For the past couple of seasons, the Vegas Golden Knights (1-4-0) and Colorado Avalanche (2-3-0) have been viewed as premier Stanley Cup Contenders yet neither have reached the top of the mountain lately. Both teams have struggled early on in the 2021-22 NHL season and own losing records entering Tuesday night’s 5:00 pm contest in Colorado.
This game is a must-win on both sides of the spectrum, not only for two points in the standings but for a morale boost on the young season. The Golden Knights are looking to snap a four-game losing streak. The last time the franchise lost four straight games they fired then-head coach Gerard Gallant in 2019-20.
The Golden Knights are struggling with their identity after losing heart and soul players like Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reaves in the offseason as well as star forwards Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty to early-season injuries. The Golden Knights have lost 24 man-games due to injury in just five games. Chandler Stephenson currently leads the Golden Knights in points with four.
Injuries have plagued the Avalanche as well but their struggles from out the gate can be attributed to a tough schedule. The Avalanche snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning after losing to the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, and St. Louis Blues. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan Mackinnon are tied for the team lead in points with five each.
What to Watch
The misfit line of original Golden Knights Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith has been silent since being promoted as the team’s first line due to the Pacioretty and Stone injuries. The line has combined for only one goal since the injures to Pacioretty and Stone. The Golden Knights need this line to step up and lead the offense.
The depth needs to step up as well. With the current injury crisis, young players like Peyton Krebs, Keegan Kolesar, Jake Leschyshyn, and Daniil Miromanov have gotten a shot at the NHL level. Combined, the four players have one point on the season.
The offense, in general, has been hard to come by early on for the Golden Knights. Last game they peppered Ilya Sorkin with 42 shots but were inevitably shut out. Special teams aren’t helping at all either as the Golden Knights have yet to score a powerplay goal on the season and are 0-11 on the man advantage.
Head coach Peter DeBoer and the Golden Knights will have to simplify their game in order to defeat a much more dangerous offensive team in the Avalanche. Take Pittsburgh for example, who just defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1 doing so with the likes of Evan Rodrigues, Brian Boyle, and Drew O’Connor.
Tonight’s game will come down to DeBoer’s ability to combat tough opponents with a weakened lineup. Every team goes through injuries, but not every team lets it get the best of them.
The Golden Knights have some work to do as the Edmonton Oilers are already eight points ahead of them in the Pacific Division standings. A big win tonight in Colorado would go a long way for this struggling team.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Lines per PuckPedia
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith
Peyton Krebs- Chandler Stephenson- Mattias Janmark
Evgenii Dadonov- Nicolas Roy- Keegas Kolesar
William Carrier- Jake Leschyshyn- Brett Howden
Nicolas Hague- Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore- Danil Miromanov
Brayden McNabb- Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
IR: Alex Tuch, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alec Martinez, Nolan Patrick, Zach Whitecloud
Projected Colorado Avalanche Lines per PuckPedia
Gabriel Landeskog- Nathan Mackinnon- Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky- Nazem Kadri- JT Compher
Sampo Ranta- Tyson Jost- Logan O’Connor
Jayson Megna- Daren Helm- Martin Kaut
Bowen Byram- Cale Makar
Jack Johnson- Erik Johnson
Kurtis MacDermid- Ryan Murray
Darcy Kuemper/Jonas Johansson
IR: Devon Toews, Valeri Nichushkin, Pavel Francouz, Samuel Girard
How to Watch/Listen
TV: ESPN 5:00 pm
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM