The Vegas Golden Knights have exceeded all expectations so far this season, working their way up to the top of the Pacific Division table.
With nine wins in their previous 10 outings at the time of writing, Gerard Gallant’s side are the National Hockey League’s in-form franchise and you’d be hard pressed to find an organisation more equipped to challenge for Stanley Cup glory this year. It may their first year as an NHL franchise but Vegas are heading in the right direction and fans will be hoping for more success in the coming months.
Meanwhile, 13-time Stanley Cup winners Toronto Maple Leafs are also right in the mix for postseason glory this year. Mike Babcock has the championship-winning experience and that could give Toronto the edge in the playoffs.
There is still a long way to go but it would take a brave man to back against the Canadian side in the Atlantic Division. Nothing is ever a given in professional sport but Toronto, 13/1 second favourites with 888Sport in the Stanley Cup outrights, look destined to reach the playoffs and from there, you would have to fancy the Maple Leafs against most of their rivals.
Golden Knights Need To Keep Doing What They’re Doing
Why change a working formula? Vegas are clear at the top of the Pacific – having won 25 of their 36 games this season. The Golden Knights are now on a six-match winning streak but punters can still back the newly formed franchise at 33/1 with 188Bet to win the Stanley Cup.
If Vegas are able to pick up where they left on before the brief Christmas break, they will take some stopping and 33/1 is a decent price. Some believe that the Golden Knights will tail off at some stage and this will be a stern examination of their credentials.
KEY MAN: Jonathan Marchessault. 34 points in 33 games is some return and Marchessault may be the one to watch again in this contest. Renowned for his work ethic and passion on the ice, the Vegas star has notched 21 assists as well as 13 goals and it would take a brave man to back against him adding to that total.
Toronto Maple Leafs
With six wins in their last 10 NHL appearances, Toronto are in decent form themselves and it is difficult to split the two sides. Auston Matthews is one of the best players in the league and he could inspire the Maple Leafs to victory in this fixture.
Currently on a two-game winning run, something has to give here; winning away at Vegas will be difficult but the Maple Leafs are in a great position to push the Golden Knights close. Watch this space, it could be a thrilling encounter.
KEY MAN: Auston Matthews. Matthews is now tied with Mitchell Marner for total points accumulated this season but the number one overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft has featured in just 28 matches. Injury has hindered his impact in recent weeks but he is now fighting fit and ready to go. Expect another big performance.
This could be a New Year’s special. Vegas, full of enthusiasm and endeavour, will attempt to derail Matthews and co – it should be a very exciting encounter. The Golden Knights will win the Stanley Cup in the future but it may be a bit far to suggest that they will go on to lift the ultimate prize in ice hockey this year. For the Maple Leafs, victory over Vegas is an absolute must in order to send a statement of intent out.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4-3 MAPLE LEAFS