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What to watch for as Vegas and Colorado complete their home-and-home

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The Golden Knights look to clinch a playoff berth on home ice Monday against the Avalanche.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights (47-21-7) enter play on Monday having clinched a playoff spot in the Pacific Division thanks to the Edmonton Oilers victory last night over the Anaheim Ducks!

At least, that is what I would be saying had the Oilers managed to keep a goram lead...

But, alas, Oilers gonna Oiler and the Knights need a win (or any number of other scenarios to play out, most of which involve at least an OTL) to clinch no worse than the third playoff spot out of the Pacific.

Small potatoes when you consider that the Golden Knights are looking at a division title in the coming weeks, but why limit yourself to only one celebration?

Anyway, back to business.

The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche complete their home-and-home series at T-Mobile Arena after the Avs took the first leg 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday.

Colorado is currently hanging on to the top wild card slot in the Western Conference with 90 points, one point clear of the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings with a game in hand over L.A.

The Avalanche boast one of the league’s youngest, most skilled cores led by 22-year-old MVP candidate Nathan MacKinnon who has 38 goals and 92 points this season. Mikko Rantanen has 27 goals and 80 points to his name. Rounding out the three-headed monster is 25-year-old Gabriel Landeskog with 57 points, 24 of which are goals.

On the blue line, Tyson Barrie leads the way with 52 points in 61 games.

Between the pipes, Semyon Varlamov has rebounded after a particularly poor 2016-17 season. He currently boasts a .919 save percentage and 2.73 goals against average, dramatically improved over the combined .898 and 3.38 from the previous year.

Here are some things to watch for as the Golden Knights look to clinch their first ever playoff berth:

WIN BABY!

That’s it. There is nothing else. The only thing that matters is getting the win. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to happen. The Golden Knights get a chance to clinch on home ice! They have a chance to do it themselves, to celebrate the accomplishment with their fans and not in some bar or casino watching some other team’s game on TV. Make it happen, Knights. Make history.

Uh... so about all the injuries?

Deryk Engelland, Luca Sbisa, Reilly Smith, William Carrier... when might we see those guys?

Engelland isn’t listed on hockey Hockey-reference’s injury report and the team is being intentionally vague on the subject, but he did miss Saturday’s game and, as of typing this on Monday morning, we have no update.

Reilly Smith has been sidelined since March 6 with no timetable given for his return. Meanwhile Luca Sbisa is said to be an “early April” return according to HR, which could mean any time in the next few weeks. Or never. We really don’t know. To that end, does Carrier even draw back into the lineup when he’s healthy?

A lot of unanswered questions for the Knights right now with just seven games in 13 days left on the schedule.

”So... what are we looking for, Mike?”

Good question. You’re looking for any of these players to return. We won’t know when they’ll return until they do so keep an eye peeled for the return of some familiar faces.

Notable Numbers: 39, 1.

39 is the number of saves Varlamov made last time against the Golden Knights. In a game where the Knights outshot the Avs 40-30 overall and 19-8 in the third period and overtime, the Golden Knights deserved a win and it was stolen from them. Should they manage to control the game like this again, it should result in a win.

What would help in that is the second number. One. As in the number of power plays the Golden Knights had on Saturday. According to FOX Sports, the Avalanche are the sixth most penalized team in the NHL. If the Golden Knights get chances on the PP, they need to convert. As the 10th best PP unit in the game (21.3%), the odds are in their favor.

How to Watch

Time: 7PM PT

Networks: SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, ATTSN-RM, ALT