|7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ETNaN:� BRT, October 4, 2018
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada Attendance: 18,555
Golden Knights set to build off historic season, face Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers at Vegas Golden Knights
- The Flyers finished last season 42-26-14, good for third in the Metropolitan. After last season's playoff appearance, where they lost to the Penguins in six games, the Flyers have now alternated between making and missing the postseason every year since 2011-12.
- The Golden Knights enjoyed more success than just about every other expansion team in the history of professional sports, joining the 1967-68 Blues as the only NHL teams to make it to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season, with the caveat that an expansion team was guaranteed to make the Final in 1968.
- The road team won in each of the two matchups between these teams last season, with the Flyers getting a 4-1 win in Las Vegas in February, one of just 10 regulation home losses suffered by the Golden Knights last year.
- Claude Giroux reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career, leading the Flyers with 102 points (34g, 68a) last season, behind only Connor McDavid (108) for the league lead. He became the first Flyer to reach 100 points since Eric Lindros had 115 in 1995-96.
- William Karlsson led Vegas in goals (43) and points (78), both well above his previous career highs of nine and 25. Karlsson's 43 goals were behind only Alex Ovechkin (49) and Patrik Laine (44) in the league last season.
- The Knights went 34-5-2 (.854) last season when scoring first, the third best record in the NHL. The Flyers were 18-20-8 when allowing the first goal, which was the fourth best record in the league.
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The Vegas Golden Knights were not only the top story in the NHL last season.
They were a top story across the entire sports landscape, and arguably the history of all sports.
Now, the expansion team from a year ago has the main objective of avoiding a hangover from their magical season, which extended all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals.
Their second season starts Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights go into the season full of expectations, and they must do so after settling on new talent because of free agency and trades.
"It's not like the situation we had last year," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "It's a whole different scenario."
Veteran goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury, whose efficiency sparked the Golden Knights last season, added, "I think there's more expectations from the players, the staff and the fans.
"I think everybody expects us to do as well. At the same time, though, if you want to have success, we can't be thinking about all that stuff (from last season). You've just got to be worrying about playing your game the way you can and success will come."
Can Vegas continue its production from last season? Twelve returning players set NHL highs for points in 2017-18, including the top line of William Karlsson (78), Jonathan Marchessault (75) and Reilly Smith (60). Second-line forward Erik Haula (55) and defensemen Colin Miller (41), Nate Schmidt (36), Shea Theodore (29) and Deryk Engelland (23) are also included on that list.
Fleury's 2.24 goals-against average and .927 save percentage were the best of his 14 NHL seasons.
The second line has new faces with the Golden Knights signing center Paul Stastny and acquiring right wing Max Pacioretty in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens during the offseason. They replace forwards David Perron and James Neal, who left in free agency.
Perron led Vegas in assists last season with 50 and Neal scored 25 goals.
The Flyers, who lost in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs to Pittsburgh, were one of the youngest teams in the league last season, but that youthful talent was significant to their success.
Travis Konecny, 21, is one of the team's top players and will join captain Claude Giroux and Selke finalist Sean Couturier on the first line. Nolan Patrick is part of a formidable line that includes Wayne Simmonds and Jacob Voracek.
One of the main objectives for Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is deciding on the vacant third-line center role that was occupied last season by Valtteri Filppula, who signed with the New York Islanders.
Jordan Weal and Scott Laughton are top candidates. Weal is playing at his original position after skating on a wing in recent years. Laughton may open against the Golden Knights on left wing if he does not play in the middle.
"I think playing in the league a couple years now, I kind of have more confidence with the puck," Laughton said. "I work with an elite skills coach back home and try to work on the little things that I wouldn't work on -- a lot of stuff with your head up. "
Goaltending remains a major concern for the Flyers. The tandem of oft-injured Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott was ranked in the bottom 10 of the NHL last year in save percentage. Elliott posted a .909 save percentage in the last two seasons, and Neuvirth has been at .912 when healthy.
Updated October 3, 2018