NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Avalanche vs. Golden Knights (February 16)
Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nazem Kadri
- The Vegas Golden Knights host the Colorado Avalanche in a pick 'em on Wednesday night.
- Jack Eichel makes his highly anticipated season debut for the Golden Knights, but can you trust Vegas to pull out the win?
- Greg Liodice breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-110|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The moment every hockey fan has been waiting for is the return of Jack Eichel. When the young sensation was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this year, everyone was eagerly anticipating his return to the ice.
Now, he starts off against a red hot Colorado Avalanche team that has been running roughshod all over the league. Wednesday’s battle between Western Conference powerhouses just got a whole lot more interesting.
The Avalanche are starting to live up the expectations many placed upon them. In their last 18 games, they have gone 16-1-2, which at this rate, no one is touching them in the standings. They currently have the best record in the NHL and are eyeing that Presidents’ Trophy.
Out in Sin City, the Golden Knights haven’t had it as easy this year. They’ve dealt with a myriad of injuries and Covid battles but still remain first in the Pacific Division. They have gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and will look to shut down an Avs team with momentum.
Avalanche Look to Stay Hot
It was a slow start for the preseason Cup-favorite Avalanche. Many wondered what went wrong, but ever since the Christmas break, Colorado is playing like the best team in the league, and it’s not even close. The Avs are loaded with talent with All Stars like Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen.
Because of this tremendous stretch, the Avs are obviously one of the better teams at generating offense. With a fourth-ranked Expected Goals per 60 at 3.15, it’s rather surprising that Colorado ranks 19th in High Danger Chances Created. They are also one of the elite Power Play teams, scoring at a 24.4% rate.
Defensively, Colorado is one of the best. They allow the fifth-fewest High Danger Chances, and the 11th-fewest goals allowed.
Darcy Kuemper, like the rest of his team, really had a poor start to the season. Since then, he’s picked it up and is putting up respectable numbers. He’s currently posting a solid .918 SV% as well as a 12.9 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). Since backup Pavel Francouz started last night against Dallas, I’d expect Kuemper to take the crease in this matchup.
Will Eichel Lead the Golden Knights to Victory in His Return?
The return of Jack Eichel will be a fun one to watch, especially on national TV in a packed T-Mobile Arena. Even though Eichel hasn’t played a game in a year, he’ll still provide a spark to a team that’s losing Robin Lehner, captain Mark Stone and Alec Martinez. The Golden Knights also have a number of players who are performing well like Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson, and Shea Theodore.
Vegas isn’t that far behind its counterparts when it comes to driving play. They’re ranked seventh in Expected Goals per 60 with a 2.78 xGF/60 and create the seventh-most High Danger Chances in the league. The Power Play has been fairly decent, scoring at a 19.5% rate
With an ample amount of offensive chances, their defense has been sacrificed. They allow the fourth-most High Danger Chances and the 13th-most goals allowed as well.
Starting net-minder Robin Lehner tore his labrum and most likely won’t be seeing the ice for a while should he elect for surgery. That leaves backup Laurent Brossoit to take over. Brossoit is a fine backup with a .905 SV% and a 4.2 GSAx, but he may struggle in a long term role. Vegas also called up backup Logan Thompson in Lehner’s relief, but I don’t see him playing tonight.
Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Pick
The anticipation is certainly high with the return of Eichel, so it should set for an extraordinary environment. However, I believe Colorado’s firepower will ultimately be too much for the Vegas defense. They’re coming off their first regulation loss in two months, so they’ll be coming into Vegas angry.
Don’t count out Vegas however. I don’t think they will win, but they have a ton of talent and can put the puck in the net. Consequently, there’s good value in taking the over.
Pick: Over 6.5 (-110)
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