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NHL Odds, Preview, Pick: Golden Knights vs. Ducks (December 28)

NHL Odds, Preview, Pick: Golden Knights vs. Ducks (December 28) article feature image
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Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Pietrangelo.

Golden Knights vs. Ducks Odds

Golden Knights Odds -180
Ducks Odds +155
Over/Under 6 (-120/+100)
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV SN360
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Vegas Golden Knights have slowed a bit lately, posting a 5-4-0 record over their last nine games, but even that’s a level Anaheim hasn’t reached this season. The Ducks haven’t enjoyed a win streak of more than two games, and they haven’t posted a stretch better than Oct. 30-Nov. 5, when Anaheim won three of four contests.

The Ducks are on a three-game losing streak, bringing them down to 9-22-4 this season. But with the odds heavily reflecting the fact that the Golden Knights are the favorites, is there any reason at all to consider the Ducks as a worthwhile underdog pick?

Almost Golden Knights

If there’s any reasonable hope for Anaheim, it’s that the Ducks won’t be facing Vegas at its best. While Anaheim is playing for the first time since the break, Vegas is gearing up for its second road contest in as many nights.

Vegas also has some issues on the injury front. At the time of writing, Jack Eichel (lower body), Jonathan Marchessault (lower body) and Shea Theodore (leg) are all questionable for Wednesday’s game. That’s two of Vegas’ top six forwards and one of the team’s best defensemen who might not be available. The Golden Knights have the 10th-best offense with 3.31 goals per game, but if they’re not at full strength, their offense might not be anything special.

It won’t be weak, either, though. Vegas is still set to feature Chandler Stephenson, who has nine goals and 36 points in 36 games, and Mark Stone, who has 15 goals and 30 points in 36 contests. Reilly Smith, Alex Pietrangelo, and William Karlsson each have at least 25 points as well, so even with those injuries, Vegas isn’t completely devoid of scoring options.

On the goaltender front, the Ducks also might not be facing Vegas at its peak. With this being the Golden Knights’ second half of a back-to-back, backup netminder Adin Hill is likely to play between the pipes. Hill does have an 8-3-1 record, 2.66 GAA and .903 save percentage in 12 contests this season, but he’s going through a rough patch with a 3.14 GAA and .884 save percentage in his last eight contests.

So this isn’t the most scary of Vegas’ iterations, but then we shift our attention to the Ducks, and the Golden Knights start to look a whole lot better.

Diving Ducks

First off, remember how Vegas might be without two of its top six forwards? Even without them, the Golden Knights still have hands down the better forward core, as Anaheim is the worst offensive team in the NHL with 2.31 goals per game.

Troy Terry is their top forward with 12 goals and 29 points in 35 contests this season. That puts him in a six-way tie for 65th place in the scoring race. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not the position you want your leading scorer to be in.

Terry doesn’t have much to work with, though. After him, there’s Trevor Zegras with 10 goals and 25 points in 35 games. Then, Mason Mctavish is the only other player on the Ducks with at least 20 points. To put that into context, Vegas has eight players who have surpassed the 20-point milestone.

Anaheim’s situation doesn’t get any better when you look at its goaltending. John Gibson (undisclosed) might be available for Wednesday’s game, but he’s struggled this season with a 5-14-3 record, 3.99 GAA and .896 save percentage in 22 contests. Don’t put all the blame on him, though. The Ducks have the worst expected goals against in the league with 136.24, per Moneypuck, so the issue is the Ducks’ poor defense as much as it’s been leaky goaltending.

In fact, Gibson isn’t the only Anaheim netminder to struggle. Anthony Stolarz has a 2-5-0 record, 4.02 GAA and .896 save percentage in 13 contests while Lukas Dostal is 2-3-1 with a 3.53 GAA and .909 save percentage in seven games.

It quickly becomes apparent why the Ducks are in the running for the first overall pick in the draft rather than a playoff spot.

Golden Knights vs. Ducks Pick

At the time of writing, Vegas has -176 odds on FanDuel’s moneyline while taking Anaheim offers +146. If you wanted to go for the puck line though where the spread is 1.5 goals in the Ducks’ favor, then you could get a +135 potential payout with DraftKings.

Vegas beat Anaheim 4-0 on Oct. 28, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see them beat the spread again this time. The over is tempting, too, given the Ducks’ horrendous defense coupled with the probability that Vegas will start the struggling Hill. However, the Over/Under on FanDuel is set at 6.5, and the potential payout of +102 pales in comparison to Vegas on the puck line.

Ultimately, I am going to take Vegas on the puck line. There is a touch of hesitation on my part given Vegas’ injuries, and the fact that they’ll be playing for the second straight night, but the gap between these two teams is so significant that I can’t help backing the Golden Knights.

Pick: Vegas Golden Knights Puck Line +135 (play down to +120)

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