Saturday night, the first and last-place teams in the West Division will face off in Southern California, as the Vegas Golden Knights will take on the Anaheim Ducks. The Golden Knights (11-4-1) are fresh off of a 3-0 shutout victory over the Avalanche, while the Ducks (6-10-4) haven’t won any of their last five games, earning just a single point in the process.
By the Numbers
Offensively, these teams are very far apart. No team in hockey is averaging fewer than Anaheim’s 1.95 goals per game, while their 26.9 shots is also next-to-last. Meanwhile, Vegas is averaging three goals per game, ranking 13th in the NHL on 30 shots. They also have a power-play nearly ten percentage points higher than Anaheim’s.
On the defensive side, though, the teams are more comparable. The Knights are the league leaders in goals allowed per game, giving up a meager average of 2.06 while also ranking third in shots allowed and penalty kill percentage. While the Ducks are 15th with 2.8 goals allowed, their shots allowed and penalty kill also rank within the top 10.
Golden Knights Betting Preview
Vegas is finally finished with a long four-game set against the Avalanche, one of those games taking place outdoors in Lake Tahoe. But the Knights have won three of their last six, all three losses coming by a lone goal, including getting blanked 1-0 by Anaheim a couple of weeks ago. A victory Saturday would help pad their West Division lead, which currently sits at only one point.
Through 16 games, the Knights are led by captain Mark Stone. Stone has only four goals but a team-high 13 assists to combine for a team-leading 17 points. Following him is a trio of players with 13 points.
Max Pacioretty has eight goals, a team-high, to go with five assists, Alex Tuch has seven goals and six assists, while Jonathan Marchessault has six scores and seven helpers. Chandler Stephenson has been a pleasant goal-scoring surprise as well, while both William Karlsson and Shea Theodore are in the team’s top-three assists leaders.
Aiming to start the season with a true timeshare in net, Marc-Andre Fleury has taken over as the starter. Fleury has out-played Robin Lehner this season, going 8-3-0 with a 1.55 GAA and .942 save percentage, putting him among the league’s best.
Ducks Betting Preview
The struggling Ducks are dealing with their longest losing streak of the season, as they now sit at the bottom of the West Division despite playing three more games than the Sharks, the team they’re tied with. Three of their losses came by a lone score, and the last two Anaheim managed to score three goals in back-to-back games for just the second time all season. However, their last victory came in the form of a shutdown against these very Knights.
The Ducks have just one player in double-figures this season; left-wing Max Comtois. Comtois scored his eighth goal of the season on Wednesday as part of a team-leading 13 points. But no other player has more than four goals, Jakob Silfverberg hitting four goals with four assists.
Cam Fowler is the team leader with seven assists, followed closely by captain Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, each of whom also have just a single goal. However, all eyes will be on top prospect and rookie Trevor Zegras.
Zegras made his NHL debut on Monday and is still looking for his first career point, but he has looked good and even netted a shootout goal in the last game.
After a quick breather on Wednesday, look for John Gibson to take his rightful place in net. Gibson is 5-8-3 over his 16 appearances, combined with a 2.67 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Simply put, this is the league’s worst scoring offense against the league’s best scoring defense. It’s a game the Knights should win easily, although a dominant performance from Gibson like in their last meeting could keep the Ducks in it.
Look for Vegas to come to Anaheim and overwhelm a bad Ducks team before earning another two points.
Pick: Golden Knights ML