NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Golden Knights vs. Penguins (March 11)
Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brock McGinn
- The Golden Knights are playing the second of a back-to-back on the road tonight against the Penguins.
- Vegas has really struggled of late and is coming off a loss on Thursday against Buffalo.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Golden Knights vs. Penguins Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||+115|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After yet another disappointing loss Thursday night in Jack Eichel’s return to Buffalo, the Las Vegas Golden Knights head in to Pittsburgh desperate to claim two points, having plummeted down the Western Conference standings of late.
Will they be able to find a better result playing in the second leg of a tough road back-to-back?
Golden Knights Scuffling Offensively
Vegas has produced an awful 4-7-1 record over its last 12 contests and now sit shockingly close to being outside the playoffs altogether, holding just a two-point lead over the Oilers with one more game played.
What’s even more concerning about that record is that all four victories came over competition outside of the playoff picture, while the seven losses have included defeats at the hands of the Flyers, Coyotes and Sabres.
Vegas has hit a wall offensively, generating just 2.125 goals per game over the last eight contests, although a 3.37 xGF/60 rate over that time suggests an uptick is due.
But with that said, the offensive play has looks quite disjointed to the eye, and that stretch has featured several of the league’s weakest clubs. The power play looked awful again in Buffalo, with zone entries being a consistent problem.
Reilly Smith’s status for this contest is unclear, but a potential return could be crucial for a Knights team surely in need of some offensive support.
With Robin Lehner injured and Laurent Brossoit having played Thursday night against Buffalo, we will likely see Logan Thompson get the start here.
Thompson has been very sharp at the AHL level, and has looked good in two NHL games this season, playing to a +0.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .935 save %, and showing why he is likely to garner the role of full-time backup for the Knights next season.
Penguins Continue to Produce
The Penguins have posted some up-and-down results over the last several weeks, but a 3-1-1 record over their last five games is proof that this very talented group is beginning to play closer to potential again, especially considering the high quality of the opposition played in that time.
They suffered a tough overtime defeat last Friday in Carolina, where even claiming a point is impressive, after trouncing the Lightning 5-1 the night previous, and then fell at home to Florida 4-3 Tuesday.
So an ideal amount of rest and catching a much easier opponent in a favorable spot could be just what the Pens need to break through with another win.
Pittsburgh will enter this one at near-full health, which leaves it with considerably more offensive depth than the Knights can currently offer. The Pens hold a ninth-best xGF/60 rate of 3.16 over their last nine games, and should be able to produce at an effective rate here.
But behind that, the Penguins hold a strong defensive game, and it’s easy for me to see them coming out Friday and making it very tough for the Knights to figure out their offensive struggles.
Tristan Jarry has been strong in goal for the Penguins this season, and should likely get the start here looking to build on his strong .920 save % and +12.6 goals saved above expected rating.
Golden Knights vs. Penguins Pick
While you have to believe the Golden Knights will trend back upward at some point soon, it seems a reach to think it will be Friday in this tough spot against the Penguins.
Pittsburgh is skating a far deeper roster compared to Vegas given the Knights’ current injury situation, and I love this spot for the Penguins to put forth a sharp effort and snap their two-game losing streak.
At -140, I do not feel Pittsburgh is being given the respect by oddsmakers it deserves at home against a team struggling as much as the Golden Knights have. I would back the Pens down to -160.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins -140 (Play to -160)