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Golden Knights no longer favored to win Pacific Division

The Golden Knights were in the driver’s seat of the Pacific Division two weeks ago, leading the standings to earn coach Bruce Cassidy a trip to the NHL All-Star Game.

Fast forward to Thursday and they are no longer the betting favorite to win the division.

With injuries testing the team’s depth and the losses piling up after a hot start, the Knights are listed behind the first-place Seattle Kraken in the division odds at most Las Vegas sportsbooks.

“In their current state, to me they’re the definition of a league-average team,” Circa sportsbook manager Jeff Davis said of the Knights. “All things being equal, I would have them a ’dog on a neutral (site) to Seattle. Teams like the Islanders, or the Kings or the Predators would be the range of teams that they are in as far as a power rankings or how the market would respect them in their current injury state.”

The Knights are the +260 second choice to win the division at Circa Sports with Seattle the favorite at +190. The Edmonton Oilers are third at +270.

Captain Mark Stone is sidelined with an upper-body injury and listed as week to week, which will keep him out until at least the All-Star break.

Defenseman Shea Theodore, who hasn’t played since Dec. 9 because of a lower-body injury, is a game-time decision Friday when the Knights face the New York Rangers. Left wing William Carrier is expected to return after missing five games, and defenseman Zach Whitecloud practiced with the team Thursday.

Entering Thursday, six points separated first place from fifth in the Pacific standings. The Knights and Kraken each had 61 points, but Seattle played two fewer games and had a better points percentage (.649 to .622).

Davis said the Kraken have the easiest remaining schedule in the NHL, and that was a large consideration in making them the favorite.

“Mathwise, the Kraken are the current favorite. However, this is all on the pretense we have no idea if Stone is going to be back in a week or never,” Davis said. “That could change with some information that comes out of the Golden Knights’ camp. That’s a big thing.”

The Knights also are the second choice in the division at BetMGM (+240) and Boyd Gaming (+175) behind Seattle. Caesars Sportsbook made the Knights third at +280 behind Seattle (2-1) and Edmonton (+250).

The Los Angeles Kings are right behind the Knights and Seattle in the standings with 60 points but are the consensus fifth choice to win the division, according to bookmakers. Caesars lists the Kings at +850, while Circa posted 17-1 odds Thursday.

The odds on the Knights to win the conference are more favorable. Circa has the Knights as the +475 second choice behind the defending champion Colorado Avalanche (+305). The Knights are tied with the Dallas Stars at 6-1 at Caesars, second to the Avalanche (3-1).

The Westgate SuperBook lists the Knights as the co-third choice in the conference with Edmonton at +650. Colorado is the favorite at +285, with the Stars at +525.

The Knights opened the season by winning 13 of their first 15 games, and their odds at Circa to win the Stanley Cup fell as low as 8-1. Since Nov. 11, they are 16-15-3 and the 11-1 fifth choice at Circa to win the Cup.

Station Casinos has the Knights second to win the Western Conference at 5-1 behind the Avalanche. The Knights are 10-1 to win the Stanley Cup, behind the Bruins, Avalanche, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs.

“The jury is still out. They’re in a good spot overall in the Western Conference, but there’s not a whole lot of separation,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “It’s not going to stun me if somehow they find themselves on the outside looking in. And it’s not going to stun me if they win the Pacific.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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