The Vegas Golden Knights need to start racking up some wins if they’re going to get back comfortable into the postseason picture in the Western Conference, and tonight is seemingly a nice opportunity to do so as they take on the Arizona Coyotes this evening in the desert.
As for the ‘Yotes, they’ll certainly be in lottery territory when it’s all said and done this season as they’ve dropped three of their last four, although they’ve actually won four of their last eight, so they haven’t been a pushover of late.
Let’s dial up a Golden Knights vs. Coyotes NHL Pick from Arizona!
Golden Knights vs. Coyotes Betting Odds
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
|Golden Knights||-218||-1.5 (+115)||Over 6 (+102)|
|Coyotes||+195||+1.5 (-135)||Under 6 (-113)|
Offense and Defense
The Golden Knights have their big boys back in the lineup and the offense has started to find its rhythm as a result.
Despite taking the L, the Knights scored five goals their last time out in Anaheim, the second time they’ve scored five goals over their last three games. In fact, over their last 10, Vegas has averaged an even 4.00 goals per game as they continue to move their way up the rankings in that department.
Max Pacioretty scores – One of the best pure snipers in the NHL. pic.twitter.com/rvNZBRT8Uk
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 2, 2021
They now sit 10th in overall offense with 3.18 goals per game on the season and the underlying data is among the game’s best at even strength. They sit fifth in high-danger chances for/60 and fourth in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 on the season. Their 2.79 goals/60 at 5v5 is a little above their 2.60 expected mark, but clearly they’ve been a dangerous offense at even strength.
The main issue has been on defense where the team has been shockingly poor. While they sit in a share of 24th in overall defense with 3.18 goals against per game on the season, they also rank 31st in high-danger chances against/60 and dead last in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. Their 2.95 goals against/60 at 5v5 is only slightly worse than their 2.81 expected mark, so this has indeed been a very poor even-strength defense for Vegas who led the NHL with 2.18 goals against per game just last season.
That brutal defense was on full display in a 6-5 loss to the Ducks their last time out, the second time in four games they’ve yielded at least five goals. It’s going be an awfully difficult task to make any noise if that defense is not cleaned up moving forward.
As expected, this has been a wildly anemic Arizona offense this season after an offseason of unloading talent in exchange for future assets — and plenty of bad contracts.
The Coyotes enter this one tied with with the Islanders for the worst offense in the NHL while averaging 1.83 goals per game. The underlying metrics agree with authority as they also sit 30th in high-danger chances for/60 and 31st in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 on the season while their 1.77 goals/60 is more or less in line with their 1.87 expected mark.
Only once in their last 10 games have the Coyotes managed to record more than three goals, and they’ve scored two or fewer in seven of 10. They escaped with a 1-0 win in Winnipeg despite being outshot 46-15 in that one before being handed a 5-2 loss in Minnesota their last time out, so it’s been a struggle at the offensive end, as expected.
The defense has struggled as well, but the underlying metrics are far superior to what many would believe.
On the surface, the Coyotes sit in a share of 28th with 3.48 goals against per game on the season. However, they also sit 19th in terms of high-danger chances against/60 and 17th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 on the season. Their 2.68 goals against/60 at 5v5 is above their 2.38 expected mark, so they’ve been a little unfortunate at the defensive end, although we did expect this to be one of the worst defenses in the league at the outset of the season.
Despite allowing five goals in two of their last four games, they’ve also allowed two goals or less in three of their last six.
We don’t have a confirmed netminder for the road side as of yet, so it could be either Robin Lehner or backup Laurent Brossoit getting the nod in this one.
Lehner has started four in a row and seven of the last eight, but he’s coming off a tough outing in which he allowed five goals in 33 shots (.848 Sv%) in that 6-5 loss to the Ducks. That’s actually his second five-goal outing in his last four, so while Brossoit could come in and give him a breather, we won’t guess on that.
If it’s Lehner, he would carry a 3.08 GAA and .909 Sv% into action, although it’s hard to blame him given the rate at which his defense has allowed scoring opportunities, and good ones. Hockey Reference calculates his goals saved above average (GSAA) at -2.19 which ranks him 41st among qualified netminders.
I’m actually leaning towards Brossoit in this one, and if he does start, he would carry a 2.81 GAA and .910 Sv% into action, numbers nearly identical to his 2.83 GAA and .908 Sv% for his career. His GSAA sits at -0.31, good for 36th league wide.
That said, he’s been very good in each of his last two outings, allowing just two goals in each and posting a .927 Sv% in that time. We’ll see who head coach Pete DeBoer rolls with later on.
Scott Wedgewood has taken the majority of starts in the Coyotes’ crease since coming over in a trade from the New Jersey Devils, but tonight it’s Karel Vejmelka getting the nod coming off a monster performance his last time out.
Vejmelka turned into one of, if not the best goaltending performance of the season in Winnipeg on Monday, stopping all 46 Jets shots he saw while absolutely stealing a win for his club who backed him with the slimmest of goal support on just 15 shots on goal.
Karel Vejmelka was on another level in his first career shutout. pic.twitter.com/0POyzcey5D
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) November 30, 2021
It’s the first season in North American for the 25-year-old Czech, a former fifth-round pick of the Predators in 2015. He now owns a rather solid 2.80 GAA and .916 Sv% on the season, out-performing his final season in his native Czech Republic where he posted a 2.79 GAA and .911 Sv% a season ago.
His 1.46 GSAA ranks him 24th in the league and he’s actually stopped 83 of the last 84 shots he’s seen over the last two games, so the Coyotes will go with the hot hand in this one tonight.
If it weren’t for a disastrous power play, the Golden Knights would be one of the very best offenses in the NHL.
Despite sitting as a top-1o offense, Vegas owns the league’s 25th-ranked power play at just 13.7% for the season. Even upon the return of Mark Stone and Pax Pacioretty the man advantage still ran dry, although they went 2 for 4 in their loss to the Ducks on Wednesday, so perhaps they can build on that momentum in this one tonight.
The penalty kill has but solid if unspectacular as they sit in a share of 14th alongside the Capitals with an 82.5% mark in that department. They’re a clean 5 for 5 in that department over their last two games and 17 for 18 over their last six, so that unit has certainly trended in the right direction.
If we expected the Coyotes’ offense to struggle, we probably expected the power play to struggle as well and that’s been the case.
The Coyotes sit 29th with a 12.7% clip on the man advantage this season and are ice cold in going 0 for their last 10 across their last seven games. Obviously, they’re not drawing many penalties at all, compounding their issue of not scoring on the power play to begin with.
The penalty kill has not helped the cause, either. Arizona sits 29th with a 72.4% mark on the PK this season, although they’ve gone 11 for 11 over their last three games and killed off six penalties in the aforementioned 1-0 win over the Jets, although Vejmelka had something to do with that.
Golden Knights are 10-1 in their last 11 games playing on 1 days rest
Golden Knights are 39-12 in their last 51 vs. a team with a losing record
Over is 9-3-1 in the Golden Knights’ last 13 overall
Over is 6-0 in the Golden Knights’ last six road games
Coyotes are 2-10 in their last 12 home games
Coyotes are 4-11 in their last 15 vs. the Western Conference
Under is 7-3 in the Coyotes’ last 10 overall
Under is 6-2 in the Coyotes’ last eight vs. the Western Conference
Head to Head
Golden Knights are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings
Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings
Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Arizona
Golden Knights vs. Coyotes NHL Pick
I mean, this is a game Vegas absolutely needs to have if they still consider themselves a contender.
They certainly are a contender, but their defense has let them down. If they aren’t able to keep this Coyotes offense in check, I don’t know what to tell ya.
While they take on a red-hot goaltender in Vejmelka, he’s also a guy who posted mediocre numbers in the top Czech league over the last couple of seasons and this is also a red-hot Vegas offense at the moment.
Regardless of who gets the starting nod tonight for Vegas, this is a great opportunity to get the defense a confidence boost while taking to the Coyotes in a similar way the Jets did earlier in the week.
Puck lines are no easy feat in the NHL these days, Even the last-place Coyotes have played five one-goal games over their last seven. That being said, with the way this Vegas offense is going and the way the Coyotes’ is not, I like the Golden Knights here to win this one on the puck line at solid odds.