Three things to watch for as the Golden Knights open their home to the Arizona Coyotes
Does James Neal take another step in his pursuit of the Rocket Richard Trophy?
Tonight, your undefeated Vegas Golden Knights (2-0-0) complete a journey nearly three years in the making as they welcome the Arizona Coyotes (0-1-1) to T-Mobile Arena for their first-ever regular season home opener.
This, the conclusion of a home-and-home series with the Coyotes, comes three days after the Golden Knights rode some late-game heroics by Nate Schmidt and James Neal, along with another stellar performance between the pipes by Marc-Andre Fleury, to a 2-1 victory in overtime.
The Coyotes made news earlier in the week by assigning Dylan Strome, the third-overall pick from the 2015 draft, to the AHL and recalling Mario Kempe.
The Golden Knights made news themselves this week for much different reasons.
The Coyotes are still waiting for their major off-season acquisitions Derek Stepan and Niklas Hjalmarsson to get on the score sheet, hoping that they take a step in that direction tonight against the Golden Knights.
Here are three things to watch for your Vegas Golden Knights:
Will any forward NOT named James Neal score a goal?
Having one player be particularly dominant and produce most of the offense isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just ask the Washington Capitals. But, at some point one must assume Neal will have an off-game where he doesn't score and when that happens it will be up to the other 11 forwards to produce.
Thus far, only Neal and defenseman Nate Schmidt have scored goals for the Golden Knights and, to the team’s credit, it was enough to win. Still, we're watching to see who among the other forwards steps up in a big way in this one.
It's James Neal's world - we're just living in it. pic.twitter.com/lCzY0kAgAk— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) October 8, 2017
Yeah, it's a bit early to start campaigning for the man lovingly nicknamed "Flower" to win the Vezina, but his play in the first two games of the season cannot be overstated. The three-time Stanley Cup Champion has stopped 72 of the 74 shots he has faced (.973 save percentage) and has been nothing short of phenomenal. He has been better than advertised, and the Golden Knights can only hope this level of brilliance continues as the season moves along.
YOU 👏🏻 CAN'T 👏🏻 SCORE 👏🏻 ON 👏🏻 FLEURY pic.twitter.com/PLEXkZpY8j— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 7, 2017
The power play needs to pay its electric bill
The Golden Knights power play is currently 0-for-11 this season. That is, if my math is correct, pretty awful. For a team that is struggling to put points on the board, figuring out the power play could be a good first step to achieving that. If only they had someone with offensive talent sitting around somewhere. Like maybe a big, net-front winger, or a point-producing veteran center, or even a puck-moving offensive defenseman. If only...
For more on the Golden Knights anemic power play, Ryan Quigley broke it down more in depth earlier today.
Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360, NBC Sports Network, and TVA Sports.