Road trips can be crucial in the NHL for team bonding and the Vegas Golden Knights hope their three-game swing on the East Coast can spark their season into life.
The Vegas Golden Knights are in New York now for a three-game swing that will begin against the Rangers tonight before ending against the Islanders on Thursday, with a matchup against the struggling Devils in New Jersey sandwiched in-between on Tuesday.
It is a big week in more ways than one for the Golden Knights who carved out a less than stellar 5-6-3 record in November, despite ending the month with consecutive wins against the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes.
They have yet to really unlock their potential this year and they are far from reaching the peak of their powers.
However, if you believe in good omens then attach yourself to the fact that the Knights are historically good in the month of December having gone 20-4-4 in the final month of the year, including 9-3-3 last season.
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And they will need to hit a similar pace this December given that the Edmonton Oilers look the real deal at the top of the Pacific Division, the Arizona Coyotes showed on Friday that they are here to stay and the San Jose Sharks are absolutely dominating right now.
Plus, if the Vancouver Canucks can add some consistency to their game then they will be fighting for a playoff spot too.
So, with all of that in mind, the Golden Knights can’t afford to mess around for too much longer and they certainly can’t go .500 or below this month.
No, now is the time to start morphing into the team we all think they are still capable of being and become a legitimate threat to the likes of the Oilers and the Sharks.
However, this week is going to be no easy stroll in Central Park (like what we did there) and what happens over the next few days will tell us a lot about the fate of this team moving forward.
After all, tonight’s tilt against the New York Rangers won’t be easy given that the Blueshirts are now flirting with playoff destiny themselves and, despite having the youngest roster in the NHL, they are a very dangerous team.
They are riding a five-game point streak right now (4-0-1), they have won four straight at home and they boast elite talent in the ilk of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, with the former leading the team in points with 33 (12 goals, 21 assists).
The New York Islanders, despite cooling down as of late, look the real deal under Barry Trotz and they could pose the Golden Knights with their toughest road game of the year.
Under Trotz, the Islanders are a defensive juggernaut who get the job done by committee and they can roll four lines that can all cause damage, both from a production and physical standpoint.
They also boast one of the best goaltending tandems in the league in Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov, and they do the little things well in games in order to control the fine margins and get the job done.
And then you have the New Jersey Devils who, quite frankly, have become the Cleveland Browns of the NHL.
That isn’t a good thing, by the way.
After going all out in the off-season and making blockbuster move after blockbuster move, including taking generational talent Jack Hughes with the No.1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Devils were the fashionable pick when it came to predicting a surprise contender.
However, to say they have fallen flat on their faces would be a severe understatement and the fact that they went 0-for-8 on the power play against the Rangers on Saturday, generating just seven shots on net, tells its own story.
But, the Knights have already been the victims of taking bad teams lightly this year having suffered losses to the LA Kings and the Detroit Red Wings, so they can’t afford to underestimate New Jersey on Tuesday.
Experts say that Thanksgiving is the line of demarcation when it comes to knowing what certain teams are, and there is that “Thanksgiving Day Rule” where something like 80 percent of teams in a playoff berth on that day still have one come the end of the regular season.
Well, the Golden Knights were out of the playoffs on Thanksgiving and they still are now, so, and while a week won’t make or break a season, this three-game road trip will tell us a lot about the makeup of this team and whether or not they have the tools to become a consistent force in a very competitive Pacific Division.
New York is known as the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but it could become the place of nightmares come the end of the week if the Vegas Golden Knights carry on their current path.