If you thought that the Blues waiting until last Saturday to start their season was odd, the Vegas Golden Knights haven’t played a game since October 14th. They’ve had nearly a bye week since their 6-2 drubbing by the Los Angeles Kings. The Blues, on the other hand, are playing their third game in five days.
Don’t assume that Vegas is well-rested by any means. They’re in the same boat that the Colorado Avalanche were - they’re perforated by injuries. Max Pacioretty should be out for almost six weeks with a fractured foot sustained in that loss to LA, and Mark Stone as well had to leave that game early with an undisclosed lower-body injury. With those two offensive losses, the Golden Knights might struggle - they’ve allowed 9 goals in their two games played, while scoring six - and two of those are from Pacioretty. The Golden Knights are also short Alex Tuch until January, and Mattias Janmark is currently under the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol.
The Blues will be without Pavel Buchnevich, who was suspended for two games for headbutting Lawson Crowse. Without Buchnevich, who scored a goal in the Blues’ 7-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes, James Neal may make his way back into the lineup. Who won’t be coming out is clearly Klim Kostin, who scored two goals within 17 seconds of each other. Between him and Jordan Kyrou, who had two goals and four points (and rookie Jake Neighbours with an assist), it looks like the Blues should be well taken care of if any of the vets go down - or get themselves in trouble.
Where the Blues haven’t excelled so far this season has been in defense, and it’s not because the defense isn’t doing their job, but rather because the team is taking their foot off of the gas to defend the lead and play safe, and that safe play - especially in the third period - is costing them. In their first two games, the Blues have allowed seven goals. That’s going to need to tighten up significantly. Two points are two points, but even if you’re leaving Denver with a win, they do have to ask themselves why the team is allowing a depleted Avalanche team to push the game to the limit at the end. They should also ask themselves why the Arizona Coyotes were able to net four goals against.
Vegas might be banged up already, but it’s still Vegas - if the Blues take their foot off of the gas, the team’s perfect start might come to an early end.