Now back in the playoffs after missing last season, the Vegas Golden Knights will play the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The series will start on Tuesday, April 18, at T-Mobile Arena at 6:30 p.m. in Las Vegas.
Here's a comprehensive bullet-point style preview of the series.
Vegas Golden Knights 2022-23 Record: 51-22-9, 111 points, first in the Pacific Division.
Winnipeg Jets 2022-23 Record: 46-33-3, 95 points, second Wild Card spot.
- 4/18- Game 1- T-Mobile Arena, 6:30 p.m.
- 4/20- Game 2- T-Mobile Arena, 7:00 p.m.
- 4/22- Game 3- Canada Life Center, 1:00 p.m.
- 4/24- Game 4- Canada Life Center, 6:30 p.m.
- 4/27- Game 5 (If Needed)- T-Mobile Arena, Time TBA.
- 4/29- Game 6 (If Needed)- Canada Life Center, Time TBA.
- 5/1- Game 7 (If Needed)- T-Mobile Arena, Time TBA.
Head To Head
All-Time Matchup (Regular Season): WPG 8-6-0, VGK 6-6-2
2022-23 Season Series: 10/20 5-2 VGK W, 10/30 2-1 VGK W (OT), 12/13 VGK 6-5 W.
Previous Playoff History: The Golden Knights defeated the Jets in five games in the 2018 Western Conference Final.
Jets Expected Lines
Kyle Connor- Pierre-Luc Dubois- Mark Scheifele
Nikolaj Ehlers- Vladislav Namestnikov- Blake Wheeler
Nino Neiderreiter- Adam Lowry- Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron- Kevin Stenlund- Saku Maenalanen
Josh Morrissey- Dylan DeMelo
Brendon Dillon- Neal Pionk
Dylan Samberg- Nate Schmidt
Connor Hellebuyck/David Rittich
Cole Perfetti, Sam Gagner/David Gustafsson, Karson Kuhlman, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Logan Stanley, Kyle Capobianco.
Notes: The Jets have found a good mix with Mark Scheifele now playing right wing on the top line with Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Their second line has found some chemistry with Vladislav Namestnikov coming over the deadline. Rookie Cole Perfetti and veteran Sam Gagner are injured.
Golden Knights Expected Lines
Ivan Barbashev- Jack Eichel- Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith- William Karlsson- Phil Kessel
Michael Amadio- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone (c)
Brett Howden- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez- Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague- Zach Whitecloud
Laurent Brossoit/Jonathan Quick
Robin Lehner, Nolan Patrick/Will Carrier, Adin Hill, Logan Thompson/Teddy Blueger, Paul Cotter, Pavel Dorofeyev, Brayden Pachal
Notes: The Golden Knights have shuffled their line combinations with both Zach Whitecloud and Mark Stone potentially returning for game one of the playoffs. Whitecloud has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury. Stone has been out since January, recovering from back surgery.
Will Carrier, Logan Thompson, and Adin Hill are all not expected for game one. Robin Lehner and Nolan Patrick will not play this season.
Players To Watch
Mark Stone: The Golden Knights are hoping to get their captain back after not having him play half of the season for the second straight year. Even as he deals with his back issues, he's arguably the best player on the team as a two-way forward and takeaway machine.
Connor Hellebuyck: Arguably the Jets' best player, Connor Hellebuyck is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL and looks like a Vezina candidate yet again this season. The Golden Knights have had trouble getting by hot goaltenders in the playoffs in the past, and Hellebuyck will be a big test (literally).
Jack Eichel: For the first time in his NHL career, Jack Eichel will play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Centering the VGK's top line, he will look to make an impact in an event that he, unfortunately, had never gotten to experience up until this season.
Josh Morrissey: AKA Josh Norris-sey, the defenseman is the key to the Jets blue line as he scored 76 points in 78 games this season. If not for Erik Karlsson, he would likely be a favorite for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.
Laurent Brossoit: All signs are pointing towards Laurent Brossoit getting the start in goal for the VGK in game one of the playoffs. He will fittingly play not only against his former team but across the ice from his former goalie partner, Connor Hellebuyck, for extra motivation.
Nate Schmidt: Speaking of players facing off against their former teams, original VGK expansion draft pick, Nate Schmidt will get to do so now. Now 31 years old, Schmidt's offensive days are likely behind him, as he scored just 19 points this season. But he's still a serviceable bottom-pairing D-man.
The Golden Knights Will Win If: They play well with their structured unit of the six defensemen that they typically use. This core which features the NHL's shot-blocking leader, Alec Martinez, unsurprisingly led the league in blocked shots this season. This allows a much easier workload for whichever goaltender is in the net, which will likely be Laurent Brossoit.
While the Jets have Josh Morrissey, the Golden Knights have a far more complete unit of defensemen.
The Jets Will Win If: Connor Hellebuyck steals the series, which he is more than capable of doing. He's one of the best goaltenders in the league, and with the Jets not having as deep of a lineup as the VGK on offense and on defense, their goaltending needs to come up big.
There's no question that Hellebuyck is the best goalie in this series.
Vegas Hockey Now's Prediction: Golden Knights win in six games.