We have a lighter NHL schedule going this evening as there’s just four games on the docket and just one 7 pm PT start between the Oilers and Golden Knights.
Let’s go ahead and dial right into that matchup with an Oilers vs. Golden Knights NHL Pick from Sin City!
Oilers vs. Golden Knights Betting Odds
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
|Oilers||+114||+1.5 (-205)||Over 6 (-121)|
|Golden Knights||-126||-1.5 (+175)||Under 6 (+110)|
Offense and Defense
It’s been a white-hot start out of the gate for an Oilers offense that’s scored 18 goals in four games, good for a cool 4.50 goals per game, tied for the third-best mark in the NHL in the season’s infancy.
As one would expect, Connor McDavid is enjoying a torrid start to his season with 11 points in four games while Leon Draisaitl has tallied eight points himself in that time. You wonder if this is the year that Jesse Puljujarvi enjoys his time in the spotlight — albeit on McDavid’s line and therefore likely his shadow — as he’s recorded a pair of goals and seven points in his four contests so far.
GOAL NUMBER 200 FOR CONNOR MCDAVID. ? pic.twitter.com/xptRjPnQfY
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 22, 2021
Add in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ six points and the Oilers have four players in the top 19 in league scoring at the moment. It’s early, but the advanced data supports the surge out of the gate as the Oilers rank fifth in terms of high-danger chances for/60 and 11th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5. Obviously, it’s not surprise to see these guys creating so many opportunities at even strength.
The back end was always going to be the team’s biggest question mark between a suspect-looking blueline and an uncertain goaltending tandem, but the results have largely been solid in the early stages as they’ve allowed two goals or fewer in three of their four games and an average of 2.50 goals against per game.
The underlying data more or less supports such a start as they rank 12th in high-danger chances against/60 and expected goals against/60 at 5v5 with their 2.24 goals against/60 pretty much in line with their 2.08 expected mark.
I was quite bearish on this defense corps as a second pair of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci certainly raises some eyebrows, but they’ve proven me wrong in the early going as part of winning four in a row out of the gate.
Unlike tonight’s opponent, it hasn’t been a fruitful start to the season for the home side tonight as they’ve pretty much struggled across the board.
Heavily favored to win the Pacific, the Knights edged the expansion Seattle Kraken 4-3 in their opener (but blew a 3-0 lead in that one), but have since dropped decisions to the Kings and Blues by a combined 9-3 score.
The offense has dried up over the last two games, obviously, and the prognosis isn’t exactly positive moving forward as the team is without Max Pacioretty for a while with a broken foot while Mark Stone is also sidelined right now with a lower-body injury of his own.
That’s the team’s top two wingers out of the lineup and the forward group looks awfully thin after the top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith. I mean, they still rank 11th in high-danger chances for/60 and fifth in expected goals for/60, but it could be tough sledding without a couple of excellent offensive talents out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.
While the offense has slipped over the last two games, the defensive work has been the biggest surprise. The Knights have surrendered 12 goals in three games so far to rank 28th in overall defense with 4.00 goals against per game. It also appears as if they deserve every bit of that fate as they sit dead last in the NHL in terms of both high-danger chances against/60 and expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season.
Making matters worse is the fact top-four defender Alex Martinez is another key body currently sidelined as he’s dealing with an undisclosed ailment after leaving Wednesday’s loss to the Blues in the third period.
An uncharacteristic start for this Vegas back end, but if they’re to bounce back tonight it will be without some key players out of the lineup.
With Mike Smith injured at the moment, it will be Mikko Koskinen getting the nod in this one tonight, but he’ll do so on back-to-back nights after starting the team’s victory last night in Arizona.
It was his first start of the season and he turned aside 27 of the 28 Coyotes shots that came his way. It’s a nice start to the season for a guy that struggled mightily en route to a 3.17 GAA and .899 Sv% last season, and his career-long work isn’t a whole lot better with a 2.95 GAA and .908 Sv% across 125 career NHL games played. He’s been sharp early, however, as he’s stopped 47 of 49 shots (.959 Sv%) between last night’s start and a relief appearance for an injured Smith.
It’s a tougher matchup tonight and the data is generally quite poor for a goaltender going on back-to-back nights, so it will be interesting to see how Koskinen responds in this one.
It’s not 100% confirmed at the moment, but it indeed looks like Robin Lehner will make his fourth straight start to open the season, and after a tough outing in L.A. Lehner bounced back nicely in St. Louis but took a tough-luck loss in the process.
Lehner yielded four goals on 31 shots in L.A. last Thursday and was pulled in favor of backup Laurent Brossoit who didn’t fare any better in allowing two goals on 16 shots himself. Lehner responded with 35 saves on 37 shots (.946 Sv%) six days later against the Blues, but received just a single goal of offensive support in that one.
Add it up and it’s a 3.41 GAA and .909 Sv% for the veteran on the heels of a 2.29 GAA and .913 SV% from a season ago. He’s been one of the better netminders in the NHL over the last several seasons and sports an excellent .918 Sv% for his career, but he’s fared poorly in two of his first three starts to this season.
The Oilers’ power play is on an absolute tear again this season, going 7 for 14 to begin the season, scoring two power play goals in each of their last three games.
It’s not entirely shocking to see them post a 50% power-play clip out of the gate considering that they ranked first by a wide margin with a 28.6% power play clip over the last two seasons. A three-way tie for second-place between the Lightning, Hurricanes and Bruins are nearly 5% worse over that time at 23.8%.
It’s an awfully difficult unit to stop at the moment and it’s a group that features newcomer Zach Hyman as the net-front presence tapping home rebounds and Connor McDavid passes. The chemistry has been immediate on that front, as largely anticipated.
The penalty kill surrendered a goal in each of the first two games of the season in nine chances, but have gone a clean 5 for 5 in two games since, going 85.7% through the first four games of the season.
Hyman is a factor on that group as well while Keith and Ceci contribute down a man as well, but it should be interesting to see how this group fares with some new bodies after killing penalties at a ninth-ranked 82.5% rate a season ago.
The power play has been quite the opposite for Vegas as they have yet to score on any of their eight power-play chances in the early going and clearly drawing penalties is another concern to boot.
Again, it’s not a huge surprise considering the absences of first-unit bodies in Pacioretty and Stone, but also note that they ranked 22nd with a subpar 17.8% mark a season ago. Given the injuries, it looks like Vegas will feature two defenseman in loading up the top unit with both Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo on the back end.
The penalty kill is also off to a slow start as they’re just 6 for 8 (75%) in the early going, and Martinez is very much a part of that group. Without him, it would be wise for the Knights to avoid the sin bin tonight against a white-hot Oilers man advantage.
- Oilers are 5-1 in their last six games vs. a team with a losing record
- Oilers are 8-2 in their last 10 road games
- Over is 4-1 in the Oilers’ last five overall
- Over is 4-1 in the Oilers’ last five road games
- Golden Knights are 43-17 in their last 60 home games
- Golden Knights are 46-21 in their last 67 games as a favorite
- Over is 5-2-2 in the Golden Knights’ last nine games as a home favorite
- Under is 8-2-1 in the Golden Knights’ last 11 vs. the Western Conference
Head to Head
- Golden Knights are 4-1 in the last five meetings
- Golden Knights are 4-1 in the last five meetings in Vegas
- Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings
- Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Vegas
Oilers vs. Golden Knights NHL Pick
To me, there’s a couple ways to go here.
For starters, the Golden Knights just aren’t playing well enough in the early going to take as moneyline favorites and the injuries absolutely add more cause for concern to the issue. So, the Oilers seemingly hold value as the road dog here tonight.
Also, with the way the Oilers are scoring goals and the way the Knights have defended, I can see another high-scoring affair in this one tonight. Add in the fact that Koskinen is going on back-to-back nights and the Knights absolutely have some offensive upside themselves.
At the end of the day, my research is pointing to a high-scoring affair with the Oilers holding the value as road underdogs.