I dropped my lone NHL pick last night as the Vegas Golden Knights went into Colorado as heavy underdogs and dealt the Avs a 3-1 loss. I had the Avs in regulation in that one, but with Vegas scoring first and eventually building a 2-0 lead, the pick didn’t have much of a shot at hitting as the game moved along.
We’ll put that one behind us and move onto tonight’s Golden Knights vs. Stars NHL pick from Dallas!
Golden Knights vs. Stars Betting Odds
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
|Golden Knights||+146||+1.5 (-184)||Over 5.5 (+108)|
|Stars||-162||-1.5 (+164)||Under 5.5 (-119)|
Offense and Defense
The offense hasn’t come in bunches for a Golden Knights team that snapped a four-game losing streak with a three-goal output last night in Denver, but you wonder if the underlying data is pointing to some notable positive regression in that area.
Despite sitting 26th with just 2.17 goals per game in the early going, the Knights have generated plenty of chances at even strength. According to Natural Stat Trick, Vegas ranks sixth in high-danger chances for/60 and seventh in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 so far this season. Their 2.22 goals/60 at 5v5 isn’t astronomically below their 2.62 expected mark, but these numbers suggest some more even-strength production coming.
If that’s to happen tonight, it will be without their top two forwards in Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone while both Nolan Patrick and Mattias Janmark are a top-nine pair questionable for this one tonight with Patrick missing last night’s contest and Janmark departing after two periods of play.
As for the back end, it was a very encouraging showing last night as they held a high-octane Avalanche group to just one goal on 27 shots on net. It could be a major confidence boost for a team that was getting gashed defensively in the early going.
Vegas is now tied for 22nd with 3.33 goals against per game on the season after leading the NHL with a 2.18 mark a season ago. Even after last night’s effort, however, they still rank 31st in high-danger chances against/60 and dead last in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. They’ve allowed 2.82 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season, a number more or less in line with their 2.97 expected mark.
Alec Martinez — a top-four defender — is questionable for this one tonight after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury, but there doesn’t appear to be any updates on the ailment and it would be rather surprising to see him back in the lineup as Vegas is down yet another body, this time on the blueline.
The Stars are 3-3-0 to start their season, but the wins have been based on defense as the offense has sputtered here early on.
The Stars have scored just 1.83 goals per game in the season’s early stages, notching two regulation goals or less in all six of their games. All three of the Stars’ wins have come in extra time with a pair of OT wins and a shootout victory as well.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 22, 2020
It certainly appears as if they deserve their offensive fate to this point. The Stars rank 30th in terms of high-danger chances for/60 and 29th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. They’ve actually scored just 1.07 goals/60 at 5v5 this season, a number well under a still-uninspiring 1.72 expected mark, so you wonder if there’s at least a glimmer of positive regression upside moving forward.
Fortunately, the team has once again defended extremely well once again this season.
The Stars have yielded just 2.50 goals per game on the young season after tying for seventh with a 2.64 mark a season ago. Add in the 2019-20 season and the Stars overall defense ranks fourth with 2.58 goals against per game over the last two seasons, so the strong start this season is anything but surprising.
The underlying data isn’t quite as good, but the Stars do sit 11th in terms of high-danger chances against/60 and 14th in expected goals against/60, so the club certainly appears to be playing some solid defense again this season.
Robin Lehner has started all six of the Knights’ games so far this season, including last night in Colorado so you would certainly expect backup Laurent Brossoit to make his first start and second appearance of the season in this one tonight.
Brossoit’s lone action this season came in a relief appearance of Lehner in a 6-2 loss to the Kings back on Oct. 14 when he allowed two goals on 16 shots (.875 Sv%). That said, Brossoit is coming off a fine season in a rather small sample as he turned in a 2.42 GAA and .918 Sv% across 11 starts and 14 appearances as Connor Hellebuyck’s backup in Winnipeg.
He’s now appeared in parts of eight NHL season, and his work has been rather volatile in strict backup roles. He’s essentially alternated good seasons with bad ones, ultimately turning in a career 2.84 GAA and .908 Sv% across 83 regular-season appearances, saving -9.0 goals saved above average, as per Hockey Reference, since the site began producing that that in the 2017-18 campaign.
With Ben Bishop’s return from knee surgery remaining a mystery as he resides on LTIR after missing all of last season, the Stars signed veteran Braden Holtby to pair with Anton Khudobin while Jake Oettinger gets some seasoning at the AHL level after being thrown directly into the NHL figure a season ago.
Five of the team’s six starts have gone to Holtby, but it’s Khudobin as the confirmed starter tonight after last appearing on Oct. 17 agaisnt the Senators when he allowed three goals on 27 shots (.889 Sv%) as part of a losing effort.
After putting the team on his back en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2019-20, Khudobin’s play fell off substantially a season ago. After a regular season that saw him post an elite 2.22 GAA, .930 SV% and 17.8 goals saved above average across 30 games in 2019-20, the veteran worked to a 2.54 GAA, .905 Sv% and -2.4 GSAA across 32 appearances a season ago.
The owner of a career 2.47 GAA and .917 Sv% across 252 NHL games played, you would think the 35-year-old should be able to provide more reliability in the Stars’ crease in a timeshare alongside Holtby who is off to a dynamite 2.04 GAA/.939 Sv% in his five outings.
The win was welcomed as just their second in six games to start the season last night, but not all problems were solved.
A power play that entered the contest scoreless across 11 opportunities extended that drought to six games and 14 chances last night. They did score short-handed in that one, but this is a man advantage desperately missing Pacioretty and Stone on that top unit.
Despite finishing third in overall offense last season, the Knights’ power play ranked 22nd, so the struggles are nothing new.
After allowing two power-play goals in five short-handed situations across the first two games of the season, the Vegas penalty kill has stepped up and yielded just one man-advantage tally over their last four games and 10 times short. Add it up and that group owns a decent 80% penalty-killing rate on the season after leading the NHL with an 86.8% mark a season ago.
The Stars’ power play was key to their overall offensive success last season when they ranked fifth with a 23.6% clip after coming out of the gate white-hot in that department.
That level of success hasn’t been sustained in the early going this season as the Stars are just 17.7% on the power play so far with, going just 2 for their last 15 after going 1 for 2 on opening night. The club appears to be spreading the offensive wealth across two units so far, so we’ll see if that strategy continues moving forward.
The penalty kill is off to a fine start at 85% and 12th-ranked on the season so far, although the most recent results aren’t quite as good as they are 10 for 13 (76.9) over their last four games after beginning the season 7 for 7.
Despite their strong overall defensive result last season, the even-strength defending did the heavy lifting there as the PK ranked 19th at 79.1%.
- Golden Knights are 13-27 in their last 40 games as a road underdog
- Golden Knights are 2-6 in their last eight vs. the Western Conference
- Under is 4-1-2 in the Golden Knights’ last seven road games
- Under is 6-0-1 in the Golden Knights’ last seven games vs. the Central Division
- Stars are 5-0 in their last five games as a home favorite
- Stars are 4-0 in their last four games vs. the Pacific Division
- Under is 6-0 in the Stars’ last six games overall
- Under is 5-0-1 in the Stars’ last six games vs. the Pacific Division
Head to Head
- Stars are 4-1 in the last five meetings
- Underdog is 4-1 in the last five meetings
- Under is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings
- Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Dallas
Golden Knights vs. Stars NHL Pick
I like the Stars to win this one, but the NHL season has not been kind to moneyline bettors in the area of -164 where the Stars are tonight. Vegas is on a back-to-back, so the Stars should have this one.
However, I’m looking at the total and I like the Under here. We have a couple of netminders that haven’t seen much work this season in Brossoit (likely) and Khudobin, but this has more to do with the offenses and the Stars’ defense here.
Obviously, the Stars are struggling to score and the Golden Knights obviously haven’t produced much offense with 2.17 goals per game on the season. Even with the Golden Knights’ underlying data suggesting more even-strength offense, the Stars does not and the Knights are struggling mightily on the power play without Pacioretty and Stone in the lineup.
Add it up and I’ll look for the Under 5.5 tonight in Dallas.