Blues at Golden Knights Preview: Alex Pietrangelo revenge game on tap
The Golden Knights’ newest addition faces his old team for the first time.
The Vegas Golden Knights are finally playing a team that isn’t the Arizona Coyotes as they come home to play the St. Louis Blues.
Vegas will play a two-game set on Tuesday and Thursday at T-Mobile Arena. This will be the first games the Golden Knights play against St. Louis this season, who won the Western Conference during the regular season last year and won the Stanley Cup in 2019.
That means it’s also Alex Pietrangelo’s first games against his former team. Pietrangelo played the first 12 seasons of his NHL career with St. Louis and was captain of the Blues from 2016 until last year.
The Golden Knights are now 5-1-0, the best start in franchise history having won their first four games. They’re undefeated at home, with 16 goals scored to just seven against in those four games.
The Blues are 3-2-1 and lost their most recent game, 6-3 to the Los Angeles Kings. They’ve lost one of their games in each of the sets they’ve played, good news for the Golden Knights. Jordan Binnington has a .913 save percentage in five starts and Ville Husso, his backup, has a .813 save percentage in two games.
The Blues are now led by sophomore forward Jordan Kyrou who could be playing his first full season this year. He has six points in six games. Ryan O’Reilly, who replaced Pietrangelo as captain, has just four points including one goal. The Blues are down Vladimir Tarasenko, still on IR after surgery in the offseason.
Robin Lehner could start in net, but after a shutout in Sunday’s game, Marc-Andre Fleury could have earned another shot as well.
Binnington will start in net for St. Louis.
3 things to watch
- Vegas is struggling on the power play so far this season, which led to experimentation in Sunday’s game as Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore switched units. It didn’t work, but compared to other games, it also didn’t fail. Against the Blues, who are currently sixth-worst shorthanded this season, the Golden Knights could get a much needed jump on the power play. Vegas’s penalty kill, currently the 10th best, should also have an easy time with St. Louis’s 30th-ranked power play.
- Fleury is outplaying Lehner this season, which is unexpected and could be bad news. Fleury was expected to be the backup and be on the trade block, while Lehner recently signed a long-term extension. Now, Fleury has a .951 save percentage and has saved 2.63 goals above expected over his first three starts. Lehner has a .899 save percentage and given up 2.34 more goals than expected over his three starts. It may be worth exploring switching them in the goaltending order, and this may be the game to do it. Keep an eye on the starter’s net.
- The last two games the Golden Knights were home, they lost the possession battle to the Coyotes. That included losing the quality battle as well as the volume battle in the last game on Jan. 20. While that may be in part because of a system the Golden Knights seemed to figure out more as the series wore on, it’s still not a great sign for what was one of the best possession teams during the 2019-20 season. The Golden Knights won’t get a break as the Blues are ninth in expected goal share so far this season while Vegas is seventh. /
How to watch
Time: 6 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, ESPN+
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM
Opponent’s blog: St. Louis Game Time