The Golden Knights have their backs against the wall as they trail the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final. Vegas MUST win tonight in order to keep its season alive. It has been a glorious season, but the ending has yet to be written. Even with a two-game deficit, this series is far from over.
Vegas must take things one shift, one period and one game at a time. Intimidation has yet to be an issue for the Golden Misfits this year, and though the odds are daunting, there’s no use veering off course now.
Gerard Gallant indicated he might make several lineup changes prior to tonight’s contest. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but there’s a possibility William Carrier could draw back into the lineup for the first time since Game 5 of Vegas’ second-round series against San Jose, and there’s also a chance Ryan Carpenter could serve as a healthy scratch in favor of David Perron, who was scratched in Vegas’ 6-2 Game 4 loss Monday night. Should Carrier play, he might take Ryan Reaves’ role on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek, though it’s always possible Gallant could go with Carrier, Reaves and Tomas Tatar. Reaves has two goals in the playoffs, and Gallant has shown confidence in him and his net-front presence by putting him on the ice at critical moments in the game, but after losing three straight, Gallant may be more inclined to change things up.
William Karlsson did not participate in yesterday’s practice but is expected to play tonight. It’s possible he’s nursing an injury, though that’s pretty common at this time of year. At the very least, Perron, Colin Miller, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Michal Kempny are playing through something, and the list for both teams could be massive. But that’s part of the playoff grind, and there’s no way these warriors would risk missing tonight’s game because of an ongoing injury.
Since it’s extremely unlikely Barry Trotz will tinker with his lineup, here are the projected lines for both teams:
Golden Knights lineup
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch — Erik Haula — James Neal
Tomas Tatar — Cody Eakin — David Perron
Tomas Nosek — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — William Carrier
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore — Deryk Engelland
Luca Sbisa — Colin Miller
Alex Ovechkin (#8) — Evgeny Kuznetsov (#92) — Tom Wilson (#43)
Jakub Vrana (#13) — Nicklas Backstrom (#19) — T.J. Oshie (#77)
Andre Burakovsky (#65) — Lars Eller (#20) — Brett Connolly (#10)
Chandler Stephenson (#18) — Jay Beagle (#83) — Devante Smith-Pelly (#25)
Dmitry Orlov (#9) — Matt Niskanen (#2)
Michal Kempny (#6) — John Carlson (#74)
Brooks Orpik (#44) — Christian Djoos (#29)
Braden Holtby (#70)
Philipp Grubauer (#31)
ICYMI, here’s the preview for tonight’s game (5 p.m. PT, NBC).
It’s do-or-die time... let’s discuss!