Despite Coaching Change, Golden Knights’ Western Conference Odds Continue to Fade

San Jose Sharks' coach Peter DeBoer speaks to the media during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Golden Knights' 2020 Western Conference odds continue to fade despite the recent hiring of Peter DeBoer. Photo from YouTube.com (screenshot).
  • Vegas is 1-1-1 since hiring Peter Deboer as their new head coach
  • The Golden Knights’ odds of winning the Western Conference have fallen to +684
  • Can DeBoer lead the Knights to the Stanley Cup Final?

Oddsmakers don’t like the chances of Vegas winning the Western Conference, even after they fired head coach Gerard Gallant and hired Peter DeBoer. The Golden Knights’  Western Conference odds have fallen from +510 on Jan. 8 to an average of +684.

Is there value betting on this Vegas team to win three playoff rounds and reach the Stanley Cup Final?

2020 Western Conference Odds

Team  Odds
St Louis Blues +600
Colorado Avalanche +650
Dallas Stars +700
Arizona Coyotes +800
Vancouver Canucks +800
Vegas Golden Knights +800
Calgary Flames +1000
Chicago Blackhawks +1000
Nashville Predators +1000
Edmonton Oilers +1200
Winnipeg Jets +1600
Minnesota Wild +2000
San Jose Sharks +5000
Anaheim Ducks +25000
Los Angeles Kings +25000

Odds taken Jan. 22.

The Golden Knights are clinging on to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 57 points in 52 games. The Blues (68 pts) and Avalanche (62 pts) are the only teams in the West that have surpassed the 60-point mark.

DeBoer the Answer? 

The Golden Knights shocked the hockey world last week when they fired head coach Gerard Gallant and hired Peter DeBoer as his replacement. Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2018 when the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final and lost to Washington in their inaugural season.

DeBoer, who was fired by San Jose this season, has significant more head coaching experience than Gallant. DeBoer has coached 855 career games at the NHL level and led the Sharks to the playoff in each of his four years with the team. With the Gallant firing coming abruptly,  it’s likely Vegas was big on DeBoer and couldn’t pass up the opportunity when he became available.

DeBoer has already been to the Stanley Cup Final twice in his career and is inheriting a very talented Vegas team. Despite the hiring, oddsmakers don’t seem to be too high on the Golden Knights in the West. Early results have been mediocre, as Vegas is 1-1-1 since the coaching change. Do oddsmakers have a case against Vegas?

Reasons to Be Skeptical 

Vegas is falling in the Western Conference futures because they’ve lost six of seven games heading into the All-Star break. A big reason for their struggles is that Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t playing like an elite-level starting netminder and has seen his save percentage fall to .907 on the year.

The Golden Knights are also playing in a very tight Pacific Division where the top five teams are separated by just a single point. Out of those five teams, Vegas’ plus-2 goal differential is behind both the Canucks (+13) and Coyotes (+8). I think Vegas is the best team in the Pacific, but given how close the race is, it’s no guarantee the Knights even make the playoffs.

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of Vegas in the Western Conference might be the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are loaded with talent at every position and beat the Golden Knights by a combined score of 13-4 in two meetings this season. I’m skeptical to put money down on Vegas with the talent the Avalanche have.

Advanced Stats Are Promising

Despite the Golden Knights’ recent struggles, advanced stats indicate this is still a very good team. Vegas has both the third-best Fenwick (53.52) and Corsi (53.64) percentage in the league. They also rank seventh when it comes to High-Danger Corsi percentage (53.20).

The Knights are creating tons of scoring chances, especially ones of high quality. Their power-play unit is also ranked top-10 in the league. It’s their defense and goaltending that is really falling off. Fleury is now 35 years of age and appears to be declining, while backup Malcolm Subban owns an ugly .898 save percentage.

The Golden Knights are good enough to overcome a declining starting goaltender, but it’s a risky bet when you consider Fleury’s career playoff save percentage (.911) is even worse than his career regular season save percentage (.913).

Betting Advice

I see value with Vegas to win the Pacific Division considering their advanced stats and offensive talent, but the Blues and Avalanche are more-complete teams that will likely prevent Vegas from going all the way in 2020.

DeBoer has great playoff experience, but he can’t be a magical fix for a declining goalie and underperforming defense. St. Louis and Colorado are both top-10 teams defensively and have elite offenses that make them better bets to win the West.

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