The Months of March is action-packed for the Vegas Golden Knights (30-20-4, 64 points) who will play 16 games in 31 days. The Golden Knights start a back-to-back series Thursday night against the Boston Bruins (32-18-4, 68 points). The VGK are entering a run where they play six games in nine days.
The Bruins, like always, are having a strong season. It may not be the strongest of seasons as they sit in a Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference, but the Bruins are looking to be a playoff team once again.
David Patrnak and Brad Marchand are tied for the team lead in points with 54, although Marchand has this amount in 11 less games that Pastrnak. The Bruins offensive depth is strong with guys like Charlie Coyle, Craig Smith, and former Golden Knight Erik Haula chipping in offensively.
Thursday night will also mark the return of former Golden Knight Tomas Nosek. As an original Golden Knight, Nosek is returning to T-Mobile Arena for the first time since leaving the VGK organization. Expect a small video tribute of some sorts to play after he hits the ice.
For the Golden Knights, no lineup changes are expected. Mattias Janmark, Max Pacioretty, Nolan Patrick, Mark Stone, and Alec Martinez all remain out. Lehner will likely make his second-consecutive start with Laurent Brossoit likely getting the start against the Anahiem Ducks Friday night.
Keys to the Game
Get the Powerplay Going
The Vegas Golden Knights powerplay has not scored a goal in it’s last 31 attempts. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is bad. Like the drought at the beginning of the season, the Golden Knights struggle to score is mostly a result of the team not having it’s big guns on the PP.
But just because Pacioretty and Stone are not available to shoot the puck doesn’t mean the VGK should stop shooting. Look for the Golden Knights powerplay to be a story Thursday night against the Big Bad Bruins.
Thursday night’s game will start an hour earlier and usual with the Golden Knights playing an Eastern Conference team. The Golden Knights should simply look at this as an opportunity to score goals an hour earlier. The VGK have scored the first goal in five straight games.
Though they have gone just 2-3 in these meetings the first goal is still vastly crucial to winning in the NHL. If the Golden Knights can not only score the first goal Thursday night but back it up with an insurance goal or two, they will put themselves in a position to win against the Bruins.
Find that Chemistry
We have seen the Misfit Line of Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson completely take over games since the trio reunited after Marchessault had the flu. But the Golden Knights are still looking for chemistry to form on some of their other lines.
Unfortunaly for head coach Peter DeBoer he cannot simulate the five-years of playing together that the Misfits have had for his other three lines. With four wingers currently out of the lineup, Chandler Stephenson is playing wing and Jonas Rondbjerg is up from Henderson.
The Golden Knights need one of their other lines to pick up the slack and start scoring at five-on-five. In particular the first line of Stephenson, Jack Eichel, and Evgenii Dadonov. This line has had it’s chances but for a win against the Bruins Thursday night they Golden Knights will likely need a goal out of line no. 1.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Line Combinations
Evgenii Dadonov- Jack Eichel- Chandler Stephenson
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
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
18.38% Powerplay (22nd) and 80.14% Penalty Kill (14th)
PP1: Kolesar, Dadonov, Stephenson, Eichel, Theodore
PP2: Roy, Smith, Karlsson, Marchessault, Pietrangelo
PK1: Karlsson, Smith, McNabb, Pietrangelo
PK2: Stephenson, Roy, Hague, Whitecloud
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches/Taxi Squad
Mark Stone (back), Alec Martinez (face), Nolan Patrick (head), Max Pacioretty (unknown), Mattias Janmark (unknown), Dylan Coghlan (scratched)
Projected Boston Bruins Line Combinations
Brad Marchand- Patrice Bergeron- Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall- Erik Haula- David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic- Charlie Coyle- Craig Smith
Nick Foligno- Tomas Nosek- Jesper Froden
Mike Reilly- Charlier McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk- Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort- Connor Clifton
Jeremy Swayman/Linus Ullmark
Boston Bruins Special Teams
24.36% Powerplay (7th) and 81.61% Penalty Kill (10th)
PP1- Marchand, Bergeron, Hall, Pastrnak, McAvoy
PP2- Coyle, Haula, Smith, DeBrusk, Grzelcyk
PK1- Bergeron, Marchand, Forbort, Carlo
PK2- Coyle, Nosek, Reilly, McAvoy
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches
Jakub Zboril, Curtis Lazar
How to Watch/Listen
6:00 pm on At&t Sportsnet, ESPN, and Fox Sports 98.9 FM Radio.