nhl
12.12.2023

Calgary Flames @ Vegas Golden Knights Game Preview and Pick: Vegas Controls the First Period

With three straight victories under their belt, the Vegas Golden Knights will look to keep their winning ways alive against a Calgary Flames team that edged them out in overtime a few weeks ago. Both teams have been trending in opposite directions since that matchup, and I think the Golden Knights can control the game right from the first drop of the puck.

Game Preview

It’s been a rough start to December for the Calgary Flames, who enter tonight with a 1-4 record in the month. In all four of those losses, the Flames allowed at least four goals to be scored, ranking them 27th in the league in average goals allowed per game. Calgary has rotated three goalies this season, and none of them have a winning record.

With primary goalie Jacob Markstrom out indefinitely with a finger injury, the Flames have rotated between Dustin Wolf and Dan Vladar. It has yet to be announced which of the two will be in the net tonight, but Wolf would be the likely candidate after Vladar allowed six goals to the Avalanche last night.

Wolf was in the net for the Flames’ lone win this month, and in four appearances this season, he has turned in a .900% save percentage while allowing an average of 2.8 goals per game. If he does, in fact, get the start tonight, the young goalie will have his work cut out for him against a Golden Knights team that is 4-1 in December and ranks 6th in the league in expected goals per 60.

In all four of the Golden Knights’ wins this month, they have managed to score at least four goals, which has them averaging 3.3 goals per game this season. For as good as they’ve been this season, Vegas is coming off a game in which the San Jose Sharks took them to a shootout.

Vegas had tightened up their defense over their last ten games, allowing two or fewer goals in seven of those games, but they had a defensive lapse in the third period against the Sharks, allowing three goals on 16 shots.

Pick for the Game

For my play in this one, I’ll be targeting the first-period puck line and taking the Vegas Golden Knights (-.5)(+130) on Betano. Up to this point in the season, the Flames have allowed the second-most goals in the first period with 35, and the last time these teams met, Vegas scored their lone goal in the first period.

Dustin Wolf is certainly not a goalie that will strike a lot of fear into the Golden Knights, and the young goaltender likely won’t be getting a lot of help from his defense that just played last night. Calgary has played in back-to-backs three times this season, and not only have they lost all three, but they’ve failed to cover the first-period puck line in two of them.

Scoring-wise, the Flames are 24th in the league in first-period goals this season, while Vegas has allowed the 7th fewest first-period goals. Logan Thompson is likely to get the start in net Vegas, and he’s been phenomenal this year, posting an 8-3-3 record with a .919% save percentage. Thompson has allowed one or fewer goals in the first period in four of his last five starts, so between the Flames' struggles to find the net early and their tired legs, I think Vegas can jump out to an early lead tonight.

Recap

  • Vegas Golden Knights 1P (-.5)(+130) on Betano

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