NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights (October 13)
Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel, left, and teammate Nicolas Hague.
- The Golden Knights host the Blackhawks in Vegas' home opener.
- The Blackhawks are playing the second-half of a back-to-back, will they have enough left in the tank to compete?
- Nick Martin previews this matchup and shares his best bet below.
Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-350|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Chicago opened the season against the defending champion Avalanche in Denver before taking a plane to Vegas for a date with a hungry Knights team looking to bounce back from a disappointing end to last season.
That's an awful opening road back-to-back for any team, let alone a Chicago squad widely projected with the second lowest season points total.
Prior to last season, T-Mobile Arena earned a reputation of being one of the toughest buildings for the opposition to play in. With the Knights fully healthy and looking for a big season, could we see that narrative come back into play?
At the time of this writing Chicago has not yet taken the ice for its opening night battle with the Avalanche, but rather than gather more information, I would prefer to get this breakdown out now, based upon my expectations for each game.
The Blackhawks roster holds very little in the way of meaningful NHL talent and as I previously touched on in a piece covering odds for the worst regular season record, I believe Chicago is likely to be terrible this season.
Max Domi, Jonathon Toews and Sam Lafferty are set to be the top three centers, and it's very hard to imagine how that is not a significant disadvantage against stronger sides.
Chicago's wingers, with the exception of Patrick Kane, are all almost below average in their specific roles.
The back end shouldn't be much better, as Jack Johnson and Seth Jones are set to compile the top pairing. The second pairing of Jarred Tinordi and Connor Murphy is also likely a cause for concern.
Even strong goaltenders, as we saw last season with Marc-Andre Fleury, would struggle behind this Chicago roster and the Blackhawks current duo of Kevin Lankinen and Alex Stalock could post disastrous results.
Goaltending is hard to predict, but neither Lankinen nor Stalock has had success at the NHL level. We should see Stalock on Thursday, so let's dive into his numbers.
Stalock posted a sub .870 save % throughout 17 games at the AHL level last season and was lit up for six goals in his only NHL outing.
Things went much better with Minnesota in the previous season as Stalock posted a .910 save % at the NHL level. However, he is now 35 and it's a tough sell for me to imagine even average results this season at the NHL level.
Vegas Golden Knights
After a tumultuous 2021-22 campaign in which the Knights suffered through an incredible number of injuries, Vegas enters the season as a team which I am extremely interested in watching on a night-to-night basis.
Tuesday's season-opening contest on the road against the Kings was a very positive start to the campaign, especially when we consider who carried the team to that win.
Jack Eichel is flying a little under the radar and has the potential to be one of the best players in the entire league this season. I felt he was the most noticeable player from either side in Tuesday's contest and he recorded a goal from seven shots on target.
We also didn't exactly know what to expect from Phil Kessel entering this season, but on opening night it certainly looked like a change of scenery did good for Kessel and I felt he had a strong game on Eichel's wing.
Vegas Captain Mark Stone has also been a borderline MVP-caliber player at times, yet fought through an awful back injury for most of last season and was regularly in and out of the lineup.
Stone played a strong contest as well and was rewarded with a game-winning goal in the final 30 seconds.
If Stone and Eichel are going to play at the level we saw Tuesday, that makes Vegas' offensive unit look very strong this season. If Kessel actually moves the needle, that is a massive bonus.
Altogether, the Knights played to a 66% expected goals share in that contest and although that mark seemed a little favorable to my eye, it was a good showing nonetheless.
Most importantly, I felt Knights goaltender Logan Thompson had a strong showing.
Thompson holds very little experience at the NHL level, but I believe his profile of work down the stretch last season was extremely impressive and I expect him to draw the start for the home opener.
Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights Pick
I expect Vegas to take advantage of this spot in its home opener and stay undefeated.
It's very hard for me to imagine the Blackhawks controlling play at a decent rate in this contest, which could be bad news for Chicago with Alex Stalock likely drawing the start in the back-to-back.
I believe the Knights are winning this game by two or more often enough to still hold value down to -145, and that this is simply a strong spot to lay the points with the chalk.
Pick:Vegas Golden Knights -1.5 -130 (Play to -145)