It doesn’t come much tougher than this as the Vegas Golden Knights get set to take on the St. Louis Blues at T-Mobile Arena.
After dropping two consecutive losses, including a blowout to the Minnesota Wild in their last outing, the last thing the Vegas Golden Knights wants is a showdown with the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.
And this is just the first of what is a hellish five-game slate for the Golden Knights, who continue to punch well below their weight this year.
This is a real opportunity to produce a statement win but the Blues are an elite team at the peak of their powers, so this will be a real litmus test for the Knights.
So, on that note, we delved into some storylines that will be worth keeping an eye on during tonight’s contest…
Storyline 1 – Thinking of Jay
The St. Louis Blues had their game against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday postponed after veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode on the bench.
It was a terrifying moment, especially for those on the bench and in the building, and Bouwmeester was taken to the hospital.
Thankfully, he was responsive and has since undergone further testing and our thoughts are of course with Jay, his family and the St. Louis Blues organization.
Tonight will be the first game the Blues have played since Tuesday and it is sure to have taken a mental toll on them given that Bouwmeester is the heart and soul of this franchise.
They will want to win this for Jay.
Storyline 2 – Subban in net
Malcolm Subban will finally get a start between the pipes having not started a game since Jan. 31, although he did come in for Marc-Andre Fleury in relief on Tuesday in the blowout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
This hasn’t been a vintage year for Subban who is 7-7-3 with a 2.98 Goals Against Average and a .898 Save Percentage.
Granted, Subban has only made 17 starts this year and just one under Peter DeBoer, with Fleury in net for 15 of the last 17 outings.
So, while some fans may be cringing at the thought of Subban going up against the Blues’ firepower, the backup will have a point to prove tonight.
He hasn’t had many opportunities to impress DeBoer while he will also want to prove that he can play a key role down the stretch.
The stage is set for Malcolm Subban to have a big game tonight.
Jordan Binnington will start in net for the St. Louis Blues, meanwhile.
Storyline 3 – Second Line Fireworks
It is finally happening.
That is an incredibly mouthwatering trio and they have the potential to wreak absolute havoc against the Blues.
It is going to be interesting to see how those three players mesh, but Karlsson’s speed and vision will create a lot of chances for both Pacioretty and Stone.
I’m excited for the game just to watch that line do their thing.
Storyline 4 – Home Comforts
This is the first of a five-game homestand for the Vegas Golden Knights, a stretch that could well be make or break.
After all, the Knights face some real heavyweights during that stretch, including the Washington Capitals and the surging Tampa Bay Lightning.
But it all starts tonight and the Golden Knights could set the tone by producing what would be a huge statement win over the St. Louis Blues.
It won’t be easy given the sheer amount of talent on that Blues roster, but the Knights could really spark new life into their season by taking down St. Louis on home ice.
Granted, St. Louis is in a bit of a rut with a 3-5-2 record in their last 10 games, but they are still atop the Western Conference and wounded animals are always more dangerous.
Storyline 5 – Shackle Perron
We mentioned this the last time these two franchises played but the point remains the same, David Perron needs to be stopped at all costs tonight.
The former Vegas Golden Knights forward is having himself a year for the Blues, leading the team in points with 54 (23 goals, 31 assists) in 56 games, including 25 points on the power play.
And, when these two teams did battle on Jan. 4, Perron recorded a three-point night (one goal, two assists) as the Knights won 5-4 in overtime.
Perron does it all for the Blues and he must be stopped if the Vegas Golden Knights are to get the two points tonight.
Storyline 6 – Hustle Hard
One of the biggest complaints from the Knights’ blowout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday was their lack of hustle and lack of fight.
They were outdone by the Wild in a number of aspects and they were guilty of just standing around and waiting for things to happen.
Whereas the Wild forechecked hard, battled for every puck and crashed hard to the net, the Knights did the exact opposite and they were duly punished.
And, if they do that tonight then the Golden Knights can be sure that they will absolutely be smoked by the reigning Stanley Cup champions.