The hottest team in the Western Conference returns to T-Mobile Arena for a matinee game against the team that delivered the biggest blow ever at home.
The Vegas Golden Knights have had this game circled, and there might not be a more anticipated matchup in the locker room for the defending conference champs than this one.
Vegas returns home after 3-2 win in Anaheim on Friday, when the Golden Knights overcame a 2-1 deficit with back-to-back second period goals in less than a minute to secure their fifth straight victory. Today they look to make it six in a row by thrashing a team that handed them the worst home loss in franchise history, and also won the first meeting earlier this season.
We are 18-8-2 with totals involving the Golden Knights, after hitting with the Under in Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings and passing in the game against Anaheim. We’re also on a 4-3 run with top-rated power plays throughout the league and look forward to returning this week with our power plays not involving Vegas.
As of Noon pacific, the Knights are -200, while the Devils are taking back +175.
Value in the Knights
As mentioned the Golden Knights are the hottest team in the West, but they’re also the second-hottest team in the league behind only Tampa Bay (18-1-1) over the last six-plus weeks, with an impressive 16-3-3 record in that span. Vegas has found its offensive rhythm, more so because of the defense it’s employed, as Vegas has allowed just five goals combined over its last five games. The one thing to be wary of is the goalie change to Malcolm Subban, as four-time All-Star Marc-Andre Fleury will sit this one out. And that’s not a bad thing, though, when you have the league’s best goalie coach in Dave Prior serving up lessons. The Puck Line would be the smart play here, especially since the Golden Knights have outscored opponents 47-32 in the third period, and their plus-15 goal differential over the final 20 minutes ranks fifth in the NHL. If you’re playing the Knights, do so on the Puck Line at +135
Value in the Devils
New Jersey has no trouble ramping up the offense, and playing the same style as Vegas. That could pose a problem for a Knights team that has been skating circles around teams during its run. With the Devils in a comfort zone against this team, they won’t have any trouble adapting to Vegas’ speed - even without Hart Trophy Winner Taylor Hall. The Devils just won in Arizona after going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, upping their total to 23 of 24 in the past six games played. The Devils have the second best penalty kill (85 percent) in the league. And remember this, Keith Kinkaid defeated the Golden Knights last season. At such a big price, for a team that has won four of five, it wouldn’t hurt to take the big underdog price.
The Total: As of Noon pacific, the total in this game is 6-under -110
Enough with the Unders, it’s time to see an exciting shootout - and not the one after an overtime period. We’re talking two or three goals per period, and the game going back and forth. We’re thinking one of these teams could win 5-4 or 6-3 or 6-4... you get the idea. Vegas’ forwards are putting in work, and lately it’s been the second line - no matter who’s skating on it. When Brandon Pirri was still in Las Vegas, he was leading the charge along with Paul Stastny and Alex Tuch. On Friday, five hours before puck drop Pirri was sent to Chicago and Max Pacioretty returned from the injured reserve list. That night Pacioretty scored the game-winning goal. It’ll be scary when the first line gets going, which could be at any time. Against another fast-paced team, it would not surprise us if that day is today. Over their last 10 games, the Devils have seen a total of 52 goals scored combined in their games. Only an average of 5.2, true, but four of them had seven or more goals, and again, they’re facing a team that thrives on high-scoring games, like themselves. We expect a shootout here, and wouldn’t be surprised to see 10+ combined.
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