Odds Taken from DraftKings Sportsbook
Vegas Golden Knights
17-6-1 (1st in Pacific Division)
9-7-3 (5th in Metropolitan Division)
Jack Eichel (26)
Sidney Crosby (31)
Jack Eichel (11)
Sidney Crosby (12)
Alex Pietrangelo (18)
Sidney Crosby (19)
Jack Eichel (15)
Richard Rakell (12)
Jack Eichel (3.71)
Shots (Per Game)
Evgeni Malkin (3.13)
The Vegas Golden Knights will fly across the county to battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Golden Knights have excellent offense and great defense. However, their defense may struggle tonight, as they are playing without Alex Pietrangelo. Even so, they are a formidable matchup for the Penguins.
The Golden Knights roster is full of solid players, but I will only focus on Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone, and Jonathan Marchessault. Jack Eichel leads the team in goals (11), points (26), and +/- (15), Chandler Stephenson plays almost 20 minutes and has 13 assists, Mark Stone can do it all and has nine goals and nine assists, and Jonathan Marchessault only plays a little over 16 minutes a game but has eight goals and ten assists.
The Golden Knights have a competent goaltending duo in Logan Thompson and Adin Hill. Thompson is the starter and has a 12-4-0 record, but Hill also mans the net well. These two combine for a .915 save percentage and 2.63 goals allowed per game average.
The Penguins, like the Golden Knights, have an excellent offense. However, their defense often struggles and will only be worse now with the absence of Kris Letang. Letang, a veteran, suffered a stroke on Monday and will be out indefinitely.
The Penguins' core of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Evgeni Malkin continue to be the lynchpins of this Pittsburgh offense. Sidney Crosby leads his team with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists). Crosby is in the back half of his career but is still a killer with the puck. Jake Guentzel is not as dangerous with the puck but has 11 goals and ten assists.
Evgeni Malkin, like Sidney Crosby, is in the back half of his career but performing well. Malkin has eight goals and 12 assists.
The Penguins do not have the NHL’s worst goaltending duo, but they could use some work.
Tristan Jarry is the starter and has an 8-3-3 record. However, I would not let that record fool you. Jarry allows almost three goals a game, and his save percentage of .914 is mediocre. Jarry’s backup, Casey DeSmith, is no better. DeSmith allows exactly three goals per game and has a save percentage of .908.
The Golden Knights have been a little worse over the last week or so than the Penguins, but I expect them to squeak out a win today. Vegas performs better on the road and has a more well-rounded roster, so they will win this tough matchup.
The Golden Knights are the favorites but will only win if they score first and slow down Jake Guentzel.
The Golden Knights have scored first in four of their last five victories. This is not too surprising, as the team that scores first is usually the team that wins. Today cannot be an exception for Vegas. They are on the road and facing a Penguins squad averaging well over three goals a game. The Golden Knights must find a way to strike first.
Pittsburgh lost their last game, but Jake Guentzel had a strong performance. Guentzel had one goal and one assist in a little over 20 minutes. The Golden Knights’ defensemen must always be aware of the 28-year-old’s whereabouts and force the puck out of his hands.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will win if they score a power play goal and play tough defense.
The Penguins have a strong offense but one of the worst power-play units in the league. Pittsburgh converts 16.22% of its power play opportunities (the fifth-lowest in the league). They must surprise the Golden Knights today by scoring a goal with a man advantage.
The Penguins’ defense is in a tough spot without Kris Letang. However, they must work around it and figure out how to make up for his absence. If they do not, Vegas will run up the score on them.
Chandler Stephenson is dangerous with the puck but has been quiet this past week. Stephenson only has one point in his last six games and is having a limited offensive impact.
Stephenson must turn the corner in this game and get at least one point. It does not matter how the point comes, as long as it comes. The center may be Vegas’ x-factor tonight.
Evgeni Malkin is having a great season but has been slumping over the last few games. The 36-year-old is yet to score a point in his last four games.
Malkin’s slump has not been going on for too long, but tonight is the night for it to end. Malkin must put a puck in the back of the net.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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