Your Vegas Golden Knights had a small dose of action since our last update, with two games against the Colorado Avalanche and the Anaheim Ducks. It was a fun carousel weekend: the Golden Knights lost to the Avalanche on Friday, and the Avalanche then lost to the Ducks on Saturday, while the Golden Knights defeated the Ducks on Sunday. It goes to show you that anything can happen on any given night.
To recap the week: one of the Golden Knights’ top offseason acquisitions made his debut, a few patients from the injury ward are close to returning, and more.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare returned with the Avalanche for a Friday matinee on Nevada Day. He scored the first goal of the game 28 seconds in and finished with a career high three points and his team never looked back. The Avalanche won 6-1.
The Golden Knights did not look good. There were many defensive breakdowns and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was hung out to dry on many chances which led to him being pulled. As head coach Gerard Gallant stated, “I mean, Marc-Andre Fleury, I pulled him to save him. It was embarrassing the way were were playing.” (from ‘Golden Knights ‘embarrassing’ in loss to Avalanche in Las Vegas’, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 09/25/2019)
Fleury has been able to hide the team’s deficiencies without Nate Schmidt, who’s out with a lower-body injury, and has the potential to be a Vezina winner this season, but the speedy Avalanche were too much for the group. “There wasn’t a lot of effort tonight,” Gallant said. “I don’t even know where to start. It was an embarrassing game from our group.”
After Fleury was pulled, Garret Sparks made his Golden Knights debut. Gallant was hoping it would spark the team (pun intended), but unfortunately, he was just thrown into the deep end. He finished the game with 12 saves on 14 shots.
The next game was against division rivals, the Ducks. The start was not what Vegas was hoping for as three skaters were down on the goal line as Ryan Getzlaf steaked into the zone and received a pass from Max Comtois for an early 1-0 lead. That is when the Golden Knights flipped a switch and scored five unanswered and beat the Ducks 5-2.
Mark Stone had two points and the offense got help from their depth skaters as the fourth line had two goals, including Nicolas Roy’s first NHL goal.
Roy made his Golden Knights debut Sunday night against the Ducks. He centered the fourth line between William Carrier and Ryan Reaves. The three combined for 10 hits and two goals, the first scored by Reaves and the second was Roy’s first, which was also the game winner.
Roy won four of six faceoffs and, if he’s going to stay in the lineup, it’ll be because of the little things he does as a two-way center who plays the body and is great in the dot.
He, along with Nic Hague, Jake Bischoff, and Sparks were sent down to the Chicago Wolves, but only because the Golden Knights don’t play until Thursday while the Wolves play Tuesday and Wednesday. They will likely be recalled on Thursday, unless the team receives some returning troops.
The Golden Knights could have a healthy team by Thursday. Alex Tuch, Schmidt, and Malcolm Subban all returned to practice at the start of the week and Gallant hopes they are cleared for game action by then.
Tuch has missed the entire season due to injury, Schmidt was hurt in the season opener, and Subban has been out with a lower-body injury as well. Deryk Engelland is day-to-day after the Ducks game, so he would be the only player still out.
If Tuch returns, Roy will likely be kept in the minors while Hague would stay with the Wolves once Schmidt and Engelland are healthy enough to play. Hague is in his second professional season and needs playing time in all situations. He has a bright future with the team, something he won’t see if he gets stuck in the press box.
Milestones and the Week Ahead
Here are some milestones that could be reached in the week ahead.
- Mark Stone is three games away from 400.
- William Karlsson is five points from 200.
- Max Pacioretty is one point from 500.
- Paul Stastny is three points from 700.
Your Golden Knights have two more games in this home stand before they hit the road for an Eastern Conference trip. Thursday they take on the Montreal Canadiens and then the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night. They’ll start their four-game road swing in Columbus against the Blue Jackets on Nov. 5.
The Canadiens are sixth in the Atlantic with 12 points, but goalie Carey Price always has the potential to steal a game. The Jets conclude their road trip in Vegas on the second half of a back-to-back, as they play the San Jose Sharks the night before. Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella tends to squeeze everything out of his players, always making it a tough matchup.
Make sure to check out my 3 Stars segment as well. The first star of the week will receive five points, second star will be awarded three points and third star will get one point. I will award one dollar per point to the favorite charity of the player who has the most points at the end of the season.