In their last game the Arizona Coyotes managed a win against one of the better teams in the East, although one that has struggled a bit going into the final stretch, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tonight they will play against the Vegas Golden Knights, a team that recently clinched a playoff spot in their inaugural year, despite struggling a bit going into the final stretch.
The Coyotes 4-1 victory against the Lightning was definitely a showcase for the youth movement. Trevor Murphy, Jakob Chychrun, Brendan Perlini, and Clayton Keller all notched goals. Murphy was acquired this season by the Coyotes along with Pierre-Cedric Labrie from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Tyler Gaudet and John Ramage. He was playing in only his second career NHL game and is the oldest of the four players at 22 years old. When none of the players who scored are eligible to rent a car on their own, you have to have hope for the future of the team.
In addition to the Coyotes getting offense from the younger players, they also managed to play a fairly tight defensive game. Tampa Bay wasn’t able to generate more than seven shots on goal in any period of the game. Antti Raanta played solid, but even he would have to admit that the Lightning weren’t really testing him.
Its fair to say that the Vegas Golden Knights have taken pretty much everyone by surprise. Nobody seriously picked Vegas to lead the Pacific Division, and yet here we are. The Knights are so successful they have been called one of the most successful expansion franchises in the history of sports and we haven’t even gotten to the playoffs yet. Like most people predicted Vegas has an impressive home record at 27-9-2, but to their credit also have a solid away record at 21-12-5.
Currently the Vegas Golden Knights have five players on their roster with twenty plus goals already this season. Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson Reilly Smith, Erik Haula, and James Neal all have over 20 goals.
Perhaps the most shocking name on that list is William Karlsson, and even more shocking he currently has 40 goals. If the name doesn’t sound too familiar that is to be expected, Karlsson has been playing in the NHL since the 2014-15 season for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks. Before this past season he played in 183 games, had 18 goals and 32 assists, which is respectable for a second round pick. In 76 games with the Vegas Knights Karlsson has 40 goals and 29 assists. Its doubtful that his 23.3 shooting percentage is going to continue but for Vegas found a steal in Karlsson this year.