Another day, another game with huge implications for the Vegas Golden Knights.
There was always going to be little real estate for Vegas to deal in when it comes to losses, and that real estate has shrunk a little bit more with the Nashville Predators beating the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 last night.
As such, tonight is another big one for the undermanned Golden Knights, with the very real danger of not making the postseason becoming more of a stark reality by the day. There is also the added wrinkle that is the Evgenii Dadonov situation.
Traded to the Anaheim Ducks at the Trade Deadline in order to clear cap room, the trade is under dispute and being investigated by the NHL and the NHLPA.
Latest on Dadonov: Somehow, on trade call from Ottawa to Vegas (a team Dadonov could not block), Golden Knights and NHL were led to believe protection had expired/not filed properly. But, there is correspondence proving no-trade paperwork filed correctly (and on-time) June 30.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 22, 2022
So, what we’re left with is a messy situation where Dadonov is still with the Knights despite the front office trying their best to get him out of the building.
Not great, Bob.
If that wasn’t enough, Vegas didn’t put in a good effort against the Wild on Monday and were shutout for the fifth time this season, while they have now dropped six straight on the road.
Not a good omen for tonight’s tilt in Winnipeg.
Speaking of the Jets, they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the wildcard race but, if they were to win tonight, they would increase the pressure on both the Dallas Stars and the Golden Knights.
Winnipeg was both a buyer and a seller at the Trade Deadline, trading veteran forward Andrew Copp and a sixth-round draft pick to the New York Rangers for prospect forward Morgan Barron, a conditional 2022 second-round pick, a conditional second-rounder in 2022 or 2023, and a fifth-round selection in 2023.
Long-serving Jet Bryan Little, who hasn’t played since 2019 due to injury, was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes along with prospect Nathan Smith, while defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was shipped to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional seventh-rounder.
Winnipeg were buyers, too, adding some forward depth by reacquiring Mason Appleton, and adding Zach Sanford, both of whom will add some considerable size and penalty killing expertise to the Jets lineup.
With the stage set, it goes without saying that tonight is another one the Golden Knights can’t afford to drop, and they will need to snap a six-game losing streak on the road if they want to keep hold of a wildcard berth.
As mentioned above, Monday was a bad night for the Golden Knights when it comes to the wildcard.
With their 3-0 loss to the Wild combined with another win for the streaking Predators, Vegas is now five points behind the St. Louis Blues, who are in possession of the first wildcard spot, and just a point ahead of the Stars.
Winnipeg is just four points behind the Knights, so a win for the Jets would make things very interesting ahead of Nashville visiting T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.
With Logan Thompson getting the last three starts, it is likely Laurent Brossoit will go for Vegas tonight.
Brossoit is 10-9-3 with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage this season, and he’s going to have to be a lot better than he has been if the Golden Knights are to come back from this road trip with anything.
For Winnipeg, Connor Hellebuyck is slated to get the start between the pipes and he has a 3.01 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage to go along with three shutouts this season.
However, Hellebuyck’s resume speaks for itself and he has the ability to shut teams down, which is a scary proposition for Vegas given that they are missing a lot of their firepower heading into tonight’s tilt.
Vegas Golden Knights
Williams Karlsson - Jack Eichel - Jonathan Marchessault
William Carrier - Chandler Stephenson - Nicolas Roy
Mattias Janmark - Nolan Patrick - Keegan Kolesar
Jake Leschyshyn - Brett Howden - Jonas Rondbjerg
Shea Theodore - Dylan Coghlan
Ben Hutton - Alex Pietrangelo
Zachary Hayes - Brayden Pachal
Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Evgeny Svechnikov
Zach Sanford - Paul Stastny - Mason Appleton
Adam Brooks - Dominic Toninato - Jansen Harkins
Josh Morrissey - Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon - Neal Pionk
Logan Stanley - Nate Schmidt