Knights host battle with Sabres, Blues
October 17, 2017 3:01 AM
by Alan Berg
Opening night was a thing of beauty as the Vegas Golden Knights smashed the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 in front of a packed T-Mobile Arena for the first regular season NHL game in Las Vegas history.
However, the unbeaten season ended Thursday, as the Detroit Red Wings rode a big third period, defeating Vegas (6-3). The Knights quickly bounced back this past Sunday with a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins, putting Vegas at 4-1.
Vegas vs. Buffalo
Westgate line: SABRES -110; GOLDEN KNIGHTS EV; Total goals 5.5 OVER -120/UNDER EV
The Sabres head to town, having won their first game of the season this past Sunday at Anaheim, 3-1. Buffalo is led by 20-year-old center Jack Eichel, who just signed an eight-year, $80 million extension. Eichel currently sits tied with left wing Evander Kane at seven points on the season. Oddly, neither man was on the scoresheet in the Sabres’ first win.
This is definitely a game Vegas should be favored in, having won four of five. Even though the Golden Knights have struggled to score goals (15 on the season), the Sabres have been worse with 14 in six games to Vegas’ five games. Buffalo’s Achilles heel thus far has been defense, giving up 23 goals – second worst in the NHL. Other than the drubbing by the Red Wings, Vegas has been solid defensively, giving up only 11 goals in the other four games.
Special teams have been an issue for both teams. Sabres are 23rd best on the Power Play and 22nd on the penalty kill. Meanwhile Vegas has been 29th on the Power Play but great on the kill No. 4 in the NHL.
Since Vegas’ specialty has been defense, I think getting even money is a great price as the Golden Knights continue to play with confidence. GOLDEN KNIGHTS EV up to -115
Vegas vs. St. Louis
Saturday, Oct. 21
PROJECTED LINE: BLUES -150; GOLDEN KNIGHTS +130; Total goals 5.5
Coming off a game at Colorado, St. Louis heads to the T-Mobile Arena for the first time to battle the Knights. The Blues started the season 4-2, pending the Avalanche game result this Thursday.
Taking a look at the Blues thus far, they have quality wins over defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers, both on the road but have lost two straight on the Florida trip, 5-2 to the Panthers and 2-1 to the Lightning.
St. Louis has been mostly middle of the pack statistically, nothing stands out thus far with a limited sample size. The key individual stat might be starting Blues goalie Jake Allen with a 2.96 goals against average 21st in the NHL, much higher than his career mark of 2.39. I lean Blues a little but I think this turns more into a defensive game for both teams. UNDER 5.5
Last Week: 1-2
Golden Knights 5, Arizona 2: It was an emotional affair as the Knights players walked out with first responders to the tragic shooting that occurred only nine days prior.
Trying to find a way back to normal, a large group of hockey fans to found some joy as the Knights took control early. Tomas Nosek notched the first home goal in franchise history only 2:32 into the first period. After one period it was 3-0 Vegas and the Knights never looked back, off to a 3-0 start and first place in the Pacific division.
Detroit 6, Golden Knights 3: The first defeat in Golden Knights history came in large part to a collision suffered by Vegas goalie Marc Andre-Fleury. In the second period, Red Wings right wing Anthony Mantha crashed the net hard and unfortunately Mantha smashed into Fleury hitting the goalie in the head with his knee. Although Fleury was not taken off the ice (concussion protocol), he would give up a goal shortly after the incident and gave up another three in the third period after being rock solid all season.
Fleury was placed on the Injured Reserve list, for a minimum of one week with a concussion.
Golden Knights 3, Boston Bruins 1: Losing Fleury presented an interesting opportunity for newly acquired backup Malcolm Subban. The 23-year-old prospect was waived by the Bruins last Monday and picked up by the Knights, who then shipped their backup Calvin Pickard to the Toronto Maple Leafs in response to the move.
Who would have thought Subban would be called upon to beat his former team only six days later. With 21 saves on 22 shots, Subban picked up the win. The night was full of unlikely heroes as Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov both scored their first goals for the team in their first game.
Shipachyov was expected to crack the opening day roster and be a big part of the Golden Knights offense but was missing in action due to reasons only the club and Shipachyov really know. Regardless, everyone in Vegas is happy now as the Russian has scored and seemed overjoyed he was able to contribute so quickly. Tuch was called up due to forward Jonathan Marchessault heading to the IR with Fleury.
Vegas, it’s clear your team is as scrappy as this city.