Lightning vs. Golden Knights NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction (Dec. 21)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Robin Lehner
- The Lightning are short road underdogs against the Golden Knights on Tuesday in Vegas.
- This may be the last NHL game for a few days as the league is expected to shut down over Christmas because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.
Lightning vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-140|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
With Monday’s unfortunate news that the league would postpone all contests from the 22nd and 23rd, this will go as the league’s likely last game prior to the 27th. On the bright side, it should be an excellent battle two of the league’s best, and could be quite possibly be a preview of this year’s Cup Final.
Jon Cooper’s Lightning continue to find ways to win short two of the league’s absolute best players, and will head to Vegas winners of two straight and 7-2-1 over their last 10. The Golden Knights have continued to find more and more dominant form now skating at close to full-health.
Who may hold the upper hand in this spot?
Lightning Showcase Impressive Depth
The way Tampa Bay has handled the gigantic losses of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point has been a true testament to the organization’s depth, as well as the brilliance of Cooper, who has rightfully moved among the Jack Adams award favorites.
The Bolts hold the league’s second-best winning percentage, and have done so with excellent balance all over the roster, with top-six marks in xGA/60 and xGF/60 this season, creating a +17 goal differential.
The Bolts’ blue line has been a great area of stability, and even without the underrated services of Eric Cernak of late have still iced three very stable pairings, led by Victor Hedman’s top duo alongside Jan Rutta. It’s rounded out by two excellent pairings with Ryan McDonaugh and Zach Bogosian, who hold a 53.1 xGF% in 181.7 minutes together, and a third pairing of Mikhail Sergachev and Cal Foote, who hold a spectacular 59.2 xGF% throughout 157 minutes of play.
Foote is another in a long line of Bolts to make notable differences after honing their game with AHL Syracuse, with Mathieu Joseph and Ross Colton both playing top-six minutes of late, and Taylor Raddysh showing some serious offensive upside on the fourth line currently.
That top-to-bottom depth has been huge in keeping the Lightning afloat this season, but their greatest strength is likely still in goal, where Andrei Vasilevskiy has thrived yet again and goes as the current Vezina favorite.
Vasilevskiy owns a ridiculous +15.1 goals saved above expected mark (GSAx), and a .928 save % throughout 23 games played so far this season, and should almost certainly draw the start for this big contest with the long break looming.
Golden Knights Return Home After Successful Trip
Vegas will return home having completed a successful 4-0 Eastern road swing, punctuated by an emotional 4-3 shootout win against the Islanders Sunday, no doubt a meaningful one for starting net-minder Robin Lehner in his return to Long Island, and with captain Mark Stone a last second scratch.
However, arguably none of the final three victories were overly impressive, with two coming via shootout, and the victory in New Jersey coming behind some very opportunistic scoring.
That said, the team has still combined to post a league-best 59.19 xGF% the last month, but I do feel those numbers were generous to the play seen during the road-trip altogether. The Knights will likely have a tougher time being so opportunistic against a Lightning team unlikely to offer much in the way of high quality chances and with Vasilevskiy in net.
Stone’s status for the contest is unclear, having been a last minute scratch for Sunday’s contest in New York. Stone has again been outright dominant at both ends of the ice this season, posting 21 points in 18 games so far.
Lehner has been rather average altogether in goal, posting a .905 save % and a +3.3 GSAx throughout 24 games this season, and will likely start again here.
Golden Knights vs. Lightning Pick
Both of these team’s have been in truly elite form of late, but with Tampa available at a price as high as +115, it seems to be the side holding more value in a spot which lends itself to a very tightly contested and hard-fought affair, and with a notable goaltending edge.
Vasilevskiy rightfully has to be considered the best goaltender in the game, and he has shown to be a great equalizer yet again for the Lightning this season, but has been supported with some excellent play in front of goal as evidenced by their 2.14 xGA/60 over the last month of play.
As well, Stone’s status is up in the air, and although his absence is speculated to be very minor, you would have to believe the Knights will not risk rushing him back here unless it is a complete certainty he’s 100% ready to go considering they get a five-day break.
Stone’s return has clearly been a massive causation toward the Knights’ turnaround, and should he sit I would really enjoy holding a Tampa ticket at around +115.
Either way, I’m happy to take a chance on Tampa getting very up for this one and putting forth its best effort, which should allow a great opportunity to hang around and have this one going as more of a coin-flip.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning +115