What to watch for as the Golden Knights head to Winnipeg
Vegas is tied with the Jets in their season series. Here's what to watch for as the Knights look to win the third contest.
The Vegas Golden Knights will continue their road trip against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night. This will be the Knights' third game against the Jets and the second in Winnipeg.
In their previous two matchups, each side won by three goals. The Knights won on Nov. 10 by the score of 5-2 and the Jets won 7-4 on Dec. 1. That's nine goals apiece in the first two games, so expect this one to be a high-scoring event.
The Jets have gone 14-7-4 since the last time the Knights faced them and are currently on a five-game streak where they've gotten at least a point in the standings. After the Knights knocked the Calgary Flames off an 11-game streak, that's not really a problem.
The players to watch out for on the Jets are Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 56 points in 51 games) and Patrik Laine (23 goals, 40 points in 51). Laine came close to rookie of the year last season, and Wheeler was an All-Star this season. They're heavy hitters.
Defensively, don't do... this
Yeah, so the last game the Knights played against the Jets, they allowed seven goals in 38 shots across all situations. They allowed shots from everywhere and goals from everywhere.
The defense needs to play tighter to their man, and not be afraid of blocking shots. The Knights only blocked 11 of the Jets' shots in their most recent clash. With Max Lagace in net, that wasn't helpful.
Luckily, the Knights will have Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban against the Jets this time around. Still, the defense needs to play better. Stop the Jets from shooting near the crease, look out for the point and defend the circles. Not too hard for the Knights' solid blueliners.
Both times the Knights have taken on the Jets, they allowed a power-play goal. In the Dec. 1 loss, Vegas allowed three. They also scored shorthanded in the Nov. 10 win.
The penalty kill continues to be one of the most important factors in the game for the Knights. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare more than earns his keep as the forward who has the most time shorthanded. With Deryk Engelland, Nate Schmidt and Jason Garrison, the Knights have a solid shorthanded blue line even without Luca Sbisa and Brayden McNabb.
This time around, keeping Winnipeg out of the net when they're up a man could help the Knights win. The Knights could also just stay out of the box, but they've never gone without a penalty in a game. They have had just one penalty kill in a single game seven times, though.
Making that eight wouldn't hurt against the Jets. Don't give them too many opportunities, and it becomes easier to play shorthanded.
In both games against the Jets, and in three of their last five games, the Knights have made a significant push in the third period to control the puck and have gotten goals from it. They made less of a significant push against the Flames but got the same result.
Whether it be blowout wins, like the 5-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, as well as in losses versus the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders, the Golden Knights have made more of an effort in the third period. Vegas understands not to take their foot off the pedal as well as to go all out to win.
When the final 20 minutes arises against the Jets, whether the Golden Knights are up three goals or down two, expect them to make a push to try and win. That's what they do best.
How to Watch
Time: 5 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM