The four-game road trip finally comes to an end Sunday for the Vegas Golden Knights. After how Saturday unfolded by getting shellshocked 5-2 by the Washington Capitals, a quick trip to the Motor City could be what the Golden Knights need.
The Detroit Red Wings are the final hurdle in Vegas’ otherwise lackluster road trip. While I’ve stood by the premise that five points out of eight would be a successful getaway for the Golden Knights (9-6-3), that won’t be an easy task less than 24 hours after getting blitzed by their 2017 Stanley Cup Final opponent at Capital One Arena.
Detroit (5-12-1) ended its four-game losing streak Friday with an impressive 4-2 victory at home. All in all, the past 14 games have been about as abysmal for the Red Wings as one could imagine; a clip of 2-11-1 to offset a promising 3-1-0 start. But that other Detroit victory came Oct. 29 against the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers.
In short, Detroit is capable of playing up to its competition.
The Red Wings’ big three of Anthony Mantha (17 points), Tyler Bertuzzi (16 points) and Dylan Larkin (13 points) pace Detroit. That’s about it. Detroit is dead last at 2.17 goals per game while allowing 3.89.
So, the Golden Knights should win this game, right?
Slice it however which way you want to.
The Golden Knights have earned a point in five of their past six games, a point in eight of their past 11, etc.
The bottom line is the Golden Knights have lost five of their past seven games. Pity points from overtime losses do not exist in this dojo. Forget the points. In the actual sporting term of wins and losses, the Golden Knights have not done well.
Casual common sense would dictate having four of the past five games decided by one goal is grounds for turning it around at some point.
The Golden Knights are about to come back home to play five of their next six at T-Mobile Arena. That’s the stretch that Vegas needs to establish some sort of clarity on what team it is through the first quarter of the season.
Win against the teams you’re supposed to beat. It’s a theme that hasn’t stuck for the better part of seven games. It needs to at least get done tonight.
Max Pacioretty coming alive?
Someone on that line better be producing. For the Golden Knights’ sake, thank God that it’s No. 67.
Paul Stastny has not scored a point in five games. Mark Stone does not have a point in his past three. Pacioretty, meanwhile, has a goal in three of his past four games. He had two goals in the first 14 games of the season.
What a time for him to get going. His 10 assists were much needed, but the man scores goals. He’s getting paid $7 million per year to put the puck in the net.
Floodgates tend to open at the slightest crack of the dam. It appears Pacioretty is slowly, but surely, trying to pry those floodgates open with every goal. If that cause-and-effect probability could rub off on his linemates, that’d help.
Strong goaltending continues
The box score will say Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on Saturday. One of them were his fault; the other three are chalked up to poor defense and confounding turnovers.
Malcolm Subban is expected to make his third start in eight days (an unprecedented marker for him) after allowing two goals in the overtime loss at Toronto on Thursday. Outside of the three goals he allowed in the third period and overtime against Winnipeg last Saturday, Subban has been very good.
The goaltending is about the only good, consistent thing going for the Golden Knights during this stretch.
The Golden Knights have committed 19 giveaways in the past two games. They had two all of Tuesday in their 2-1 win at Columbus.
Limit the turnovers, don’t put the goaltender in a precarious situation, and you should win the game. It almost sounds way too simple, but the Golden Knights need to get back to being simple.
How to watch
Time: 2 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9/1340