The Vegas Golden Knights (5-5) and Montreal Canadiens (3-9) are set to face off on Saturday night for the first time since the 2021 Stanley Cup Conference Finals. A lot has happened to both sides in the past couple of months since this meeting. Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury are both not on the active rosters for either team. Canadiens captain Shea Weber is likely done at the NHL level. Cole Caufield, who was a thorn in the side of the Golden Knights is now in the AHL.
Oh, and you may have heard that a guy named Jack Eichel is on his way to Vegas as well.
The Golden Knights are coming off of a confidence-boosting win against the Ottawa Senators which saw big names find the scoresheet. With the team’s current injury situation continuing to ravage on, having the remaining stars on the roster like Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Pietrangelo score is huge.
“I think we played with a lot of confidence. I think we did a lot of little things right and it translated to the other guys playing with a little more confidence, making a little more plays, having a little poise to look for a better play when the puck gets on your stick,” said Reilly Smith on the team’s effort in Ottawa.
Tonight against a struggling Canadiens team, the Golden Knights have a prime opportunity to once again gain some team confidence. The Canadiens are off to an awful start as they sit third-last in the NHL standings and have a -16 goal differential.
What to Watch
The Golden Knight’s leading scorer in the Conference Finals against the Canadiens last season was Nicolas Roy. Roy put up nine points in 19 total playoff games last year for the Golden Knights. With the current injury situation the team is facing, he has been elevated as the team’s first-line center alongside Smith and Marchessault.
“He is an easy player to play with. He is really strong on the puck and doesn’t give it away, he holds doesn’t it and always waits for a better play. When you are forechecking with him it seems like he is always there at the end of the pile,” said Reilly Smith on playing with Roy.
When the Golden Knights inevitably return to their true form as players start to come back from injury, bottom-six forwards like Roy will have their roster spots in jeopardy. The acquisition of Eichel gives the Golden Knights a clear 1-2-3 center punch with Eichel, William Karlsson, and Chandler Stephenson. But the fourth-line center will have to be won over by the likes of Roy, Nolan Patrick, Michael Amadio, Brett Howden, and company.
Based on the words of Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer, Roy is currently the favorite to win the spot.
“Nic Roy has always been a good player. I thought he had a coming-out party last year against Montreal here in the conference finals. He really found another level and our challenge to him over the summer was to come back and start where he left off,” said DeBoer.
Robin Lehner will once again start for the Golden Knights. This marks the tenth game that Lehner has started on the season so far. Backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit has only played one full game against the Dallas Stars over a week ago.
Peter DeBoer stated today that he planned on playing Lehner more often to start the season due to Lehner’s inability to consistently train in the offseason.
“Robin had a summer where he didn’t get a chance to skate a lot. He was coming off of surgeries and an injury and so we had to change our focus to get him games early and get him up to speed. So that is why he has played so much and I think every time we have rolled him out there he has gotten a little bit better,” DeBoer.
This is the second back-to-back in the Golden Knights schedule. Backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit is set to play tomorrow in Detroit.
“I think if I would have mapped out the season I think I would have gotten LB in more often a little earlier here. The plan is to have LB play tomorrow,” added DeBoer.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Lines
Jonathan Marchessault- Nicolas Roy- Reilly Smith
Wiliam Carrier- Chandler Stephenson- Evgenii Dadonov
Keegan Kolesar- Michael Amadio- Mattias Janmark
Brett Howden- Jake Leschyshyn- Jonas Rondbjerg
Nicolas Hague- Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez- Shea Theodore
Brayden McNabb- Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
IR: Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Nolan Patrick, Zach Whitecloud
Projected Montreal Canadiens Lines Per PuckPedia
Tyler Toffoli- Nick Suzuki- Brendan Gallagher
Mike Hoffman- Christian Dvorak- Josh Anderson
Artturi Lehkonen- Jake Evans- Joel Armia
Cedric Paquette- Adam Brooks- Alex Belzile
Ben Chiarot- Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak- David Savard
Alex Romanov- Chris Wideman
Jake Allen/Sam Montenmeault
IR: Shea Weber, Carey Price, Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron, Mathieu Perreault
How to Watch/Listen
TV: AT&T Sportsnet-RM 4:00 pm local
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM