By W.G. Ramirez
Vegas had the night off after suffering a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and an even bigger loss in second-line forward Erik Haula. That line has been in disarray thus far this season, with injuries to Alex Tuch, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and now Haula. Tuch and Pacioretty are back, but it’s more about the chemistry this team has to find on the second and third lines in order to recreate the offensive magic from last year.
One might think this is a reprieve, against a Senators team that lost 4-3 in Vegas on Oct. 28, and that has lost six of eight. But with the injury bug continuing to plague the Knights, it could be a golden opportunity for Ottawa to win its second in a row after knocking off New Jersey, 7-3, on Tuesday.
VALUE IN THE KNIGHTS
Suspended defenseman Nate Schmidt returned to practice and will be ready to return to the lineup on Nov. 18. So why value there? Well, while the lovers of stats and analytics scoff at the notion that motivation can boost a team, more times than not the mere presence of someone who sparks his teammates can create a buzz. And let’s not pretend Toronto crushed the Knights. It won 3-1 with an empty netter. The Knights can find a positive to carry over into tonight, and with Schmidt riling up the troops yesterday at practice, and being around the guys again, the mood isn’t about to drop. Also, when you have the oddsmakers putting a big price on a team that is struggling to put the puck in the net, remember the line is there for a reason. They don’t have those glossy buildings on Las Vegas Boulevard for nothing. The bookies know what they’re doing. Vegas is heavily favored for a reason.
VALUE IN THE SENATORS
Ottawa is playing better than expected, despite its losing skid. It is also 5-2-2 at home this season and has been at home since Nov. 4. Its previous road game was part of a home-and-home series with nearby Buffalo on Nov. 1 and 3 - games the Sens split - so it’s been home damn near all month. The fact the players have slept in their own beds, played the Tampa Bay Lightning close in a 4-3 loss and denounced the Devils on Tuesday will help the Senators come out flying against the speedy Knights. These teams split last year, with each winning on the road. As mentioned, Vegas won at home last month, and the Senators will be looking for revenge this month against the dinged-up Knights.
Ottawa is 11-2-2 Over this season, and with the Golden Knights playing the way they have - that being half-paced compared to last season’s lightning quick ways - you can expect the Senators to come out flying in the first period. Again, Ottawa has been at home and enjoyed the luxury of plenty of rest. Expect the Senators to push the tempo against Vegas, which is on a 2-9 Under run. One of those Overs, however, was against the Senators in October. The Knights have been held to just one goal on three occasions this season. The first two times, they came out and scored four goals against Buffalo and three goals against St. Louis. Vegas will respond and could help the total creep Over.
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