At long last, the Vegas Golden Knights play a hockey game today. The Golden Knights (23-14-2) will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (22-10-5) Monday night at T-Mobile Arena in what could be a potential Stanley Cup Final.
With the six-day break in hand, the Golden Knights have used it to their benefit and will be welcoming back a handful of players Monday night. Expect William Carrier and Laurent Brossoit to return from minor injuries and Nicolas Roy, Nolan Patrick, and Shea Theodore to return from COVID-19 protocols.
Elsewhere on the Golden Knight’s injury front Jack Eichel is still skating, and defenseman Alec Martinez is set to return. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley confirmed that had it not been for Martinez getting COVID-19, he would have returned to the Golden Knights by now. Martinez has missed the last 25 games after he took a skate to the face back in November.
DeBoer says there were no positive tests today. Nobody new is entering protocols today #VegasBorn
— Owen Krepps (@OKrepps85) January 17, 2022
For the Penguins, they could be welcoming back two key players in Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust. The Penguins, like the Golden Knights, have had an injury-ridden season and just welcomed back three-time Stanley Cup Champion Evgeni Malkin into their lineup. In the crowded Metropolitan Division, the Penguins sit fourth and Jake Guentzel leads the team in scoring with 37 points in 31 games.
Keys To The Game
Establish A Solid Forecheck
One of the biggest keys to the success for the Golden Knights in any game they play is their forecheck. Whether it is the Misfit Line, the first line with Mark Stone, or the bottom-six, the Golden Knights have had one of the best forechecks in the league since the team’s inception.
Our forecheck is one of the better ones in the league. I feel like it’s one thing we talked about this morning was to get on the forecheck hard. I don’t think anybody can compete with our forecheck when we are playing our best hockey,” said Golden Knights defenseman Dylan Coghlan.
Look for the Golden Knights to get pucks behind the Penguins defenseman from the very get-go Monday night.
Integrate Returning Players Back Into The Lineup
If nothing changes it is very likely the Golden Knights will welcome back a total of five players into their lineup Monday night. Brossoit, Carrier, Roy, Patrick, and Theodore. Adding all of these rosters players back into the lineup all at once can serve as a huge boost to the team, especially to one player in particular.
In the Golden Knight’s last game before their six-day break defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo played 32 minutes and 55 seconds of ice time against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a career-high. Not only this but Petro played on his off side of left-D with Theodore, Martinez, and Nicolas Hague all out.
“I’m not too bad now but I am sure tomorrow when I pick up my kids I will feel something in the back of my hamstrings,” Pietrangelo said after last Tuesday’s game against the Maple Leafs.
With Theodore and many others back, the Golden Knights will look to go back to their normal ways with every player playing a specific role and nobody being out of position.
Pick Up Where You Left Off
A bit of a misleading title as the Golden Knight’s last game ended in a shootout loss, but still, the Golden Knights need to get back into the rhythm of things Monday night. While a five-day break from games can do a great deal with resting up players and recovering from injuries. But at the same time, there is the risk of starting the game slow and unprepared.
“Pittsburgh is a very good first-period team and we are coming out a break. We have looked around the league and there are a lot of teams stumbling coming out of these breaks and we want to be the exception. For me, that is in the first ten minutes. Not beating ourselves, not turning pucks over, not taking penalties, getting our legs under us, and getting our game back,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.
The Golden Knights will need to come out the gate, score the first goal, and establish the forecheck right from the start of the game to ensure the best chance of winning.
“We’re ready. Obviously, we had five days off, so the legs are ready, the guys are excited to play. It should be exciting,” said Coghlan.
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- Brett Howden- Nolan Patrick
Ben Hutton- Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore- Zach Whitecloud
Brayden McNabb- Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
20% Powerplay (14th) and 78.10% Penalty Kill (20th)
PP1: Roy, Karlsson, Smith, Marchessault, Pietrangelo
PP2: Kolesar, Stephenson, Dadonov, Stone, Theodore
PK1: Stephenson, Janmark, McNabb, Whitecloud
PK2: Karlsson, Smith, Hutton, Pietrangelo
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches/Taxi Squad
Jack Eichel (neck), Max Pacioretty (wrist), Alec Martinez (face/COVID), Nicolas Hague (wrist), Michael Amadio (scratched)
Projected Pittsburgh Penguins Line Combinations
Jake Guentzel- Sidney Crosby- Bryan Rust
Jeff Carter- Evgeni Malkin- Evan Rodrigues
Jason Zucker- Brian Boyle- Kasperi Kapanen
Dominik Simon- Teddy Blueger- Brock McGinn
Brian Dumoulin- Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson- John Marino
Mike Matheson- Chad Ruhwedel
Tristan Jarry/Louis Domingue
Pittsburgh Penguins Special Teams
17.65% Powerplay (22nd) and 90.32% Penalty Kill (2nd)
PP1: Rust, Crosby, Guentzel, Malkin, Letang
PP2: Zucker, Carter, Rodrigues, Matheson, Marino
PK1: Blueger, Carter, Dumoulin, Marino
PK2: Boyle, McGinn, Ruhwedel, Letang
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols
Jason Zucker (game-time-decision), Casey DeSmith (COVID), Danton Heinen (COVID), Zach-Aston Reese (COVID), Radim Zohorna (scratched), Drew O’Connor (scratched), Mark Friedman (scratched), Kasper Bjorkqvist (scratched), Juuso Riikola (Taxi Squad), Anthony Angello (Taxi Squad).