With the end of training camp and every food chain coming out with something pumpkin flavored, that only means one thing; the NHL season is upon us! The Vegas Golden Knights’ final preseason game felt like a game that meant a lot, which led to many story lines to start the season. Let’s start at the final week of training camp.
The End of Preseason
The Golden Knights ended the preseason with a 5-2 record and outscored their opponents 25 to 13. Max Pacioretty led the entire league in points and assists with 10 and 6, respectively.
The preseason itself ended with a bang in a matchup against their rival, the San Jose Sharks. The two teams combined for over 100 penalty minutes and Evander Kane ended up with a three-game suspension for abuse of an official. It was also another preseason sellout at the Fortress; it is safe to say that Las Vegas has become a sports town.
It was unfortunate to see Kane receive a three-game ban as the two teams were set to play a home-and-home with one another to start the season, but him and Ryan Reaves can continue their battle off the ice. The next time these two will meet on the ice is scheduled for Nov. 21, barring any more suspensions or injury.
The Games Matter
The regular season has started and the Golden Knights are 2-0 after two wins against the Sharks. With both teams facing each other in the playoffs the last two seasons and seeing so much of each other in the beginning of 2019-20, this is becoming one of hockey’s hottest rivalries.
The first game was at T-Mobile Arena and the Golden Knights pulled out a 4-1 victory. Cody Glass, the team’s first ever entry draft selection, played in his first career game and scored his first NHL goal on a nifty pass from Max Pacioretty. He was also named first star of the game.
The second game was at the SAP Center in San Jose and the Golden Knights took home the two points, winning 5-1. Ten different players hit the score sheet, with Mark Stone collecting two assists and Tomas Nosek recording two goals and an assist. Stone leads the team in points after two games with one goal and three assists.
They went five-for-five on the penalty kill and scored two of their goals shorthanded. Brayden McNabb had a beautiful snipe for the first shorty and then Stone and Nosek scored on an odd man rush. Stone showed extreme patience with the puck and slid it over to Nosek who tapped it in.
The play started to heat up at the 14:05 mark of the third period when Fleury dove to cover a puck and the Sharks were able to put it into the empty net. Right after that, a melee broke out between the two teams and six players were eventually kicked out after receiving 10-minute misconducts. William Karlsson, Nicolas Hague and Deryk Engelland were the victims for your Golden Knights.
Cody Eakin was unable to start the season due to an upper-body injury. Head coach Gerard Gallant says he is day-to-day and Nosek has stepped in as the fourth-line center while he is out.
Nate Schmidt is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury after he and Logan Couture collided with knee-on-knee contact in the first period on Wednesday. The Golden Knights were without him to start the season last year because of a violation to the league’s Performance Enhancing Substances Program. He was suspended for 20 games and the team went 8-11-1.
Hague made his NHL debut Friday in place of Schmidt. He has the same attributes as Schmidt, just with more size and grit. He is 6-foot-6, 214 pounds, has a cannon of a shot and a bite to his game as we saw after the big scrum towards the end of the game Friday night.
Oct. 1 was the two-year anniversary of the tragic Route 91 mass shooting. Las Vegas was buzzing because it was the Golden Knights inaugural season, but instead it was rocked by this tragedy. Every player went out into the community and gave their support to the victims and first responders. Many players and former Golden Knights shared their support on Twitter remembering the victims.
Winger David Perron was a big part of the community outreach and shared his remembrance.
The club held a private practice for those affected by the events on Oct 1. Hotel employees, first responders, and family members of the 58 lives lost were in attendance.
Without a doubt, the city and organization will share this bond forever. They both supported each other through this dark time and came out #VegasStronger.
The Week Ahead
The Golden Knights will get the weekend off as their next game is not until Tuesday. The reigning Eastern Conference champs come to town as they will take on the Boston Bruins. The Bruins almost have the same roster intact from the previous season and are always a dangerous team to play against.
Then they will head to Glendale to face the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes made some significant changes in the offseason, bringing in Carl Soderberg and Phil Kessel. The organization recently signed goaltender Darcy Kuemper to a two-year extension, hoping he can build off his second-half success from last season and help the team make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.