The Vegas Golden Knights will face the Calgary Flames for the second time this season. The first time these two clubs clashed, the Golden Knights had a fortunate and speedy goal scoring session in the third period to win 4-2.
The Golden Knights might need to get fortunate to win this one, as well. They're coming off a shutout at home at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. The last time the Golden Knights were shutout at home, they went on a three-game losing streak. This late in the season, the Golden Knights can't do that again.
On the Flames side, since they lost to the Golden Knights, they've gone 5-4-1. Because of that, the Flames have fallen out of a playoff spot, and are two points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card, and the Wild have a game in hand.
So this is a clash between two teams who desperately need a rebound. This is going to be good.
Once again, the Golden Knights are going for a record 23rd home win by a team in its inaugural season, and the expansion-record 84 points.
A more practiced bottom six
The bottom six forwards for the Golden Knights, against the Ducks, just weren't very good. The third line was on the ice for the 5-on-5 goal, and the fourth line didn't get any minutes, at least aside from Tomas Hyka, making his NHL debut, who got 11:37 across all situations and earned every second.
Part of that can be blamed on the bottom six having no chemistry, no practice, and Stefan Matteau and Hyka having arrived in Las Vegas the day of the game. Oscar Lindberg hadn't played center in a long while, and Cody Eakin is having a down year. Tomas Nosek hasn't had any time to play with Ryan Carpenter, especially without Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
It's really hard to win a game without a functioning bottom six. Now that the Golden Knights have had more time to practice that bottom six, and to get them on the same page, maybe the third and fourth lines will look better. Miscommunication played a major factor in the third and fourth lines generating chances but not converting.
It would also be a good idea to put Brendan Leipsic on the ice again. The Golden Knights are 33-8-3 when Leipsic plays. They're 6-8-1 without him. Leipsic's speed could perfectly complement Hyka's, and with the playmaking abilities in both of those young wingers, they could be good with any center.
The Golden Knights are 36-12-3 when a defenseman adds a point. When multiple defensemen score, that record goes to 23-5-3. When a defenseman doesn't add a point, the Knights are 3-4-1. Defensive scoring is really important for Vegas. Considering that three of the top 11 (Eakin and Deryk Engelland are tied at the 10 spot) scorers for Vegas are defensemen, that makes sense.
So multiple defensemen need to tally against Calgary. Last time the Knights saw the Flames, only Shea Theodore scored. To truly bounce back from the Anaheim game, and to get the offense rolling again, the Knights will need to get contributions from Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, and the like. In the five games before the shutout, all six defensemen who played against the Ducks had scored, multiple times. In that span, the Knights were 4-1-0.
Again, getting the defensemen on the board, either as playmakers or goal scorers, is huge for the Knights.
How to watch
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM