It’s do-or-die time for the Vegas Golden Knights (30-21-4, 64 points) who have lost six of their last eight games. Tonight they take on the Anaheim Ducks (26-21-9, 61 points) in what feels like a must-win game. The Golden Knights have struggled in almost every facet as of late. Scoring, defense, goaltending, the powerplay, and scoring insurance goals have all cost them games.
Jack Eichel has only ever defeated the San Jose Sharks as a member of the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights only have two wins since captain Mark Stone was placed on LTIR.
Thursday night the Edmonton Oilers were the latest team to pass the Golden Knights in the standings. The VGK now sit in a Wild Card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoff picture behind the Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, and Calgary Flames.
The Ducks are threatening to pass the Golden Knights in the standing as well just three points behind them. They have fallen off a bit from the way that they were playing in the early portions of the season but still remain as a solid hard-to-beat team. Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras sit atop the team lead in points with Terry having 46 points in 51 games and Zegras having 41 in 50.
Brayden McNabb is the latest Golden Knight to be injured. He appeared to injure his hand against the Bruins and according to DeBoer will have pictures taken of the injury. If he does not end up playing Friday night then the Golden Knights will officially have zero players play a full 82-game schedule this season and there are still two months to go.
Outside of McNabb possibly not playing, Laurent Brossoit is expected to start with this game being the second of a back-to-back. Jake Leschyshyn has also been recalled. What else is new?
Keys to the Game
Don’t Get Frustrated
Every team goes through its ups and downs in a season and the Golden Knights are currently at a low point. They have struggled to score with just fifteen goals in their last eight games. Evgenii Dadonov, Nicolas Roy, and Shea Theodore’s goal droughts have all hit double-digit marks in games.
At times like these, it is easy for frustration to kick in and the Golden Knights to get frustrated with themselves. But playing a simple game and not overreacting could perhaps be the best course of action for Friday night’s strategy against the Ducks.
Try Something New
Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer made it clear in Thursday night’s postgame presser that he needs more out of some of his guys in the lineup.
“When you’ve got Pacioretty and Stone out of the lineup you can’t have multiple guys going through double-digit games without chipping in a goal,” said DeBoer.
Perhaps DeBoer could opt for some shakeups with his line combinations. We have seen him make some desperation moves in the past such as double-shifting William Karlsson, and playing Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo together. Maybe Friday night is the game in which DeBoer will truly shuffle his lines.
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
Shea Theodore- Zach Whitecloud
Nicolas Hague- Dylan Coghlan
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
18.12% Powerplay (22nd) and 80.27% 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), Brayden McNabb (hand), Max Pacioretty (unknown), Mattias Janmark (unknown)
Projected Anaheim Ducks Line Combinations
Adam Henrique- Ryan Getzlaf- Troy Terry
Sonny Milano- Trevor Zegras- Rickard Rakell
Sam Steel- Isac Lundestrom- Jakob Silfverberg
Nicolas Deslauriers- Sam Carrick- Derek Grant
Hampus Lindholm- Jamie Drysdale
Brendan Guhle- Cam Fowler
Simon Benoit- Kevin Shattenkirk
John Gibson/Anthony Stolarz
Anaheim Ducks Special Teams
25.16% Powerplay (5th) and 82.28% Penalty Kill (9th)
PP1- Rakell, Getzlaf, Milano, Drysdale, Zegras
PP2- Silfverberg, Henrique, Terry, Fowler, Shattenkirk
PK1- Lundestrom, Silfverberg, Lindholm, Fowler
PK2- Grant, Deslauriers, Benoit, Shattenkirk
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches
Max Jones, Josh Manson
How to Watch/Listen
7:00 pm on At&t Sportsnet, ESPN, and Fox Sports 98.9 FM Radio.