The Vegas Golden Knights (22-13-1) welcome in two former members of the organization Thursday night as Gerard Galland and Ryan Reaves return to T-Mobile Arena along with the New York Rangers (22-8-4). Gallant was the team’s head coach from year one in 2017 to 2019-20 when he was let go and replaced by current head coach Peter DeBoer. Reaves played four seasons with the Golden Knights and was a fan-favorite in his 209 games with the team.
In terms of lineup changes, it looks like the Golden Knights will be getting both Mark Stone and Robin Lehner back Thursday. Lehner was the first goalie off the ice for the Golden Knights during the morning skate at City National Arena. Stone is listed as a game-time decision. Nicolas Hague made a brief appearance at practice but did not participate in any drills. Laurent Brossoit was absent once more and so was Alex Pietrangelo (likely a maintenance day).
The Vegas Golden Knights will hold Pride Night Thursday as a part of the “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign. They will wear special jerseys during warmups which the Golden Knights have teased on Twitter.
ahhhhh 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8jlbPBZyi7
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 6, 2022
The Rangers have exceeded expectations this season and are currently first in the Metropolitan Division and third in the NHL with 48 points. They are led in scoring by Artemi Panarin, who once again, will not play against the Golden Knights as he is in COVID-19 protocols. Reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox is having another stellar year with 35 points in 34 games played. Igor Shesterkin, who has 15 wins on the season, is expected to start for the Rangers.
Keys to the Game
Set The Tone With Reaves Early
I am sure many Golden Knights fans would love nothing more than to see Ryan Reaves get into a fight against Keegan Kolesar Thursday night or something along those lines. For the Golden Knights, they should know better than any not to mess with Reaves, and aside from the bound-to-happen video tribute during the first TV timeout, the Golden Knights will look to focus on the game itself, not Reaves’ reunion.
A big hit on Reaves from a guy like Brayden McNabb early could set the tone of the game and light a spark under the Golden Knights to get to work offensively. The Golden Knights will know not to play into Reaves’ hands and allow him to get inside his former teammates’ heads.
McNabb says Reaves is a “big boy” said he would have to get lucky to knock him down #VegasBorn
— Owen Krepps (@OKrepps85) January 6, 2022
Play Better in Front of Thy Goalie
Logan Thompson was unable to get his first career win in the National Hockey League Tuesday as the Golden Knights struggled defensively. Whether it was breakout passes, bobbled pucks, lack of communication, or bad passes, the Nashville Predators took advantage and scored three.
Tonight the Golden Knights will welcome back Robin Lehner who has not played since December 19th against the New York Islanders which was three weeks ago. It would be more than ideal for the Golden Knights to play well defensively in front of Lehner to get him back into the rhythm of facing shots naturally rather than giving up multiple offensive chances to the opponent.
Nab the First Win of 2022
This may sound like a bad dad joke but- the Vegas Golden Knights have not won a game this year. Nobody should be counting wins and losses this early in the calendar year though as the team is still having a dominant season coming off their strong December. They have yet to win a game not only in 2022 but on their now extended eight-game homestand.
The Golden Knights will be fine, but it is about time the team grabs a win this year as the Anaheim Ducks are looking to be for real this season and only sit behind the Golden Knights by two points.
PROJECTED VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS LINE COMBINATIONS
Evgenii Dadonov- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
William Carrier- Nolan Patrick- Michael Amadio
Ben Hutton- Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore– Zach Whitecloud
Brayden McNabb- Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner/Logan Thompson
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
Special Teams: 18.48% Powerplay (20th) and 77% Penalty Kill (24th)
PP1: Roy, Karlsson, Smith, Marchessault, Theodore
PP2: Stone, Stephenson, Dadonov, Pietrangelo, Coghlan
PK1: Stephenson, Janmark, McNabb, Whitecloud
PK2: Karlsson, Smith, Hutton, Pietrangelo
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols
Jack Eichel, Jake Bischoff, Alec Martinez, Max Pacioretty, Laurent Brossoit, Nicolas Hague
Adam Brooks, Brett Howden
Projected New York Rangers Line Combinations
Chris Kreider- Mika Zibanejad- Kaapo Kakko
Alexis Lafreniere- Ryan Strome- Barclay Goodrow
Dryden Hunt- Filip Chytil- Julien Gauthier
Kevin Rooney- Greg McKegg- Ryan Reaves
Ryan Lindgren- Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller- Jacob Trouba
Libor Hajek- Zac Jones
Igor Shesterkin/Alexander Georgiev
New York Rangers Special Teams
25% Powerplay (7th) and 84.85% % Penalty Kill (4th)
PP1: Kreider, Strome, Kakko, Zibanejad, Fox
PP2: Goodrow, Chytil, Lafreniere, Jones, Trouba
PK1: Zibanejad, Kreider, Miller, Trouba
PK2: McKegg, Strome, Lindgren, Fox
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols
Sammy Blais, Artemi Panarin