You have all heard the mantra: Teams in a playoff spot on Thanksgiving are extremely likely to make the playoffs. The Vegas Golden Knights hope to buck that trend as they head into December just outside the top eight in the Western Conference.
It seems like divine intervention from the Hockey Gods, that the team picked up two wins, in their first two games without starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (personal). Malcolm Subban, a magnet for hate among circles of VGK fans, has played admirably, notching his first two wins of the season. Victories in Nashville and at home against the dangerous Arizona Coyotes have the team on an upswing, headed into a fairly harmless road trip.
Monday and Tuesday bring an extremely winnable back-to-back set of games. A matchup with the last-place New Jersey Devils (9-12-4) awaits the team on Tuesday, following a game in Madison Square Garden against the Rangers (13-9-3). While the Rangers have a winning record, they're nowhere close to as deep as the Golden Knights on either end of the ice. Despite the probabilities, King Henrik (Lundqvist) still has it and his ability to steal games is certainly in play.
New Jersey, on the other hand, is a mess. The Golden Knights' suitor in the off-season for Nikita Gusev (5g - 6a) have struggled mightily out of the gate. They have some talented players, but can't seem to string wins together. Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Wayne Simmonds call NJ home, yet the Devils are an easy out on most nights.
Following the back-to-back, the Golden Knights head to Long Island for a Thursday night tilt with the ridiculously-solid New York Islanders (17-5-2). Following that test, the team returns home for another game against the Rangers. The Golden Knights could potentially win all four games this week and find themselves with a six-game win streak and a playoff spot.
This weekend, head Coach Gerard Gallant addressed the media and said he "fully expects" Fleury to rejoin the team, during the three-game road trip. No matter how well Subban plays, having Fleury in the mix is crucial for the Golden Knights. The man they call Flower is the heart and soul of that team.
Picking up two wins without Fleury, combined with a soft start to December have to be the Hockey Gods shining on the Golden Knights. The team has struggled to find consistent success early on and needs to go on a run. The Pacific Division is shaping up to be brutal, with the Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, and Vancouver Canucks inserting themselves into the playoff picture. The suddenly surging San Jose Sharks are also back in the picture pushing the Golden Knights to fifth place, hoping for some sustained success.
They are saying their prayers in Vegas because talent may not be enough this season.
Hockey Gods, shine your light!
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