The Anaheim Ducks and Vegas Golden Knights present one of the more curious NHL matchups on Thursday despite what NHL betting odds indicate.
Anaheim is predicted to be one of the worst teams in the league with little going for them. They struggle scoring and rank in the bottom-half on defense as well. Vegas, on the other hand, is again expected to make a deep playoff run, but not before dominating their division.
Going by these odds, Vegas should take out Anaheim with no problem. They should be a staple among NHL betting picks. Don’t sleep on the Ducks, however, as they still have one of the best goaltenders and a sneaky crop of young studs as we go over how these teams look heading to their season openers.
Ducks: Stuck in Rebuilding Purgatory
The Ducks could be the worst team in the NHL this season or could be a team that fights for the fourth and final spot of the new West Division. But the latter isn’t a sign of the team’s improvement but rather, how weak the rest of their division rivals are.
Anaheim acquired a bevy of veterans in the offseason led by Lightning D Kevin Shattenkirk. He’ll be earning every penny of his new $11.7 million contract as he looks to help resuscitate the Ducks’ offense, which ranked in the bottom five in almost every major category.
Goaltender John Gibson remains the team’s best player and is the main reason Anaheim didn’t finish last. But the 27-year-old’s talents are being wasted in a team that is mainly filled with aging vets sprinkled with some young talent.
Forwards Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg are two of the Ducks’ main scorers and are both 30. Longtime captain Ryan Getzlaf is 35. Anaheim will soon need to turn the reins over to the likes of C Sam Steel (22) and RW Troy Terry (23).
Golden Knights: Reloading for Another Stanley Cup Run
Where the Ducks could finish fourth in the division at best, the Knights shouldn’t be finishing fourth. Despite their playoff shortcomings, the Knights are still among the Stanley Cup favourites in online betting.
Vegas lost C Paul Stastny but acquired former Blues captain and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in hopes of improving their special teams, especially shorthanded where their 76.6 PK% was 27th in the league.
In net, Vegas expects Robin Lehner to continue his hot play from last season. The Swede backstopped Vegas to the Conference Finals with a 1.99 goals against average and 91.7 save percent with four shutouts.
Offensively, the Knights remain a deep team. LW Max Pacioretty led the team last season with 32 goals while wingers Reilly Smith and Mark Stone added 27 and 21, respectively. C William Karlsson (15 goals) will need to return to form and stop his decline as a goalscorer.
Golden Knights Will Put Away the Scrappy Ducks
The Knights should win this one handily and any online sportsbook will have them as sizable favourites. They are better than Anaheim in every facet of the game, especially if Lehner is available and continues his strong play in net.
But the paper theory doesn’t always play out. It’s not the better team that wins but the team that plays better. Despite Anaheim’s patchwork roster, they can be a tough out every night, especially with Gibson in net.
Vegas should also start capitalizing on their scoring chances. They are first in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring chances but only tenth in goals scored according to naturalstattrick.com. If the Knights can improve on this, a blowout isn’t out of the question.
It’s tempting to lay money on the Knights to cover the -1.5 puck line (+120), but the Ducks are as gritty as they come. Vegas could dominate this game, but the score may not reflect that. As far as NHL picks go, take the Knights to win.