Bruce Cassidy thinks it could be 3-0, either way, within 10 minutes.
He thinks the Golden Knights should be energized to start their season opener against the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena after raising their Stanley Cup championship banner. But they still have to handle that the right way.
“I think we will be pretty damn excited about the whole thing, but are we flying around with a purpose?” Cassidy said. “Or are we flying around because we’re excited the banner’s up, and we have no structure?”
How the Knights handle success will be a storyline all season as they seek to become the third team to repeat as champions in the NHL’s salary-cap era. Cassidy thinks his group, because of a large stable of veteran leadership, has what it takes.
The team’s first chance to show that on the ice comes at 7:30 p.m., as it closes out an ESPN tripleheader.
“It’s going to be a tough test, you know?” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “It’s early, so you know they’re going to be ready and we’re going to be ready, so it should be a good game.”
The Knights have handled the Kraken in most of their matchups.
They’re 7-1 against Seattle, leading to a lopsided series of which the NHL is attempting to create a rivalry. The league’s two most recent expansion sides are facing each other to open their seasons for the second time in three years. They also closed out their schedules last season with a home-and-home and will meet in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at the Seattle Mariners’ T-Mobile Park.
The Kraken should still present problems for the Knights.
Seattle won seven playoff games last season through depth, a hard forecheck and strong play off the rush. The Kraken upset defending champion Colorado in the first round and took Dallas to a Game 7 in the second. Their 11.6 shooting percentage was the second-best in the NHL.
“They put a lot of pressure on you,” center Jack Eichel said. “They’re a fast team. Beating the Avalanche in the playoffs there, that’s not an easy task.”
The Knights are confident they can handle the challenge the right way.
They know the banner-raising ceremony is going to be special. They don’t want to walk away from T-Mobile Arena hanging their heads after a loss.
“It’s a good feeling to kind of do one last thing together as a group before the season starts,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Then flip that switch and get ready for the new season.”
Knights vs. Kraken (7:30 p.m.)
Radio: KKGK (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)
Line: Knights -184, total 6½
Knights’ projected lineup:
Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Brett Howden — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone
Paul Cotter — William Karlsson — Michael Amadio
William Carrier — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar
Nic Hague — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Ben Hutton — Brayden Pachal
Kraken projected lineup:
Jared McCann — Matty Beniers — Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz — Alexander Wennberg — Andre Burakovsky
Eeli Tolvanen — Yanni Gourde — Oliver Bjorkstrand
Brandon Tanev — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Kailer Yamamoto
Vince Dunn — Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak — Will Borgen
Brian Dumoulin — Justin Schultz