The Vegas Golden Knights don’t have many signature wins to hang their hat on 16 games into this season. You can thank the Pacific Division for such a thing for Vegas’ 9-5-2 start.
That could change tonight with the Golden Knights continuing their four-game road trip in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Vegas is 0-1-1 in Toronto and 1-2-1 in the series all-time.
Hometown boy Malcolm Subban will start in net for the Golden Knights, his second start in as many days. He was stellar on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets until the cast around him blew a two-goal lead and lost 4-3.
Here’s what we’re watching for.
The Golden Knights remembered how to win. Baby steps, I’m sure.
Vegas won 2-1 at Columbus on Tuesday, a much-needed victory after blowing consecutive two-goal leads against Montreal and Winnipeg at home last week.
This season has already been weird with Vegas’ well-documented struggles at home (4-3-2), but how about a 5-2-0 start away from T-Mobile Arena? The bad news for the Golden Knights is Marc-Andre Fleury is responsible for all of those victories. But to be fair, Subban only played one period on the road before injuring his leg at Arizona on Oct. 10 and was out for a few weeks.
The Golden Knights have been unable to string some wins together to this point. A victory at Scotiabank Arena (which is still Air Canada Centre to me, damn it) might be a perfect remedy to get something going.
Don’t sleep on the Leafs
It hasn’t been the most blazing of starts for Toronto, currently in third in the Atlantic Division behind Buffalo and Boston.
Part of that is due to John Tavares being out for the past three weeks with a broken finger. He returned to the Toronto lineup Tuesday. The Leafs have been able to hang around near the top of the Atlantic with their captain out; Toronto is 3-2-2 in its past seven games because of it.
Auston Matthews, per usual, leads the Maple Leafs with 18 points with Mitch Marner right behind him at 17. They can score, they’re fast and can exploit a questionable Vegas defense that’s facing some questions; Nic Hague was recalled on Thursday, while Nick Holden could miss the game with the flu (because everyone is getting sick this time of year, that’s fun).
Toronto is scoring 3.43 goals per game while allowing 3.25. You might want to take the over if you’re a betting person.
71 and 19
Reilly Smith scored both goals in Tuesday’s victory, both assisted by William Karlsson. If Jonathan Marchessault could join the scoring parade at some point, that would be great.
But Smith and Karlsson are providing the secondary scoring needed even if goals aren’t coming at a premium. Smith leads the Golden Knights with nine goals, while Karlsson is tops with 12 assists. Those two are playing well in every facet; PK, power play, 5-on-5. You name it, they’re getting it done.
The Stastny line continues to score well, but it’s always rewarding for Vegas to roll four lines and get consistent scoring outside of Paul Stastny, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. A big game by Smith and Karlsson could mean another victory for Vegas.
How to watch
Time: 4 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9/1340