Vegas Golden Knights vs. New Jersey Devils Pick & Prediction MARCH 17th 2024

With just a month to go in the regular season, the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights are battling just to make the playoffs.

They’ll continue that fight on Sunday afternoon when they host the New Jersey Devils in Las Vegas.

That wasn’t something anybody expected when Bruce Cassidy’s squad started the season with a 12-game unbeaten streak (11-0-1) while snatching 23 of a possible 24 points. But the Golden Knights, who have battled their share of injuries, have stumbled down the stretch, winning just four of their last 14 games (4-9-1).

Vegas will open a key four-game homestand against the Devils, who will play the second game of a back-to-back set that began with a 4-1 loss at Arizona on Saturday afternoon. But T-Mobile Arena, which the team has nicknamed “The Fortress,” has been anything but recently as the Golden Knights have dropped five of their last six games on home ice.

“We have to be better,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo acknowledged after practice on Saturday. “This is a big homestand for us. I don’t think we’ve played well enough at home. Over the years it’s been a tough place for visiting teams. We’ve got to get back on track at home.”

Vegas, which has dropped to fourth place in the Pacific Division, holds just a three-point edge over the Minnesota Wild and a four-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

After an at-times lethargic 4-1 loss at Calgary on Thursday, Cassidy questioned his team’s desire.

“I’d like to see them get some urgency and realize that it’s not an automatic that we’re going to get a chance to repeat,” Cassidy said. “You have to earn your way in. We’re not playing well enough right now to ensure that.

“This time of the year, players have to want it, you have to want it. We talk all the time about how great our leadership group is. Well, it’s time. It’s time to grab some people by the shirt and say, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ At the same time, they have to want it more. To me, that’s what I don’t see right now.”

Defenseman Brayden McNabb agreed.

“We’re fighting for the playoffs right now, and the fight’s not there,” he said. “We need to reset and get back at it.”

New Jersey has dropped six of its last eight games to fall six points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils surrendered three goals in the first period against the Coyotes on Saturday before defenseman Nick DeSimone scored in the second. They couldn’t get any closer, however, and Clayton Keller sealed the win late in the third for Arizona by scoring into the empty net.

The frustrating loss came just two days after the Devils appeared headed in the right direction thanks to an impressive 6-2 win at the Dallas Stars.

“Our start was disappointing,” New Jersey interim coach Travis Green said. “I didn’t like the first 10 to 12 minutes of our game. One of our keys tonight was being ready to go. That team over there plays fast, and we didn’t have our skating legs early enough.”

“We played well for 48 minutes, but that’s not going to cut it in this league,” Devils defenseman Kurtis MacDermid added. “Those were points we’ve got to have.”

–Field Level Media

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