NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Golden Knights vs. Devils (Dec. 16)
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Stone
Golden Knights vs. Devils Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-165|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Devils will limp home after being pummeled 6-1 by the Flyers Tuesday night to give them seven losses over their last eight games. Life won’t get any easier for the Devils here at home against a Vegas team that seems to be turning the corner as they have been more dominant as they are now close to fully healthy.
Golden Knights Surging with Pacioretty and Stone
Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone lead the Knights as they have combined to post utterly dominant play both at 5-on-5 and on the power play, where they have revived Vegas’ greatest weakness to start the season.
In the games played with both of Stone and Pacioretty back (since November 24th), Vegas holds the league’s second-best xGF% at 59.53, and the league’s 12th-best power play at 7.91 GF/60. The Knights also have an xGF/60 mark of 7.85, pulling their overall average up to 23rd from the dreadful 31st position before their return. Over their last six, the Knights have gone 5-1-0, with a +12 Goal Differential with those two elite pieces and a healthier back-end.
Max Pacioretty continued his absurd season opening tear Tuesday night in Boston, posting two more goals in the 4-1 win to push his totals to 12 goals and 19 points in 11 contests so far this season.
It’s easy to see why Vegas struggled to start the year given the injury situation. With some excellent play-driving numbers to go alongside spectacular results of late, this team will continue to fare better and better as the seasons rolls along, especially if Jack Eichel returns even somewhat close to peak-form.
The Knights are still sitting at +170 to win the division on FanDuel at the time of writing, and that holds a ton of value because Calgary’s COVID situation could cause a bad schedule and poor results for a bit. Anaheim doesn’t seem to be a legit threat to hold these results over 82 games, and Edmonton’s defense/goaltending woes will continue to be exposed.
Robin Lehner projects to start for the contest and has been steady this season despite some tough nights behind the depleted roster early on this year. He holds a .906 Save % with a +4.2 Goals Saved Above Expected rating (GSAx) through 22 games.
Devils Struggling Under Ruff
Veteran coach Lindy Ruff has to be feeling the pressure as the Devils have been disappointing this season. The Devils were counting on the emergence of a number of young talents to help carry the load, but not enough pieces have progressed to pull this team out of the Metropolitan Division basement.
Injuries haven’t helped, but the Devils roster has been considerably more intact altogether this season than divisional foes such as the Penguins, Islanders, Capitals, and Flyers.
Over their last eight games, the Devils have gone 1-6-1, with a -16 Goal Differential, 47.72 xGF% and 4.20 goals against per game. Altogether the Devils hold an Expected Goal Differential of a more respectable -1.99, but they greatly underachieved the expected mark last season, so I wouldn’t count on as much positive regression coming as the numbers may suggest.
It’s reasonable to question the roster’s motivation under coach Lindy Ruff, and another poor effort tomorrow night has the potential to be the last straw in his tenure.
Captain Nico Hischier will remain out for the contest, as well as top pair defender Ryan Graves — which are both very meaningful losses.
The Devils will likely go with Mackenzie Blackwood in net. He has posted a .904 Save % and a -0.3 GSAx rating throughout 15 games played this season.
Devils vs. Golden Knights Pick
The Devils have been skating lifelessly of late and have been in awful form in front of goal over an eight-game span which has seemingly eliminated their playoff hopes.
It seems they may be losing their energy to play for Ruff, and whether that’s the case or not, they get an awful matchup here with two key pieces in Captain Nico Hischier and top pair defender Ryan Graves out against a Knights team that seems to be finding its stride.
I like taking a shot on Vegas to continue their dominant ways against the Devils as the puck-line at +145 holds value, and I would play that down to +130.
DraftKings also has a same-game parlay of Vegas -1.5/Over 5.5 listed at +280, and I’m going to put a half-unit there. If you can get a similar number for a line of 5.5, or something in the +200 range for just over 5.5 and Vegas win (most sites won’t allow -1.5 plus the over as it’s too correlated), then I would like that as a substitute.
I also recommend paying close attention to COVID protocol list updates because rosters have been greatly subject to change this week.
Pick: Vegas Golden Knights -1.5 +145 (Play to +130)
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