Welcome to the (official) second half of the season. Your reward for making it this far is a battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference.
The Vegas Golden Knights will look to stay perfect on this seven-game homestand. Three up, three down to this point for Vegas on this trek at home, but now come the meat and potatoes of the stretch. The reigning Stanley Cup champions come to T-Mobile Arena for this Saturday matinee.
But it hasn’t been easy sailing recently for the St. Louis Blues; they’ve lost back-to-back games after winning eight in a row. The Blues are coming off a 7-3 loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, a season-high in goals allowed and a career-high allowed from Jordan Binnington.
Vegas can tie its season-long winning streak of four games with a victory, but it’ll have to be against a team that’s beaten the Golden Knights four straight times dating back to Year 1.
Here’s what to watch for.
Play a full 60 minutes
The Dec. 12 meeting at St. Louis was one of the Golden Knights’ rare losses, but it was an important one. Vegas played strong in the first and third periods, but allowed three unanswered goals in the second stanza to lose 4-2.
Vegas took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission off the back of a quick response by Max Pacioretty, and strong forechecking by the fourth line that led to William Carrier’s goal to give them the lead. St. Louis turned up the pace in the second period and dominated the possession game. The Blues took advantage of that.
It sounds simple to say Vegas needs to play a full 60 minutes, but it proved possible to hang with the Blues should they control play in the neutral zone and limit their speed.
It might help that they’re at home, but the Golden Knights can’t afford another instance where they fall behind a goal like they did Thursday against Philadelphia. They can’t do that against the champs.
Shea Theodore approaching career-year status
With 25 points through 44 games, and with the emphasis of focusing more on the offensive end as of late, Shea Theodore is becoming the X-Factor on the blue line the Golden Knights have needed.
Theodore has been over a point per game in his past 10 games (three goals, 10 assists) to carry the scoring on the blue line. He’s been primarily paired with Nic Hague as of late, which has opened up the scoring opportunities and not clogged half the ice.
Theodore has five points in three games after a goal and assist on Thursday; that followed a three-assist night two games prior that was one of his best overall games this season.
Vegas is absolutely going to need more from its blue line should it want to make advancements this spring, but getting Theodore on this pace is a good start.
David Perron revenge tour?
The former Golden Knights forward has played four games against his former team. Oddly enough, the Blues’ leading scorer hasn’t scored a point against Vegas to this point.
Fortunately the Blues have enough offensive firepower to sustain a lackluster night for Perron, who leads the Blues in scoring with 40 points this season.
Perron is likely making the All-Star Game for the first time, barring a weird change of luck by those who wield the power to vote him in via the internet. If the Blues want to win this game, they may need to rely on the former Vegas skater to make it happen.
How to watch
Time: 1 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM