For the second time in a week, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the defending Stanley Cup champions — this time on the road — with the team in Nevada on Friday night to play the Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas remains the only NHL team without a regulation defeat this season, boasting a perfect 7-0 record. The Boston Bruins clock in just behind Vegas at 6-0-1, and you may recognize those two teams as accounting for half of the first eight games on Chicago’s schedule this season.
The Golden Knights have played just one game since last facing Chicago on Saturday night at the United Center and defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 at home in it. A goal from Shea Theodore in the final minute provided the winning tally and maintained the Knights’ unblemished start to this season. Theodore is one of four Vegas players off to a point-per-game or better pace to start the season, with William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson boasting identical two-goal, five-assist totals along with Theodore through seven games. Jack Eichel is the team leader in points with eight (3 G, 5 A). In net, both Adin Hill and Logan Thompson have been excellent, making Vegas look every bit as formidable of an opponent as it did during the prior postseason and when it faced the Blackhawks last weekend.
This is the lineup Vegas trotted out against the Flyers on Tuesday night:
However, Nic Roy was injured during that game on the play below:
And that led to a lineup shuffle for Vegas at Thursday’s practice:
Still, losing a fourth-line center to injury is not going to cripple the Knights’ attack and it’s going to take a pretty strong effort from the Hawks just to steal one point, let alone two.
Speaking of those Blackhawks, there was a Chicago lineup shuffle on Thursday as well. Andreas Athanasiou appears to be a healthy scratch for this one, while Philipp Kurashev will move up to the top line for his second game of the season.
It was a feisty practice on Thursday, too, with coach Luke Richardson running his team through intense drills in the hour-long session after being disappointed with the overall effort on Tuesday night. All of this should add up to a spirited performance from Chicago against Vegas on Friday night, even if it still feels like a team that’s overmatched on paper. Still, it’s a chance for some young players to respond to adversity early in the season and it’s an opportunity to see if the young coach — Richardson’s in just his second season as a head coach — can tap into his team’s psyche when necessary.
And there’s always the possibility that Connor Bedard will do something really cool, too.
Let’s go Hawks.
How to watch
When: 5 p.m. CT
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network
Radio: WGN 720