What a difference 10 days makes.
When the Vegas Golden Knights (45-19-5) last saw the New Jersey Devils (35-26-8) on March 4 the Golden Knights entered having lost their previous three games following a rather polarizing trade deadline. Meanwhile, Taylor Hall was riding a 24-game point streak, which he then pushed to 25 against the Knights.
Since then, Hall’s streak snapped at 26 games and he has gone two games without a point. As for the Golden Knights, they have won three in a row and four of their last five games.
And all is right with the world.
The Devils meanwhile have won two of their last three, including a 3-2 shootout win over the Nashville Predators, and are clinging to the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, three points up on the Florida Panthers (who have two games in hand) and just one behind Columbus for the top Wild Card spot.
Speaking of the trade deadline, the Devils made a move to acquire winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers but it has not gone quite as well as they had hoped to this point.
In eight games with the club Grabner has no points while averaging over 15 minutes a night.
He’s not the only one struggling to get on the score sheet for the Devils. The first-overall pick in this past NHL draft Nico Hischier has three points in his last nine, also with only a single goal. Also, 19-year-old rookie Jesper Bratt has just five points in his last 23 games including a single goal.
Rookie defenseman Will Butcher is on a three-game point scoring streak (four assists), Kyle Palmieri has eight points over his last ten for the Devils, and Keith Kinkaid has held the fort in goal with a 12-6-1 record with a .911 SV% since the calendar turned over to 2018.
Things aren’t all bad for New Jersey.
Here are three things to look for as the Golden Knights face off against the Devils.
Tomas can you hear me?!
With just one point in his first seven games with the Golden Knights it might be time to get a bit worried about Vegas’ big deadline acquisition.
Yes, it is fair to say he’s not a rental and as such we owe Tomas Tatar a bit more patience. Unlike a rental player, he has multiple seasons after this to give back to the Golden Knights for the three draft picks spent to acquire him.
However, though Monday night, at least early on in the game, may have been the best we’ve seen out of the 27-year-old winger he has not looked very good so far wearing the silver and gold. He hasn’t appeared very dangerous and is averaging two shots on goal per game.
He’s not generating a lot and it’s worrisome.
Tatar has had three straight 20-goal seasons and, in all likelihood, will hit the mark again this season. But, the Golden Knights need him to find his footing and soon. As the Devils are the only team Tatar has scored against as a Golden Knight, it would be great to see him do it again tonight.
Guess who’s back, back again!
Following a stretch of rather pedestrian results, Marc-Andre Fleury has seemingly turned the corner earning a 3-0 record and .970 save percentage in his last three appearances getting back to his Vezina caliber ways.
And not a moment too soon for the Golden Knights.
After picking up his 400th career NHL victory Monday night it’s time to get into playoff mode for the three-time Stanley Cup winner. We aren’t sure how much action he’ll see over the next few weeks as the Golden Knights have all but clinched their spot in the playoffs, so every game he plays is important to keep sharp for the veteran netminder.
Also, he’s just one win away from tying Chris Osgood for No. 12 all-time in career wins for a goaltender. History could be made tonight, again, for Flower with a victory.
Magic Number is 15
The Golden Knights enter play needing just 15 points, be it from wins or an assorted number of losses from the teams behind them in the standings, to clinch the Pacific Division.
No, maybe it isn’t something to “look for” in tonight’s game, but still useful to keep it in mind as we count down the final 13 games of the regular season.
How to Watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM