Ladies and Gentlemen we have reached the halfway point in the Vegas Golden Knights 2021-22 schedule. Tonight in a rematch of last year’s Conference Finals, the Golden Knights take on the Montreal Canadiens at 7:00 pm at T-Mobile Arena. The team will be without captain Mark Stone, who has been placed in COVID-19 protocols.
During Thursday’s morning skate, the Golden Knights had a plethora of injury updates. Jonathan Marchessault and Brayden McNabb returned after having maintenance days Wednesday. Assistant coach Ryan McGill has been removed from COVID-19 protocols. Stone and Nicolas Hague are now in COVID-19 protocols.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of practice was the return of both Alec Martinez and Max Pacioretty who both wore regular contact jerseys. Pacioretty and Martinez are not expected to play tonight, but they both will travel with the Golden Knights on their upcoming four-game road trip.
“I am hopeful that sometime on the road trip that we are going on that we might have a chance to get ’em back,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.
Also, one thing I want to mention before we get into the keys of the game is that the Golden Knights will once again be wearing their gold jerseys tonight. I am not one for conspiracy theories but with each game the team wears the gold jerseys at home, I am buying more and more into the idea that they will become the new home jerseys for the team. The confirmed “coming soon” new third jerseys will take the gold jerseys spot.
Keys to the Game
Strike First- Strike Hard- No Mercy
Cobra Kai’s famous catchphrase serves as a perfect strategy on how the Golden Knights can beat the Montreal Canadiens tonight. The Canadiens are having a historically bad season, which is saying something given the franchise has been around for over 100 years. The team has just eight wins on the season and is the only team in the NHL that doesn’t even have double-digit wins.
‘Striking first’ and scoring the first goal will be critical to getting the best of the Canadiens tonight. But as we saw against the Pittsburgh Penguins, even a three-goal lead is not safe. That is why the Golden Knights need to show ‘no mercy’ and continue to pummel the Canadiens all game. Put up nine if you have to. At the end of this massive homestand, which has not the Golden Knights need to give the fans at T-Mobile Arena something to celebrate.
Beware of the Trap Game
It is easier said than done to put up nine goals like the Florida Panthers and completely obliterate teams. For the Golden Knights even though they are expecting a win, they realize this game is a trap game. As mentioned before the Canadiens have only beaten eight teams in regulation this season. However, the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, and Pittsburgh Penguins are some of the teams that they have beaten.
This may not be the same team the Golden Knights lost to in the Conference Finals last season, but they still have weapons like Tyler Toffoli, Christan Dvorak, and Mike Hoffman.
An area in which the Golden Knights have been lacking a bit over the past couple of games has been boxing out players in front of the net. We even saw Jason Zucker score a controversial goal Monday night after a mad scramble in front of Robin Lehner. DeBoer has upped the physical drills in Golden Knights in practices this week as a result of this.
“You gotta bear down in front of the net. You are gonna be battling small and big guys and battling against some strong guys. But at the same time, you can only score if you have your stick, so if you take their stick away and get under their stick after that you can just use your strength and battle away,” said Golden Knights defenseman Ben Hutton.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Line Combinations
Mattias Janmark- Chandler Stephenson- Evgenii Dadonov
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson– Reilly Smith
William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Nolan Patrick- Brett Howden- Michael Amadio
Brayden McNabb- Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore- Zach Whitecloud
Ben Hutton- Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner/Dylan Ferguson
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
20.59% Powerplay (13th) and 77.78% Penalty Kill (24th)
PP1: Roy, Karlsson, Smith, Marchessault, Pietrangelo
PP2: Stephenson, Dadonov, Kolesar, Theodore, Whitecloud
PK1: Karlsson, Smith, McNabb, Pietrangelo
PK2: Stephenson, Janmark, Hutton, Whitecloud
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches/Taxi Squad
Jack Eichel (neck), Max Pacioretty (wrist), Alec Martinez (face), Nicolas Hague (wrist/COVID), Laurent Brossoit (unknown), Logan Thompson (COVID), Steve Spott (COVID), Mark Stone (COVID), Daniil Miromanov (scratched), Jake Leschyshyn (scratched).
Projected Montreal Canadiens Line Combinations
Tyler Toffoli- Nick Suzuki- Jake Evans
Jonathan Drouin- Rem Pitlick- Josh Anderson
Laurent Dauphin- Christian Dvorak- Mike Hoffman
Michael Pezzetta- Ryan Poehling- Artturi Lehkonen
Ben Chiarot- David Savard
Kale Clague- Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov- Chris Wideman
Samuel Montembeault/Cayden Primeau
Montreal Canadiens Special Teams
12.17% Powerplay (32nd) and 74.62% Penalty Kill (28th)
PP1: Dvorak, Suzuki, Toffoli, Wideman, Hoffman
PP2: Anderson, Poehling, Pitlick, Petry, Drouin
PK1: Evans, Lehkonen, Chiarot, Savard
PK2: Dvorak, Dauphin, Romanov, Petry
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols
Shea Weber, Carey Price, Paul Byron, Jake Allen, Matthieu Perreault, Joel Edmundson, Brendan Gallagher, Cedric Paquette, Jesse Ylonen (COVID), Cole Caufield (COVID), Joel Armia (COVID)