Devils Likely to Succumb to ‘Vegas Flu’ in First Visit to Golden Knights

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:32 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2018 4:32 PM UTC

Wednesday will be a first for the New Jersey Devils franchise as it plays its initial game in Las Vegas, with the Golden Knights one of the league’s top home clubs.

New Jersey Devils (78 points) at Vegas Golden Knights (95 points)Free NHL Pick: Golden Knights & UnderBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Five games on the NHL schedule opposite the last night of the NCAA Tournament’s First Four on Wednesday, with Devils-Golden Knights dropping the puck at 10 p.m. ET from Sin City – which probably is filling up more and more by the hour for the Big Dance. No national TV for this one.

Not much to go on regarding previous meetings between these franchises since they have only met once. That was March 4 in Newark and Vegas was a 3-2 winner. Tomas Tatar, a big trade acquisition by Vegas from Detroit at the Feb. 26 deadline, scored his first goal in a Knights uniform and it was the winner at 17:43 of the second period on the power play. All five goals were in the second, with David Perron and Deryk Engelland also scoring for Vegas, and Sami Vatanen and Taylor Hall for New Jersey. Marc-Andre Fleury (33 saves) and Cory Schneider (24 saves) were in net, as they should be Wednesday.

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Feeling Hungover?

So, I’m sure NHL bettors have heard all about the “Vegas flu.” That’s the assumption that visiting players are out partying on the Strip the night before a game and aren’t exactly at full strength. "The problem is that there are 'last calls' in most cities. Well, there's no last call in Las Vegas," one Western Conference executive told ESPN earlier this year. "You can drink. You can do whatever. It never shuts down."

Different teams have taken different approaches to visiting Vegas. Last month, the Anaheim Ducks flew to Vegas the day of their game. That’s almost unheard of, and I don’t think allowed in other leagues. The Ducks won, by the way, 2-0. On the flip side, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella chose to fly his team into Vegas several days before their scheduled game and even encouraged his players to go out and have fun. Columbus lost 6-3. Vegas is 24-7-2 at home.

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— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 12, 2018

New Jersey needs this game much more as it currently holds the East’s final wild-card spot with Florida right on the Devils’ tails. This is game No. 2 of a very tough six-game trip. New Jersey opened it with a 3-2 shootout upset victory at red-hot Nashville on Saturday. The Devils caught a break there with the Predators starting backup goalie Juuse Saros. The loss ended Nashville’s 10-game winning streak.

Devils star winger Taylor Hall was held without a point – he did score in the shootout – for a second straight game. He had scored in 26 straight prior to that and leads the team by a mile with 74 points and 30 goals. No other Devil has more than 18 goals or 43 points. New Jersey is without three injured forwards in Pavel Zacha, Travis Zajac and Marcus Johansson.

Vegas is going to win the Pacific Division but is fighting Nashville for the West’s top seed. The Knights just completed a five-game trip (which started in New Jersey) with four wins following a 3-2 victory in Philadelphia on Monday. Fleury stopped 38 of 40 shots for his 400th career NHL victory. He became the 13th goaltender to reach the mark and the second-fastest (728 games) behind Henrik Lundqvist. William Karlsson scored his 36th goal of the year and has 18 points over his past 18 games.

New Jersey is just 1-7 in its past eight vs. the West, while Vegas is a stellar 21-5 in its past 26 on one day of rest. The “Vegas flu” strikes again, so back the Knights on a Wednesday NHL pick.

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