When the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars opened their respective seasons against one another, it would not have been a surprise to anyone that when they met again in late November, one would be out of the playoffs and the other would be atop their division.
But no one thought it’d be the Golden Knights being the latter of that statement.
With a record of 12-10-1 to start the season the Stars find themselves fifth in the Central division and outside of the second wild card spot, a far cry from those expectations
From a production standpoint their top guys have been as advertised. Tyler Seguin (12 goals, 11 assists) and Jamie Benn (11 goals, 10 assists) continue to be the dynamic offensive catalysts to lead Dallas. Free agent signing Aleander Radulov has also been great with 22 points, including 18 in the past 14 games.
The issues for Dallas appear to be scoring depth and goaltending.
No one else on Dallas has more than 11 points. Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore are right at 11, and Radek Faska is the only other Star with at least five goals. Jason Spezza has had a down year with three goals in 23 games. In the net, Ben Bishop was supposed to solve Dallas’ problems in goal, but the return from a six-year, $29.5 million deal has not been received. Bishop has a .907 save percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average.
Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have benefitted from the complete opposite. Vegas enters Tuesday on their second five-game winning streak of the season. One more win will break the NHL record for longest win streak by a team in its inaugural season. The Golden Knights, who lead the Western Conference in 3.68 goals for per game, are also on an eight-game home winning streak and can set a new NHL record for a new team with a win.
Malcolm Subban is expected to start for the second straight game since returning to the lineup. Forward Stefan Matteau has been recalled from the Chicago Wolves in anticipation of being without David Perron and William Carrier. More on that below.
Here are three things to watch for from the Golden Knights in this one.
Subban will be tested and needs to have a big game
The Golden Knights are finally back to their second string goaltender after a month of playing their third and fourth stringers. Subban performed well on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. He made 24 saves in the Vegas’ 4-2 win and looked good.
With all due respect to the Coyotes, they aren't very good.
Despite under-performing in the early stages of the season, the Stars have elite offensive talent on their roster and they will be coming at Subban early an often. This is the first real test for Subban following his return from injury. For the Golden Knights to continue their unprecedented run, they will need for him to stand tall.
Alex Tuch is too big and too talented to be invisible
In his first nine games, Alex Tuch had four goals and seven points and seemed like he was ready to become the game’s next best power forward, or on the verge of it.
With just one goal and three points in his last nine games, it’s become a mystery how someone so big manages to get his entire self under Harry's invisibility cloak... Or something less nerdy and far more cool.
The point is Tuch has the size and skill to take over games and he simply has not done that enough recently. Now, he is shooting just 5.9 percent in this recent span so that is sure to change eventually. With the Golden Knights matching up against a goaltending tandem with a .905 save percentage this would be a good time for him to have the kind of game we know he is capable of. We need to remember, though, he is still 21 years old, but he still needs to play better.
Next man up
Though not confirmed, it is believed that Perron and Carrier will be missing from the lineup against Dallas. It is expected that Brendan Leipsic will take over Perron’s duties on the first line and Tomas Nosek moves up to the third line. Oscar Lindberg is expected to take the spot of Nosek as Matteau makes his Vegas debut on the bottom three.
Outside of the crease, the Golden Knights have been mostly healthy this season. Twelve forwards have played at least 18 of their 22 games, and 10 have played at least 19. There has not been a lot of rotating in and out at the forward spot so when you manage to draw in you have to make the most of it.
How to watch
Time: 7p.m. PT
TV: SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM