Peter DeBoer will aim to get one over on the team that fired him in the off-season as he takes his Dallas Stars to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Former Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy took over from DeBoer in Vegas and both have done a tremendous job with their new sides, leading them to lofty positions in the NHL.
The Stars (25-12-7) are second in the Central Division, level on points with leaders Winnipeg Jets, while the Golden Knights (28-14-2) top the Pacific Division.
The meeting of the two will serve as a marker of each side’s ability to contend for the Western Conference title and make the Stanley Cup Final, which Vegas sensationally managed in their inaugural season and are +350 to do so again.
The Stars are +600 to repeat their success of 2020 and claim the Conference title.
|What||Dallas Stars @ Vegas Golden Knights|
|Where||T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas|
|When||18:00 ET, Tuesday 16th January|
|How to watch||NHL.com, ATTSN-RM, BSSW|
After Vegas missed the playoffs for the first time since entering the NHL in 2017/18 last season and DeBoer was relieved of his duties following three years in charge.
The 54-year-old went 98-50-12 in the regular season with the Golden Knights and 22-17 in the playoffs, twice being eliminated while one round away from the Stanley Cup Final.
DeBoer’s firing was felt harsh considering he was without several star players for extended periods, but ultimately his final run of one win in six crucial games sealed his fate.
After beating Vegas to one of the two Wild Card spots from the Western Conference last season, experienced Rick Bowness decided to step down as coach of the Stars and was replaced by DeBoer.
The move has paid dividends with DeBoer improving the Stars in all key areas, particularly offensively, going from an average of 2.41 goals per game under Bowness to 3.43 to rank seventh in the NHL.
Their defense is also improved, going from conceding an average of 2.98 per game to 2.66 which is fifth best in the NHL.
DeBoer has also got the Stars firing on the powerplay which at 27.5% ranks fifth in the league and their penalty kill is a healthy 82.5% which is also fifth.
With a 13-7-4 road record, DeBoer will return to Vegas for the first time since his departure high on confidence of securing a statement victory, but the Golden Knights have also enjoyed a new coach bounce with Cassidy impressing.
Cassidy was somewhat surprisingly fired by the Bruins following six seasons in charge, in all of which they made the playoffs.
But with a relative lack of success in the post-season, the Bruins felt they needed a change in style and hired Jim Montgomery to replace Cassidy.
Cassidy was quickly snapped up by the Golden Knights and despite further injury issues this season, has got their ruthless pursuit for the Stanley Cup back on track.
Vegas, 13-11-0 at home, have averaged 3.27 overall goals per game (11th), conceded 2.84 goals per game (12th) and have a 25.2% powerplay (seventh) and 78.8% penalty kill (16th).
The Golden Knights are aiming to catch Cassidy’s former side Boston Bruins, who are 12 points ahead in the race to finish top of the overall NHL standings and win the Presidents’ Trophy, which brings home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
DeBoer’s Stars are also in contention sitting 13 points behind.
On the ice, the Stars and Golden Knights also have contenders for individual NHL awards.
Dallas’ 23-year-old forward Robertson has scored 29 goals and will aim to close the eight-goal gap on Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy against the Golden Knights.
Aiming to stop Robertson will be Vegas goalie Logan Thompson who, with a 18-11-1 record, .913 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average (GAA), has alleviated the season-long absence of Robin Lehner.
He is +900 to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.
At the opposite end 24-year-old Jake Oettinger has been a rock for the Stars going 19-6-4 with a .924 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, which ranks fourth and third among goalies who have played over 20 games.
That currently gives him a +1200 chance of winning the Vezina Trophy as netminder of the year.