This is a game both teams have circled on their schedules. The Vegas Golden Knights raised the Stanley Cup the last time the Florida Panthers were in Vegas. Emotions will be high for both teams. Tonight’s winner may be the team that best controls their emotions.
Betting line: DraftKings has the Golden Knights as slight underdogs at minus-102 (Panthers minus-118) with an over/under of six goals. The public favors the Golden Knights at 67% according to Covers.com. This is a classic case of American betting public vs. the sportsbooks. This would also be a good time to remind everyone that the sportsbooks were not built based on the American betting public winning most of their bets.
Key storylines: The Golden Knights need two points greater than their need to punish their opponent physically. This game could be downright nasty from the opening faceoff. The Golden Knights may have to take a few punches and avoid retaliation to win this game.
Logan Thompson has had a stretch of inconsistent play and figures to face a lot of shots due to injuries to the Golden Knights. Thompson needs to be sharp tonight.
About the Golden Knights (22-11-5, 49 points): Poor play and injuries have the Golden Knights in their most challenging spot of the season. The Golden Knights play seven of their next eight games at T-Mobile Arena and will have plenty of practice time to get things sorted out. William Karlsson is expected out for the next two games and will be re-evaluated next week. Adin Hill, Ben Hutton, Shea Theodore, and Kaeden Korczak remain out without expected return dates.
With Karlsson out, coach Bruce Cassidy is breaking up the former top line of Ivan Barbashev, Jack Eichel, and Mark Stone. Stone and Jonathan Marchessault are switching places in the lineup. Perhaps, Chandler Stephenson can get back on track with Stone returning to his line?
Golden Knights to watch: This is the time for someone to step up in the wake of all the injuries. Stephenson is behind his scoring pace for the last two seasons. Alex Pietrangelo has been on the minus side of plus/minus for nine of the last 11 games. Pavel Dorofeyev needs to find ways to contribute offensively if he wishes to become an everyday player. Thompson will continue to garner the most attention and needs to string a couple of good games together.
About the Panthers (23-12-2, 48 points): The Panthers enter Thursday’s game against the Golden Knights riding a five-game winning streak. The winning streak began two weeks ago against the Golden Knights. Matthew Tkachuk will bring out the boo-birds every time he handles the puck and figures to be involved in every scrum. Sam Reinhart leads the Panthers with 45 points.
The Golden Knights had zero issues solving goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in T-Mobile Arena during the Stanley Cup Final. Can the Golden Knights find some of their Stanley Cup magic in tonight’s game?
How to watch
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST.
TV: Vegas 34
Radio: FOX Sports Las Vegas 98.9/1340