If somebody said decades ago that there would be NHL teams in Nashville and Las Vegas, they’d think you are off your meds. Two of the most unconventional hockey markets out there meet tonight, as the Predators and expansion Vegas Golden Knights dance on Friday night. The Predators have become a viable hockey market ever since they started playing playoff hockey. They have some good fan support in Tennessee, and had a nice atmosphere for their latest playoff run.
We’re not talking about support like in Toronto or Montreal, but for a team in the south, the Predators have exceeded expectations in that regard. The Golden Knights are in their infancy, but they’ve been getting solid support out of the gate as well. The T-Mobile Arena is not going to be an empty wasteland like in Arizona for the Coyotes. Between their own fans, and fans going to Vegas from out of town, there will be no shortage of filled seats.
More impressive than fan support, has been the performance of the Golden Knights in the first-half of their inaugural season. The Knights enter Friday night with a record of 17-9-0, smashing expectations along the way. The most intriguing part of their strong start, is the fact that they’ve been playing with their netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury.
After the expansion draft, the expectation for the Knights was going to be to have Fleury steal a few games. No one expected this offence to have the chemistry and rhythm they’ve developed so soon. Kudos must be given to the team responsible in drafting this group. Is it going to last? In the end, I can see them just on the outside of the playoffs.
They may end up hitting a hole over the course of two or three weeks that they can’t get out of in 2018. Who am I to doubt them, though, they’ve already exceeded all of our expectations. The Predators have gotten off to a predictable start of 18-7-1. We’ll see if Vegas can surprise against on Friday night. Head below for our free Golden Knights vs. Predators pick.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Nashville Predators Pick
The storyline of tonight in Nashville is brother vs. brother. P.K. Subban of the Predators and Malcolm Subban of the Golden Knights will face one another for the first time in their NHL careers. Subban, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins earlier in the season, has had to fill in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. He was injured as well, but has since come back to the active lineup. Subban has been doing a fine job in his first full-time stint. He certainly has room to grow and improve, but how can you knock a 2.27 GAA and 0.923 save percentage. On the road in his short career, Subban owns a 3.20 GAA and 0.873 save percentage, though.
The Knights are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Ducks. It was their second win in a row, and second straight they needed extra time to get the win. The Predators have won three in a row, including a 5-3 win over the Bruins, and 5-2 win over the Stars. The offence has been playing well, with 3.5 goals scored per game in their last ten games.
On the year, they’re scoring 3.17 goals per game, 8th in the NHL. The Knights, to everyone’s surprise, are 3rd in the league with 3.44 goals per game. They’ve been consistent lately, with 3.4 goals scored per game in their last ten. There is definitely work to be done on the blue line, though. They’re giving up 3.1 goals per game, and wouldn’t you know, allowed the same margin in their last ten outings. It’d be interesting to see what their record would be if Fleury didn’t get injured. I expect Subban to struggle against a good Nashville offence. The OVER has gone 5-0-1 in their last six games on the road. Vegas has gone 6-2-2 to the OVER in their previous ten, 17-8 overall. A 4-3 or 5-2 final looks likely. Let’s look for another winning pick tonight, which would extend our run to 12-1-1 in my last fourteen selections.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)