The Vegas Golden Knights enter Thursday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens as losers of three out of the last four games. This is the first mini-slump of the year for the Golden Knights, can they bounce back against a Canadiens team that they defeated once earlier in the season?
Betting line: STN Sports has the Golden Knights as -215 favorites with an over/under of six goals. The public is backing the Golden Knights at 73% per Covers.com.
About the Golden Knights (12-3-1, 25 points): The Golden Knights will be one step closer to full health. Nicolas Roy draws back in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 24 after leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. It is never easy for a team to play without 50% of their regular centers. The Golden Knights have also missed Roy on the penalty kill.
Chandler Stephenson and Nicolas Hague remain out for Thursday’s game but both could return during the road trip.
About the Canadiens ( 7-7-2, 16 points): The Canadiens scored a late goal to send the Oct. 30 contest to overtime against the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights went on to win that game in the shootout. The Canadiens enter Thursday’s game as losers of their last two games and are 2-5-1 in their last eight games. Both of their recent wins came via shootout.
Cole Caufield leads the Canadiens with 14 points (5 goals). Former Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki has 13 points (6 goals). Josh Anderson had 21 goals last season, 19 the prior season, and has failed to score in 16 games this season.
Golden Knights to watch: Paul Cotter avoided a hearing from the NHL Department of Player Safety and suspension after his match penalty on Tuesday. Cotter will have energy and will try to impose his will on the game. Michael Amadio is close to having a breakout game. Amadio had five shots in Tuesday’s game against the Capitals, many of which were high-danger scoring chances. When in doubt, give the keys to the car to William Karlsson. Karlsson is having a superb season with 18 points (8 goals) in 16 games.
Key storylines: The keyword around the Golden Knights’ locker rooms is “execution” as of late. Coach Cassidy eluded to better execution after Tuesday’s loss against the Washington Capitals. We’ve heard Mark Stone elude to the team not executing well enough after victories and defeats throughout the season.
Expect the Golden Knights to come out with more of a reserved gameplan. The focus will be on defense and clean breakouts. From there, the Golden Knights will look to get pucks deep and wear out the Canadiens defensemen with physical play on the boards.
Roy’s return brings what many to believe to be the best fourth-line in the NHL back together.
Another term that was thrown around a bit was “snake bitten” after Thursday’s loss. That is what losing a game to a hot goalie will make a team feel like. Expect a jubilant celebration from the players when, or if, a Golden Knight scores a breakaway goal.
Time: 4:00 p.m. PST.
TV: Scripps Sports
Radio: FOX Sports Las Vegas 98.9/1340