The Vegas Golden Knights look to snap a two-game losing skid against the St. Louis Blues tonight without Alex Pietrangelo in the lineup.
Vegas Golden Knights (16-6-1) at St. Louis Blues (14-8-4)
Vegas Golden Knights
Wow. How about that last 24 hours of a roller coaster for the Vegas Golden Knights and its fans? First, Marc-Andre Fleury was placed in the league’s COVI-19 protocols for a positive test. Today (and not a moment too soon) we find out the test was a false positive and Fleury has been removed from the protocols.
The VGK are still missing star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who was injured while blocking a shot last weekend against the Minnesota Wild and has been ruled out “for the foreseeable future”. VGK fans should be thankful for the return of Brayden McNabb to the lineup after being out a month with a broken foot.
With Pietrangelo out and the Golden Knights coming off a series with the Minnesota Wild where they struggled to score goals for five of the six periods, the pressure on the blue line goes squarely on Shea Theodore. Theodore leads the defense with 12 assists and 15 points, and Vegas will need him to generate more than ever both at even strength and a man up. The power play has grown stagnant and hasn’t registered a goal in five games (0-for-13).
Vegas will also need to do a better job cleaning up mistakes in its own zone. Defensive zone turnovers, bad clears and poor breakouts have marred the last two games against the Wild. Even the brilliance of Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t hide the miscues. Vegas has to band together and simply its game in the D-zone: pucks up the boards and out of the zone, skating the puck up to start the rush without risky passes, and much better awareness of the forechecking forwards.
St. Louis Blues
For the Blues, they’re on a 4-0-2 stretch but are coming off two straight overtime losses to the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. Overall this season the Blues have been better than not as evidenced by the team’s record, but consistency hasn’t really been a hallmark.
St. Louis is getting big seasons out of former Vegas Golden Knights forward David Perron (10-18-28), Ryan O’Reilly (8-18-26) and Brayden Schenn (12-11-23). Jordan Kyrou has been a revelation for the Blues with 20 points in 26 games this season after just 12 in his first 44 NHL contests. To top it off, St. Louis finally has Vladimir Tarasenko back in the lineup after battling various shoulder issues for the last two seasons. His last NHL goal came on October 21, 2019 against the Colorado Avalanche, so you know he’s dying to put that first puck in the net as soon as possible.
It will be another tough test for the Vegas Golden Knights who jumped out to a tremendous start on the season but must now maintain that momentum and avoid the team’s first three-game losing skid of the year.
Vegas Golden Knights
- Four of Vegas’ five losses have come on the road this season. The only “home” loss was actually at Lake Tahoe against the Colorado Avlanche. The VGK have not lost a game at T-Mobile Arena this season.
- Vegas still leads the league in blocked shots at 15.26 per game, with Alec Martinez leading the way with 73 blocks to rank second in the NHL.
- Reilly Smith appeared in his 600th career game on March 10 against Minnesota.
- Pete DeBoer coached his 900th regular-season game on March 10 as well.
St. Louis Blues
- Marco Scandella will play in his 600th career game tonight.
- Sammy Blais could make his 100th NHL appearance tonight.
- The Blues current six-game point streak is a season high.
- St. Louis has never lost to the VGK in regulation, and are 4-0 at home all-time against the Golden Knights.
- St. Louis has a power play goal in five straight games, and since the start of march the Blues PP is operating at a 46.7% clip.