The talk of the town is the $30 million contract extension Jonathan Marchessault signed Wednesday, which will keep the 27-year-old in Vegas for the next six seasons. Given Marchessault’s production and chemistry so far this season, the $5 million average annual value has Vegas Golden Knights fans buzzing. But we’ve still got a game to play as the Golden Knights take on the St. Louis Blues tonight at Scottrade Center.
The Blues (25-15-2) currently sit in second place in the Central Division and fourth place in the Western Conference with 52 points. St. Louis is coming off a 3-2 shootout win against the Devils but had lost seven of its previous 10 games while going 7-8-1 in the month of December.
The Knights defeated the Blues 3-2 in overtime back on Oct. 21 despite getting outshot 49-22. The Blues were the best team in the Western Conference at the time, but Oscar Dansk, who made his first NHL appearance in relief of the injured Malcolm Subban, shut things down after a rough start and held on until William Karlsson scored the game-winning overtime marker, his first as a Knight.
The Blues’ offense has not been the same without Jaden Schwartz, who is set to miss at least a few more weeks with an ankle injury. However, there is plenty of talent throughout the roster.
Brayden Schenn leads the Blues in assists (24) and points (41) and is tied with Vladimir Tarasenko for the team lead in goals with 17. Among goalies who have played in at least five games, Carter Hutton leads the league in both goals-against average (1.70) and save percentage (.944).
As David Perron takes another crack at scoring a goal against his former team, here are three things to keep an eye on during tonight’s game.
Six years and counting
As mentioned above, Marchessault agreed to terms on a six-year, $30 million extension, which will keep him in Vegas throughout the prime of his career. Putting the logistics of the deal itself aside, the fact that Marchessault signed the deal mid-season will ensure that all eyes will be on him tonight. He doesn’t need to score to prove himself, though. He has proven himself every night of the season with his team-leading 37 points, and that’s one of the reasons why general manager George McPhee wanted to sign him in the first place. Marchessault now has 45 goals in his last 110 games and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, he currently has points in seven straight games, collecting a total of five goals and 11 points in that stretch.
The Golden Knights gave up 49 shots when these teams met earlier this season. Eight of those 49 shots came from the CCM stick blade of Tarasenko. Considering the elite shot Tarasenko possesses, eight shots is about six shots too many. The Knights need to focus on limiting Tarasenko’s space and time as well as his ability to get shots off. The Russian sniper moved onto the Blues’ top-10 list of all-time scorers and has two goals and three points on his current three-game point streak. His numbers may be down slightly this season as he has just 17 goals, but he’s still producing at nearly a point-per-game clip with 39 points in 42 games.
The Golden Knights are winners of eight straight games after picking up a 3-0 win against Nashville Tuesday night. In addition, Vegas has picked up at least a point in 13 straight contests with a 12-0-1 record in that time. The Knights’ streak also features four consecutive road wins. Tonight’s matchup is the first of a back-to-back set, with the Knights traveling to Chicago for a tilt with the Blackhawks tomorrow evening. This will affect head coach Gerard Gallant’s decision about the starting goalie for each contest, but both netminders have played significant roles in the team’s recent success. Facing the 28th-ranked power play (15.1 percent), Vegas will have a chance to extend multiple impressive streaks tonight. That not withstanding, however, this is an important stretch for the Golden Knights. When you’re a top team in the Western Conference, tough road wins are expected. Vegas will have its work cut out for it tonight against a Blues team eyeing revenge.
How to Watch
Time: 5 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM