Since their last mini-series against the Seattle Kraken the Vegas Golden Knights (38-28-4, 80 points) have traveled up Interstate 5 to British Colombia as they will play the Vancouver Canucks (32-28-9, 73 points) thrice in a matter of nine days.
The Canucks are in desperation mode to make the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and essentially have to win every game against the Golden Knights to even have a shot at making it to the dance. The Golden Knights find themselves once again out of the playoffs as the Dallas Stars won again Saturday night.
I used yesterday’s off-day to do a full analysis of the Western Conference Playoff Picture and what the Golden Knights have to do/rely on from other teams to make their fifth-straight playoff appearance.
In summary, they lead the league in games played meaning they must win as many games as they can in the stretch run, especially against teams that are in the hunt with them like the Canucks.
In terms of lineup changes, none are expected for the Golden Knights. Pavel Doroefeyev is set to play in his third carer NHL game and Logan Thompson will get the start, assuming Peter DeBoer will ride the hot goaltender.
Keys to the Game
Get To Know This Team
Similar to the mini-series we just saw against the Seattle Kraken, the Golden Knights will play the Canucks a lot over the next nine days. However, unlike the Kraken the Golden Knights and Canucks have had four years of history before this point. Nonetheless, getting to know this team, the way they play, and their tendencies will be key to ensuring victory over them.
The Canucks are in a position, with 73 points, where they could technically make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Golden Knights are one of the teams that the Canucks are chasing. If the VGK can sweep the remaining three games against the Canucks it would go on to destroy their chances of making the playoffs. Some extra motivation for the Golden Knights for sure.
Ride the Hot Goalie
Lastly, don’t be surprised when Peter DeBoer calls on Logan Thompson to make his tenth straight start Sunday. He has been the best goalie for the VGK over the last handful of games with both Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit on the mend. He has won four-straight games which included his first-career NHL shutout and he currently has a save percentage of .921%.
It is highly unlikely that Thompson has taken over the starting role for the Golden Knights. But his recent emergence has allowed the VGK to be competitive in games and stay in the playoff hunt. LT’s play has given starting goaltender Robin Lehner more time to recover from his injury and ease his way back into the lineup. What this means for Laurent Brossoit is another thing.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Line Combinations
Evgenii Dadonov- Jack Eichel- Chandler Stephenson
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Michael Amadio
Mattias Janmark- Nicolas Roy- Jonas Rondbjerg
Pavel Dorofeyev- Jake Leschyshyn- Dylan Coghlan*
Ben Hutton- Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Shea Theodore
Alec Martinez- Zach Whitecloud
Logan Thompson/Robin Lehner
Vegas Golden Knights Special Teams
18.68% Powerplay (24th) and 78.92% Penalty Kill (17th)
PP1: Dadonov, Stephenson, Marchessault, Theodore, Eichel
PP2: Janmark, Karlsson, Roy, Coghlan, Pietrangelo
PK1: Karlsson, Janmark, Hutton, Pietrangelo
PK2: Stephenson, Roy, Martinez, Whitecloud
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches/Taxi Squad
Mark Stone (back), Max Pacioretty (undisclosed), Reilly Smith (knee), Laurent Brossoit (undisclosed), Nicolas Hague (lower-body), Brett Howden (upper-body), William Carrier (lower-body), Nolan Patrick (undisclosed), Keegan Kolesar (upper-body).
Projected Vancouver Canucks Line Combinations
Tanner Pearson- JT Miller- Conor Garland
Elias Pettersson- Bo Horvat- Brock Boeser
Juho Lammikko- Jason Dickinson- Alex Chiasson
Vasily Podkolzin- Brad Richardson- Will Lockwood
Oliver Ekman-Larsson- Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes- Luke Schenn
Travis Dermott- Tucker Poolman
Thatcher Demko/Jaroslav Halak
Vancouver Canucks Special Teams
21.53% Powerplay (15th) and 72.40% Penalty Kill (31st)
PP1- Boeser, Horvat, Miller, Hughes, Pettersson
PP2- Chiasson, Podkolzin, Pearson, Ekman-Larsson, Garland
PK1- Richardson, Lammikko, Dermott, Myers
PK2- Richardson, Pettersson, Schenn, Poolman
Injured Reserve/COVID-19 Protocols/Scratches
Brandon Sutter, Kyle Burroughs, Jason Dickinson, Nils Hoglander, Matthew Highmore
How to Watch/Listen
4:00 pm on At&t Sportsnet, ESPN+, and Fox Sports 98.9 FM Radio.