The Vegas Golden Knights’ 2023-24 title defense is going to be filled with memorable matchups. Following a relatively uneventful offseason, the roster remains almost identical to the one that hoisted the Stanley Cup. Can these Golden Knights replicate last season’s success? With the NHL season just under a month away, here’s a look at some of the highlights from the Golden Knights’ upcoming regular-season schedule.
Tuesday, Oct. 10 vs. Seattle Kraken: Golden Knights Raise Stanley Cup Banner
If there is a must-watch game this season, it’s the season opener. The Golden Knights will kick off the 2023-24 campaign at home against the Seattle Kraken when they will raise their first Stanley Cup championship banner during their pre-game ceremony.
Fans have been fortunate to see the team be so successful in such a short period of time. To have their first game be at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas makes this night even better.
The only other major sports franchise to win a championship in Las Vegas was the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA in 2022. This isn’t just a big moment for the city, but it’s also huge for the NHL. With the Golden Knights finding so much success as an expansion franchise and the Kraken doing so well in such a short time as well, the league should be encouraged to expand even further in the future.
Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. Florida Panthers: Stanley Cup Final Rematch
The playoffs can create rivalries between teams that otherwise would not have been anticipated, and that’s what happened between the Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.
The Panthers’ playoff run was impressive. After coming back from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round to beat the Boston Bruins, the best regular-season team of all time, Florida won the next two series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes as underdogs to make their second Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history.
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Each game featured a ton of physicality between players like Matthew Tkachuk, Radko Gudas, Keegan Kolesar, and Sam Bennett, as well as a ton of scoring from both teams. If that series is any indication of what we can expect to see when they meet again, there’s no doubt that this will be a must-watch game.
This is one of just two games that the Panthers and Golden Knights will play against each other in 2023-24, and both are within two weeks of each other. With a 3 p.m. start, this will be a great way to spend your Saturday afternoon just before the holiday season gets underway.
Monday, Jan. 1 @ Seattle Kraken: Expansion Winter Classic Matchup
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman broke the news at the 2023 Winter Classic in Boston that the Golden Knights and the Kraken would be participating in the 2024 Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, home of MLB’s Seattle Mariners.
This will be the second time the Golden Knights have participated in an outdoor game (the first was the NHL Outdoor Games event at Lake Tahoe against the Colorado Avalanche in 2021). However, this will be the Kraken’s first outdoor game since they joined the league just two seasons ago.
There’s clearly a rivalry trying to be built between the NHL’s newest franchises, but it hasn’t been very competitive up until this point. The Golden Knights have a 5-1-0 record against the Kraken in the six times they have met, including a perfect 3-0 record on the road in Seattle.
Related: NHL Winter Classic Jerseys – Ranked
One of the biggest stories of the Winter Classic is the specially designed uniforms. While both franchises don’t have much of an NHL history to draw from when designing these jerseys, the Golden Knights have found ways to encapsulate the culture of Las Vegas in the past and should have no problem doing it again.
Saturday, Jan. 20 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: A Misfit Returns
Trading Reilly Smith to the Pittsburgh Penguins ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft was one of those difficult decisions every team must make to build and maintain a contender.
Smith was one of just six misfits left from the franchise’s inaugural season in 2017-18 to hoist the Stanley Cup last season and was an integral part of the Golden Knights organization. In 399 regular-season games with the club, he scored 124 goals and 286 points. He also ranks second all-time in franchise playoff scoring, with 66 points through 88 games.
This will be the second time that the Golden Knights face off against the Penguins, but it will be the only time they play at T-Mobile Arena this season. Smith was a beloved leader, and there should be a few tributes on behalf of the Golden Knights that will be worth watching.
Thursday, Feb. 29 @ Boston Bruins: Cassidy Returns to Boston as a Champion
Cassidy coached six seasons with the Boston Bruins, where he had a 296-130-55 record, winning 61% of his games and solidifying himself as one of the best coaches in the NHL, before joining the Golden Knights for the 2022-23 season.
The Bruins’ decision to part ways with Cassidy was controversial among the fanbase. With questions about his ability to still connect with his players after being with the team for so long, Boston GM Don Sweeney decided that a new voice in the locker room was the best decision to elevate the franchise.
It’s easy to look at Cassidy’s immediate success with the Golden Knights and assume that the decision to let him go was a bad one, but Jim Montgomery did a remarkable job with the Bruins in his first season as head coach as well. The Golden Knights were already poised for a deep playoff run, and Cassidy was just one of the missing pieces that helped them win.
Cassidy has made it very clear that there’s no bad blood between him and the Bruins organization. But even if there was, he’ll be returning to Boston with a championship, something that the Bruins were never able to accomplish during his tenure. In this game, I’m sure the players on both sides will know that there’s a bit more on the line than just a regular-season win.
- Friday, Oct. 17 vs. Dallas Stars: Western Conference Final rematch and former coach Pete Deboer returns to Las Vegas.
- Saturday, Oct. 21 @ Chicago Blackhawks: The Golden Knights take on 2023 first-overall pick Connor Bedard for the first time.
- Tuesday, Feb. 6 vs. Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid and the Oilers return to Las Vegas for the first time since their intense second-round series in the 2023 Playoffs.
- Thursday, April 18 vs. Anaheim Ducks: The final game of the regular season, which could have serious implications in the standings given how much the Pacific Division has improved over the offseason.