Since 1967-68, when the NHL expanded from six teams to 12, the league has welcomed 26 teams including the Vegas Golden Knights. Six of those teams won their opening game. Three of those wins were against other expansion teams. The Golden Knights are now the 7th, and the first since both the Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks won their debut games in 1992.
What happened Friday night doesn’t happen. You could argue that, overall, the Dallas Stars outplayed the Golden Knights, or you could argue that the Stars were unlucky. I can’t really say either position is wrong, but the Stars just lost to an expansion team that intentionally took late-round picks in exchange for not taking the best players possible in an expansion draft. Cody Eakin was their No. 1 center. This simply isn’t good.
The Stars may bounce back easily against St. Louis Saturday. They certainly have the talent to do so. Alex Radulov looked like a man on a mission for most of the game. Ben Bishop looked great prior to leaving the game. The penalty killing was just fine. But where oh where is the offense going to come from?
1. How is Ben Bishop?
The Stars newest goaltender took a puck to the head late in the game. With seven minute to go he returned to the bench. Ken Hitchcock said he’s fine in the postgame, but it was a pretty scary situation to see the newly signed goaltender dripping blood on the ice in his first game.
2. What are the Stars going to do about all of these penalties?
Vegas had seven powerplays. Three came from Antoine Roussel penalties. The NHL “claims” they want to call more penalties this year. On night one the Stars took more than their fair share. How long can they survive being that far in the red in penalty differential?
3. Is the penalty killing for real?
The unit looked great. One of the benefits of all of the silly penalties was seeing how well they played on opening night. How long can it continue to be this successful? If it continues to hum along at an above average clip the Stars will be in business.
Fancy Stats of the Night
The Stars attempted 75 shots Friday, which was good for a 55.15 Corsi For%. They dominated the play overall. At even strength it wasn’t particularly close. Dallas dropped a 65.12% Corsi For%. All of the penalties they took and their frustrating inability to finish let the Golden Knights stay in a game they otherwise had no business being in.
Better Know a Golden Knight
It feels like we already intimately know half of the Golden Knights roster. Cody Eakin, James Neal, and Reilly Smith could form a wonky yet entirely ex-Stars line. Let’s get to know one of the first Golden Knights: Vadim Shipachyov.
The Russian winger is going to be making his NHL debut soon, presumably. He was among the last cuts from the roster before training camp ended. Vegas has a weird roster situation that is still somewhat in flux. Talent-wise, he would likely be the Golden Knights top center.
Shipachyov has been well over a point per game player in the KHL the past three years and has been dominant for Russia in the World Championships. At 30 years old, who knows how long his NHL career will be, but this is a pretty nice piece for a team needing to acquire young assets to pick up. He should be very tradeable when the time comes.
I’m not sure if he’s just Russian or boring. When you Google “Vadim Shipachyov weird” you come across an article listing 8 fun facts about him. These facts are: he is an elite scorer, he’s a playmaker, he is used to winning, he plays with elite players, he is following the path of Artemi Panarin, he is a leader, he has played against NHL players, and he wears a trademark jersey number. Wow. WOW. Thank you.
Game Score Stars of the Game
We’re going to pull Game Score from Corsica Hockey to let numbers tell us who the top players were in the game. For the fun of it, we’ll go four deep tonight.
1. James Neal, Game Score: 2.5
2. Tyler Seguin, Game Score: 2
3. John Klingberg, Game Score: 1.6
4. Cody Eakin, Game Score: 1.2
James Neal was easily the most visible Golden Knight. He was his same annoying self and scored this absurd goal from Cody Eakin to take the schadenfreude to peak #Starsing levels.
We’ll usually try to keep this light, but a tribute to two fallen members of the Dallas Stars family and the lives lost in the Las Vegas shooting can’t be ignored.