Welcome to the 3 Stars of the Week segment. This will be a weekly post where I pick the Vegas Golden Knights’ three stars from the previous week. The first star will receive five points, the second star will receive three points, and the third star will receive one point. Points will be tallied throughout the season and one dollar per point will be donated to the charity of the winner’s choice at the end of the season.
The Golden Knights went 2-1 during the first week of the regular season and outscored their opponents 12-6. The team defeated their rivals, the San Jose Sharks, twice with a home-and-home to start the season. Then the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins came to town and put a chink in their armor with a 4-3 loss. Here are the stars from the first week of the season.
Third Star: William Karlsson
The fan-favorite, “Wild Bill” Karlsson is a threat whenever he is on the ice. The Golden Knights already have three shorthanded goals and he has started the play on two of them, recording two assists while down a man. He has a total of four apples on the season and is the straw that stirs the drink for the Golden Knights top line (and also has the best hair in the league).
Karlsson broke out with the Golden Knights in their inaugural season with 43 goals. While he most likely won’t replicate that number again, he does possess a lethal shot, he just does not shoot very often. In his three seasons with the Golden Knights, he has a 54.1% Corsi-For rating, which means when he is on the ice, his line possesses the puck 54.1% of the time.
Karlsson re-signed with the club this past offseason when he put pen to paper on an eight-year contract. He is the team’s No. 1 center, and, without a doubt, is one of the cornerstone pieces for this franchise, as he is the all-time leader in points in the team’s history, and won’t be a free agent until he is 34 years old.
Second Star: Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury is off to a great start this season, posting a 2.02 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. In his two starts against the Sharks, he made 55 saves on 57 shots. As the old saying goes, “your best penalty killer has to be your goalie,” and he certainly was. He helped his team go 10-for-10 in that department in the first two games of the season.
Fleury is set to turn 35 in November, but he is playing some of the best hockey of his career. The move to Las Vegas has rejuvenated his career and over the last five seasons, he has posted the most shutouts in the league, blanking the opposition 28 times.
He has five Stanley Cup Final appearances and came out victorious for three of them, and also has an Olympic gold medal on his resume. As much as Fleury is a gamer, the future Hall-of-Famer is also a prankster. It is a good way to stay loose and have fun when things don’t go your way.
While he may be in Vegas now, Fleury saw his old buddies Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the NHL Player Media Tour in Chicago before last season and was up to his old tricks. When asked about the prank, he said, “Their gear wasn’t there at the time, so the jerseys were the only thing I could screw with.”
His new three-year contract kicked in this season and he will likely finish his career in a Golden Knights sweater. The former first-overall selection is still looking to add some hardware to his trophy case and I think this is the season it happens.
First Star: Mark Stone
It is fair to say that Stone deserves to be the highest-paid player in the organization. He has been a revelation for the Golden Knights since being acquired at the trade deadline last season. Playing on a line with Max Pacioretty and rookie Cody Glass, they provide a second scoring line that many teams would employ as their top line.
He has the ability to play against other top lines to shut down their opponents or receive a favorable matchup to add his name to the scoresheet. He has started the season with three two-point games, scoring two goals (both of which have been on the power play) and four assists.
Stone is a workhorse on and off the ice. He leads all forwards in time on ice, averaging 19:15 minutes per game and is the leader in shorthanded time on ice for forwards as well, with 3:41 minutes per game. He causes multiple turnovers per game and led the league in takeaways last season with 122.
”He’s able to clean up other people’s mistakes and turn them into quick offense,” says teammate Reilly Smith. His patience with the puck gives him that extra couple of seconds to have the goalie move and score a goal or wait for a lane to open and pass to an open player and give them an opportunity.
I will keep a tally of the points all season long and donate a dollar per point to the winner’s charity of choice at the end of the season. Stay updated all season long by following me on Twitter, @LAM1926, to find out who will be next week’s three stars!
- Mark Stone: 5 points
- Marc-Andre Fleury: 3 points
- William Karlsson: 1 point