The Vegas Golden Knights are back on the road, as they are in the midst of one of their most difficult stretches of the year, travel wise anyway. The Golden Knights had six straight games on the road, then went back to Vegas to play the Jets, and now they’re on the road again. If it were me, I would have liked to just stay in Canada after playing the Canadiens. They’re getting some bonus air miles lately, with a flight from Montreal to Las Vegas, and now on to Edmonton where the Oilers will be waiting.
The Oilers just got done a four-game stretch on the east coast, with stops in Brooklyn, New Jersey, NYC, and Washington. It started off well with wins over the Islanders and Devils, but then they dropped their final two games. Nevertheless, given that the Capitals loss was a shootout, they still managed to pick up at least a point in three of four games. With a record of 6-9-1, it wasn’t the start the Oilers envisioned, though.
The betting odds had the Edmonton Oilers as one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup in the preseason. The Penguins and Oilers had nearly identical odds. Considering how they played last year, a record of 47-26-9 and close Game 7 loss to the Ducks in the second-round, it was certainly reasonable to believe that they were going to be contenders this season.
After all, their core of youngsters, notably Connor McDavid, had an extra offseason to mature and improve. Let’s not jump to conclusions, though, it’s only November and there is plenty of time to jumpstart things in Edmonton. Their offence has surprisingly been anemic thus far, but it may just be a matter of time before they catch fire. They have too much talent on offence to he held down going into January, which is when the “real” season begins, and you start to see the intensity meter turned up a notch.
The teams who are good will start to rise, and the bad teams slowly fade back. I think you could see this pattern work for Vegas and the Oilers, just in opposite directions. Good news for the Golden Knights, though, goaltender Malcolm Subban will be traveling with the team. Although, he hasn’t been cleared to play yet, his return could be coming closer.
Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t traveling with the team, but returned to practice last week. The Golden Knights spot an impressive record for an expansion team, 10-5-1. You do wonder what that record would have looked like with a healthy Fleury between the pipes. Maxime Lagace will get another start in net in Edmonton on Tuesday night. Head below for our free Golden Knights vs. Oilers pick.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers Pick
The expectations for Vegas was that they were going to rely on defence and goaltending behind Fleury. Their offence has been exceeding expectations, and the injury to Fleury put those original plans to a quick a halt. Instead, it’s been their offence carrying the load and giving them a 10-5-1 record. If the Golden Knights are trying to develop a fanbase and attention in Vegas, entertaining games is one way to do that. So much for sitting back and playing the trap in Las Vegas constantly. There might be traps on the sportsbook boards, but the Golden Knights are forcing the issue on offence. On the year, they have scored 3.56 goals per game. If someone were to tell you that Vegas would rank 4th in the NHL in goals scored before the season started, you’d think that person was a nutcase.
It’s pretty evident that James Neal is enjoying his time as the go-to player. Even when he put up 40 goals in Pittsburgh, he was playing second and third fiddle to Crosby and Malkin. The Golden Knights have been his team in a sense. Lagace hasn’t been much help on the road, so Neal and the offence may need another big night. Lagace has been fine at home, with a 2.00 GAA and 0.931 save percentage. Contrasted with a 3.87 GAA and 0.866 save percentage away from Vegas.
I don’t know if he misses the ladies of the night while on the road or what, but his play has been vastly different. Note that Lagace has allowed at least 3 goals in five of six outings on the road. It’s been the opposite for Talbot, where he has shined on the road, with a 2.16 GAA and 0.933 save percentage. Conversely, he owns a 3.54 GAA and 0.894 save percentage at home in Edmonton. The Oilers need to find a night for the offence to explode. This could be that night against Lagace. I just really don’t like laying -200 on the Oilers, though, and the puck line may very well come down to hoping for an empty netter with seconds remaining. The OVER looks like the play. I killed NHL totals a season ago, and the NHL for that matter, but in 2017-18 all they’ve been doing is killing me. There is a lot of time to go in the year, though, and hopefully the drought ends in Edmonton on Tuesday night.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)