The Golden Knights’ second regular season officially kicked off on Thursday night. Banners were raised, fans were rowdy and everyone looked ready to rock. The Knights seemed like they picked up right where they left off last year when Jonathan Marchessault struck first with a beautiful goal in the first period. Then, the wheels fell right off. The Golden Knights eventually dropped their home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2, and will look to get back on track tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild also dropped their first game of the season on Thursday, losing to the Colorado Avalanche 4-1. Devan Dubnyk was sharp in the loss, stopping 36 of 38 shots, while Zach Parise scored the team’s lone goal. We can expect to see Dubnyk between the pipes again tonight.
Here are three things to look out for tonight when the Golden Knights take the ice in Minnesota:
Fleury needs to be on his game
Marc-Andre Fleury’s start to the season didn’t exactly go as planned. He allowed five goals on 16 shots and was pulled halfway through the second period. Fleury getting yanked isn’t something that Knights fans are used to, as he was only pulled a total of two times last season. In the two games following getting pulled last year, Flower posted a 30 save shutout in one and let in three goals on 29 shots in the other, which was actually a loss to the Wild.
“Coming off a great season and a good preseason also, we thought it was going to be a good night for us,” Fleury said. “I think this is a good reminder there are no easy nights. You have to battle for every point in the standings. It’s obviously very frustrating to get beaten so bad at home in the opener.”
The poor performance wasn’t entirely on Fleury, as the Golden Knights’ defensemen had a rough night as well. The defensive pairing of Nick Holden and Jon Merrill had an especially tough night, and were on for three out of five goals. With Nate Schmidt out of the lineup for 19 more games, there is a clear hole in the Knights’ defensive group at the moment. Until that issue is solved, Fleury will have to be sharp. He’ll look to get back on track tonight against the Wild to give the Knights a chance at claiming their first victory of the 2018-19 season.
Can the Knights finally conquer the Wild?
The Golden Knights beat every team in the NHL last season except for two: the New York Islanders and the Wild. They had three chances to take down the Wild last year, but went 0-3. Malcolm Subban was the starting goalie against the Wild in two out of the three games.
The Wild didn’t make any drastic changes over the summer, and with a roster that looks quite similar to last season, it’ll be interesting to see if the Knights can finally get a win against them.
Too early to worry about the power play?
The Golden Knights’ power play wasn’t great against the Flyers. They went 0-for-3 on the man advantage, which included a full minute at 5-on-3. They didn’t generate a ton of great chances on the power play, and looked rather lackluster on all three tries.
Shea Theodore and Colin Miller each spent the majority of their time on the first power play unit, which left the second unit without a reliable quarterback on the point. It will be interesting to see tonight if coach Gerard Gallant will deploy a similar top unit or decide to split the two defensemen up. Once Schmidt returns, it is definitely a possibility that a top unit with Theodore and Miller could work.
How to Watch
Time: 5 p.m. PDT
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM
In-person: The Golden Knights are hosting a watch party at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. If you’re in Vegas, gates will open at 4 p.m. PT.