Make no mistake about it. The Vegas Golden Knights will be looking for a heaping pile of redemption Tuesday night when they host the Washington Capitals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The two teams will face-off on the Knights home ice for the first time since the Caps won the Stanley Cup there just six months ago.
For former Washington defenseman Nate Schmidt, the loss to his former teammates on June 7th hit particularly hard. “There are just times where you have to endure what has happened and learn from it and understand there are parts of this game that aren’t always fun. That was one of them,” he said after practice on Monday. “We do have an awesome occupation and it’s something I love doing, but when it comes down to it, there are parts of our job that are tough. That was tough.”
Schmidt, who missed October’s “rematch” game in Washington due to a 20-game suspension he was serving for violating the NHL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday that he was very much looking forward to the rematch.
“For them to be back in town, it’s like an old fling starting to rehash old memories,” he said. “There are still some guys over there that I really like and as bad as it sucked to lose, I was happy for some of them,” he said. “As a friend, you have to be able to put those things aside. But as a competitor, I can’t wait for (Tuesday) night. I can’t wait to best that team. The stakes aren’t as high, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to feel (good).”
The Capitals are no strangers to facing adversity in the desert, and have a Stanley Cup to prove it. The question will be, how will the team respond after being dealt a deflating home-ice loss to the Ducks on Sunday. After surging to a 5-1 lead midway through the game, the Caps gave up five unanswered goals for a disappointing 6-5 loss.
Capitals head coach Todd Reirden told Mike Vogel he thinks the team will get a lift from playing in Vegas. “I think we will [Tuesday],” said Reirden. “It’s a very live venue, so the crowd gets you into it anyways. But certainly how our last game finished up here is something that we all will remember forever, and it will be a good thing to build around [Tuesday].”
The Capitals and Knights renew their “battle on the strip” at 10PM ET on Tuesday night.
By Jon Sorensen