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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Golden Knights vs. Coyotes (Dec. 3)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Golden Knights vs. Coyotes (Dec. 3) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Stone

Golden Knights vs. Coyotes Odds

Golden Knights Odds-220
Coyotes Odds+180
Time9:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The last-place Arizona Coyotes will be big home underdogs when they play host to the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday. It’s Arizona’s third game in four nights, but the Knights have slowed down some after surging through much of November.

Is Arizona the perfect opponent for Vegas to face to get out of its funk? Or is this Knights squad susceptible to another letdown?

Vegas Needs to be Better in Their Own End

The Golden Knights have given up 16 goals in their last four games which is very uncharacteristic of this team in past years. But porous defense has been a trend all season for the Knights, as Peter DeBoer’s side is allowing the most expected goals (2.8) per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this season.

Robin Lehner is the expected starter in this one and he needs a very strong bounce-back performance after allowing five goals against on 33 shots against in Vegas’ last game against the Ducks.

Lehner’s surface-level numbers aren’t that great, but his team has put him in precarious positions all season. Vegas has the worst expected save percentage on unblocked shots this season, so Lehner’s .909 save percentage deserves some context. In total, he’s posted a +3.5 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) in 18 games.

While the Knights have struggled in their own end, they are scoring enough to stay afloat. Vegas boasts the 11th-best goals per game average and ranks top-5 in high-danger scoring chances and expected goals for per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Despite a strong 5-on-5 offense, the Knights power play has struggled to a 13.7% conversion rate.

If Vegas can be structured defensively, they shouldn’t have any issues tonight.

The Coyotes Need to Find Some Offense

The Arizona Coyotes have been an absolute dumpster fire this season. They have been the worst team offensively, averaging less than two goals per game and they are the fifth-worst team defensively allowing 3.48 goals against.

It’s never a good sign when a defenseman leads your team in scoring and that’s what is happening in Arizona. Shayne Gostisbehere paces the team with 16 points (3 goals, 13 assists) and is one of four players with double-digit points.

Arizona has confirmed that Karel Vejmelka will start on Friday night and the unheralded rookie out of the Czech Republic has been decent this season, all things considered. Vejmelka has a .916 SV% and +3.1 GSAx in his first 14 games of NHL duty. Vejmelka has stolen a couple of games already this season — including in a sparkling performance against the Jets earlier this week — and he’ll need to do that again, most likely, as the Coyotes are getting outshot 33.7 to 25.4 on average this season.

Coyotes vs. Golden Knights Pick

This is a clear mismatch on paper and Arizona doesn’t have the offensive firepower to take advantage of Vegas’ defensive flaws. That should set up for the Knights getting margin and turning this game into a blowout.

In addition, this is a tough schedule spot for the Coyotes, so I don’t have any problem going square and backing the Knights getting the job done in regulation.

Pick: Golden Knights to win in regulation (-120)

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