Golden Knights vs. Kraken preview: Remember opening night? That was forever ago
Injuries, bad power plays, all the happenings as Vegas and Seattle meet again.
I want you to take a moment and think back to Oct. 12.
The Golden Knights opened the new NHL season against the Seattle Kraken. Much euphoria was had for a new year, as well as the beginning of a new era with the NHL’s 32nd franchise.
It even resulted in a 4-3 win for Vegas because Chandler Stephenson showed off his soccer prowess.
Now I want you to fast forward nearly a month later and realize that everything since that game has taken a dark, sharp turn with the potential for things to get bad real quick.
Somehow, the Golden Knights have not let it get that far yet, hovering at .500 despite Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and others out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. Much has changed for the Golden Knights and the Kraken since their first matchup, and they will meet again Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights are coming off a season-long four-game road trip that, miraculously, they split for four points out of a possible eight. Given the fact Vegas was outshot 20-1 in the first period and still came back to score five unanswered in Montreal was a miracle.
Vegas lost 5-2 to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday in the second half of a back-to-back. Laurent Brossoit allowed four goals on 29 shots in his second start with the Golden Knights.
Your keys to this Tuesday affair:
Red-hot top line
Despite the absence of William Karlsson, the Golden Knights have not seen a dip in top-line production.
Jonathan Marchessault scored his fourth goal in three games on Sunday to give him a team-high six this season, and Nicolas Roy — filling in for Karlsson in-between Marchessault and Reilly Smith — had a goal and an assist for his third straight multi-point game.
Whatever’s left of the big-time players have had to step up with literally half of Vegas’ top six sitting on injured reserve. Rest assure, that line wasn’t the reason the Golden Knights got ran out of Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.
The Roy line generated 12 attempts and only allowed five in 8:18 at 5-on-5. They did allow 0.69 expected goals while generating only 0.42 while allowing four high-danger chances, but for the most part, that group had a solid outing. Nothing they could’ve done about the two power plays in the first period.
If plans to run a parade down Las Vegas Boulevard for the Golden Knights’ power play have not happened yet, when are we getting on that?
It needs to be done before the Kraken surpass the Golden Knights on the power play chart.
But rejoice in the fact that the Golden Knights have the 31st-ranked power play after scoring twice in Montreal. Despite going 0-for-2 on Sunday, Vegas at 8.3 percent leads only ... the Kraken at 7.9 percent.
You may think you’ve seen everything horrendous in life, but you’ve never seen two power plays finding all ways to score, only to fall flat on their faces and wonder why the world hates them.
But the Golden Knights’ power play has started to look more quicker in recent games. The passing appears to be more fluid around the perimeter, rather than sitting at the top and evaluating the situation. Sometimes it just takes quicker reaction time to shock your opponents.
The power play, as of now, is trending in the right direction.
Seattle has lost seven of 10 since splitting its first two games. The good news is Climate Pledge Arena has the chance to be a tough place to play as the season rolls along.
The bad news is the Kraken have not won on the road since their first-ever win against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 14. Seattle has lost by more than two goals in all but three road games; the opener against Vegas, an overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
That last sentence should never be uttered in human form ever again.
Jordan Eberle and Brandon Tanev lead the Kraken with six goals each, while Jaden Schwartz is tied with Eberle for the team lead with eight points. There has been no decision on a starting goalie from Seattle’s perspective, but it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Philipp Grubauer get another crack at Vegas. The Vezina Trophy finalist from a season ago is 4-5-1 with a 2.96 GAA, but an .886 save percentage.
Chris Driedger, meanwhile, has only made one appearance this season.
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault — Nicolas Roy — Reilly Smith
William Carrier — Chandler Stephenson — Evgenii Dadonov
Mattias Janmark — Jake Leschyshyn — Keegan Kolesar
Brett Howden — Jonas Rondbjerg — Michael Amadio
Nicolas Hague — Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Brayden McNabb — Dylan Coghlan
Where to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM