Gameday: Golden Knights start Pacific Division stretch against Coyotes

Can the Golden Knights continue their domination of the Pacific Division this year?

After suffering their first loss of the season on Tuesday night, the Vegas Golden Knights will look to rebound tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. Although it is early in the season, this is an important stretch for the Golden Knights with three Pacific Division opponents on deck over the next four days.

Last season, Vegas posted an 18-8-3 record against Pacific Division opponents, which was the best of any team in the division; Vegas went 20-6-3 against the Pacific in the inaugural season two years ago. Needless to say, the Golden Knights know the importance of these division games, and they have dominated them.

Limit turnovers

If the Golden Knights are going to continue to have success against their divisional opponents they will have to clean up their turnovers. Usually it is the other way around with Vegas, but Boston’s forecheck gave them fits on Tuesday, forcing the Golden Knights into 12 giveaways. Some of the turnovers were just downright ugly, too.

Hopefully this is not the start of a recurring theme for the Golden Knights like we saw last season when Nate Schmidt was suspended and the blue line consistently looked shaky. For now we will chalk it up to just one bad game, but it is something to monitor going forward, especially with Schmidt listed as week-to-week with a knee injury.

Will Barrett Hayton inject life into the Coyotes’ offense?

Through two games this season the Coyotes have scored just one goal and it sounds like head coach Rick Tocchet might be inserting a new face into the lineup. With Lawson Crouse dealing with an upper-body injury, 19-year-old Barrett Hayton might make his NHL debut this evening. The No. 5 overall pick from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has been practicing on a line with Nick Schmaltz and Christian Dvorak, as well as on the team’s top power play unit.

Hayton was an offensive dynamo for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL last season, registering 66 points (20 goals and 46 assists) in 39 regular season games, as well as 16 points (six goals and 10 assists) in 11 playoff games. Hayton was a weapon on the Greyhounds’ power play, registering 22 power-play points last season, so perhaps he will inject some life into Arizona’s struggling man advantage.

What’s going on with Wild Bill?

You would not know it by the way he has played, but apparently William Karlsson is dealing with an undisclosed “issue” at the moment, and that is why he has not been taking faceoffs.

“I’ve lied to you guys for about three weeks now,” Gerard Gallant told reporters after practice on Wednesday. “Obviously there’s a little issue with Karlsson, so that’s why he’s not taking faceoffs.”

Gallant did not go into further detail of what this “issue” may be, but considering Wild Bill has not missed any time, it sounds like this is something that is not serious, which is fortunate for both Karlsson and the Knights.

In the meantime, Jonathan Marchessault, who is operating at a 48 percent effectiveness rate in the circle this season, will continue to take draws for the line. Until Marchessault struggles in the face-off dot, this is not necessarily a big concern, but Karlsson’s overall status is certainly something to monitor.

How to watch

Time: 7 p.m. PT

TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Arizona

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM