The Vegas Golden Knights are, in fact, 7-1-0.
This isn’t a mirage, nor are we in the twilight zone. As the Golden Knights conclude what seemed like a never-ending seven-game homestand Friday against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena, the NHL’s biggest story continues to reside in Las Vegas.
It’s been a weird few weeks, and we’ll document all of that in due time. For now, the Avalanche come to Las Vegas for the first time in a regular season game. Colorado has dropped three of its last four, but snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.
Vegas, as you probably know by now, has won seven of eight and is the first team in League history to do that and so on and so forth.
Let’s dive into what to expect during this game, which oddly starts at 3 p.m. PT.
Will you Dansk with me in the moonlight again?
Oscar Dansk made 29 saves in his first NHL start in Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, which is still the weirdest thing to say three days later.
Whatever goalie coach Dave Prior has done with these young netminders is one of the greatest acts of sorcery the world has ever seen. Down goes Marc-Andre Fleury, up comes Malcolm Subban, who understandably can’t fully do the splits and is out for a month. Enter Dansk, the 23-year-old native of Sweden. Not only has he been another steady presence in net for the Golden Knights, he’s made some ballsy saves.
Dansk played superbly in relief efforts against St. Louis, then followed that with a gem against Chicago. While the Avalanche haven’t been world beaters, they possess plenty good offensive-minded talent. Dansk will gladly take the floor to groove again, but his dance shoes will need to be shined and ready for action.
And damn it to hell, we’re here for all dance puns.
Will Erik Haula return to the lineup?
If he does, oh boy. Buckle up for more weirdness.
Haula has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury sustained against the Detroit Red Wings two weeks ago. He was hip-checked by Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar, which led to Haula’s first fight of his NHL career.
“It was right before the fight, and that’s kind of what drove me a little mad,” Haula said. “It doesn’t really matter who it was (I fought). I was already pissed off about the hit, so something had to be done.”
If Haula is a go, it seems inevitable that Alex Tuch will be reassigned to the Chicago Wolves before puck drop. Tuch was called up in place of Jonathan Marchessault and scored two goals in his first two games. Tuch’s has since been quiet, averaging 12 minutes of ice time the past two games. Fortunately for the Golden Knights, his scoring presence wasn’t needed.
That won’t make Tuch’s demotion any less weird. While his waiver-exemption status allows Vegas to be flexible, Tuch’s presence hasn’t gone unnoticed. Haula was playing well before the injury, but surely there has to be a way to keep both on the roster. I mean, there is, but you get it.
The Matt Duchene Watch has been fun
While days pass on when Duchene will/if at all be traded, he’s been a small beacon of hope for Colorado. The 27-year-old center is tied for the team lead in points with eight (three goals, five assists) and has scored a point in three of the past four games.
Duchene’s play has been good for both him and the Avs — good that he’s already amassed nearly 20 percent of last year’s point production and is increasing his trade value, and good for Colorado because that 5-4-0 start is already grounds for improvement from last year. That’s thanks to Duchene.
Duchene has done a solid job anchoring the second line with Gabriel Landeskog and Nail Yakupov, which has been a complement to the talent-laden first line. Vegas is going to spend a lot of time trying to slow down Nathan MacKinnon and Co., but it’s imperative for the Golden Knights to force Colorado’s bottom six to play at its best if the Avs want to pull off the ... upset? That’s also weird to say.
How to watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM
Puck drop: 3 p.m. PT