Vgk vs ducks
Photo Credit: T-Mobile

FSM Essential Preview: Golden Knights vs Coyotes – Game 4

Franchise Sports Media

 

 

In a shortened season, building momentum from game to game becomes even more important as the opportunity to gain points in the standings is much less than normal.

 

Golden Knights vs Coyotes
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

As much an abnormal year as 2020 was, it’s only natural to expect that this hockey season would be irregular as well. A combination of a shortened season coupled with complex COVID protocols has led the NHL to reinvent the way it operates in the regular season.

Whether it’s the “taxi squad” teams are using to safeguard against being shorthanded or the decision to go with 13 forwards and only five defensemen, this season has been anything but normal so far.

With all these abnormalities in place, I believe that most Knights fans would love to see their team have a return to normalcy in regards to controlling games all three periods and being able to roll four lines in a confident and consistent manner.

 

The abbreviated 2021 season has seen the Vegas Golden Knights sustain a 3-0 record so far due to some timely goals and some outstanding plays from their goaltenders.  But what we haven’t seen so far is the Knights control a game for all three periods.

 

Golden Knights vs Ducks
Photo Credit: Knights on Ice

In the second game, the Knights trailed most of the game but were able to overcome a 1 goal deficit in the last two minutes and seal the deal quickly in overtime. Then, in the third game, they trailed the Arizona Coyotes until almost five minutes into the third period and then proceeded to score two goals in the final 12 minutes, with one of those being an empty-net goal with twelve seconds remaining. There is absolutely no question in regards to the amount of talent VGK has in terms of scoring and keeping goals out of the net. But the fact of the matter is if the Knights want to hoist the Stanley Cup this year, they will have to overcome much better teams than the Ducks and Yotes, and that will require being able to control a game from start to finish.

Now I know some fans will think I’m just being pessimistic as VGK are 3-0 and leading the Honda West Division so far, but I believe it is important to recognize how crucial it is to establish their complete game early this season.

 

VGK vs Ducks
Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The fact of the matter is that the Knights are expected to finish in the top 2 spots in their division this year and should be able to overcome whoever is in the third or fourth playoff spot in the Honda West Division in the first round of the playoffs. However, the NHL playoffs are a long and brutal affair, and winning the first round should be viewed as an expectation heading into this season. Regardless if VGK finishes 1st or 2nd in the Honda West, they will most likely have to face a team like the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, and the competition will only stiffen from there.

It’s no secret that last year’s Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, reside in the Discover Central Division and will have to be overcome to win a conference championship and advance to the finals.  I believe that the Knights have every tool needed to overcome these obstacles, but they need to establish their identity fairly early and show how dominant they can be.

 

The most recent shortened season took place in 2013 where we saw the Blackhawks steamroll the rest of the league and win the Stanley Cup in a pretty commanding fashion.

 

They did this by showing their dominance early on and establishing their identity in the first few weeks of the season. The Knights have a great opportunity to start that same trend with tomorrow’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. While the Yotes have some formidable talent on their roster, it’s no secret that the Knights are a much more complete team. With that in mind, I expect VGK to find its stride tomorrow and demonstrate a return to normalcy that we all crave so much. 

 

VGK and the Arizona Coyotes will continue their four-game set tomorrow at T-Mobile Arena. The puck drop is set for 7 p.m. on AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports Las Vegas 98.9/1340.

 

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-D.J. Wood– Franchise Sports Media

Follow D.J. on Twitter @DJwoody97

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