The Vegas Golden Knights (29-19-4) are in dire need of a win Saturday night as they play the best in the west Colorado Avalanche (38-10-4) at 7:00 pm inside T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights are coming off of a frustrating loss Friday night where they lost to the basement-dwelling Arizona Coyotes 3-1.
Lineup-wise things are up in the air for the VGK. Given that this game is the second of a back-to-back the team did not hold a morning skate Saturday. Both Max Pacioretty and Mattias Janmark left Friday night’s game against the Coyotes and did not return. Robin Lehner has also been placed on IR.
For the projected lines below I am ruling out both Pacioretty and Janmark for Saturday night’s game. Jake Leschyshyn was recalled from the Henderson Silver Knights Thursday and will likely play. There is also a good chance that Jonathan Marchessault will return after missing a game with the flu.
Laurent Brossoit got the start against the Coyotes Friday night and with this game being a back-to-back Logan Thompson could be getting the nod against the Avalanche. If he does start, it will be a huge test for the rookie goaltender who has only seen three games of NHL experience to this point.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche are coming off a remarkable come-from-behind victory Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets. They trailed 3-0 and then came back to win the game 6-3 with captain Gabriel Landeskog scoring a hat-trick. With 80 points on the season, Avalanche are showing the Golden Knights what a true contender looks like.
Keys to the Game
You Call This a Contender?
With one win in their last five games and one win since Jack Eichel has joined the team, the so-called “Stanley Cup Contending” Vegas Golden Knights simply need to be better in every facet. There is still a good chunk of the regular season left, yes, but the team is becoming in danger of missing the playoffs.
They have seen two Pacific Division teams pass them in the standings in their current slump. Friday night the Los Angeles Kings joined the Calgary Flames in passing the Golden Knights in the standings.
The Golden Knights need to watch and learn from the Colorado Avalanche, who on paper, have fewer superstars than the Golden Knights, but are having a much better season.
Everyone Needs to Be Better
There is no clear-cut scapegoat for the Golden Knight’s recent issues. But the biggest one has been their inability to put the puck in the back of the net. Everyone seems to be in a bit of a scoring drought with Evgenii Dadonov,
William Karlsson is a player in particular who I look at that needs to be better.
500 Wins or the Hot Seat?
A lot is riding on Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer Saturday night. If he wins, he becomes one of just 28 head coaches in NHL history to win 500 games. If he loses, then we may have to start discussing whether or not he is on the hot seat to be fired by the Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights are no stranger to prematurely firing head coaches when they believe that the results aren’t there. The only other coach in franchise history, Gerard Gallant, can tell you all about it. With a team that possesses the superstars that it does, being on the playoff bubble near the trade deadline is simply not good enough.
It’s hard to believe that upper management would fire DeBoer just six games into Jack Eichel’s career as a Golden Knights. But with each and every loss and with other teams passing them in the standings, there much be something that Kelly McCrimmon and co. can do, and that just might be firing DeBoer.
It is do or die time for the Vegas Golden Knights. They need a big win against a tough opponent.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Line Combinations
Chandler Stephenson- Jack Eichel- Evgenii Dadonov
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith
William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Michael Amadio
Jonas Rondbjerg- Brett Howden- Keegan Kolesar
Ben Hutton- Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague- Zach Whitecloud
Laurent Brossoit/Logan Thompson
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
18.80% Powerplay (21st) and 79.86% Penalty Kill (16th)
PP1: Kolesar, Dadonov, Stephenson, Eichel, Theodore
PP2: Roy, Smith, Karlsson, Marchessault, Pietrangelo
PK1: Karlsson, Smith, McNabb, Pietrangelo
PK2: Roy, Kolesar, Hague, Whitecloud
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches/Taxi Squad
Mark Stone (back), Robin Lehner (upper-body), Alec Martinez (face), Nolan Patrick (head), Max Pacioretty (unknown), Mattias Janmark (unknown), Dylan Coghlan (scratched)
Projected Colorado Avalanche Line Combinations
Andre Burakovsky- Nathan Mackinnon- Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog- Nazem Kadri- Valeri Nichushkin
Logan O’Connor- Alex Newhook- JT Compher
Darren Helm- Tyson Jost- Kuris MacDermid
Devon Toews- Cale Makar
Jack Johnson- Sam Girard
Ryan Murray- Erik Johnson
Darcy Kuemper/Pavel Francouz
Colorado Avalanche Special Teams
22.87% Powerplay (10th) and 77.27% Penalty Kill (21st)
PP1- Landeskog, Kadri, Rantanen, Mackinnon, Makar
PP2- Nichushkin, Newhook, Burakovsky, Girard, Toews
PK1- Kadri, Compher, Toews, J. Johnson
PK2- Jost, O’Connor, Murray, Makar
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches
Bowen Byram, Stefan Matteau
How to Watch/Listen
7:00 pm on At&t Sportsnet, ESPN+ and Fox Sports 98.9 FM Radio.