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October 18, 2017

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Home opener: 80 predictions for the Golden Knights’ inaugural season

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Ross D. Franklin / AP

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt (88) celebrates his goal scored against the Arizona Coyotes with Golden Knights left wing Erik Haula (56) and Golden Knights left wing David Perron (57) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Golden Knights defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime.

It’s been nearly a year since the Golden Knights announced their team name and logo at Toshiba Plaza, but many Las Vegas sports fans have waited decades for this day.

Tonight the Golden Knights will drop the puck in their first-ever home game at 7:30 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena as they take on the Arizona Coyotes. The team is already off to an amazing start, becoming only the third franchise team in NHL history to start 2-0-0, and the first to do it without the benefit of playing other expansion teams.

For a little fun, I predicted anything and everything I could think of as we head into the season.

1. First goal at T-Mobile Arena: Colin Miller (Oct. 10 vs. Arizona)

2. First assist at T-Mobile Arena: Cody Eakin (Oct. 10 vs. Arizona)

3. First penalty at T-Mobile Arena: Luca Sbisa (slashing Oct. 10 vs. Arizona)

4. First fight: Deryk Engelland (Oct. 10 vs. Arizona)

It’s no secret who the enforcer on this team is. For those who weren’t sure, Engelland reinforced it during the Golden Knights preseason home opener on Sept. 30. Kurtis MacDermid of the Kings delivered what Engelland deemed a cheap shot on teammate Tomas Nosek, and Engelland immediately dropped the gloves and threw down with MacDermid.

5. First save at T-Mobile Arena: Marc-Andre Fleury (Oct. 10 vs. Arizona)

6. First shutout: Marc-Andre Fleury (Oct. 27 vs. Colorado)

7. First win at T-Mobile Arena: Oct. 10 vs. Arizona

8. First loss at T-Mobile Arena: Oct. 15 vs. Detroit

9. Final record: 29-40-13 (71 points)

The over-under for the Golden Knights’ win total was 26.5. They are already more than seven percent of the way there, and I think they go over due to an early-season surge riding the momentum of the new franchise.

10. Home record: 17-17-7

11. Away record: 12-23-6

12. Division record: 10-15-4

13. Conference record: 19-26-5

14. Division finish: 7

15. Conference finish: 14

16. League finish: 29

17. 2018 draft position: 1st

18. Total goals scored: 203

Only four teams in the NHL allowed more goals than this last year. The Golden Knights have talent on defense, but many of their best defenders (Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Jason Garrison) are offensive minded and will leave openings behind them.

19. Total goals allowed: 245

20. Power play goals scored: 28

21. Power play percentage: 11%

22. Power play rank: 31

23. Power play goals allowed: 41

24. Short handed goals scored: 5

25. Short handed goals allowed: 8

26. Penalty kill percentage: 83%

27. Penalty kill rank: 9

28. Leader in goals: Jonathan Marchessault (27)

Marchessault scored 30 goals last year (tied with Connor McDavid only three behind

Alex Ovechkin). He will likely be playing on the top line for the Golden Knights on most nights, which raises the level of competition. He may not match that this year but he’ll come close. The obvious choice through two games is James Neal, who already has three goals, but I’m not confident he will play enough games for Vegas to be the goal leader before being traded.

29. Leader in assists: Vadim Shipachyov (35)

30. Leader in points: Jonathan Marchessault (45)

31. Leader in average time on ice: Jason Garrison (20:30)

32. Leading forward in average time on ice: Reilly Smith (18:10)

33. Leader in blocked shots: Jason Garrison (88)

34. Leader in saves: Marc-Andre Fleury (1,860)

35. Leader in goals against average: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.89)

36. Leader in save percentage: Marc-Andre Fleury (.912)

37. Leader in shutouts: Marc-Andre Fleury (5)

38. Leader in penalty minutes: Colin Miller (82)

39. Leader in fights: Deryk Engelland (7)

40. Leader in power play goals: James Neal (8)

41. Leader in power play assists: Vadim Shipachyov (14)

42. Leader in power play points: Vadim Shipachyov (18)

43. Leader in shorthanded goals: Reilly Smith (2)

44. Leader in shorthanded assists: Cody Eakin (2)

45. Leader in shorthanded points: Reilly Smith (3)

46. Leading defenseman in goals: Colin Miller (11)

47. Leading defenseman in assists: Jason Garrison (18)

48. Leading defenseman in points: Colin Miller (21)

49. Golden Knights All-Stars: Marc-Andre Fleury

Fleury’s goals against average may be the worst he’s had in a long time, but the three-time Stanley Cup champion will have plenty of highlight-worthy nights where he faces a ton of shots. Take the season opener for example, where Fleury stopped 45 of 46 shots.

50. First empty net goal: James Neal (Oct. 27 vs. Colorado)

51. Leader in game winning goals: James Neal (5)

52. Leader in overtime goals: Jonathan Marchessault (3)

53. Leader in shootout goals: Jonathan Marchessault (3)

54. Leader in shots: Jonathan Marchessault (203)

55. Leader in shooting percentage: Vadim Shipachyov (15.8 percent)

56. Leader in face-off wins: Cody Eakin (687)

57. Leader in face-off percentage: Cody Eakin (54.9 percent)

58. Leader in plus/minus: James Neal (+3)

59. Leader in CORSI for: Colin Miller (1,313)

60. Leader in CORSI against: Jason Garrison (1,264)

61. Leader in Fenwick for: Colin Miller (904)

62. Leader in Fenwick against: Jason Garrison (825)

63. Leader in offensive zone start percentage: Vadim Shipachyov (59.6)

64. Leader in defensive zone start percentage: Cody Eakin (60)

65. First call-up from American Hockey League: Vadim Shipachyov

The Russian star from the Kontinental Hockey League started the year in the American Hockey League because of roster numbers, but I believe he’ll be brought up sooner rather than later.

66. Second call-up from American Hockey League: Alex Tuch

67. Leading scorer that doesn’t start the season in NHL: Alex Tuch (7)

68. First hat trick: None

69. Player to exceed expectations: Cody Eakin

70. Player to fall short of expectations: Nate Schmidt

71. Over/under record: 45 Under / 37 Over

72. Best-selling jersey: #29 Marc-Andre Fleury

73. Hottest ticket: Oct. 10 vs. Arizona Coyotes

74. Second hottest ticket: Dec. 31 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

75. Least attended game: March 28 vs. Arizona Coyotes

76. Unexpected fan favorite: Brayden McNabb

77. Most packed pre-game bar/restaurant: Beerhaus at The Park

78. Longest concession line at T-Mobile Arena during games: Shake Shack

79. First player to have name chanted in arena: Marc-Andre Fleury

80. Most popular team chant in arena: Go Knights Go!

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