Vegas’ tilt tonight in Beantown is the final game ahead of a nine-day break for the Knights, who have had a rough start to the year, to say the least.
After winning two wild games against Philadelphia and St. Louis at the start of 2020, the Knights lost four in a row, which resulted in the firing of Gerard Gallant. The Knights won their first game under Peter DeBoer against Ottawa and are now 1-0-1 since the coaching change.
Though the Knights were unable to come away with the win the other night against Montreal, it was an impressive comeback effort that led to an important point, the Knights’ 57th of the year.
Tonight’s matchup will be a tough test for the Knights, though Boston likely will be missing one of its top-six centers as well, as David Krejci sported a non-contact jersey during yesterday’s practice. The Knights, meanwhile, are without William Karlsson, who is out with an upper-body injury.
Vegas is 1-3-1 all-time against the Bruins, who are first in the Atlantic Division, second in the Eastern Conference and tied for second in the league with 68 points.
This will be the second and final game between these clubs after they met in early October. Brad Marchand had a three-point game as the B’s handed Vegas its first loss of the season following two wins against DeBoer and the Sharks.
David Pastrnak scored his first of the season in that game, and he hasn’t really stopped since. Pastrnak leads the league in goals with 37. He, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron form one of the best two-way lines in the league. Overcoming this difficult matchup will be Vegas’ biggest test of the night.
The trio also will make life hard for the Vegas penalty killers, who will have to go up against the third-ranked power play in the league, which operates at a 26.3 percent conversion rate.
That being said, the Bruins are 4-3-2 over their last nine games, and starting netminder Tuukka Rask is on injured reserve. Jaroslav Halak has given up 20 goals in six games to start the new year, which does leave the door open for Vegas to get something going offensively.
No one has been more involved in Vegas’ offense lately than Max Pacioretty, who will represent the Knights at this year’s All-Star Game. Pacioretty has recorded 54 shots in his last 10 games, and he has 11 goals and 21 points in his last 19 contests.
However, there’s only so much Pacioretty can do when Vegas falls behind. That’s why avoiding the all-too-familiar 3-0 hole will be crucial for Vegas tonight.
The Knights were able to rally for a point against Montreal, but trailing 3-0 to one of the top teams in the league is not something Vegas can risk.
That being said, it’s fairly ironic that the Bruins are coming off a game in which they scored the first three goals (Saturday against Pittsburgh) before giving up four straight and losing 4-3.
DeBoer hasn’t made many changes to Vegas’ lineup or system (yet), but tonight’s game against a top team in the league could really serve as a benchmark for evaluating this roster moving forward.
Here are the projected lineups for both clubs (subject to change):
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk — Charlie Coyle — Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen — Par Lindholm — Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom — Sean Kuraly — Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara — Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — John Moore
Jonathan Marchessault — Chandler Stephenson — Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty — Paul Stastny — Mark Stone
William Carrier — Cody Eakin — Alex Tuch
Tomas Nosek — Nicolas Roy — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Nick Holden — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Deryk Engelland
How to watch
Time: 4 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM