Given the unorthodox back-to-back this weekend, this won’t be a full-on dive into Saturday’s game.
Instead, this will be a few quick thoughts on the Vegas Golden Knights winning for the fourth time in five games, a 3-1 road triumph over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.
We’ll see about doing this format going forward for regular game days, but I figured it best to at least share some thoughts on Vegas getting the victory in Pete DeBoer’s return to San Jose.
- Marc-Andre Fleury continues to be stellar. I’m running out of adjectives to describe the start he’s on, but he’s looking like 2018 Fleury right now. Fleury is 6-1-0 to start this condensed season with a 1.58 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. It was the fourth time this season Fleury has allowed one goal or fewer in a game. He’s handled business and, especially in these last two starts, has bailed out his teammates in plenty of ways. It’s been noted on this platform many times; Fleury hasn’t beaten any good teams to date. Until he does that, he hasn’t fully ran away in this goalie battle with Robin Lehner. That chance may come Sunday, back home against the Colorado Avalanche, where it’s highly plausible Fleury will get the call for the back-to-back. Oscar Dansk is the backup, but the time to give him game reps was Saturday. When I asked DeBoer on Friday if he had confidence in Dansk should he need to use him, of course he says yes, but he sounds more confident in giving Fleury the back-to-back than throwing your usual No. 1 AHL goalie into the fray against Nathan MacKinnon and co. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fleury getting the call one more time.
- The power play is alive and well after the Golden Knights cashed in three times on the man advantage Saturday. Each goal came in a different way, but the common theme was crashing the net and make it a tough afternoon for Martin Jones. Jonathan Marchessault channeled his inner Babe Ruth on the game’s first goal, batting the puck in from mid-air; Mark Stone potted a backhand rebound after Cody Glass and William Karlsson crashed the crease; Chandler Stephenson’s speed coming down the middle was enough for him to go soccer mode and score. After looking abhorrent on the power play, Vegas has a power-play goal in four of its past six games. That’s the kind of special teams work to expect with this talent. The 5-on-5 play wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad. Particularly, the Glass line and Stephenson line were the best on this day.
- Sunday will start the litmus test for Vegas; four straight matchups against the Avalanche, with technically three at home if you include the Lake Tahoe game next weekend. The Golden Knights have taken care of business to this point; eight of their nine wins have come in regulation. That’s one way to separate yourselves from the bottom half of the league. Vegas is still tops in points percentage (.792) with three games in hand on St. Louis. Colorado has one game in hand on Vegas, but trails by three points. MacKinnon will be back Sunday, as will his teammates after a two-week pause due to COVID-19. There’s no need to dive into how much of a gamechanger he is. In short, the Vegas Golden Knights need to be great this week. It doesn’t help to play less than 24 hours prior, but these are the cards they’ve been dealt. Sunday should be fun.
Danny Webster covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now. Follow him on Twitter @DannyWebster21.