Friday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Anaheim Ducks vs. Vegas Golden Knights Betting Preview
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Max Pacioretty.
- The Vegas Golden Knights are big favorites on Friday afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks.
- While Anaheim leads the Pacific Division, Vegas appears poised for a big rest of the season.
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup below and makes her betting pick.
Ducks vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-189|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The top two teams in the Pacific Division are set to kick off your New Year’s Eve celebrations when they meet up for a matinee in Sin City on Friday.
True to their roots, the Vegas Golden Knights have been bringing the party lately, scoring goals in bunches despite ongoing injury issues. They’ve overcome a bumpy start to the season to reclaim their place among the NHL’s elite teams.
The Anaheim Ducks, meanwhile, have been arguably this year’s biggest surprise, rising from a 30th-overall finish last season back into playoff contention.
But don’t expect the Ducks to spoil the Golden Knights’ fun on Friday. Here’s why you should back Vegas on the moneyline.
Can Anaheim Keep Surprising Season Going?
Is the glass half empty or half full in Anaheim right now?
Before the season, fans would have exalted over a spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. The young Ducks have been entertaining to watch, with points in 10 of their last 11 games, during which they are 6-1-4.
But Anaheim looked listless in its return to action against Vancouver on Wednesday night, managing just 23 shots and picking up a point primarily because John Gibson was his usual sparkling self.
Against Vancouver, the Ducks also lost their ice-time leader, Cam Fowler, who left the game with an upper body injury after crashing hard into the end boards. Also, offensive whiz Trevor Zegras and forwards Sam Steel and Max Comtois are on the COVID protocol list, while Adam Henrique is sidelined with a lower-body injury.
Expect to see Anaheim go back to Gibson against the Golden Knights, as he gives them a chance to win every night. The Ducks are a middle-of-the-pack team offensively, averaging 3.09 goals per game but a solid fifth in the league on the power play. Their bread and butter is their 10th-lowest goals against per game (2.67) and third-best penalty kill (85.9%).
That all shakes out to a 20th-ranked expected goals share at 5-on-5.
Vegas Poised for Big Second Half
Though the Golden Knights sit just one point ahead of the Ducks in the Pacific Division standings, their current momentum is much stronger. In their first game after the holiday break on Tuesday, they steamrolled the Los Angeles Kings, 6-3.
Vegas has won six of its last seven and picked up 18 of a possible 24 points so far in December, averaging 4.33 goals scored and just 3.08 against this month with a +15 goal difference.
Even the previously moribund power play is picking up steam, going 4-for-8 in the last four games.
And all of this success has come with (still) some pretty key absences. Mark Stone is back on injured reserve. Robin Lehner has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury. And while Alex Pietrangelo is coming off the COVID protocol list and should be set to play on Friday, fellow defenseman Alec Martinez remains sidelined with that nasty facial injury.
The Vegas forward group is deep enough that it seems like when one player cools off, another gets hot. Max Pacioretty went on a torrid run before Christmas. Now, Jonathan Marchessault is going. He put up a three-point night against the Kings on Tuesday, and has 11 points in 13 games since coming off the COVID list in late November.
Friday’s game marks the beginning of a six-game homestand for the Golden Knights. They’re uncharacteristically ho-hum at T-Mobile Arena so far this season, with a 10-7-0 record.
Ducks vs. Golden Knights Pick
Vegas came out of the holiday break looking better than ever. The offense and the power-play were humming and Laurent Brossoit looked solid between the pipes.
Meanwhile, the Ducks looked drab. And while Cam Fowler wasn’t immediately placed on the injured list after Wednesday’s loss, Anaheim will miss him if he’s unavailable. He plays in all situations and is one of their leading power-play producers — and with the early start at noon local time on Friday, it’s possible that there won’t be more information released on his status until shortly before puck drop.
That being said, don’t get too carried away if you choose to back Vegas. Even when they lose, the Ducks find ways to stay in games. Anaheim’s seven overtime/shootout losses tie them with Washington for the most in the league so far this season.
So, keep it simple and snag the home team on the moneyline. You’ll have a good chance of setting yourself up to end the year on a winning note.
Pick: Golden Knights -189 (play down to -200)