3 things to watch for as the Golden Knights visit the Rangers
After one hell of a collapse on Friday, Vegas hopes to rebound inside MSG.
So, let’s start off by not mentioning what happened on Friday in Newark, New Jersey.
However, we can point out that the New York Rangers also wasted a three-goal lead on Friday, so Sunday’s matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights at Madison Square Garden is bound to be a game of two not-so-happy teams.
Today is a new day, and the past is the past. The Golden Knights will look to rebound after Friday’s debacle against the Rangers at the Garden. Vegas and New York split the two meetings last season.
The Golden Knights (18-14-2) are hanging onto the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, while the Rangers (14-13-4) are in the middle of the pack in the East.
Here’s what to watch for.
The All-American line
If you’ve been waiting to see the 67-26-89 line, you need not wait any longer (barring any wacky circumstances).
Paul Stastny logged 16:53 in his return to the lineup after missing two months with a lower-body injury. That was just his fourth game as a Golden Knights player.
Stastny returned to the second line after a valiant effort from Cody Eakin. He centered a line of Alex Tuch and Oscar Lindberg on Friday, with the odd man out being Max Pacioretty (undisclosed injury).
Tuch has been phenomenal for the Knights so far this year, scoring 11 goals and 23 points in 26 games. Tuch, Stastny and Pacioretty have yet to appear in a game all together, and today’s game may mark the first time we see the trio. Who knows what the severity is to Pacioretty, or if he was really scratched. No one knows. But this line is highly anticipated, and the hope is it debuts today.
Is it possible to water a flower too much? Is that even a good metaphor for what’s happening? I don’t know. But Marc-Andre Fleury has played in 12 straight games and we may see him start a 13th straight against the Rangers today. It could very much be a situation like starting after he played at Los Angeles just a week ago; needing to get that last game out of his head.
Nevertheless, at this point, I’m just as clueless as to why Gerard Gallant and goaltending coach Dave Prior haven’t gone to Malcolm Subban. He hasn’t played in almost exactly one month (Nov. 19). Fleury has been great, but not only does he need a bit of a rest, Subban needs to play also. The Golden Knights have three back-to-backs in the next two weeks, including one tomorrow against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
If I was a betting man, I’d say that we see Subban either today or tomorrow, but at this point who actually knows? Maybe Fleury will just play 82 games every year until his contract expires and then ride off into the sunset in a blaze of glory.
Spreading the scoring around
With the return of Stastny, the Golden Knights now have the ability to roll out four lines that can be offensive threats. Scoring is coming from everywhere in the lineup right now, and each line can bury the puck.
Not many teams in the league can say that they have that luxury. Every forward on the team has chipped in a goal so far this year except for Stastny, and just Jon Merrill and Brayden McNabb haven’t scored from the point.
The first line has been clicking, and the fourth line has been great. The third and second lines have been on and off, but that’s also mainly due to the fact that they’ve been rotating pieces. Now that the lines are more or less cemented, they should be able to get comfortable and get in a groove. Eakin will be welcomed on the third line, and the second line has too much firepower to not get things rolling.
How to watch
Time: 9:30 a.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, MSG Plus, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM