Only a few games into the new season, it’s really too early to tell if they will suffer the curse of the ‘sophomore slump’, but the Knights have not had a good start out of the gate going 1-2. Vegas lost 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres this past Monday even though they outshot the Sabres 37-17. On the road for four more games, they need to get this win tonight to get their confidence back, and put some shine back on their armor.
Knights forward Max Pacioretty spoke with NHL.com about their last game, “Too many (Grade A chances) obviously, You know, we limited them to a low number of shots, however, the shots that they did get were Grade A opportunities. We can’t leave our goaltender out to dry like that.”
One highlight of that match was that Jonathan Marchessault did get a goal and an assist for the Knights but the big problem has been that Vegas is 0 of 8 on the power play so far, and there were several turnovers. Last year, they didn’t lose until the 10th game of the season, and with only one win under their belt, they have a tough back-to-back against the Capitals tonight and then the formidable Pittsburgh Penguins.
“They’re the Stanley Cup champs,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant, told media about the Capitals. “We look at this game (Wednesday) night, it’s a big challenge for our group so we’ll get ready to play them. We know them, they know us real well, so hopefully it’ll be a good game and we’d like to come out on top.”
It’s not like Washington is doing a lot better at 1-0-1 but they are well rested. They have shown that they still have the same firepower as before, even if they lost a 7-6 overtime decision to the Penguins on the weekend after beating the Boston Bruins by a touchdown, 7-0, on opening night. Of course Gallant wants to downplay the rematch and call it just another two points in the standings that they need to get, but the newly minted Capitals coach, Todd Reirden, told media despite the calm, he still expects an intense game against the Knights who will play for pride.
“Obviously, through a five-game series you develop a little bit of hatred for certain guys, so it’s always nice to get back in to that sort of rivalry that we’ve developed with them,” he told reporters. “I think it’ll be good for our team — especially after five days — to help us get right into the game and know it’s going to be a competitive situation with a real hungry team that’s looking to knock us off.” Reirden will put in two guys who’ve missed games tonight, going in will be defenseman Michal Kempny, who was out in the first two games due to a concussion, but will be back in paired up with John Carlson.
“I never had a concussion before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Kempny told media. “Some headaches, and it was something a little bit weird, but then I felt a better and better every day.”
Also forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who came to the Caps from the St. Louis Blues after being grabbed on waivers right before the season began, will make his debut and will find himself on the fourth line centered by Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly, so that should be an interesting line to watch. For Vegas, forward Cody Eakin, might return after being out with a lower body injury, which would be great for the Knights since they’d want to give him the chance to improve after scoring only 11 goals and getting 16 assists in 80 games last year.
Caps goaltender, Braden Holtby got a huge shutout on opening night against the Bruins, but then turned around and gave up the same 7 goals to the Penguins. Holtby will probably have to reach in deep and remember that he only allowed eight goals versus the Knights in the final four games of the finals as Washington went on to win four in a row after going down 1-0. or Vegas, Marc-Andre Fleury is who he is, and can turn the magic on any time. The numbers are still not telling only a few games into the year, but he’s posted a 3.93 goals-against average in two-plus games, but surely he’ll bring it down if he wants to give his Knights a chance to win. It might be a big call though since he gave up four goals per game to Washington in the Cup finals. So with that fresh in his mind, this might just be a game Fleury could steal or his team.