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Who Are The 2020 Chicago Blackhawks? A Quick Blurb On Every Player

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

The Golden Knights’ first round opponent is the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite being bolstered by multiple players who have hoisted three Stanley Cups, the Blackhawks are the youngest team remaining in the playoffs at an average age of 26 (VGK is nearly 29).

You probably know the names Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford but it’s guys like Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, and Dominik Kubalik who will have just as much impact on the series as the Hawks superstars.

With a little help (he literally wrote the whole thing) from Mario Tirabassi of the Blackhawks podcast “Mario on Hockey,” here’s a quick rundown of every player in Chicago’s lineup.

**Check out the latest episode of Mario on Hockey featuring me. Don’t worry, I picked VGK in 5 even on the Blackhawk centric podcast.**


Jonathan Toews – The player with possibly the most fitting nickname in all of hockey, “Captain Serious” has seen a rejuvenation in his game over the past two seasons and his performance in the Qualifying Round against the Oilers was a reminder that when the lights are brightest, the guy shows up.

Patrick Kane – Still one of the most talented players in the league offensively. Nearly on a 100-point pace during the regular season, much of the Blackhawks’ successes this season were because of him. He was “quiet” in the Qualifying Round with one goal and three assists, but still facilitated much of Chicago’s attack.

Kirby Dach – A rookie, technically, Dach has improved his game so much over the course of this season that he is now trusted with anchoring the Blackhawks’ second-line with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. His size, speed, and vision for the game are still developing, but he is quickly becoming a key factor for Chicago.

Alex DeBrincat – He didn’t record a goal during the Qualifying Round, but his shot is his most effective weapon in his arsenal. Has a habit of being invisible, not in a good way, at times. But when he’s on, he can cause problems.

Brandon Saad – His return to the Blackhawks over the past two-plus seasons has been a roller-coaster. Still counted on as a key player in all situations, Saad hasn’t shown consistently that he can be the game-breaker he showed during Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup runs.

Dominik Kubalik – What a steal for Chicago. Acquired for a new soda machine and a bag of pucks, Kubalik has developed into a key piece to the Blackhawks’ success this season. He’s going to finish third in voting for the Calder Trophy, but his 30-goal season is nothing to scoff at. He’s dangerous on the powerplay with a cannon of a shot.

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Vegas Golden Knights vs Chicago Blackhawks – Round 1 Schedule

The NHL has released to schedule for the Round 1 matchup between the Golden Knights and Blackhawks.

Game 1: Tuesday, August 11 – 7:30 PM – ATTSN
Game 2: Thursday, August 13 – 2:30 PM – ATTSN
Game 3: Saturday, August 15  – 5:00 PM – NBC
Game 4: Sunday, August 16  – 3:30 PM – ATTSN
*Game 5: Tuesday, August 18 – TBD
*Game 6: Thursday, August 20 – TBD
*Game 7: Saturday, August 22 – TBD

*if neccessary

All games are expected to air on AT&T Sportsnet unless the game is on regular NBC.

SinBin.vegas Podcast #204: Chicago’s Up First

The real playoffs are here! We talk about the matchup with Chicago, the consequence of losing, and the goalie rotation idea. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Keeping this playoff format
  • Chicago isn’t good.
  • Continue the rotation?
  • Does someone need to get fired if VGK blows this?
  • Ken yells at the fans for two different things

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

The Evolution Of Shea Theodore Is Complete

Alex Ovechkin’s “office” is in the circle on the power play. Patrice Bergeron’s is at the faceoff dot. Tom Wilson’s is in the penalty box. Now Shea Theodore officially staked claim to his new “office” after an incredible display of passing during the round-robin.

In the 3rd period of last night’s round-robin game against the Avalanche, Theodore found himself in a familiar place with the puck. He surveyed the ice, picked out Marchessault, and fired a 100+ foot pass, tape-to-tape to #81 which set up the go-ahead penalty shot.

It was kind of a broken play because Nate was coming out of the box. He was in the zone and he decided to change. Shea had perfect position and it was an unreal pass. -Jonathan Marchessault

You’ll have to use your imagination to fill in just how incredible this pass is, but here it is.

That was just one of Theodore’s many brilliant passes from that very spot. Here are two more from the same game. (There are a few others from the rest of the round-robin, but three gifs in the same article is already a little overwhelming.)

At this point, that’s pretty much what we expect from Shea. -Marchessault

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 COLORADO AVALANCHE 3 (Round-Robin Game 3) – OT

Recap: It was a battle for the #1 seed in the West between the Golden Knights and Avalanche. Both goaltenders kept the game scoreless in the 1st period, but the scoring would come in the second.

Jonathan Marchessault gave Vegas the early 2nd period lead with his first goal of the postseason. The Golden Knights took advantage of the power play and nabbed the 1-0 lead. Colorado tied the game five minutes later on a power play score of their own. Later in the period, Vegas’ fourth line crashed the net and put their team ahead with a dirty postseason type goal. Nic Roy was awarded with his first career playoff goal to make it a 2-1 VGK lead. The lead wouldn’t last for long as the Avalanche tied the game again at 2-2.

Marchessault added another in a 3rd period penalty shot regaining the lead 3-2.  The Golden Knights did a great job of neutralizing the Avalanche’s high-powered offense for most of the period. However, Colorado pulled their goalie and tied the game with a minute remaining. The 3-3 tie would need an extra five minutes to decide.

In the winding minutes of a five minute overtime, Alex Tuch aimed a pinpoint shot to win the game 4-3 for Vegas. With their win the Golden Knights lock up the #1 seed in the West going undefeated in Round Robin play. Next up for Vegas will be a matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

(Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The 1st period was a defensive battle in which both team struggled to generate much offense. Things came unhinged a bit in the 2nd as a number of penalties led to the game opening up. Vegas controlled a good portion of the 3rd but a scramble goal forced it into OT. That’s where Tuch took over. What a freaking shot. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • Shea Theodore for Conn Smythe? (But seriously, an article about his passing)

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Robin Lehner
** Jonathan Marchessault
* Shea Theodore

Continuing Goalie Rotation Into Real Playoffs “On The Table” For DeBoer

Since the Golden Knights acquired Robin Lehner, he and Marc-Andre Fleury have been in a straight goalie rotation. Through seven regular-season games, an exhibition game, two round-robin games, and a third tomorrow, Vegas has alternated goalies in each and every game.

There’s nothing abnormal about a goalie rotation in today’s NHL… during the regular season. But once teams get to the playoffs, historically (and by that I mean every team ever) teams select one goalie as a starter and he remains in the net until he loses it. Very rarely do teams change goalies off wins and even more rarely do they use both goalies multiple times in the same playoff series.

However, with the oddity that is the 2020 playoffs and the Golden Knights success in swapping goalies every night, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that it should continue into the first round.

DeBoer has intimated since the team returned to action that his plan was to go the normal route and select a starter after the round-robin, but when I asked him if he’s considering sticking with the rotation following tomorrow’s game, his answer was far more non-committal, indicating it’s a real option they’re examining.

I think everything’s on the table. It’s such a unique year, such a unique format. I’ve already heard there’s going to be some back-to-backs in the early rounds of the playoffs which typically you never got so for me everything’s on the table in that regard. -Pete DeBoer

In the 10 games since acquiring Lehner, the Golden Knights are 8-2-0 overall with Lehner posting a perfect 4-0-0 record and Fleury coming in at 4-2-0. Lehner has allowed eight goals in his four games while Fleury has given up 15 in his six.

On paper, a playoff goalie rotation could offer some unique benefits, especially considering the contrasting styles of the Golden Knights’ two goalies. But, without teams trying it in the past, there’s no true evidence that those benefits will actually hold true.

It’s worked so far for the Golden Knights, but are they willing to be the team that breaks the mold?

The option is on the table, we’ll see if DeBoer picks it up.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 6 ST. LOUIS BLUES 4 (Round-Robin Game 2)

Recap: Vegas trailed early when former Golden Knight David Perron scored on St. Louis’ first shot of the game. Things settled down and Vegas’ offense warmed up outshooting St. Louis 13-4. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington was outstanding and robbed the Golden Knights multiple times. After 20 minutes St. Louis held a 1-0 edge.

Both offenses got hot in the second period. The Golden Knights stole the lead from the Blues scoring three straight goals. Shea Theodore added the first, and Alex Tuch scored the tying and go-ahead goals. Vegas couldn’t hold the 3-2 lead for long as St. Louis put two pucks passed Marc-Andre Fleury in a span of :21 seconds. After the first two periods, the Golden Knights trailed 4-3.

Zach Whitecloud tied the game 4-4 early, and Mark Stone put Vegas ahead late in final period. It was third lead change of the game giving Vegas the 5-4 advantage. Theodore gave his club a two-goal edge with his second of the game. The Golden Knights would go on to win a wild game 6-4.

Vegas remains undefeated in round-robin games and are tied with Colorado with four points. They’ll have one more game to fight for the #1 seed on Saturday night against the Avalanche. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The game started at a snail’s pace until a turnover in the VGK end led directly to a Perron goal (that Fleury probably should have stopped). Then the Golden Knights got going but couldn’t beat Binnington in the 1st. They did find a way in the 2nd completely owning the game in order to score three straight. But, a few more turnovers and another one Fleury could have stopped and the Golden Knights found themselves behind after two. In the 3rd, the Golden Knights took over and dominated about as much as any team can in a single hockey period. They controlled play from start to finish, scoring seemingly at will and snuffing out all STL offense. An incredibly great period that paved the way to a guaranteed top-two position in the round-robin.  (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs St. Louis Blues at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • VGK keep getting better

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Reilly Smith
** Shea Theodore
* Alex Tuch

Offense-Minded D-Pair Could Serve As Dangerous Tool For Golden Knights

Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore both became Golden Knights at the Expansion Draft. They’ve each played more than 200 games as Golden Knights, but only three times have they ever been paired together to start a game.

173 regular season games have featured a lineup with both Schmidt and Theodore, yet at even-strength, the two have only been on the ice for 197 minutes.

Monday, late in the game, the dynamic offensive duo had a chance to play multiple shifts together as the Golden Knights attempted to recover from a 3-1 deficit. A little more than eight minutes of ice time later, Vegas stormed back into the game to tie it, eventually take the lead, and then seal their first win of the 2020 playoffs. The main reason that happened was the dominance the Golden Knights showed with 88 and 27 on the ice together.

Schmidt and Theodore were both on the ice for Vegas’ third and fourth goals (Nate scored the 3rd one) and they put in a 90-second shift in the final minutes to help seal the win.

The pair was nothing short of electric and they might just be the Golden Knights’ secret weapon when the team is trailing on the scoreboard. One that reminds the head coach of a duo from his past.

We had (Brent) Burns and (Erik) Karlsson in San Jose and we tried them together once in a while. We would stick them together if we were behind in games or on offensive zone draws, it’s a nice option to be able to throw those guys out there. -DeBoer

Schmidt and Theodore played a total of 8:46 together in the 3rd period where they held the Stars to just two shots, while posting an 82% Corsi, generating five scoring chances, and scoring the two goals.

Both guys are smart, they both move pucks and I think they both can drive offense. It’s always tough when you have two offensive guys playing together. The thing I like about Schmidtty and Theo is they both take pride in defending too. They’re not going to create offense by giving up a lot defensively or ignoring their defensive responsibilities which is a nice combination to have. -DeBoer

The pair was deployed for 11 shifts that began with a faceoff, just one was taken in the VGK defensive zone.

It doesn’t appear as though DeBoer is planning on leaning on the tandem of Schmidt and Theodore to start a game, but he certainly seems willing to give them significant time together when the Golden Knights need help offensively.

He did just that on Monday and they delivered.

Letdown Periods Trending In Round-Robin Games

No one knew what to expect in Vegas’ first round-robin game against the Dallas Stars. Some Golden Knights players talked about bringing intensity, some said they would play it safe, making sure they were healthy for the first round. So when Vegas won 5-3 in a roller coaster game, it was no surprise that it was a forgettable victory.

While their 3rd period, four-goal outburst was outstanding, the 2nd period letdown may have some Golden Knights worried. However, trends are showing that most round-robin teams have had a letdown period in their first game. Five of the eight teams allowed two or more unanswered goals in a period, and three of those five teams lost.

Vegas vs. Dallas

We all watched it, Vegas looked like they were toast by the conclusion of the 2nd period. Then Dallas decided to sit back in the 3rd. Both teams allowed three or more unanswered goals and had extended moments of sloppy hockey.

VGK 2nd Period:

  • Allowed three straight goals (One PP goal)
  • Outshot 13-10
  • Faceoff Wins 43%
  • Committed one penalty (Theodore/Hooking)
  • Lost the lead

The puck was deep in Vegas zone for the majority of the 2nd period and Dallas took advantage, scoring three unanswered goals. Dallas took six out of the first seven shots taken in the period. At one point it looked like Vegas would never be able to clear the puck from their own end. Thankfully the Stars made it easy for the Golden Knights to come back. Dallas equally broke down and gave Vegas the room to snap off four goals in the final period.

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DeBoer’s Won’t Hesitate To Make Big In-Game Changes

It had been almost 9,000 minutes since the Golden Knights played a meaningful game, but it took less than 30 for Pete DeBoer to have seen enough.

I gave it as long as I thought I could. -DeBoer

Midway through the 2nd period against the Stars, DeBoer shook up his lineup, changing three of the four forward lines.

We were flat. For 40 minutes we didn’t have our stuff. We didn’t have our game, we didn’t have our system in place, we just didn’t play well. So, shake it up a bit, kind of give us a kick in the butt. -Mark Stone

After months of preparation to figure out what the lines should be followed by weeks of working almost exclusively together in training camp, the trios that were supposed to work out the best for the Golden Knights were blown up at the first sign of distress.

I would have loved to have had us play at a high enough level all the way through that we wouldn’t have to change anything but that’s not realistic. -DeBoer

This is a good look into the coaching style DeBoer is going to bring to the Golden Knights through this playoff run. Unlike Gallant who liked to trust the process and allow the players to work through issues, DeBoer is going to be proactive.

Without Max Pacioretty, the lines weren’t exactly what DeBoer was looking at for the last five months while the league was paused, but they were pretty darn close. Yet, he didn’t hesitate to change them in the first game that had true meaning to the team.

Starting Lines

Stephenson-Karlsson-Stone
Marchessault-Stastny-Smith
Cousins-Roy-Tuch
Carrier-Nosek-Reaves

Lines in 2nd and 3rd periods

Cousins-Stephenson-Stone
Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Roy-Stastny-Tuch
Carrier-Nosek-Reaves

A coach only has so many tools in those situations to use and that’s obviously one of them. I knew it was a team-wide problem because we really didn’t have anybody that was very good in the first 40 minutes. -DeBoer

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