**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**
NEW YORK — When the NHL schedule came out last July and the Golden Knights were on the docket for three games in the New York metropolitan area, two things jumped out at me:
One, the Knights were going to have to go to Long Island for the first time when they played the Islanders on Dec. 5 after playing in Brooklyn the first two seasons.
Two, this was a trip I wanted to try and make.
Second things first. I’m here amid the cold, the rain and the snow for the entire week. And yes, the game at Nassau Coliseum Thursday became the toughest of the three, which you couldn’t say was the case back in July.
My initial thought was the Devils game Tuesday in Newark would be the toughest for Vegas. New Jersey had significantly upgraded its roster. It had the No. 1 overall draft pick in Jack Hughes. Hell, the Devs even snagged Nikita Gusev from the Knights and there was a lot of hand-wringing among the SinBinners that Gusev was going to emerge as a superstar in Jersey and replace Filip Forsberg as George McPhee’s biggest gaffe as a hockey executive.
The Rangers? They’re on a youth kick, though veteran center Mika Zibanejad has had some nice games against the Knights. Still, the Knights had won in Madison Square Garden before and they figured to put enough offensive pressure against the Blueshirts’ defense corps and get a couple pucks past Henrik Lundqvist (if he plays), or more likely Alexandar Georgiev. Plus a matchup between the pipes of The King vs. Marc-Andre Fleury, both of who are headed to the Hall of Fame, would be worth the flight to the Big Apple.
As for the Islanders, I thought they would regress after last year’s amazing turnaround, especially losing goalie Robin Lehner, who was nothing short of outstanding. Of the three games, I thought this would be the best chance for the Knights to pick up two points on the trip.
That was my thought process back in July. Obviously, things have unfolded quite a bit differently since to change my mind.
The Devils may be the NHL’s biggest disappointment. The Rangers are inconsistent and despite having a winning record, struggle to finish games.
The Islanders? They figure to be the toughest opponent on the Knights’ three-game roadie which begins Monday at Madison Square Garden with the Rangers and continues Tuesday in Newark against the Devils. And not just because they’re currently the best of the three teams the Knights will face, their building is a bitch to play in.
Mat Barzal, the Isles’ all-star center, said while the team has had success both in Brooklyn and at the Coliseum, he admits the vibe is a little different at the place Islander fans call “Fort Neverlose.”