The Vegas Golden Knights are entering their fifth season of professional hockey in the NHL. There is absolutely no doubt that they have been the most exciting franchise of the past four years. From a Stanley Cup Final berth in their inaugural season to multiple division championships to trading for big names such as Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, to…; well, I think you get the point.
The Golden Knights have been anything but dull during their time in Vegas, and to commemorate their fifth season, we are going to be looking at five games you MUST circle on your calendar this season. From establishing a new rivalry with a fellow expansion team to facing off against a recent Vezina Trophy winner, this schedule has it all. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Oct. 12 – Home Opener Against the Seattle Kraken
Yes, you read right. In just their first game, the Golden Knights will be facing off against the newly minted expansion team, the Seattle Kraken. Word around the hockey community is that the Golden Knights expansion plan from a couple of years ago heavily influenced how this Kraken team was built, so it should be interesting to see what they have in store.
From the preseason games I have seen, the team from Seattle has looked decent, but they also beat a Vancouver team that was made up mainly of AHL players and lost 6-0 yesterday to the Edmonton Oilers. Only time will tell if this team can attain the same level of success as the Golden Knights did in their first season, luckily, we don’t have to wait too much longer to see them in action against the team from Sin City.
Dec. 21 – Lightning Roll Into Town
I’m not sure what the weather will be like in Vegas on Dec. 21, but one thing I do know is that there’s going to be some Lighting. The Tampa Bay Lightning that is. The former Stanley Cup champs will face off against the Golden Knights, and the game will largely serve as a measuring stick to see if the Golden Knights can compete with a lethal team such as Tampa Bay.
Dec. 27 – Battle with the Colorado Avalanche
As we can all remember, last season, the NHL decided to restrict its play to strictly intra-division. This meant that teams would play the same opponent as many as nine to ten times. What this also did was strengthen rivalries and bad blood between teams. This is exactly what happened with the Golden Knights and the Avalanche.
From a Presidents’ Trophy battle that wasn’t decided until their last games last season to a chippy playoff series with the Golden Knights coming out on top, this rivalry has it all. What’s even better is that this game falls during the holiday break (for most), so you can easily make time to watch the game.
Jan. 8 – Facing an Old Friend
On the eighth of January, the Golden Knights host the Chicago Blackhawks; the same Chicago Blackhawks recent Vezina Trophy winner Marc-André Fleury is now a part of. The Sorel, Quebec native was beloved in Sin City, as his child-like smile and contagious personality seemed to rub everybody in the sporting world the right way.
Fans were heartbroken when the team decided to move on from him, especially after he just had arguably the best season of his career and had captured his first-ever Vezina Trophy. Still, Golden Knights management felt that a $7 million cap hit for a 37-year-old goalie was too steep a price to pay, especially considering they had a younger Robin Lehner waiting in the wings.
Not many games make you emotional, but if Fleury is healthy and starting for this one, there may be some wet eyes in the stands that night.
Jan. 20 – Rematch against the Canadiens
Do you remember the Montreal Canadiens? Yes, the same Canadiens who had a cinderella-story season last year and who would go on to beat the Golden Knights in the third round of the playoffs for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. Well, they are making their way into town on the 20th of January, and if this game is anything like the playoff series, then we are in for quite a treat.
Bonus Game: Apr. 9 – New Threads on Display
If you are a fan of NHL jerseys like me, then you were thrilled when the Arizona Coyotes announced that they would be rocking their vintage Kachina sweaters and using their Kachina logo moving forward. In my opinion, this logo is a top-five logo in the NHL (minus the original six teams).
I cannot wait to see these threads in action, and April the ninth will serve as the day Golden Knights fans can see them up close and personal.
With that, I just want to say what a joy it is to be going back to a regular, 82-game season where teams play other teams from each division. Not that I didn’t enjoy hockey last year, but we can all agree it just wasn’t the same. With so many games on the schedule, which ones are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael Vidakis is a Montreal native who writes for the Vegas Golden Knights team here at The Hockey Writers. In his spare time, he enjoys the finer things in life such as Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, staring aimlessly outside windows and tangerines.