After a few high-stake wins, the Vegas Golden Knights are back home tonight to face the Detroit Red Wings. This is only the fourth time the Golden Knights have played the Red Wings, with Vegas leading the all-time series 2–1.
There’s no reason why the home team shouldn’t win tonight. Detroit is currently settled near the bottom of the Atlantic Division. With a 26-38-10 record, this game might feel less important that the recent big wins against the Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks
But that’s not an invitation for Vegas to relax. In fact, now is the time to be on. It is these alleged “easy wins” that can be the most crucial for getting points. If the Golden Knights have any chance of become the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Division, all future games are must-wins. This being one of them.
Here’s what to look for in tonight’s game against the Red Wings.
Malcolm Subban, now with donuts
Malcolm Subban had an excellent game against the Jets on Thursday night, earning the first shutout of his NHL career. With Marc-Andre Fleury out with a day-to-day “lower body” injury, Subban has stepped up to the plate alongside Vegas’ offense.
Over the past three games, Subban’s save percentage has gotten increasingly better. Against Edmonton, he allowed three goals and blocked 16 shots for a save percentage of .842. He allowed three goals again, but blocked 36 attempts on the road against the Sharks. That put his save percentage at .923. And we all know what happened against Winnipeg.
It’s hard to say what will happen again tonight, only because Subban is finally getting time in the net—and all the great game experience that comes with that. Maybe tonight’s a good night to play Maxime Lagace since Subban played two games in a row. If he does play, though, Subban can skate confidently into tonight’s game. It’s getting better all the time.
Max Pacioretty is injured ... again.
The biggest downside to Thursday’s game against Winnipeg was undoubtedly Max Pacioretty’s injury.
Here's where Pacioretty got hurt. pic.twitter.com/lo9aHrpe8c— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
Even within the bad news, there was good news—the injury was not as serious as expected, and Gerard Gallant told reporters that he was day-to-day. Still, that means he’s out tonight.
We’ve seen it before, but we have to reexamine what the second line looks like without Pacioretty. Now that Mark Stone is part of the equation, the Golden Knights have some options. Alex Tuch is likely the obvious pick. He has gelled well with the second line in the past and showed great chemistry with Paul Stastny. Brandon Pirri could be comfortable on the second line, too, though he hasn’t been playing consistently.
Who are we kidding? Tuch gets the second line spot. Shhhh. Don’t overthink it.
Taro Hirose makes his T-Mobile Arena debut
Please welcome to the Fortress, Taro Hirose.
Hirose is some kind of wunderkind. At just 22 years old, he’s earned a spot on the Red Wings roster for the remainder of the season. It’s a massive leap from the NCAA to the NHL, but Hirose has pulled it off with grace. On the Michigan Spartans, he was named Big Ten Player of the Year for 2018-19. And now he’s playing the big leagues.
“Poise, vision, it looks like he wants to make a play every time he has the puck,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told reporters Thursday “We made a comment to him about spreading the zone and right away the next shift, he goes out and he spreads the zone.”
So, what can the Golden Knights expect from Hirose? They can expect someone who isn’t afraid to make moves. He’s notched two assists in just two games. But Vegas can also expect bad defense. His Corsi for sits at 33.96, showing that he has much room to grow in order to play a 200-foot game.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM