The Vegas Golden Knights (24-15-2) start their four-game road trip Monday night as they take on the Washington Capitals (23-10-9). It’s game one of the four-game eastern road trip so that means three-hour earlier games! See you all at 4 pm.
Chandler Stephenson will make his glorious return to Capital One Arena for the first time since being traded to the Golden Knights. Stephenson was traded to the Golden Knights in December of 2019 for a fifth-round pick and has since become a borderline superstar for the Golden Knights. He leads the team in points with 38 points in 40 games.
Both teams could also welcome back a substantial amount of players to their lineup as they come off both injured reserve and COVID-19 protocols. For the Golden Knights all of Laurent Brossoit, Max Pacioretty, Alec Martinez, Nicolas Hague, and Zach Whitecloud could return. I don’t expect Pacioretty to be ready just yet, but from the looks of practices, everyone else is fair game.
The Capitals, who have just recently welcomed back Nicklas Backstrom, will also be getting back John Carlson from COVID-19 protocols and Dmitry Orlov from his two-game suspension. This year’s Capitals team is once again a strong one as they sit third in the Metropolitan Division Standings. Alex Ovechkin unsurprisingly leads the team in scoring with 58 points in 42 games.
This is also game one of a back-to-back for the Golden Knights as they play the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday. Robin Lehner is expected to start tonight meaning we could see Brossoit or Logan Thompson tomorrow. Vitek Vanecek will start his fourth-straight game for the Capitals.
Keys to the Game
Show The Caps They Made A Huge Mistake In Trading Stephenson
Chandler Stephenson has played 132 games since he last stepped foot at Capital One Arena. Due to reorganized divisions, COVID-19, and simply the fact that the Golden Knights and Capitals play in two separate divisions in two separate conferences, Stephenson is finally making his return three calendar years later.
“It just kind of feels a little different. It has been a while. I think that is what feels so different about it is that it has been so long. It is good to see some of the training staff at the rink today, some familiar faces, and catch up,” said Stephenson.
Despite the fact that Stephenson has a Stanley Cup from his time in Washington, his time with the Golden Knights has been much more successful. He has 95 points in 132 career games with the Golden Knights which accounts for about a sixty-point pace over an 82-game schedule. He has scored the first goal in both of the VGK’s last games and he will look to do the same against his former team Monday night.
Utilize Returning Players
We won’t know until warmups Peter DeBoer’s exact line combinations for the Golden Knigts. But what we do know is that all of Brossoit, Pacioretty, Martinez, Hague, and Whitecloud could return. If the Golden Knights are able to get back some of these players this will serve as a great boost to the team overall.
Defensively speaking, adding Hague and Martinez would allow the Golden Knights top-four defenseman to reforge and the left side of the defense to become fully healthy. The Golden Knights overall are first in the league in blocking shots. Adding Martinez, Hague, and Whitecloud would only make things even better.
Guard him. There- that’s my key to the game.
In all seriousness, it always amazes me how defenses in the NHL continue to leave Alex Ovechkin, who very well could become the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, wide open to fire his patented slap shot from the left circle. What also surprises me is that the Capitals’ powerplay has struggled as of late and they are tied for 30th in the league.
Still, it can not be empathized more on how important playing solid defense against Ovechkin and the Capitals can be. IF the Golden Knights do get back Whitecloud, Martinez, and Hague, this would be a perfect game for a return.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Line Combinations
William Carrier- Chandler Stephenson- Evgenii Dadonov
Mattias Janmark- William Karlsson– Jonathan Marchessault
Jonas Rondbjerg- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Brett Howden- Nolan Patrick- Michael Amadio
Nicolas Hague- Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Shea Theodore
Ben Hutton- Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
21.90% Powerplay (12th) and 77.48% Penalty Kill (22nd)
PP1: Roy, Karlsson, Janmark, Marchessault, Theodore
PP2: Stephenson, Dadonov, Patrick, Coghlan, Pietrangelo
PK1: Karlsson, Kolesar, McNabb, Pietrangelo
PK2: Stephenson, Janmark, Hutton, Hague
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches/Taxi Squad
Jack Eichel (neck), Max Pacioretty (wrist), Alec Martinez (face), Zach Whitecloud (back), Mark Stone (COVID), Reilly Smith (COVID), Jake Leschyshyn (scratched), Daniil Miromanov (scratched)
Projected Washington Capitals Line Combinations
Alex Ovechkin- Nicklas Backstrom- Conor Sheary
Connor McMichael- Evgeny Kuznetsov- Tom Wilson
Aliaksei Protas- Lars Eller- Brett Leason
Carl Hagelin- Nic Dowd- Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary- John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov- Justin Schultz
Michael Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Vitek Vanecek/Ilya Samsonov
Washington Capitals Special Teams
14.75% Powerplay (T-30th) and 80% Penalty Kill (15th)
PP1- Wilson, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Ovechkin, Schultz
PP2- Sheary, Protas, Eller, Ovechkin, Fehervary
PK1- Dowd, Hagelin, Fehevary, van Riemsdyk
PK2- Eller, Wilson, Kempny, Irwin
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches
Anthony Mantha, TJ Oshie, Nick Jensen
How to Watch/Listen
4:00 pm on NHL Network and Fox Sports 98.9 FM Radio