Tonight, Western Conference NHL action sees the Vegas Golden Knights visit Chicago. Behind effective two-way execution, the Golden Knights have won four of five contests and appear primed following hard-luck playoff results last spring. Though, an improbable Stanley Cup appearance in their inaugural campaign makes anything less than lifting an NHL championship a washout.
Conversely, home-standing Chicago fades further from the time which saw them raise three league titles this decade. Conspicuous by consecutive playoff absences, the Blackhawks are 2-4 this season.
Early line action, as of Monday morning, slightly favors Vegas. The Golden Knights swept Chicago 3-0 last season while finding no shortage of scoring routes vs. backstops Collin Delia and Corey Crawford.
Fluery in a grooveA little offensive firepower, along with Marc-Andre Fleury’s net presence, has tilted Vegas back toward elite status after a 2-2 start. Fluery’s six 2019 victories lead all NHL net-minders as the three-time Stanley Cup winner halts .934 percent of shots lobbed his way. Enjoying perhaps the finest October of his decorated career, the 34-year-old works behind a top-ten defense allowing just 2.3 goals per outing.
And Sunday, in a vintage performance vs. his former employer, Fluery helped Vegas blank Pittsburgh 3-0. With indelible banners overhead, visions of bringing similar glory to a new franchise during an Indian Summer revival sparked Fluery’s 29 saves as Marc Stone, Paul Stastny, and William Karlsson each added one goal to cap the Golden Knights’ 3-0 road win vs. Pittsburgh.
🎥 Gallant: Last night our effort was there. Everybody competed and battled hard. pic.twitter.com/wkfx6tWYKG— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 20, 2019
Defensive highlights noted, Vegas’ scoring prowess steadily rises. The Golden Knights rank sixth overall, averaging 3.5 goals per game. Marc Stone leads that charge with six goals and 12 points. Key cogs Max Pacioretty (10 points), William Karlsson (eight points) and Reilly Smith (seven points) each handsomely bolster Stone’s contributions.
Further, the Golden Knights are currently 3-1 away from home and lead the Pacific with a +11 differential.
Colliton searches for answersWith much of their glory day-core remaining, yet aging, the Blackhawks seek a playoff push to bolster head coach Jeremy Colliton’s first full season. At 34-years of age, Colliton replaced departed legend Joel Quenneville early last year. Under Colliton’s guidance the Blackhawks’ defense underperformed in 2018-19’, ranking next-to-last leaguewide. Those numbers ensured Chicago, and its new sideline regime, would again view playoff action from afar.
Interestingly, however, a small sample size shows the 19-20’ Blackhawks’ No. 6 defense surpasses its anemic offense. And a failure to keep pace with Washington Sunday ended Chicago’s modest two-game win streak. Led by Tom Wilson’s third-period strike, the Capitals skated by Chicago 5-3.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford’s issues remained as he allowed four pucks through on a weekending-night best consigned to memory. Crawford, a three-time All-Star, has registered one win against three losses this year while stopping just .891 of shots against. Crawford also allows 3.58 goals per game.
Chicago is 2-2-1 from home this season. Patrick Kane is the only Blackhawks’ player to surpass eight points in 2019.
- Golden Knights are 4-0 in their last 4 games as a favorite.
- Golden Knights are 12-5 in their last 17 games as a road favorite.
- Blackhawks are 16-35 in their last 51 games as an underdog of +110 to +150.
- Blackhawks are 3-7 in their last 10 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.