The Vegas Golden Knights rebounded Sunday with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Arizona Coyotes after dropping three straight games prior. Vegas appears back on track, which is what the Anaheim Ducks hope to do.
The Ducks, who have lost six of their past seven games, recently made a trade, getting Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi, and a third-round pick for Sami Vatanen and a conditional third rounder.
That means that this is a different team than the one the Knights beat in Anaheim on Nov. 22. They have two new top six players, while many players are hurt for the Ducks. That’s right, a lot of Anaheim’s forwards are still hurt, and Jakob Silfverberg has now joined the list.
The Ducks need to get their offense back, as they have scored more than two goals twice since the last meeting with Vegas. The Knights defense will need to limit the Anaheim offense to control this game. Here’s what to watch for.
The Golden Knights are tied for fourth among all teams in points from defensemen, but no defenseman scored a goal against the Coyotes when the Golden Knights needed one.
And with the level of offensive defensemen that the Knights have, that is unacceptable. This roster includes Colin Miller, Shea Theodore, Brad Hunt, and “noted” offensive defenseman, Deryk Engelland. Those defensemen have combined for six game-winning goals throughout their careers. Four have come from Engelland, two from Theodore. If somebody’s going to do it, it could be one of those two.
Meanwhile, Miller leads Golden Knights’ defensemen in points this season with 14. Somebody has to step up and continually produce points, and so far, Miller has. While Theodore can’t get the puck on the net recently and Engelland is busy in his own zone, Miller has been getting chances on the power play and making plays happen at even strength.
It would be nice to get Hunt back on the power play, as the Hunt-Miller combo excelled earlier this season. Speaking of the man advantage...
Knights need the power play back
The Golden Knights haven’t scored a goal on the power play since Nov. 25. They’re 0-for-12 on power-play opportunities since then. It likely didn’t help that on the only penalty called against the Coyotes on the Dec 3 game, Miller was called (unfairly) for embellishment.
That’s something that’s gotta change and soon, hopefully against the Ducks. The Knights’ power play is now in the sixteenth spot in the NHL. That’s directly in the middle, which perfectly describes the worst unit of one of the best teams in the league to this point. Just mediocre.
If Vegas wants to get a win tonight, taking advantage of those extra man opportunities will help. It would allow the Knights to score more goals, which was a factor in each of their losses in the recent three-game losing skid. Getting a good power play run could build some momentum for the Golden Knights, who are playing a lot of games at home this month.
The fourth line has to break through
Against Arizona, perhaps the best line at getting opportunities was the fourth. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Stefan Matteau, and Tomas Nosek were on the ice together for 19 Corsi for (shots, missed shots, and blocks by the opponent) and only seven against.
That’s a remarkable amount, the best differential on the team, and again, that’s the fourth line. It’s the line whose role it is to play defensive minutes, and they were containing the Coyotes perfectly.
Now, if only they could score a goal. It’s been since the Minnesota game since one of the trio had an assist - Matteau had a primary. It’s been since Nov. 25 that one of the three has scored a goal - that was Nosek. Bellemare hasn’t scored a point since Nov 14, against the Edmonton Oilers. The Frenchman hasn’t had an assist since early October.
The line is simply too good for that to be the case. It looks like the fourth line is going to break out, but if anybody needs a bit of puck luck, it’s that line. Should they get some, all cylinders may start firing.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m. PT
Watch: AT&T SportsNet - Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM