NHL Hockey: Calgary Flames at Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights looked to be as good as advertised when they started the season ripping their old foil the San Jose Sharks in a home and home series, winning both games by a combined margin of 9-2. Since then, however, they dropped a hard fought 4-3 decision to Boston at home followed by a 4-1 loss to Arizona on Thursday. They’ll welcome the Calgary Flames to the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night trying to regain some momentum. The road ahead in the near term has them playing in Los Angeles against the Kings tommorow before returning home to face Nashville on Tuesday and Ottawa on Thursday before they head out for a three game Eastern swing against with a trio of winnable matchups (Pittsburgh, Philly, Chicago).

Calgary is a very tough team to figure out and they’ve split wins and losses in the early going this season. They’re coming off a 3-2 shootout win at Dallas on Thursday but before that lost a 4-3 overtime verdict to hated rivals Los Angeles at home on Tuesday. The Flames need to improve their offense–they’re currently tied for #19 in scoring offense with 2.75 goals per game. That likely makes the early returns on the James Neal/Milan Lucic trade with Edmonton sting even more. Lucic hasn’t hit the score sheet in his first four games in a Flames uniform while Neal has been reborn in Edmonton and is slicing up opposing goalies with 7 goals in the team’s first five games. Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk have been decent so far but they haven’t received much help from anyone else. They’ve been decent defensively so far but not enough so that they can get away with not scoring.

One of the keys to the Golden Knights’ unprecedented early success as a franchise is their strong play against divisional rivals. Vegas is 51-27 against the Pacific Division in franchise history for a profit of +13.5 units. Calgary has been the other extreme and are 29-31 against the Pacific over the past three seasons. Just see a lot more to like with the well run Golden Knights franchise while the jury is still out on a number of the Flames’ personnel moves. Like plenty of other teams (eg: San Jose), the Flames have struggled at the T-Mobile Arena. In fact, they’re 0-4 in their last four trips to Southern Nevada. Vegas should get back on the winning track here.


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