New Jersey Devils vs Vegas Golden Knights (3/3 @ 10:00 PM EST)
Puck Line: Devils -1.5 (+196)
Money Line: Devils -109 / Vegas -105
Overview and Betting Info
The New Jersey Devils (40-15-5) will be heading to Sin City on Friday to take on the Vegas Golden Knights (36-19-6) for a battle between two of the league’s top teams. These two met once back in January with the Devils winning a 3-2 overtime thriller. The Devils are currently second in the Metropolitan, while Vegas leads the Pacific.
The Devils are 31-29 against the puck line and have covered 20 of their 29 road games. They’ve gone over the total 29 times, 14 of which came on the road.
The Knights are 26-35 versus the puck line but have only covered 12 of their 33 home games. They’ve gone over the total 24 times with half coming at home.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils enter Friday winners of five of their last six games. They scored 7 goals in each of their previous two games and are averaging 4.8 over their last five. Their hot streak has involved a lot of wins against playoff teams but is peppered with losses to some bad squads. The Devils’ offense has been fantastic, ranking fourth in the NHL in scoring (3.57 GF/G), eighth in assists (354), fourth in shots (34.2 S/GP), and eleventh in faceoff win percentage (51.6%). One area of concern is their power play, which ranks seventeenth by scoring on 20.8% of their attempts. New Jersey’s defensive play has been just as well, ranking fifth in goals allowed (2.67 GA/GP), fourth in shots allowed (28.3 SA/GP), and eighth in penalty kill (84.9%). The Devils have been the league’s top road team, going 22-4-3 outside the Garden State.
The Devils’ offensive attack is led by Jack Hughes (36 G, 38 A), Jesper Bratt (24 G, 33 A), and Nico Hischier (26 G, 31 A). Hughes in seventh in the NHL in goals but was limited to just 10 points in February after missing almost two weeks with an injury. He’s been more dangerous on the road this season, where he is +10 and scored 19 of his 36 goals. Hughes played a significant role in their earlier win against Vegas, adding two assists. Bratt is another Devil playing better on the road, with a +22 rating. He had just six points in February but had two assists against New Jersey in January. Hischier is fifth in +/- (30) this season and is the hottest of the group. He has three goals and two assist over his last three games. Watch out for Tomas Tatar (14 G, 23 A), as he is second in the NHL in +/- (39) and has six points in his last three games.
The Devils’ blueline features one of the best defensemen in the league in Dougie Hamilton (18 G, 40 A). The veteran is fourth in points among defensemen and was fantastic against Vegas, scoring two of their three goals. He joins Jonas Siegenthaler (3 G, 15 A, +28) on the top pairing, who is the more defensive-minded of the two. Always watch out for Ryan Graves (6G, 15 A), as the defenseman is fourth in the NHL in +/-.
New Jersey features one of the league’s top goalies in Vitek Vanecek (26-6-3, 2.46 GA/G, 91.0% SV). The veteran tender is eighth in goals allowed and sixth in wins. He saved 28 of 30 shots in their win against Vegas. However, he’s coming off a five-goal performance against the Avs on Wednesday. He was pulled for reserve Akira Schmid (6-4-0, 1.91 GA/G, 93.0% SV), who held on to get Vanecek another win. We’ll see if he can return to form in Vegas on Friday.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Knights will be looking to build on their Wednesday win over Carolina, as they lost three of their four games before that. The Knights have become a streaky team in 2023 but are still atop the Pacific division. Vegas’ defensive play has led them this season, ranking eleventh in goals (2.75 GA/GP) and shots (30.3 SA/G) allowed while ranking twelfth in penalty kill percentage (84.4%). The Vegas offense has been average most of the year, often playing just well enough to win. They rank sixteenth in scoring (3.15 GF/GP), tenth in shots (32.5 S/GP), and sixth in faceoff percentage (52.7%). The Knights have been solid at home this season, going 19-13-1.
The Vegas offense is led by Chandler Stephenson (12 G, 38 A), Jack Eichel (22 G, 23 A), and Reilly Smith (20 G, 20 A). Stephenson started the season great, but his point totals have dropped over the last two months. He isn’t shooting much, focusing more on distributing the puck and setting up his linemates. Eichel continues his bounce-back season and has scored five goals in his last five games. Smith has been streaky, with just 11 points combined in January and February, but he scored in their win on Wednesday. A reason for the low point totals for Vegas is that they have a lot of depth but lost a crucial piece in Mark Stone (17 G, 21 A), who has been on IR since early January. Look for Jonathan Marchessault (17 G, 21 A) and William Carrier (16 G, 9 A) to continue seeing more shots in his absence.
The Vegas blueline features a top pairing of Alec Martinez (1 G, 9 A, +13) and Alex Pietrangelo (8 G, 27 A). Martinez is the better defender, but Pietrangelo is a solid offensive backline piece. Pietrangelo’s offense has declined in the second half, with eight points and a +1 rating over the last two months. Always watch out for Shea Theodore (6 G, 27 A) from Vegas’s second pairing, as he has registered at least one point in seven of his last eight. He now has ten points over that span.
With star rookie goalie Logan Thompson on IR (20-13-3, 2.66 GA/G, 91.4% SV), the Knights will again turn to Adin Hill (15-6-1, 2.50 GA/G, 91.2% SV). Hill is 5-1 over his last seven appearances, saving 92.3% of shots and allowing under 2 goals per game. He did not get the start against the Devils a couple months ago, so this is their first time seeing Hill. Reserve Laurent Brossoit (1-0-2, 2.20 GA/G, 93.6%) has joined Thompson on the IR, so don’t expect to see anyone else in goal.
Free Pick: Devils ML -109
The over is tempting here, but the Devils are playing too well to pass up these odds. They have been playing as well as anyone in the league not named Boston. With 14 goals in their last two games and wins over many playoff teams, they look like they are on another level than Vegas. With Vitek in goal and their offense healthy and clicking, we expect New Jersey to score well against the Knights. As well as Adin Hill has played, he is their lone (experienced) goalie until Thompson returns. That means more wear and tear, which Hughes, Bratt, and Hischier can capitalize on. That, combined with Mark Stone being out, has hurt the Knights over the last two months.
We also look at these teams’ home/away records. The Devils are the best road team in the NHL, while Vegas has been decent at home. Given that New Jersey is already out west after playing Colorado on Wednesday, expect the time change and travel to have little effect.
We’re taking the Devils to win on the road on Friday.