursday, April 1)
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Alec Martinez
- Minnesota has surpassed expectations on the backs of its strong defense and goaltending.
- Vegas is still a formidable team, but not quite the juggernaut of seasons past.
- Michael Leboff thinks the Golden Knights are getting too much love from the sportsbooks.
Wild vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-180|
|Time||Thursday, 10:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via BetMGM|
The Minnesota Wild have become betting darlings this season. The Wild have made believers out of bettors by posting strong play-driving metrics for years, but they never made good on them until now. A lot of that can be chalked up to a massive improvement in goal with Kaapo Kahkonen and Cam Talbot.
Neither of the two netminders has dazzling isolated numbers (Talbot has a +2.5 GSAx and Kahkonen is at -2.24), but they’ve combined for a league-best .919 save percentage this season. That tells you that Minnesota’s defense is making life easy on the goaltending and, for the first time in years, the goalies are holding up their end of the bargain.
If Talbot and Kahkonen are meeting expectations, the rest of the team has exceeded them. Minnesota is third in goals per 60 minutes, sixth in goal differential per 60, sixth in expected goal differential per 60 and second in high-danger chance rate. Known as a defensive force coming into the season, the Wild have taken a serious step forward offensively thanks to the arrival of Kirill Kaprizov, a breakout season from Joel Eriksson Ek and decent production from their depth forwards.
The Wild were expected to be on the edge of the playoff picture coming into the season, but instead they look like a potential noise-maker in the West Division.
Vegas was also a 5-on-5 juggernaut in seasons past, but this year has been different for the Knights. They are still a formidable bunch, but their 51.9% expected goals rate lags behind where they were in 2019/20 (56.5%) and 2018/19 (55%). Fortunately, Marc-Andre Fleury’s splendid play in goal has helped to cushion any potential fallout from Vegas’ modest deterioration at 5-on-5.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Wild vs. Golden Knights Best Bet
Both Vegas and Minnesota come into this game in good form, and I think the listed odds suggest the gap between these two teams is wider than it actually is. The Wild are for real and look like the better 5-on-5 team in this matchup. Vegas gets the edge in terms of high-end talent and depth up front, but Minnesota’s defense has been up to the task all season, allowing just 8.32 high-danger chances per 60 minutes.
Vegas is at home and has a slight rest advantage with Minnesota traveling on a back-to-back (the Knights played at home on Wednesday), but I think this number flatters the Golden Knights, who are likely not as good as their results suggest this season. I like the Wild at anything north of +135.