A good afternoon to you from El Segundo, Insiders. Notes from today’s morning skate begin with projected lines and pairings:
-Jack Campbell was the first goalie off the ice and should be projected to start. Cal Petersen is expected to back up. With Campbell, Kurtis MacDermid, Brooks Laich, Justin Auger, Andrei Loktionov, Michael Mersch and Kevin Gravel all playing, there are a number of players vying for available spots who will have a chance to show their attributes in a competitive game situation tonight.
-The first (preseason) home game in Vegas Golden Knights history will be carried by the NHL Network with Golden Knights broadcasters Dave Goucher and Shane Hnidy on the call, and Gary Lawless working rinkside. The players we spoke with this morning didn’t appear to be as concerned with the environment at the game as they were in focusing on what they’ll have to do to earn a roster spot. “I mean, i think it’ll just be exciting,” Auger said. “We’ve got a pretty young lineup again, so it’ll be a good chance for guys to step up and get some good ice time out there. I think there’ll be a lot of adrenaline flowing right off. I’m sure their crowd will be getting everyone into it. I’m just excited to go out there and see what the atmosphere in Vegas is all about.” More on tonight’s game comes from NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika, who is hopefully not dealing with any jet lag after traveling with us to China last week.
-Laich, meanwhile, will make his preseason debut in tonight’s game. It’s a long time coming, one that carries some mild frustration. He’s on camp on a PTO but hasn’t yet been able to play because last Monday’s game in Arizona was canceled due to an ice issue, and he suffered a minor injury last Wednesday that kept him out of Friday’s game at Anaheim. “I need to be evaluated in game situations, but in order to show what I really have, I need to be healthy and 100% to do that,” he said. “Wasn’t comfortable this week with it, but excited for tonight, excited to play a game again. That’s why we all play this. It’s not to practice, it’s to play the games. I’m excited to go, to show what I have. Still trying to make this team, need to do it in the preseason games. Need to show what I can bring, what I can offer, so for myself, it’s a very big day today, a very big game tonight.”
The 764-game NHL veteran espoused a sage outlook when acknowledging that the past week had still been a bit frustrating. “It’s out of my control, though,” he said. “You can’t control the Monday game when it gets canceled. Frustrating to miss that opportunity. Then I have a little setback on Wednesday, so I miss Friday’s opportunity. It is what it is. Life’s never going to be perfect. I’ve learned that a lot through playing this game for 14 years, but that’s behind me now. I’m ready for today, excited for tonight. Just looking forward for the opportunity.”
Brooks Laich, on having a smaller window to showcase his ability:
-Vegas will ice a more experienced lineup. Via Steve Carp of the Review-Journal:
Knights' lines at am skate;
Marchessault-Shipachyov-Smith, Hyka-Haula-Tuch; Lindberg-Eakin-Perron; Nosek-Carrier-Pulkkinen
— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) September 26, 2017
I haven’t seen defensive pairings, but the group is expected to include Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Luca Sbisa, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Justin Auger, on whether the team was happy with the execution, if not the outcome, in Anaheim:
We lost the game, which is obviously a bummer, but yeah, I thought we played pretty well. We executed the game plan that we wanted to, and it came down to details and stuff. I felt like we played a pretty solid game. I know Stutts was happy with how we played. I mean, we didn’t come away with the W, but I think there were a lot of positives that came out of that game.
Auger, on whether his power play goal represented what he’d like to show:
Obviously I’ve always been told to be net-front on the power play – get the big body, go to the net. I’m just trying to use that to my strengths. That’s where I’m expected to be, so that’s where I’m taking the puck. It’s a good play by Mods (Michael Amadio). They’ve been saying ‘just throw it on the net. Let’s get shots on net and stuff,’ so I was lucky enough to turn and bang in the rebound.
Auger, on whether this is a “big week” for him:
Yeah, of course. I’m still trying to make a name for myself, and really just taking it one day at a time and just seeing what happens.
-Lead photo credit: Jon Bradley