ST. LOUIS — The Golden Knights have been scuffling at times this season, but the coach of the defending Stanley Cup champions paid them a compliment Thursday.
“They’re a very good team,” St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube said. “They’re very competitive. They’re a similar team to us, I would say.”
The Knights’ ears must have been ringing from the opposing locker room hearing those words. Being compared to the team that hoisted the Cup in June and is in the mix for the Central Division title this season is high praise.
Stylistically, the comparison makes sense as well. The teams are led by outstanding goaltenders in Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Binnington. They’re built around hard, aggressive forechecks rather than skill. And their forward groups are deep, as they each lean on their fourth lines for key minutes.
The Blues have shown what can be accomplished with that formula. The Knights have, too, after winning the Western Conference in their first season. They just have to show this year’s group can execute at that same level.
“We’re both big and fast,” Knights defenseman Shea Theodore said. “I think it’s more playoff hockey. We do a good job getting adjusted in the regular season and playing that way. It seems like for our group right now a lot of things are starting to come together.”
Thursday’s game was the Knights’ first chance this season to see former teammate David Perron, who won the Stanley Cup with the Blues last season.
Perron was third on the Knights in points with 66 in 2017-18. It was the best offensive season of his career, and it started when teammate and friend Jonathan Marchessault loaned him his stick during training camp. Perron liked it, so he lowered his flex to make his stick less stiff and started scoring more. He’s since had three good offensive seasons, and entering Thursday’s game, he led the Blues in points with 30 in 32 games.
“Super happy for him,” Marchessault said. “Obviously, he’s been in the league for a while, and it’s fun he got rewarded with a Stanley Cup. He was really (a big) part of that group, and he had a good season, too, last year.”
Stone grabs vote
The 2020 NHL All-Star Game is Jan. 26 in St. Louis, and Theodore said he would vote for right wing Mark Stone to represent the Knights.
Stone entered Thursday tied for second on the team in goals (11) and was tied for third in points (25). He also led the league in takeaways with 45.
“He’s just such an all-around player,” Theodore said. “He’s had a great year so far, and he’s a big leader for us.”
Glass not on trip
Coach Gerard Gallant said rookie center Cody Glass, who sustained an upper-body injury Sunday against the New York Rangers, did not join the Knights on their two-game trip.