Darren Pang, a former National Hockey League goalie and current color broadcaster for the St. Louis Blues, was openly talking over the summer.
Without a new contract with the Blues or Fox Sports, Pang discussed working for the Vegas Golden Knights, adding, “Because so many teams visit Las Vegas during West Coast trips (prior to expansion), I wouldn’t be surprised if they go 41-0 at home.”
Pang assumed most teams would visit southern Nevada to party first, play hockey second.
Well, looky, looky, looky! Hey Darren, how about going 41-0… on the road!
For the first time, an NHL expansion team has captured its first two contests ever since the “absorption” of four franchises from the defunct World Hockey Association in 1979.
Since then, the league has added 10 expansion franchises. Only VGK – that’s our local team when you see the scoreboard abbreviation – has opened at 2-0-0.
Among the first nine clubs, only Ottawa and Tampa Bay captured their debut performance, while Florida gained a draw in Chicago. Every other team, as expected, lost.
However, it took the Senators a full month to capture their second victory after dropping nine straight; the Lightning were a touch better, winning again in Game No. 4.
So the unprecedented start by the Vegas Golden Knights is tremendous.
Yet for many, the Golden Knights won’t officially become a reality until Tuesday’s home opener.
In giving a shout-out to minor-league teams and minor-league sports called the 51s, Aces, Legends, Wranglers and Posse, among others, major team sports arrive with the puck drop at T-Mobile Arena, as the Golden Knights open a 7-game home stand by taking on the Arizona Coyotes in the second of a home-and-home series.
Face-off is at 7 p.m.
James Neal was brought to the Golden Knights for goal-scoring, but this is ridiculous.
Three goals, including one during a delayed penalty in the third period, then a pair of game-winners, one in the final minutes of regulation and another in overtime.
The winger may have missed the entire preseason, but fans won’t care if Neal regains his 40-goal form over the course of the season.
Neal also bounced Dallas’ Tyler Seguin with a massive check in the opener. That tells me he likes playing for Vegas (he isn’t playing protective), so the club may not need to worry about signing the pending unrestricted free agent.
Between Neal and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the three-time Stanley Cup winner from Pittsburgh, the Knights will have a bright future. But remember, VGK were the second-best team on the ice both nights, so the season could turn long and hopes of advancing to the playoffs just a pipedream, so both could be gone at the trade deadline next spring.
Fleury seems especially available to clubs on the fringe of postseason play. It was only one early game, but the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist got pulled after allowing five goals in a period over the weekend.
Winnipeg’s Steve Mason got off to a poor starts, and a Detroit Free Press players’ survey listed the Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard as the worst starting goalie in the National Hockey League.