NHL Odds: Vegas Golden Knights Ride 7-Game Winning Streak Into Toronto With Best Record – Forbes

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Nicholas Robertson (89) skates against Vegas Golden Knights defenseman … [+] Brayden McNabb (3) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

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The Vegas Golden Knights surprisingly missed the NHL playoffs last season as one of the early season Cup contenders. One month into the 2022-23 season and Vegas is leading the NHL with an 11-2 record and league-high 22 points.

The Golden Knights current 7-game winning streak started with a 3-1 win over Toronto at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip Oct. 24. Vegas (-104) was a slight underdog that night, and the Golden Knights will be an underdog again Tuesday when they take on the Maple Leafs (7-4-2, 16 points) at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto – the only building the Knights has never won in.

NHL odds for Tuesday, Nov. 8, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

  • Vegas Golden Knights (+102)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (-122)

Toronto has won three straight games and are 5-1 at home. The Maple Leafs opened -13o at other leading online sportsbooks, and the game total goals is 6.5.

The Golden Knights are currently anywhere from -1100 to -1450 to make the playoffs and +700 to +900 to miss the playoffs. Vegas (+150) is now the slight favorite to win the Pacific division ahead of Calgary and Edmonton.

Vegas closes out their 5-game road trip Thursday, Nov. 10 at Buffalo to conclude the opening 30 days of the 2022-23 hockey season.

Golden Knights Defensive Dominators

Vegas has racked up more victories and points than any team in the league thanks to it’s defense and goaltending. Vegas has one of the best defensive groups in the NHL, led by veterans Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore. Martinez will play the 700th game of his NHL career Tuesday against Toronto. But the Knights youngest defensemen Nicolas Hague and Zach Whitecloud have emerged as one of the best pair of defensemen in the league.

Jesse Granger, a staff writer who covers the Golden Knights for The Athletic, notes that Whitecloud and Hague have been one of the stingiest pairs in the league this season in terms of chances and goals allowed. In 156 minutes of even-strength ice time, they’ve allowed only 1.8 expected goals against per 60 minutes (second fewest of any pair in the NHL with at least 150 minutes played). They’ve given up only three goals, tied for the fewest in the league.

“It takes everybody to win,” first year Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “If one pair falters you need the other two pairs to pick them up. If a line has a tough night, someone has to come through. That’s what good teams do, and I can put us in that category. We’re a good team. You find ways to win when not everyone has their A-game.”

Vegas Golden Knights’ Zach Whitecloud (2) moves the puck under pressure from Los Angeles Kings’ Alex … [+] Iafallo during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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Two new goalies are between the pipes for the Knights this year, and Vegas has allowed a league-low 27 goals against with Logan Thompson (8 starts) and newcomer Adin Hill (5 starts).

The duo and defense held eight of their first 11 opponents to 2-goals or less, and none more than 3 goals. Vegas won their last two games 5-4 at Winnipeg and 6-4 at Montreal heading into Toronto.

Logan Thompson got his shot last season and was called up from the Henderson Silver Knights AHL affiliate in February – the same time Jack Eichel made his debut with the Golden Knights. Goalie Robin Lehner’s upper body injury opened up the opportunity for Thompson. The 25-year-old from Calgary has made the most of it starting 17 games for the Knights to close out the season and eight games this year. Lehner is out this season with a hip injury that required surgery.

Hill, 26, is from Comox, British Columbia, has a 2.21 GAA and 92.2% save percentage. while Thompson has saved 93.4% of shots with a 2.01 GAA and a pair of shutouts. Thompson will be between the pipes Tuesday at Toronto after shutting down the Leafs Oct. 24 allowing just 1 goal on 23 shots.

The Golden Knights also have some decisions to make soon as 29-year-old goaltender Laurent Brossoit is nearing a return after missing the first month of the season due to offseason hip surgery. He started 21 games for Vegas last season.

Golden Knights Offensive Balance and Depth

Jack Eichel leads Vegas in scoring with 14 points (5 goals) – same as Penguins star Sidney Crosby. But 14 points doesn’t even rank top-30 in the league. The Knights have balance across the board from all four lines. Six players have 10 points including captain Mark Stone and Riley Smith, who also plays his 700th NHL game Tuesday five minutes from where he grew up playing hockey in Toronto.

“We’re creating a lot offensively, but a lot of that starts in our defensive zone,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said ahead of Tuesday’s game.

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo leads the Knights in assists with 10, and Shea Theodore has 3 goals and 6 assists with a team-best +/- of +10.

In the recent win over Toronto, new Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy (Boston 6 years) changed up the lines. Center Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson held down the first line, opposed to the original trio of Eichel, Reilly Smith and Phil Kessel – the NHL ‘ironman’ who broke a record two weeks ago after he played his 990th consecutive game and also scored his 400th career goal in a 4-2 win over San Jose.

The line combinations in place are now:

  • Chandler Stephenson – Jack Eichel – Mark Stone
  • Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
  • Mike Amadio – Brett Howden – Phil Kessel
  • Will Carrier – Nicolas Roy – Keegan Kolesar

Updated Stanley Cup Contenders Odds 2022-23

As the season started, the Golden Knights had +2000 odds to win the Stanley Cup. Vegas is now +1400, and their only two losses this season are to the current Cup favorites Colorado and Calgary, both by 3-2 scores. The Golden Knights odds to win the Cup are as low as +800 (Caesars), +950 (Circa) and +1000 (SuperBook) at Las Vegas Sportsbooks.

Current contenders Stanley Cup odds at FanDuel Sportsbook:

  • Colorado Avalanche (+500)
  • Calgary Flames (+1000)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (+1000)
  • Boston Bruins (+1100)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (+1300)
  • Florida Panthers (+1400)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (+1400)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (+1400)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (+1600)
  • Edmonton Oilers (+1600)
  • New York Rangers (+1600)
  • Minnesota Wild (+2200)
  • New Jersey Devils (+2400)
  • Dallas Stars (+2800)
  • St. Louis Blues (+3300)
  • Los Angeles Kings (+3500)

Leaders in each conference and division include:

East

  • Boston (10-2, 22 points) leads the Atlantic division followed by Detroit (16), Toronto (16), Tampa Bay (15) and Florida (15).
  • New Jersey (9-3, 18 points) leads the Metropolitan division followed by Carolina (17), New York Rangers (15) and Philadelphia (14).

West

  • Dallas (8-3-1, 17 points) tops the Central division followed by Winnipeg (15) and Colorado (13).
  • Vegas (11-2, 22 points) leads the Pacific division followed by Seattle (16), Los Angeles (15) and Edmonton (14). Calgary (13 points) has lost 5-straight games – four at home and Monday night on the road to the Islanders 4-3 in overtime after blowing a 3-1 lead midway through the third period.

So much hockey ahead, and injuries can impact teams chances along with puck luck. Good goaltending along with strength in the defensive end is essential for long term success.

But as NHL senior writer Sean McIndoe of The Athletic said this week, “it’s been a tough few weeks for those of us in the business of pretending we have any real idea of what’s going on in this league.”

Boston (+21), Vegas (+19) and Dallas (+19) top the league in true goal differential. No other team is closer than +11, which goes to the NY Islanders and surprising Buffalo Sabres.

McIndoe’s top 5 rankings through the opening month of the season:

  1. Colorado Avalanche
  2. Boston Bruins
  3. Carolina Hurricanes
  4. Vegas Golden Knights
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Golden Knights next four road games before Thanksgiving will be challenging at Toronto, Buffalo, Edmonton and Vancouver. But with three games sandwiched between those against the three teams at the bottom of the Western Conference points standings in St. Louis, San Jose and Arizona, Vegas has a solid shot to maintain its position on top of the leagues points standings and continue their rebound and rise from a season ago.

You can bet on it.