It’s a Western Conference showdown Thursday night in St. Louis, as the Vegas Golden Knights (16-12-5, 4th Pacific) visit the St. Louis Blues (18-8-6, 2nd Central). The Knights won their last game to prevent a three-game losing streak, while the Blues are trying to snap their three-game losing streak.
Here is a preview for tonight’s game, along with odds and a free pick.
By the Numbers
The Golden Knights have been getting a lot of pucks on net, but some bad luck has left them wanting more points on the board. Despite ranking seventh in shots per game with 33.7, Vegas is just 20th in goals per game with 2.88. They do, however, have the eighth-best power play in hockey, converting 22.5 percent of the time.
On defense, the Knights are a respectable 12th with an average of 2.85 goals allowed. They’re 15th in shots allowed as well with 31.5 per game. But Vegas’ special teams is once again their specialty, as their penalty kill is successful 83.6 percent of the time, ninth in the league.
For the defending champion Blues, their goals per game is better than what their shots indicate it should be. St. Louis is averaging 29.4 shots on goal, 24th in the league, but rank a respectable 16th in goals with 2.94. But the Blues have a strong 22.2 percent conversion rate on the power play, ninth in the NHL.
Defense is once again the strong-set of the Blues. St. Louis is sixth in goals allowed, averaging 2.66 per game. They’re 14th in shots allowed with 31.4, while averaging the 11th-best penalty kill at a solid 83.5 percent success rate.
Who to Watch
Going against one of the best defenses in hockey, the Golden Knights have a few stars to help put up some points. A couple of those names to watch include Mark Stone and Reilly Smith. Stone has 11 goals and 14 assists in his first full season with Vegas, while Smith is red hot, putting up eight points in his last eight games to tie Stone with 25 points. On the injury front, Cody Glass and Cody Eakin missed Vegas’ last game against the Blackhawks. Their status for tonight is in doubt.
Facing a team who is deep down the middle, the Blues will look toward centers Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn. O’Reilly has 27 points, 21 of which have come via assist, while Schenn has a team-high 14 goals as part of 25 points. Those two are the main catalysts of a Blues team that has been hit hard with injuries this year, along with the veteran David Perron. In addition, forwards Alexander Steen and Oskar Sundqvist may be returning to the lineup tonight. Each of them have been dealing with lower-body injuries that have kept them out of the last several games.
The Golden Knights will continue to roll with Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury is 12-6-2 with a 2.46 GAA and .921 save percentage.
The Blues will once again look to Jordan Binnington. Binnington is 13-6-4 with a 2.45 GAA and .921 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
Despite the three-game losing streak, the Blues are favorites tonight, listed at -120. It’s an evenly-matched game, with two teams strong in the special teams department and goalies that have almost identical stats to each other. Ultimately, this game will be won with team speed and skill, which gives the slight edge to the Golden Knights. Expect Vegas’ offensive talent and team speed to give them a slight edge over the Blues, while Fleury shuts it down on the other end. I’m picking the Golden Knights +120 to take the win on the road.