Blues vs. Golden Knights NHL Odds & Pick: Potential Value on the Underdogs on Monday Night (March 22)
Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Hoffman
- St. Louis was pegged as a contender prior to the start of the year but has failed to meet those expectations.
- Vegas has lived up to preseason hype but may not be as good as its record would suggest.
- Michael Leboff explains why tonight may be the start of the Blues getting back on track.
Blues vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-155|
|Time||Monday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings|
The St. Louis Blues have not inspired confidence this season. Expected to contend with Colorado and Vegas, the Notes have fallen to fourth in the West and are clearly lagging the aforementioned divisional heavyweights and the upstart Minnesota Wild. Nothing is really pointing to a repeat of the worst-to-first renaissance that St. Louis penned in 2018/19, but I am keeping my eye on the Blues.
Thanks to the makeup of the West Division, the Blues have been able to stay in the thick of the playoff race despite playing below their standards all season. St. Louis ranks 15th in points percentage, 17th in 5-on-5 goal share and sits 20th in expected goals rate. Sitting below 50% in goal differential, xG rate and high-danger scoring chance rate is not encouraging, but I do think there’s a chance that the Blues get their act together.
While the Blues’ defensive numbers aren’t up to their usual standards, what’s really been anchoring this team to mediocrity has been a lackluster offense that is creating just 2.06 expected goals and 8.5 high-danger chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. The Blues have managed to score 2.38 goals per hour on the season, but that number has taken a nosedive lately as St. Louis is averaging just 1.54 GF/60 over its last 15 games.
The good news — and the reason that I am intrigued by the Blues in the season-long market — is that they are finally getting healthier.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz are back and playing on the first line, Robert Thomas shouldn’t be too much longer and neither should No. 1 defenseman Colton Parayko.
Even if the Blues do find their rhythm they will not go anywhere without goaltending improvement. Jordan Binnington has been below average with a -2.43 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) and .907 save percentage in 22 games, and his deputy, Ville Husso, has been a mess with a -8.09 GSAx. If you are interested in buying low on St. Louis in the futures market you should hope that they find a more reliable back-up goaltender over the trade deadline.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Vegas Golden Knights have met their lofty pre-season expectations thus far but the way they’ve achieved their league-leading .741 points percentage is a little dubious. Normally a 5-on-5 juggernaut, the Knights are only 11th in the NHL with a 51.6% expected goals rate. That number isn’t concerning at all, but it is surprising since the Knights were at 56.5% last regular season and 55% in 2018/19. Instead of achieving their results by dominating at 5-on-5, the Golden Knights are winning games thanks to a high shooting percentage and Marc-Andre Fleury’s play in goal.
Fleury likely won’t play on Monday night because he started in Vegas’ loss to the Kings on Sunday, but that won’t be an issue since Robin Lehner is back and healthy enough to get the gig against the Blues.
Golden Knights vs. Blues Best Bet
The Knights are the better team and have a more robust statistical portfolio compared to the Blues, but I think the Knights’ results are being propped up by a hot offense and a Vezina candidate in goal. The market will likely be too high on Vegas for the foreseeable future, and I think that’s the case on Monday night. The Blues may not be playing great hockey but there’s a lot of talent on this team, so overlook them at your own peril.
Perhaps I will be proven wrong and the 2021 Blues will just end up as a mediocre team, but with their injury problems and pedigree I’m happy to give them the benefit of the doubt at this number.
Pick: St. Louis Blues +120 or better