Photo via Ethan Miller/Getty Images
As many of you know, the T-Mobile Arena, home to your Vegas Golden Knights, is one of the most fun, intense, and exciting places to be during hockey season. Even more so during playoffs. Unfortunately, we were robbed of that experience in 2020 due to COVID-19 protocols preventing large groups of people from gathering. Sadly, these protocols are still in place and there will be no fans in attendance for puck drop when VGK makes their Las Vegas return. In addition to an empty arena, one of the biggest changes this season is a temporary division realignment due to the travel restrictions in and out of Canada. For the regular season, all seven Canadian teams will stay in Canada as one division. This means that usual Pacific Division foes the Flames, Canucks, and Oilers will not be played this year. However, the Blues and the Wild will be added alongside the Ducks, Sharks, Coyotes, Kings, and Avalanche to make up The West Division. A shortened season (56 games instead of 82) combined with the fact that strictly “divisional” games will be played means that not only will these teams see a lot more of each other, but every game will mean much more in terms of making it to the post season.
Another important change for the Golden Knights this year is the loss of defensive anchor Nate Schmidt and the arrival of All-Star Alex Pietrangelo. While Schmidt was a beloved player by fans and teammates alike, Pietrangelo provides a much-needed boost defensively. Aside from his ability to contribute a high number of points, Pietrangelo brings with him a decade worth of experience and knowledge, which is something VGK could greatly benefit from. Having been a captain on the Blues for the last three years, Pietrangelo’s leadership qualities will be just as important in making an immediate impact as his on-ice abilities and he’ll be expected to be a leader on this young Vegas team.
We also can’t ignore the elephant in the room that came about at the end of last season: what to do with two All-Star caliber goalies. A stark difference from Year One, which saw a scramble for goalies after starter Marc-Andre Fleury went down with an injury. Shortly afterward, backup goalie Malcom Subban also missed time and we saw the debuts and rise of Oscar Dansk, Maxime Legace, and Dylan Ferguson. The predicament is much different in Year Four, however, seeing that instead of having to find a goalie to play, Coach DeBoer will have to choose one. And what a choice he will have, indeed. As we saw at the end of their playoff run last season, both men are certainly qualified to lead the team but claim to be fine with whatever decision is made.
Perhaps one of the most exciting things we’ll see this season, aside from the fact that hockey is back, is the arrival of TWO new jerseys. One in the form of an all-gold alternate and the other being the highly anticipated red “reverse retro” version. Though we don’t know how often either of these new looks will be on display, we can expect a shortened season of facing only division opponents to lead to some exciting hockey. Golden Knights Year Four kicks off against the Anaheim Ducks on January 14th so stay tuned to Vegas Sports Daily for updates all season long.
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