Vegas and Tampa Bay play their first game against each other on Friday night. The Golden Knights and Lightning will play one more time on February 2. Both teams are competitive, which makes me believe this is going to be a really good game. This game is an out of conference game, which is a little less important, but any win counts in this league.
The Golden Knights have started this season out 4-4-1, which has them in fifth place of the Pacific Division. Vegas has not been as good to start this season as they did last year. The Golden Knights could use a big win on Friday night to help get them back up in the standings. The Golden Knights were on a three-game winning streak before losing on Wednesday night to the Vancouver Canucks.
Tampa Bay has gone 6-1-1 to start out this season. The Lightning is only behind the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay is currently on a two-game winning streak. The Lightning has earned a point in every game since October 11.
I believe that this should be a good matchup on Friday night. Both teams have real solid rosters and are expected to be competing in the playoffs this season. Vegas has lagged a little behind to begin the season, but they are still in a prime spot to get right back into the mix.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Lightning and Golden Knights met up twice last season. The first game was held in Vegas and it was an exciting game. Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists for Tampa Bay, but it was not enough. Shea Theodore notched four points and scored the game-winning goal with three seconds left on the clock. Vegas took the game by a score of 4-3.
The second game of the season series was in Tampa Bay. Ondrej Palat scored the lone goal for the Lightning. David Perron and Deryk Engelland had two points as the Golden Knights won 4-1. Marc-Andre Fleury had a solid night as he turned away 28 of 29 shots.
The Golden Knights were able to sweep the Lightning in last season’s series, which surprised a lot of people. Tampa Bay and Vegas both kept similar rosters this season with hopes of winning the Stanley Cup. I anticipate another exciting matchup on Friday night between these two teams.
The biggest mismatch between these two teams could be on special teams. The Golden Knights power play has struggled to get anything going this season. Vegas has scored on 2 goals on 28 attempts for a 7.14 power play percentage. The Golden Knights will have to face Tampa Bay’s penalty kill, which has been almost impenetrable. The Lightning has stopped 32 of their opponents 33 man advantages, which is a penalty kill percentage of about 97.
Tampa Bay’s power play has been solid this season. They have scored 8 goals on 31 attempts for a 26 percent. The Golden Knights penalty kill has been solid as well. Vegas has allowed 4 goals on 25 attempts for an 84 percent. Tampa Bay has the roster to put together a dangerous power play. While it is not as great as their penalty kill this season, the Golden Knights will still need to be careful taking dumb penalties.
I give the advantage on special teams to Tampa Bay. Vegas’ power play has already been bad enough, but against the Lightning’s penalty kill it doesn’t seem fair. The Lightning’s power play against the Golden Knights penalty kill should be a more even match and something to watch during the game.
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for the Golden Knights on Friday night. Fleury has posted a save percentage of .904 and a 2.36 GAA to begin this season. In his starts, Fleury has posted a record of 4-3-1. While Fleury hasn’t been great to start out this season, he is still the backbone of this Vegas team. The Golden Knights defense has been pretty strong this season, allowing less than three goals per game.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been terrific to start out this season. After finishing as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, he has started this season with a 4-1-1 record. Vasilevskiy has posted a .941 save percentage and a GAA of 1.80.
Vasilevskiy has been difficult to solve this season and Vegas has not been a consistent scoring team. I believe this is a setup for a dominating game. On top of that, if the Golden Knights cannot capitalize on the power play, it will really make it difficult for them to put up a high scoring game.
The Golden Knights have been less than impressive in my eyes to start out the season. I do not believe Vegas is going to have an easy time against the Lightning by any means. Tampa Bay has the advantage on special teams and in net, which makes me really like their chances. The Lightning could not beat Vegas last season, but I believe they turn that around on Friday night.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed at a money line of -111. This has the Lightning as slight favorites, but pretty much has both teams even. I believe that this is just about right. It also gives Tampa Bay quite a bit of value because you don’t have to lay a lot of money to have a decent return. I like the Lightning to take this one on the road.