When it comes to NHL rivalries of the Arizona Coyotes we covered the Los Angeles Kings, now what about the Vegas Golden Knights?
Natural desert city NHL rivalries
Again, saying that the Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes are going to be a natural rivalry goes without saying. Lying about as far as L.A. is from Phoenix, Las Vegas will be joining the NHL this fall, and they will reside in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.
It’s just a five-hour drive up US60 to get to the gambling mecca. There is also construction being done on Interstate 11 freeway which will run between Phoenix and Las Vegas, cutting cut down the travel time by about 30 minutes.
Everyone in Sin City is excited to see NHL hockey, and it just adds to the NHL rivalries in the league.
Both Phoenix and Vegas are desert cities, and now both will have NHL hockey. That more or less disgusts the original six team’s fans since they don’t believe hockey belongs in the desert.
The new majority owner of the Coyotes, Andrew Barroway has made it clear that the hockey team isn’t going anywhere even though they really haven’t determined where they will call home after this next season ends.
They signed a two-year lease which ends the controversial, heated relationship with the City of Glendale. More importantly, Barroway wants to expose the sport to areas of the state who may not know much about the game, to increase their fan base.
Bill Foley, the owner of the Golden Knights is also of the opinion that growing the sport starts with the youth. Once you get them playing street hockey, the sport will thrive.
As far as thriving, the Golden Knights will have huge crowds and have already sold 16,000 season tickets to the new 17,500 seat T-Mobile Arena.
The season-ticket drive began in February 2015 with a goal of 10,000 deposits. Over 5,000 tickets were sold within two days and 9,000 season tickets were sold within a month of the launch, according to the franchise.
Coyotes/Golden Knights will face each other early
The “US60” series will begin early for both teams. The Coyotes face the new Golden Knights in their second game of the season after opening the season in Anaheim.
It will be a home and home series with the first game in Arizona on Saturday, October 7, 2017, and the next game the following Tuesday in the city of showgirls and bright lights.
The Vegas Golden Knights will be the most competitive expansion team yet, and playing them will not be an automatic win. As the two teams figure each other out, the rivalry will begin to be established.
The challenge for any team playing the Golden Knights is to not take them too lightly.
Even though all their players weren’t protected in the expansion draft, it doesn’t mean you can automatically add a game in the win column. The Coyotes gave up forward Teemu Pulkkinen to Vegas in the expansion draft.
He only scored one goal in four games and also added a goal while with the Minnesota Wild for nine games. He has a right-handed shot and may flourish in Vegas.
Fleury vs Raanta
Both clubs will have a new goalie (well, all Vegas players are new) in Antti Raanta for the Coyotes who will take over the starting role, and Fleury who comes to Vegas to be their goalie to lead the team’s fortunes.
Both net minders want to show their respective team that they deserve to be the starting goalie. Fleury was battling Matt Murray most of the season to be the starter. When the decision was made not to protect Fleury he knew his time was up in Pittsburgh.
The transition for him to go from winning two straight Cups to the misfortunes of being on an expansion team will take some time and effort. Will Fleury keep the Golden Knights in some games?
Nevertheless, they won’t be a playoff team for a few years at least. By that time Fleury will be in the twilight of his career, and may never win another Cup. He’s a professional and will handle it accordingly.
The Arizona Coyotes will definitely have a contested rivalry with the Vegas Golden Knights.
And, it all starts in 67 days. Sounds like forever, but it will be here before you can bet black on the roulette table.
Can the Coyotes bite into the armor of the Golden Knights? The hype is already beginning between the two desert rivals.
A new rivalry will be born… and we will need to wait and see.
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