Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Odds, Pick, Prediction: Lay it With Home Team
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrei Vasilevskiy and Mikhail Sergachev.
Knights vs. Lightning Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||+135|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.|
It’s always fun when two top teams square off. Saturday, the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Tampa Bay Lightning in a powerhouse matchup. Vegas has struggled in its last 10, while Tampa continues to roll.
The Pacific Division leaders have gone 3-4-3 in their last 10 and are losing any traction they had to win the division convincingly. They’ve been riddled with injuries all season, but now they’re close to full strength, and Jack Eichel should be ready after the All Star Break. We shall see what the rest of the season holds for Sin City.
The Lightning are the cream of the crop, and it hasn’t stopped being that way. After going 8-2 in their last 10, the Bolts will look to take down the Knights to tie the division leading Panthers.
Golden Knights Defense Still Struggling
Vegas’s journey this season has surely been a roller coaster. Adversity hit them for maybe the first time in franchise history, and they started off slow. Then a few key pieces came back from injury and went on a roll.
Now they’re struggling again. While they stand atop the Pacific Division, it’s hard to tell what kind of team the Golden Knights are this year. With quality players like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, and Shea Theodore, you’re bound to have success. It’s just odd that it’s been so inconsistent.
Even with the struggles that they’ve endured, the Knights are still a top 10 team in expected goals per 60 minutes. They stand at sixth with a 2.81 xGF/60 and create the fourth-most high danger chances in the league. Lately they haven’t converted on the power play as much though, scoring at a 20% rate — still good, but below what they were. Vegas can always drive play, so clearly their offense isn’t what’s holding them back.
While Vegas creates many high danger chances, they allow just as many, while also allowing the 10th most goals in the league. It’s clear that while there are talented players on the backend, they have not performed well.
A poor defense comes with some holes in net. Robin Lehner has certainly held his own and done the best he could, but the goals allowed stat — a whopping 2.82 — speaks for itself. The Swedish net-minder is posting a decent .908 SV% as well as a decent 7.2 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). Backup Laurent Brossoit played this past Tuesday, so I’m expecting Lehner to start.
Lightning Not Slowing Down
The saying “the rich get richer” seems to apply to the Lightning every year. General Manager Julien BriseBois knows how to build a team since the Bolts lost their identity line to free agency the past two years. They managed to keep their core together as Steven Stamkos is having a resurgence, Victor Hedman should probably win the Norris, Nikita Kucherov is coming back soon, and Alex Killorn is scoring at almost a point per game basis.
As seen the past two years, Tampa is one of the top teams at generating offense. They currently stand at ninth with a 2.76 xGF/60 and create the third-most high danger chances. On the power play, they score at a similar clip as their counterparts — 20.4%. With Kucherov back from injury, and shortly from COVID, I expect that number to only rise.
On defense, the Bolts handle themselves better than Vegas. Tampa hasn’t allowed as many goals, nor do they nearly allow as many high danger chances as their opponents.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is a top five goaltender and not only do his achievements prove it, but his stats do as well. The towering Russian is posting a .922 SV% as well and a strong 16.7 GSAx, fifth among all net-minders. Backup Brian Elliott rarely sees much time on the ice, and since he played a week ago, I think Vasilevskiy will get the nod.
Golden Knights vs. Lightning Pick
I like Lehner a lot, but if his defense continues to let up as many high danger chances they do, Tampa Bay will take advantage of it.
It could be a great game with two powerhouses going at each other. But ultimately, I will back the Bolts to continue this strong run of form.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -155