The Vegas Golden Knights are back in action tonight as they head into the SAP Center in San Jose to take on the Sharks in preseason action.
The Golden Knights enter the game as the team with the best points percentage in any franchise’s history (.750 PTS% to Montreal's .590) following their 4-1 victory of the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. And sure, we could choose to remember that two of those games were rookie camp games, and the other two were preseason, and Montreal’s total only includes regular season, but who wants to get bogged down in all those details? Not me, that's for sure.
The Sharks are just one season removed from having played in the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost 4-2 in what would be the first of consecutive Cup victories for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The off-season saw two major departures for the Sharks. First, the Golden Knights selected defenseman David Schlemko from them in the Expansion Draft. Then long-time face of the franchise Patrick Marleau jumped ship and headed East to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Beyond this, they mostly kept their team together and added minor league goalie Antoine Bibeau and depth forward Brandon Bollig while re-signing Joe Thornton, Chris Tierney, defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and goaltender Martin Jones — the latter two to eight-year and six-year contracts respectively.
The Sharks are coming off a 5-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
Here are your three things to watch for from the Golden Knights.
The fight for AHL playing time in the crease
Marc-Andre Fleury is the starting goalie of the Vegas Golden Knights. That is indisputable. And his backup will be Calvin Pickard. Also pretty well set in stone. Playing time for the Chicago Wolves is a lot more murky, however. There is a battle in the crease between Oscar Dansk and Maxime Lagace and both goalies have played well in their preseason action. Lagace will play, but we will also see Pickard for the first time this preseason.
As others fall, the legend of Brad Hunt grows
Hunt is not playing tonight. Luca Sbisa and Griffin Reinhart will be. This might actually help the 29-year-old blueliner. With a goal on Tuesday bringing his total to four points in two games, he could be playing his way into a more prominent role within the organization. With how they have played in the preseason, albeit in only a single game for each, Sbisa and Reinhart could be playing their way out of it.
With such a logjam on the back end it seems inconceivable that Hunt could crack the roster even given how well he’s played, but with other defensemen also failing to leave their mark and take hold of a spot Brad could find himself in the... Hunt.
I’ll show myself out.
What will Tyler Wong and Cody Glass do for an encore?
They had six points between them Sunday (three goals and an assist for Wong, two assists for Glass) in Vancouver and now the two rookie forwards will slide back into the lineup and continue where they left off.
Glass could potentially crack the Golden Knights’ lineup come October, at least for a nine-game test run, while Wong is playing for a contract with the Golden Knights. As of now he is only on an AHL deal with the Chicago Wolves.
The supremely skilled forwards were the talk of their first game so all eyes will be on them.
The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. PT start, but it's difficult to say for certain as the game does not appear to be being picked up by any network, unless you’re living in San Jose. Hope you have NHL TV or ESPN 98.9 FM/1340 AM in Las Vegas.