By W.G. Ramirez
The Vegas Golden Knights are back home for a quick two-game homestand on back-to-back nights before heading east again.
Vegas is looking for revenge against the Calgary Flames, who just won 7-2 in the teams’ first meeting of the season on Monday. That was on the second of back-to-back nights. This one is on the first, albeit the day after Thanksgiving.
Vegas fans can only hope while the Flames were nestled in to their Las Vegas hotel rooms, and focused on the game, the Golden Knights weren’t going overboard at the Thanksgiving dinner the Fleurys hosted.
As for the Knights On Ice totals, we improved to 8-1 with the Over/Unders involving the Golden Knights after delivering the Under in their 3-2 win in Glendale on Wednesday.
As bad as things have been for Vegas, and for as well as Calgary has looked to start the campaign, the oddsmakers have a slight lean toward the Golden Knights, as they’re currently -130, as of 10 a.m. pacific.
The Flames sit atop the Pacific Division with 27 points, one point in front of the San Jose Sharks. The Golden Knights are in sixth place with 21 points, and a mere three points shy of the second wild-card spot.
Defenseman Brad Hunt said the team has been positive and remains positive, despite the Thanksgiving playoff stat.
”As soon as negativity starts to creep in, it doesn’t take long to take over all the dressing room,” Hunt said. “And there’s no reason to be negative. We just have to bounce back and play the way we know how to play.”
Value in the Knights
Third-line turned second-line forward Cody Eakin has had a surprisingly fast start to the season with eight goals. And three of them came in two of the team’s three games that followed a road trip. Eakin has moved up to the second line with the absence of Erik Haula and has blended in nicely alongside Alex Tuch and Max Pacioretty, who happens to be on a three-game point streak. The last time the Golden Knights returned home, Eakin scored two goals. Don’t be surprised if the Flames are consumed with covering Vegas’ usual suspects, allowing Eakin to once again find the back of the net to spark the offense.
Value in the Flames
Calgary just beat the Golden Knights 7-2 four nights back, and will have enough confidence to carry the momentum into tonight’s game. The Flames are leading the Pacific Division, so taking pride in beating the defending division champs on their home ice — especially as an underdog — will be top priority. Calgary, which is 4-3-0 against division foes, is catching a decent price that instantly makes them pure value considering how well it has played all season. The Flames, who became only the fourth team in NHL history to score five or more goals in the first period in back-to-back games, have a high-octane offense; something Vegas has missed from last season.
Despite the offensive talk above, we’re going to lean toward the Under today at T-Mobile Arena.
The number is 6-Under -110, as the favorite is the low. No shocker there, however, given the goalie matchup we have, with Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury taking on Calgary’s David Rittich. Let’s start with the visiting netminder, who has a 8-1-0 record this season and has got the win in six straight starts. Rittich also sports a league third-best 2.04 goals against average and a .930 save percentage and one shutout in his 11 games. As for Fleury, it hasn’t been as bad as his record may indicate, as the Golden Knights’ defense has left him out to dry more times than not. He’s won two straight starts and is 5-3-1 at home. He has a 2.11 goals against average inside the Fortress, where he’s recorded two of his three shutouts this season. Look for a goalie duel tonight, as this one stays low.
W.G. Ramirez is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas who covers the Vegas Golden Knights for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @WillieGRamirez.