After four games on MLK Day spread out throughout the day, the NHL gets back to a more conventional schedule on Tuesday. There are six games on the docket, including the Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators, which is where we’re heading tonight. This is already the third time the Golden Knights and Predators have played, and the Knights have imposed their will on Nashville. Here is a team who just reached the Stanley Cup Final, and another who is in their inaugural year as an expansion franchise.
Who would you guess has had the advantage? The Golden Knights beat the Preds on December 8th in Nashville, in a shootout, and then they followed it up with another win over them in Vegas by a score of 3-0. It makes perfect sense that an expansion team would beat a defending conference champion. This Vegas team has been something else in their first ever season. They go into Nashville with a record of 29-10-1. Quite impressive for any team, never mind a team in their first year of play.
Despite dropping two against Vegas, the Predators are doing just fine. They come into tonight with a record of 25-11-2 and are in a position to repeat what they did a year ago. The Western Conference is completely wide open. There isn’t one team we can pinpoint who is going to emerge from the conference. It’s what makes the NHL so good in my opinion. We can just about nail who is going to meet in the NBA Finals every year, but the NHL is a little trickier than that. Can the Golden Knights really pull it off and make it that far? They are currently 1st in the Western Conference.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Nashville Predators Pick
It’s been a fantastic effort from all involved within the Golden Knights organization. From day 1, they had a plan and executed it to perfection. Even before the team was drafted, they must have laid out a brilliant blueprint and roadmap. Expansion teams just don’t start like this on pure luck and circumstance. When is the bubble going to pop? Or is it ever going to pop? We’re not talking about bitcoin, we’re talking about the Vegas Golden Knights. Everyone is waiting for them to plateau and hit a wall, but they keep on churning out impressive performances.
They have scored an average of 3.4 goals per game. That’s 3rd in the league. The most impressive thing of all is that they got to this point, mainly, with backup goaltenders. Marc Andre-Fleury was out for a considerable amount of time. Like a chameleon, the team just simply turned into an offensive force, focusing more on offence than worrying about what happens with their goaltending. The Knights secured several high-scoring wins. Now with Fleury back, they are looking more like a complete team, showing they can win games either with offence or defence.
Fleury has been great for Vegas, posting a 1.83 GAA and 0.942 save percentage. The Preds are 5th in the NHL with 3.05 goals per game. They’ve gone 11-4-0 at home this season, compared to 11-8-0 on the road for Vegas. It’s no secret now that the Golden Knights enjoy some of the best home ice advantage in the league. I’d be surprised if the Knights are able to complete the season sweep against the Preds in Nashville. I should say that nothing will surprise me with this team at this point, but I can see the Predators coming out focused to avoid a 0-3 record against Vegas in their first year of competition against them.
PICK: PREDATORS (-135)