The Vegas Golden Knights, fresh off the firing of Gerard Gallant, will take the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata tonight for a Thursday night meeting with the Ottawa Senators. The move came as a shock, with Gallant getting pulled in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They’re still only 3 points back of 1st in a Pacific Division that is wide open. That alone makes it surprising news on the surface, but given Gallant’s post-game pressers during this losing streak, I’m one of the least surprised people.
Following a 5-2 loss against the LA Kings, Gallant noted that his team are professional and they don’t need any extra motivation from him to get going. While that’s true, Gallant also said all he can do is put on the tape of their next opponent. There’s a heck of a lot more than that he can do, and it just seemed he was taking a shot at his players in public.
It may have seemed like nothing at the time, but it might have been an indicator that Gallant was losing the locker room. There hasn’t seemed to be much cohesiveness on the ice between players as well. The chemistry that made the Golden Knights such a threat the past two years hasn’t been present recently.
It could also be true that George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon wanted to grab Peter DeBoer before another team did. He would have been coaching another team next season, so perhaps they saw the writing on the wall with Gallant and reeled in DeBoer before somebody else could. In any event, the Golden Knights can still go to the playoffs and even win the Pacific Division. When the dust settles, turning to DeBoer may ultimately be a move that is a turning point for the Golden Knights. It’s a huge gamble by the front office, and we’ll find out soon if it pays off.
A loss in Ottawa tonight would do nothing to make people believe it was the right move. They were losers, 4-2, against a beatable Buffalo Sabres team on Tuesday, but this is a Senators team that hasn’t won a game since December 23rd. The Senators are on an eight-game losing streak. With that in mind, this is a big game for the Golden Knights. They really need a win to stop the bleeding, and renew some faith in the Knights’ fan base after their well liked head coach was fired. Head below for our free Golden Knights vs. Senators pick.
Golden Knights Fire Gallant, Hire DeBoer
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Ottawa Senators Betting Odds:
Golden Knights vs. Senators Prediction:
The Golden Knights need to come out firing on all cylinders right away. A quick lead would help them regain some of their confidence and start the DeBoer era on the right footing. I thought they were going to show some sense of desperation against the Sabres to avoid four straight games, but they looked like the same lazy team we watched for three games.
A bit of puck luck has gone against them. However, four losses in a row doesn’t happen by mistake, especially a 5-2 loss against a bottom feeder like the Kings. The Senators might be the team that the Golden Knights need. Ottawa is going to provide ample scoring opportunities for the Golden Knights tonight. They’re just going to have to capitalize and finish, which hasn’t been happening recently.
Ottawa has been one of the worst offenders for playing sloppy defence in the league. This has been prevalent since Erik Karlsson was traded to San Jose, but there are issues go deeper than that. Depth is a real concern, with Thomas Chabot the only guy on the blueline who is scaring any teams. Chatbot is a stud and he will continue to play All-Star level hockey.
Whether the Senators’ front office puts a team around him to help is the question, though. They need some more help on the blueline that’s for sure. The Senators are 28th in the NHL with 3.35 goals against, and don’t care for playing defence at the Canadian Tire Centre, either.
Their defensive effort drops at home compared to on the road where they’ve actually been better. Despite allowing 3.35 goals overall, the Senators have gotten tagged for 3.79 goals per game at home. Fortunately for the home crowd, their production offensively improves to 3.09 goals per game as opposed to 2.67 goals overall.
Fleury continues to be stuck in a rut as we go into Thursday. He will be asked to bounce back versus the Senators tonight, but we’ve been saying that for a while now. Fleury has allowed at least 3 goals in his previous five games, with a 0.852 save percentage. He has yet to look good in a performance in the year 2020.
Vegas has scored at ease against the Senators in the past, so he should expect solid goal support in what I believe will be a desperate Vegas team. The Golden Knights have scored 4.2 goals per game in five games against the Sens. I think they are going to attack hard, but Fleury’s slump right now is a concern. Expect a high-scoring game with the OVER worth a look on Thursday night in Kanata.