3 things to watch for as the Golden Knights face the Islanders
Vegas embarks on its first extended road trip of the season, starting with a back-to-back in New York.
The Vegas Golden Knights (8-1-0) aim to continue their historic start to the season as they head to Brooklyn to face the New York Islanders (6-4-1) Monday.
If offense gets you excited, this is the game for you. They are also among the worst in terms of allowing shots on goal. I believe the term we're looking for is "high event hockey".
The Golden Knights sit third in the NHL in goals per game (3.78) and first in shooting percentage (13.1) while the Islanders rank seventh and fifth, respectively. Defensively the two teams sit 24th and 25th (NYI/VGK) in shots allowed.
The major difference has been goaltending. Vegas' three-headed monster of Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban, and Oscar Dansk have a 5-on-5 save percentage of .946 which ranks second in the NHL. The Islanders’ .925 between their tandem is a solid 10th.
The Islanders have won four of their last five games, including a 6-2 win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
John Tavares leads the way with nine goals and four assists for the Islanders, while key off-season acquisition Jordan Eberle has two goals and nine points in the team's 11 games.
In net, the Islanders have Jaroslav Halak who has been solid behind a rather porous defense earning a 4-2 record with a .916 save percentage and a 2.61 goals-against average. Thomas Greiss on the other hand ... not good. He has an .898 save percentage with a 3.70 GAA.
Trading home cooking for hotel room beds
The Golden Knights are finally heading out on their first extended road trip after a stretch of seven at home. Their 8-1 record has come as a major surprise to many in the young season but when seven of those games are in Vegas, regardless of what the fan distribution of the arena is, it comes with a major asterisk.
If this is really a competitive team that wants to make a push for the playoffs, against all odds — and this writer's desire for a Dahlin-Brannstrom powerplay — the proof of such is winning on the road, and this is game one of that.
Puck possession is key
The Golden Knights can't honestly expect their goalies to post a .937 combined save percentage forever. Taking control of the game, putting pressure on the Islanders’ defenders, and limiting the offensive opportunities of guys like Tavares, Eberle or Mathew Barzal will be key to victory for the Golden Knights in this one. The Golden Knights, as good as they have been, should avoid a shootout with a team like the Islanders.
With the level of offensive talent on the other side the game could come down to who makes the least mistakes and which team, in the end, makes the biggest mistake. It is imperative for the Golden Knights not to fall behind in this one. They will continue to ask a lot of Dansk in this game to save them when they do make mistakes. The least they can do is to not shoot themselves in the foot as well by losing the puck possession battle.
The power play must be on point
The Islanders have the 19th best penalty kill in the league, killing off just 80 percent. The Golden Knights have the 19th best power play. Something has to give here and, if it breaks the Golden Knights way, so should the game. The Islanders are nearly as good at not taking penalties as the Golden Knights (25th in penalties taken to the Golden Knights 29th). When the Golden Knights get a chance with the man advantage they must find a way to walk away with points. They won't likely get many opportunities.
How to watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM
Time: 4 p.m. PT