Vgk vs ducks
Photo Credit: T-Mobile

Game Preview: Golden Knights vs Ducks – Game 1

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The Golden Knights take on the Anaheim Ducks in game one of the 2020-21 campaign tonight at a fanless T-Mobile Arena. The last time the Vegas Golden Knights took the ice was the heartbreaking overtime loss to the Dallas Stars in game five of the Western Conference Finals, which ended their 2020 season.

 

VGK vs Ducks
Photo Credit: NHL

Anaheim was one of the seven teams that did not qualify for postseason play, and their last game was March 11 of 2020. VGK went 3-1 against the Ducks last season.

On Wednesday, Mark Stone was named the first captain in team history. Reilly Smith and Alex Pietrangelo have been named alternate captains.

Many players were put on waivers earlier in the week, including Nick Holden. Holden cleared waivers and will join the team’s taxi squad. Possibly related, VGK will dress thirteen forwards and only five defensemen for the season opener. Keegan Kolesar may be the reason for the extra forward. Holden, being placed on waivers, could be another one. A possible concern was Kolesar not clearing waivers. Holden clearing waivers also saves VGK a bit of cap space. It seems like a win all-around as VGK gets to keep Holden and Kolesar. There could be a bit of a fatigue factor for the VGK defenseman as it may take a few games for the players to get their legs under them. Let us hope none of the VGK defensemen get injured tonight.

 

VGK enters season four as one of the top three favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Lightning have better odds to win the cup with the Colorado Avalanche’s odds slightly higher than VGK.

 

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

As of writing, the VGK starting goalie has been internally announced. Whoever it is probably doesn’t matter a whole lot and is not a sign of who will start more games throughout the season. Golden Knights’ Head Coach Pete DeBoer has alluded to close to an even split out of the gate, and it is anyone’s guess what happens after the first ten or games or so. My guess is it’ll be more of a “hot-hand” scenario in games where fatigue is not a factor. However, fatigue will be a tremendous factor. There is only a small handful of situations where VGK will have two or more consecutive nights off.

My guess is close to an even split for Marc Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner this season.

 

T-Mobile Arena was voted “Best Atmosphere” in an annual pole of five hundred NHL players in 2019.

 

VGK vs Ducks
Photo Credit: Bardown

The NHL’s newest arena collected 42.5% of the votes, with the Bell Centre in Montreal coming in at second with 21.2% of the votes. The fans are a large part of the energy inside of T-Mobile. Will the Vegas Golden Knights have a home-ice distraction instead of an advantage? VGK has played a couple scrimmages inside T-Mobile Arena to prepare the team for the gameday atmosphere.

Some VGK players have mentioned the T-Mobile Arena atmosphere as better than the atmosphere inside Rogers Place, where VGK played all their playoff games last season. It would not surprise me if the VGK gameday production team had a few tricks up their sleeve to create an energetic atmosphere that the players will enjoy.

Five games were played on Wednesday, and scoring was up on opening day. Thirty-seven goals were scored, an average of 7.4 goals per game. The Vegas sportsbooks anticipated scoring out of the gates as the over / under for all of Wednesday’s games were six or six and a half.

 

Thursday kicks off what will be another memorable season for the Vegas Golden Knights no matter what the result is. The NHL reported zero positive Covid tests during bubble play from last season’s playoffs. Unfortunately, this year the Dallas Stars have already had to postpone games due to positive Covid tests. Let us hope the players and fans can enjoy the 2020-21 season safely with minimal interruptions.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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