The Vegas Golden Knights will finally set to face the Calgary Flames for the first time. To this point, Calgary is the only Pacific Division team the Golden Knights haven’t played.
So let's catch up on Calgary. The Flames are third in the Pacific with 58 points in 49 games. They have 137 goals for on the season and 135 goals against. Their plus-2 goal differential is the lowest amongst playoff teams in the Western Conference.
Calgary sent two players to the All-Star game in forward Johnny Gaudreau (15 goals, 41 assists, and 56 points) and goaltender Mike Smith (2.39 goals against average, .926 save percentage). The other stars for the Flames are Sean Monahan (22-21—43), Matthew Tkachuk (16-18—34) and Mikael Backlund (9-22—31). The Flames also have a solid defense that includes Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie in their top four.
This will be no cakewalk for Vegas.
Third line scoring
The Golden Knights are 20-5-0 when any member of the third line scores. The Knights are on an 11-game winning streak since Dec. 03 when Brendan Leipsic, Cody Eakin and/or Alex Tuch scores a point. That's nuts. But that's how important the third line scoring has been for Vegas. The Golden Knights will continue to need that sort of depth scoring as the season goes on, and should welcome it against Calgary.
Slowing down Calgary's first line
The Flames are reliant upon their first line of Gaudreau, Monahan and Micheal Ferland (19-11—30). In games where none of them scored, the Flames are 2-5-4. Individually, the Flames are 4-7-5 without Gaudreau scoring, 5-9-6 without Monahan, and 9-8-6 without Ferland. It's a lot easier to beat them by taking their best players out of the game.
Luckily, Vegas has one of the best lines in hockey as their top line — Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith. They're competent not only offensively, but in their own zone as well.
Vegas' first line has dominated possession (57.64 Corsi For percent, 59.03 shot share) and has only allowed 17 even-strength goals against in 45 games played together. They've only allowed one goal in their last 11 games. If anybody can take Gaudreau, Monahan and Ferland safely out of the game, it's the Golden Knights' best.
How to Watch
Time: 6 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM