The Vegas Golden Knights (15-11) had their three-game winning streak snapped on Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. The team will look to get back in the win column against a tough team in the Minnesota Wild (19-7-1), who currently sit first in both the Central Division and NHL’s Western Conference. The Wild are 8-1-1 in their last ten games.
The Golden Knights played the Wild fifteen times last season. Eight times in the regular season and in a full seven-game series in which the Golden Knights won.
“There is a bit of a history after last year playing these guys quite a bit. Regardless of what happened last game, I think this would be a game that both teams are going to be ready for,” said Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
Puck drop is scheduled an hour earlier than normal, at 6:00 pm PST, and will be the last game on the Golden Knight’s current four-game homestand at T-Mobile Arena. The team will then set off on a four-game road trip to the east coast before returning home right before Christmas.
One thing that has to be better for the Golden Knights tonight is their special teams. In the past two games, the Golden Knights penalty kill has shot themselves in the foot and given up five goals. That is simply not a recipe for success and something the Golden Knights realize they have to improve on.
The Minnesota Wild, despite being one of the top teams in the league statistically, have relatively had mediocre special teams this season. Their powerplay ranks 21st in the NHL and operates only at 17.44%. They are led in scoring by Kirill Kaprizov who is once again having a stellar season with 32 points in 27 games.
The Wild are also one of the top teams in the NHL in terms of defense with Mathew Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Alex Goligoski, captain Jared Spurgeon, and former Golden Knight Jon Merrill.
“They do a good job. They have added some young players that have taken a real step there. You have Ek, obviously you have Kaprizov, and Greenway on and on. I think that those young guys adding to the veterans that they have there and the steps those young guys have taken in turning them into really good players, they are a deep deep team,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.
The last time these two teams met both Paul Cotter and Jonas Rondbjerg scored their first career NHL goals. The Golden Knights came out on top and won 3-2 however lost Alec Martinez in the process who took a skate to the face. Martinez has been out ever since and tonight will miss his 13th straight game.
Robin Lehner is expected to start for the Golden Knights after Laurent Brossoit played last game.
Chandler Stephenson is expected to return to the Golden Knights lineup after missing Friday night’s game against the Flyers due to personal reasons. Having Stephenson back will certainly help the Golden Knights center depth, which last game employed Keegan Kolesar as their first-line center.
With Stephenson missing the last game, the Golden Knights now only have six players that have played in all 26 games this season. They are Reilly Smith, Alex Pietrangelo, Evgenii Dadonov, Keegan Kolesar, Brayden McNabb, and Nicolas Hague.
Adversity is something that every team deals with and the Golden Knights have dealt with it a lot in the early portions of this season. The team, despite being prime Stanley Cup Contenders on paper, currently sit out of a playoff spot. Tonight against one of the top teams in the league, the Golden Knights will be tested as this game will no doubt be a measuring stick game for the franchise.
PROJECTED VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS LINES
Max Pacioretty- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark– Nicolas Roy- Evgenii Dadonov
William Carrier- Keegan Kolesar- Michael Amadio
Nicolas Hague– Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Zach Whitecloud
Ben Hutton- Shea Theodore
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
Special Teams: 13.85% Powerplay (29th) and 78.38% Penalty Kill (23rd).
PP1: Stone, Stephenson, Dadonov, Theodore, Pacioretty
PP2: Smith, Karlsson, Marchessault, Roy, Pietrangelo
PK1: Stephenson, Smith, McNabb, Pietrangelo
PK2: Roy, Janmark, Hague, Hutton
Jack Eichel, Nolan Patrick, Alec Martinez
PROJECTED MINNESOTA WILD LINES PER PUCKPEDIA
Kirill Kaprizov- Ryan Hartman- Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway- Joel Eriksson Ek- Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime- Victor Rask- Kevin Fiala
Mason Shaw- Nico Strum- Nick Bjugstad
Alex Goligoski- Jared Spurgeon
Jon Merrill- Mathew Dumba
Jordie Benn- Dmitry Kulikov
Cam Talbot/Kaapo Kahkonen
Minnesota Wild Special Teams
17.44% Powerplay (21st) and 82.29% Penalty Kill (12th)
PP1: Zuccarello, Eriksson Ek, Hartman, Spurgeon, Kaprizov
PP2: Foligno, Greenway, Fiala, Dumba, Goligoski
PK1: Eriksson Ek, Foligno, Goligoski, Spurgeon
PK2: Hartman, Greenway, Merrill, Kulikov
Frederick Gaudreau, Jonas Brodin
How to Watch/Listen: 6:00 pm on ESPN+ and Fox Sports 98.9 FM.