Golden Knights vs. Blues Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-129|
|Time||Monday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings|
The Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues both came into this season expected to be two of the best teams in the National Hockey League and to compete with the Avalanche for the West Division title.
While the Knights (24-10-2) have certainly lived up to that expectation, the Blues (16-15-6) have not. In fact, if the season ended today, the Blues would not even make the playoffs.
St. Louis Blues
The struggles for St. Louis this season can largely be attributed to two areas: injuries and goaltending.
The Blues are currently without Alex Steen, Oskar Sundqvist and Carl Gunnarsson for the rest of the season. Defenseman Colton Parayko has been out since early February, and Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Sammy Blais, Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak have all missed significant time this year. Their training staff deserves a raise.
With that much uncertainty in the lineup, having a Stanley Cup winning goaltender in net should give the Blues stability, but Jordan Binnington has definitely looked nervous at times this season.
Binnington has posted a 10-11-5 record with a .904 save percentage and -4.24 GSAx (goals saved above expected). Backup Ville Husso has really struggled as well, despite a 6-4-1 record. Husso has a .891 save percentage, 3.28 GAA and -6.20 GSAx.
St. Louis comes into this game having lost six straight and has beaten Vegas just once in four meetings this year.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Vegas Golden Knights
Goaltending issues is clearly not something the Vegas Golden Knights have to worry about, sporting the best backstop tandem in the league.
Marc-Andre Fleury is almost sure to be a Vezina Trophy finalist, with a 17-9-0 record, a .924 save percentage and 2.14 GAA. Robin Lehner, despite missing more than a month due to injury, has amassed a 6-1-2 record with a .912 save percentage and 2.29 GAA.
In front of their star netminders, Vegas possesses one of the deepest lineups in hockey, with 10 players registering at least 10 points this season, led by captain Mark Stone who is 12th in the league with 40 points.
Vegas has averaged 4.75 goals per game against the Blues this season, their most against any team. The Knights have dropped three straight games for the first time all season coming into Monday’s contest.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Knights are fourth in the league with 2.56 xGF/60 this season, and the Blues sit at 28th with a 2.00 xGF/60.
Vegas has absolutely dominated at controlling possession all season, ranking in the top five in the league in Corsi%, Fenwick%, Scoring Chances% and High-Danger Chances%.
The Blues are still getting the benefit of the doubt based on the talent on the roster and recent Stanley Cup championship, and we are getting Vegas at a shorter number because of it.
No matter what the goaltender matchup ends up being between Fleury/Lehner against Binnington/Husso, the Golden Knights will have the advantage.
Vegas has been in a class above the Blues (and most of the league) all season, and I trust them to bounce back at a reasonable price.
Pick: Vegas Golden Knights (-129) | Play up to -135
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