The NHL is set for a busy Thursday night with a total of eight games on tap. One of these games includes a Pacific Division rivalry between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Vancouver Canucks. These two teams are trending in opposite directions right now, but I believe it could be a competitive rivalry game. This game will end the slate of games for the night at 10 PM Eastern.
The Golden Knights had a rough start to the season, but have since bounced back to get competitive in the Pacific Division. Vegas has won four games in a row, which has gotten them to 13-12-1. The Golden Knights are currently sitting in third place of the Pacific Division. Vegas will look to keep their winning streak alive to continue to move up in the Pacific Division standings.
Vancouver jumped out to a really fast start this season, but have since stumbled. The Canucks are 11-13-3 so far this season, which has put them in fifth place in the Pacific Division. Vancouver has lost nine of their last ten games. The Canucks are coming off a tough overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings. They will look to bounce back with a win against a hot Golden Knights team.
Vegas and Vancouver are both trending in opposite directions last season. The Golden Knights are coming into Thursday night’s matchup red-hot, while the Canucks have stumbled a lot recently. Vancouver has a talented young roster, which can lead to a lot of streakiness like right now. I believe that a solid win at home could help get them going again.
Last season, the Golden Knights and Canucks met up a total of four times. Vegas was able to sweep the season series 4-0. The Golden Knights outscored them 20-10 in those four games. Vegas went onto make the Stanley Cup that season, while Vancouver finished near the bottom of the NHL. The Canucks do not seem to be a playoff team this season, but they are playing better this season than last.
Vegas and Vancouver met up earlier this season on October 24. The Golden Knights hosted the matchup, but were not able to get the win at home. Bo Horvat scored twice in the second period to force extra time. Markus Granlund scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Canucks a 3-2 win. Jacob Markstrom turned away 33 of 35 shots.
While the Golden Knights dominated Vancouver last season, the Canucks enacted a little revenge with a road win early in the season. Vancouver will look to get a 2-0 season series lead on Thursday night. Vegas and the Canucks will meet two more times on March 3 and March 9. I expect these two teams to play some more close games this season.
The Golden Knights have avoided having a lot of injuries this season, but they are missing some key players. Vegas is without Erik Haula and Paul Stastny for an extended period of time. Haula has 7 points in 15 games this season. Stastny was picked up in free agency as a top six Center, but he has only played in three games this season. Once Stastny returns, it should help boost Vegas’ roster.
Vancouver has been hit with injuries throughout the season. Right now, the Canucks are without Sven Baertschi, Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter. Baertschi was out to a quick start this season before going down with injury. Sutter and Beagle play solid depth leader roles in the lineup. The Canucks could really use getting these players back to strengthen their bottom lines.
Marc-Andre Fleury will likely get the start in net for Vegas on Thursday night. Fleury has gone 13-8-1 in his starts this season. He has posted a .911 save percentage and a GAA of 2.36. Fleury has posted 5 shutouts this season. He has been a large part of their recent success.
I expect Jacob Markstrom to start in net for the Canucks. Markstrom has a save percentage of .898 and a 3.27 GAA this season. He has gone 8-8-3 in his 19 starts this season. Markstrom has not gotten much help recently from his defense, which is a big reason why his numbers are dropping.
Vegas has the edge in net, but I believe that if Vancouver’s defense can step up, Markstrom can compete with Fleury. Fleury has not been nearly as good on the road this season, which the Canucks could exploit. The Canucks need players like Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat to step up offensively if Vancouver is going to pull off the upset at home.
The Golden Knights are coming in hot, but I believe Vancouver could slow them down. The Canucks pulled off the win in Vegas earlier this season and I believe that Vancouver could repeat that success. I believe that the Canucks are due to put together a little streak and it could start with a tough home win.
BetOnline has the Golden Knights listed as a -158 against the money line. Vegas is a pretty big favorite on the road because of their winning streak. All winning streaks come to an end and the Golden Knights are not great on the road this season. I believe that this gives Vancouver a decent amount of value. Vegas is expected to win this game 61 percent of the time. I believe the Canucks should have better odds than this at home.