The Golden Knights and Coyotes begin a four-game series Monday, starting with a two-game set at T-Mobile Arena. The series will shift to Glendale on Friday for Vegas’ first road trip of the season.
A Vegas win would mark the second 3-0 start in franchise history. All wins, especially those of the regulation variety, are crucial. The Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild are the only 2-0 teams in the West Division, while the Coyotes have three points after a wild two games against the San Jose Sharks this past week.
“It’s new for everyone,” said forward William Carrier. “Our game plan against Anaheim was to get a hot start and put pressure on them early. I think we’re going to bring the same plan against Arizona.”
Both teams will make changes to their lineups. Nicolas Hague will in fact make his season debut for the Golden Knights; the defenseman will play on the third pair with Zach Whitecloud and giving Vegas six defensemen on the ice for the first time this season. To make the move happen, Cody Glass will be scratched as a corresponding cap move to make room for Hague.
Tomas Nosek, normally on the fourth line, will fill in for Glass at 3C and inbetween Alex Tuch and Nicolas Roy. Keegan Kolesar will be the 4C with Carrier and Ryan Reaves.
Robin Lehner is expected to start after Marc-Andre Fleury played Saturday.
“We don’t want Nic Hague to sit around longer than he has to to play,” DeBoer said. “I think he’s an NHL defenseman, I think he had a great training camp. I think with the fact we’re playing three games in five days to start, it was a good time to get him in and hopefully our D a little bit of a breather here.”
The Coyotes will be down their captain, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, after sustaining a lower-body injury Saturday. He will be out 3-4 weeks.
Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said Kyle Capobianco will go in Ekman-Larsson’s place and be paired with Jason Demers.
Darcy Kuemper will start in goal for Arizona.
3 things to watch
- Hague and Whitecloud were a top pairing in AHL Chicago during the Wolves’ Calder Cup Final run two seasons ago and will now get a chance to display that chemistry at the NHL level. Whitecloud, particularly, has looked very good through two games. He looks more confident in his offensive game and is not afraid to enter the offensive zone and make a play. It’ll be intriguing if Whitecloud can open the ice for Hague offensively.
- The Golden Knights did a much better job taking away the backdoor in front of Marc-Andre Fleury on Saturday. Both of Max Comtois’ goals in Thursday’s opener saw the forward find space in the Vegas defense for easy scores. While the Coyotes aren’t known for their scoring prowess, they have capable scorers like Phil Kessel (three goals), Conor Garland and Barrett Hayton. The third line of Clayton Keller, Derick Brassard and Tyler Pitlick is going to be the group I watch closely.
- No secret was bigger during training camp than the Golden Knights’ power play. How would Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore be deployed on special teams? Who would skate together? How good would it be? Well, the Golden Knights have two power plays through two games and none have looked good. DeBoer touched on the need to draw more penalties and has even been flabbergasted at why the whistle hasn’t blown as much in Vegas’ favor. Surely that was an emphasis heading into tonight.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NBCSN (for those outside region)
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM
Opponent’s blog: Five For Howling