It’s Star Wars Night in the Valley, and Darth Chance the Gila Monster is rolling into town with the Golden Knights hoping to build a new Starkiller Base in the desert. Now only one thing can save us now: Howler painted green like Yoda.
In the third meeting ever between Vegas and Arizona, both teams come in with completely different storylines, yet stories that are somehow similar.
While both Vegas and Arizona have had copious injuries, particularly to goalies, the next man up has shown up for Vegas and not for Arizona. Now, as they go head to head, we’ll see if Arizona’s young firepower can overwelhm the constant goaltending injuries that have yet to catch up with Vegas.
View From Vegas
Vegas has been the single biggest surprise of any team so far this season. Despite not having a goalie play more than a few games in a row, they are on top of the Pacific.
Composed of a band of players uncovered by elder NHL squads, the Knights have pieced together such a compelling story that it’s hard to not notice them.
William Karlsson netted one of Vegas’s four goals against San Jose Friday night, meeting the 10 goal mark in a surprising campaign thus far. James Neal scored his team-leading 11th goal as well
In yet another chapter of Vegas’s goalie carousel, Maxime Lagace left the game late in the 2nd period and didn’t return, potentially signalling a start for Malcolm Subban tomorrow against the Coyotes.
View From Arizona
Arizona had a highly successful road trip through Canada a week ago, but that success has had mixed results back home.
Arizona was utterly run down by San Jose, looking dead on skates up until the last few moments of the game. Friday nights was the exact opposite, as Arizona ran LA around all night and eventually made up for its mistakes with a 3-2 OT winner from Christian Fischer.
Arizona’s special teams, which looked plain bad to start the season, have looked much improved. Arizona killed a critical penalty late in their game with the Kings, and got a power play goal as well.
However goaltending remains a major issue, as it has all season. Antti Raanta is day-to-day after taking an upper body hit against San Jose, leaving Scott Wedgewood and Marek Langhamer to fend off their divisional rivals. After Wedgewood started against Los Angeles, there is a chance Langhamer, who’s been hot in Tucson, gets the start.
- Who’s goaltender is going to get hurt first? Both teams can’t seem to not dip into their minor league goaltending, stressing both organizations to the point of trades and loans so that they can field enough goalies to play. Whichever team doesn’t have a hurt goalie mid-game will likely outlast the other.
- Can Arizona’s kids keep producing? Arizona won against LA on the OT winner from noted young person Christian Fischer, and other young person Clayton Keller is at the top of the Calder Trophy race so far.
- Who’s more tired? Both teams will be playing the back end of the division back to backs, both of which took OT to solve. Can the younger legs in Arizona outlast the Vegas Strip of misfit toys?
Players to Watch
Arizona: Christian Dvorak - Dvorak may not score a lot of goals, but he surely creates a lot of offense and has come into his own as Arizona’s 2nd line center. Recently on a line with Anthony Duclair and Max Domi, look for Dvorak to be the linchpin in Saturday’s outcome.
Vegas: James Neal - Perhaps the one player who should not have been exposed in the expansion draft, Neal leads Vegas in goals and points, becoming a dynamic offensive force in Vegas’s positioning at the top of the division.
Arizona: G Antti Raanta (Day-to-Day, UBI), D Jakob Chychrun (Week-to-Week, Knee)
Vegas: G Oscar Dansk (IR, Leg), G Marc-Andre Fluery (IR, Concussion), D Luca Sbisa (IR, Abdominal), D Clayton Stoner (IR, LBI)
You can catch Arizona and Vegas hit the ice 6PM Arizona on Fox Sports Arizona or Fox Sports Go, and on the radio at 92.3 KTAR.