Tonight our home town boys travel to sin city to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drops at 9:30 CT (Yikes) and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest.
When you look at the Golden Knights’ roster at first glance it can be hard to understand how they have jumped out to a record of 5-1-0 and are second place in the Pacific Division, barley trailing the Kings who have yet to lose a game in regulation.
After all their lineup is made up mostly of has beens, could’ve beens, and never were. And that is why most people who are supposably in the know picked the Knights to challenge the Avalanche for the worst record in the NHL after 82 games.
However, if we don’t take the Knights merely at face value it becomes a little easier to understand what might be happening on this sheet of ice in the middle of a desert.
All of these players up and down the lineup have something in common. They were, for one reason or another, all throw aways from their former teams. They were they ones deemed expendable or at least not worth their cap hit. And cousin, revenge is a powerful motivator.
Everyone on this roster has something to prove. For someone like Marc-Andre Fleury (injured and will not play tonight) who has already reached the pinnacle of his sport (twice) it is a chance to prove that he doesn’t need Sid and the kids to be great.
For others, like former Blues David Perron and Brad “Mike” Hunt (that joke will never get old) it is a chance to prove to their former teams, the teams that decided they would be better off without them, that they have something to offer to an NHL team.
And for others still, like former Nashville forward James Neal who less than five months ago was playing for a Stanley Cup, it is a chance to step out from the shadows of other players and be star in his own right.
It is not hard for me to understand what they are going through. When the Golden Knights finally got their charter and SB Nation was looking for writers to contribute to the Knights on Ice blog I have to admit that there was a small part of me that wanted to switch teams. The reasons why didn’t have anything to do with the franchises. It was because this would have been my chance to help build something out of nothing, my chance to get in on the ground floor, my chance to put my stamp on something.
You see, that is what this team has giving these players. A chance to be a part of history.
Will the win the cup? No, and you can bet the farm on that. But that part doesn’t really matter. The better this team does, the more goals they score, the more games they win, the longer the spotlight will be on them.
For some this may be their last chance to feel the warmth. For others, this maybe the only chance they will ever get.
Do not for one second sleep on this team or I guarantee you will get burned.
As for the franchise with 51 years under their belt and just as many cups as the Knights,
The Blues are coming off two wild wins in the same amount of days.
On Wednesday they squared off against their division rival Chicago Blackhawks in a game that made a lot of people sit up and take notice.
For one, it shed some light on just how porous the Blackhawks depth at defense has become.
But it also showed a national audience just how fast and shifty this Blues team really is. Jaden Schwartz had a hat trick, the bottom six were finally able to get on the score sheet and Patrick Kane cried. It was great.
The following night the Blues traveled to Denver to face a speedy and unassuming Avalanche team.
After a somewhat sloppy first period the Blues were able to put some pressure on the inexperienced Avalanche and get some pucks past backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
Paul Stastny scored a goal for his 600th point.
Jaden Schwartz scored his sixth goal and from his back no less. He now has 12 points on the season which is third highest in the NHL. [HockeyRef.com]
Vince Dunn scored his second goal of this young season and is quietly become one of the Blues brightest prospects. He has the team’s fifth best Corsi For percentage at 48.5 while averaging over 12 minutes of ice time a night. [HockeyRef.com]
Although they gave up a couple odd goals and maybe got a disputed one disallowed they were able to grind out a win but when you are on the road that is all that really matters.
When we look at the metrics between these two teams they are not near as far apart as one would think (or as far apart as they should be). All stats are provide by Corsica and are 5 on 5.
Both teams are hovering just below the Corsi For% halfway mark. St. Louis registers a 46% while Vegas comes in slightly higher at 48%.
After eight games the Blues have a goal differential of +6 while the Golden Knights are carrying a +4 after six games.
Shot percentage is about the same with the Blues holding a 9.77% to the Knights 10.57%.
Blues goaltenders are sporting a .942 save percentage to the Knights .935.
Will the Vegas Golden Knights party last all season? Probably not. But they are having a lot of fun with it right now. Hopefully for the Blues what happens in Vegas will be worth remembering.
Thanks for reading and Go Blues.