The Vegas Golden Knights now have not one, but two wins against their arch-enemies, the San Jose Sharks. It’s a great feeling to carry back into T-Mobile Arena. Tonight, it seems like the real work begins.
The opponent: the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Bruins. Like Vegas, Boston is undefeated. With two low-scoring affairs against the Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars, it’s hard to compare the Bruins’ victories to the Golden Knights’ offensive explosions.
Still, there are plenty of takeaways from both teams going into tonight’s matchup. Perhaps most importantly, it’s time for Vegas to show they’re more than just the team that... plays the Sharks.
New kid in the Fortress
The Golden Knights have plenty of new faces in their lineup, and they are wasting no time making an impact.
Let’s start by looking at Cody Glass. We all know he had an excellent first game, but his second is perhaps a better indicator of what we can expect from him. That’s to say, he’s excellent even when he isn’t scoring on every shot. He had some great chances in San Jose, including this one:
Cody Glass is so good, folks. He teams up with Mark Stone again for another high-danger chance. Big save by Martin Jones. pic.twitter.com/29jOpCLvyl— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) October 5, 2019
Glass skated away from Friday’s game with a Corsi for percentage of 56.25. Of course, simply existing on the same line as Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone will boost anyone’s Corsi (theirs was a combined 69.44%). Even better, Pacioretty and Stone are not treating Glass like an untrustworthy rookie. They are giving the 20-year-old the scoring chances he needs to prove himself. It seems to be paying off.
Hague vs. Schuldt
The question tonight is: which newbie will play defense? With Nate Schmidt out “week-to-week,” Nic Hague stepped up in a big way against the Sharks. It wasn’t a perfect game for him, he used his height to his advantage, elongating his stick and creating great defensive plays as a result.
But what about Jimmy Schuldt? Unlike Hague, Schuldt was on the ice with the Golden Knights last season. He had an impressive debut against the Los Angeles Kings, creating scoring chances and defending well in all zones. His preseason play, however, did not compare to Hague’s.
Hague was chosen for the lineup against San Jose for a reason. With the knowledge that he can play well on the big NHL stage—and get rowdy in the process—it’s likely he gets the start tonight.
A bigger challenge
“I think Boston is a really good team and they’ll be a bigger challenge than San Jose was,” Marc-Andre Fleury (who will almost definitely start against the Bruins tonight) said to reporters on Monday. Based on how the games against the Sharks went, he isn’t wrong.
Funnily enough, goaltending is where the Bruins look their strongest. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Boston has the best goaltending duo in the league. Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask have played a game each, allowing just one goal between the two of them (Rask let one in against Dallas).
The Bruins have already confirmed Rask will be the goalie tonight, so no need to speculate there. How will he stand up against Vegas’ stacked offense? In case you forgot, Rask is a monster. All through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had a save percentage of .934 and averaged almost 29 saves each game.
Interestingly enough, he didn’t play a game against Vegas last year, so it’s hard to predict how he’ll perform against a team that looks so different to how it did in 2017-18. His record against the Golden Knights that year was 1-1. That said, neither Bruins goalies have yet to face a line quite like Pacioretty-Glass-Stone this season. The Golden Knights will definitely be Rask’s biggest challenge yet, and in return, he will be Vegas’ biggest challenge, too.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN+, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM