As an expansion team playing their first NHL game tonight, there’s a lot about the Vegas Golden Knights that are big unknown quantities right now. Like “who is Tomas Nosek?”, “oh, they took that guy from the Washington Capitals?”, and “what are they doing with their backup goaltender position after claiming Malcolm Subban off waivers when they already had Calvin Pickard?”
The only member of the Vegas roster the Dallas Stars fans know really well is Cody Eakin. So we aren’t going to ask about him. Instead, we asked Danny Webster, the managing editor of Knights on Ice and NHL.com contributor, to tell us a little more about what to expect tonight at American Airlines Center.
Our first edition of Know Thine Enemy starts....now.
How will the Golden Knights surprise the Dallas Stars tonight?
The Golden Knights will surprise the Stars by wearing those slick jerseys. Oh, you meant on the ice. That's really hard to determine because there's not a large enough sample size to pinpoint one area that will surprise Dallas. You couldn't ask for a larger contrast between teams, especially for an expansion club's first game. The Golden Knights will play a fast-paced, aggressive game. That could be either really good or extremely abysmal. Either way, the Stars should be ready to play fast all night. Gerard Gallant has preached a fast offense all summer, and that's been the case up to this point.
Which forward will be the biggest thorn in the side of the Stars defense tonight?
As much as I would love to say Cody Eakin, I cannot (although, he's been great to watch in the preseason and has been great in the faceoff department). The one guy who will be the most dangerous will be Jonathan Marchessault. He comes to Vegas after a surprising 30-goal season in Florida, and is on a contract year. Marchessault has a lot to prove with the Golden Knights this year, and expect him to get off to a fast start. He's probably going to lead Vegas in goals this year. I'm very interested to how he attacks the revamped Dallas defense.
How much of an impact will having a Cup winner and veteran goaltender like Marc-Andre Fleury have on the youngsters Vegas took in the expansion draft?
The one aspect of the Golden Knights I've preached constantly this summer was culture. They've brought in some high-character guys like Deryk Engelland and Jason Garrison. Marc-Andre Fleury is another one of those guys. Even if the Golden Knights don't win a lot of games the first couple of years, having a culture established by the time Vegas' prospects are called up is going to be essential. Vegas is clearly banking on the future with their 1 billion draft picks it acquired this summer. If Fleury is only around for the final two years of his current contract, at least he'll have accomplished something for the future of the Golden Knights.