Two rivals of the new West Division are set to face off in Saint Paul. The Vegas Golden Knights (16-4-1), fresh off of a 4-0 shutout of San Jose, has won their last six contests, while the Minnesota Wild (13-8-1) lost three out of four on the road before returning home on Monday.
Here is a closer look at each team, along with odds and a free pick. After beating Minnesota twice last week, Vegas is a -125 favorite to win this one on the road. The Wild, meanwhile, are +105 home underdogs.
By the Numbers
Starting on offense, the Golden Knights are averaging 3.33 goals per game, the fifth-most in the NHL. They don’t get a ton of shots on goal, averaging just about 30 per game, but have the fourth-highest shooting percentage in hockey. Their power-play percentage of 18.2 sits just 21st, however.
The Wild aren’t too far behind, with an average of 3.14 goals per game that places them 12th in the league. They also average about one shot more than Vegas, with a shooting percentage just one point lower. Their goal-scoring comes almost entirely from 5-on-5, as their 6.9% power-play success rate is the lowest in hockey.
Defensively, the Knights maintain the edge once again. Vegas allows the second-fewest goals per game at 2.1 on under 28 shots while also carrying the league’s second-best penalty kill at 87.7%.
The Wild are 10th in the league with an average of 2.73 goals allowed, doing so with over 29 shots allowed. They also have a strong penalty kill at 83.3%, sixth in the sport.
Golden Knights Betting Preview
The Knights are rolling, having won six straight games. It’s their longest win streak since they opened up the season with four consecutive victories at home. Now Vegas will hope to extend their two-point lead over the rest of the division with a win against the Wild, a team they beat twice last week.
Vegas’ leading point-producer this season is Mark Stone. The right-wing and first captain in franchise history has a whopping 21 assists to go with six goals, with six of those helpers coming in the previous two games versus Minnesota. Stone, however, was held out of the third period of Saturday’s game with an apparent injury, so his status for Monday is up in the air.
Another player who has been red-hot for the Knights is Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty’s four-game point streak includes two games with a pair of goals along with an assist, one of which came against the Wild. Speaking of the Wild, the former Wild prospect Alex Tuch is now tied with Pacioretty for the team lead with 12 goals after netting five goals during his four-game streak.
Others to watch Monday include Chandler Stephenson, who also has a four-game point streak, as well as Jonathan Marchessault, who has points in each of his last three games.
Look for the veteran Marc-Andre Fleury to man the crease once again for Vegas. The former Cup champion is 12-3-0 this year with a sparkling 1.60 GAA, and .942 save percentage.
Wild Betting Preview
The Wild have dropped three out of their last four games, but the good times aren’t far behind them. Before that stretch, Minnesota won six in a row, so they’re still a very sold 7-2-1 over their last ten games. They’ll now aim to climb up from fourth place in just their third home game since the beginning of February.
Minnesota’s leading point-producer is one of their youngest players. Kirill Kaprizov is one of the favorites for the Calder Trophy, as the rookie wing has six goals with a team-high 13 assists.
Kaprizov was shut out in both games against Vegas last week but bounced back with a pair of assists in a win against the Coyotes. Look for the dynamic and skilled forward to try to increase his team-lead in points.
Just trailing Kaprizov is Jordan Greenway, arguably Minnesota’s hottest player. With points in five of his last six games, which includes a goal against Vegas, Greenway is up to five goals and 13 assists on the year.
A couple more players who have shot up the board are Marcus Foligno, whose three-goal performance against the Knights now has him third in points with seven goals and assists each, and Mats Zuccarello, who is already up to 13 points despite playing in just 11 games. Additionally, look for Joel Eriksson Ek, the team leader with eight goals, to try to snap his four-game drought.
Minnesota has two capable options in net and could go with either one. The veteran Cam Talbot went on Saturday and now carries a 4-4-1 record with a 2.88 GAA, and .906 save percentage. But the backup Kaapo Kahkonen has been better, carrying a 9-4-0 record with a 2.30 GAA and .918 save percentage.
This is a game that could come down to injuries for one side and goalie situation for another. For Vegas, the status of the leading scorer Stone and number one defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will be heavily monitored. At the same time, Minnesota could potentially be better off with Kahkonen over Talbot in net.
For this game, give me the Golden Knights. Vegas is an excellent all-around team that is even better defensively and have the superior goaltender in Fleury.
Minnesota will have to find a way to take advantage of power-play opportunities to win this game, something they do worse than everyone else in hockey. Factor in very reasonable odds for a first-place team as well, and I’m taking the Knights on the moneyline.
Pick: Golden Knights -125
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