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Unnecessary Preseason Game 1 Thoughts

If you’re looking for obvious notes from yesterday’s 9-4 victory including Hat-Trick Tyler Wong and Tallying Tomas Hyka, then move right along. If you’re looking for Ken predicting the future, click here or here.Tallying Tomas Hyka? But if you are looking for some hard-hitting, in-depth, analysis of the most important game in Golden Knights history, you’ve come to the right place.

Who needs a Captain?

George McPhee suggested last week the organization leans towards three alternate captains. That sorta came true Sunday, as two veterans were awarded the A. 32-year-old Clayton Stoner, and 23-year-old Griffin Reinhart played the role of VGK’s early preseason generals. Likely just a case of “somebody had to do it,” more than anything, but it definitely further cements the case that there won’t be a C on any Golden Knights jersey come October 6th.

The Kid’s Table

When the Golden Knights released their roster for Vancouver, I immediately felt bad for Stoner and Reinhart. McPhee and Gerard Gallant both mentioned Saturday, the preseason game would mainly feature young, system players. Stoner and Reinhart are veterans fighting for NHL spots. I’m sure the trip to Vancouver felt like a demotion. Possibly, the Golden Knight’s were ‘showcasing’ the defensemen for other teams, but even that feels like a stretch on the word showcase. In reality though, it means they are at the bottom of the VGK defensive log-jam totem pole.

Shea-H-L?

The Golden Knights’ prized defenseman played a major role in Vancouver. Shea Theodore led the Golden Knights with six shots and 23:12 TOI. The “Dilemma” continues to create headaches for the front office. But if you’re nit-picking, Theodore did spend four minutes in the sin bin. His third-period delay of game penalty put Vancouver on a two-man advantage. Canucks prospect Brock Boeser, took advantage and registered his second tally of the game.

Like I said, these are minor issues stiffs like me pay attention too. I have to remind myself, preseason means absolutely nothing. Bummer, 9-4 would look nice if it did matter. Plus, I can get used to hat-tricks.

SAN JOSE SHARKS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (1-1) – 2 OT

The Golden Knights had a bit of an up and down first before finally breaking through late in the 1st. Directly out of the gate in the 2nd William Karlsson scored his second goal of the game to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead. However, a slew of penalties led to a ton of 5-on-4 and 4-on-4 play in the 2nd. San Jose took complete advantage of it and scored three straight. The Golden Knights killed a big penalty to start the 3rd which eventually led to a massive game tying goal by Nate Schmidt. Vegas had a chance late with a power play but the game headed to OT. Jonathan Marchessault appeared to win the game in the 1st OT, but the goal was called back due to goalie interference. In the 2nd OT, the Sharks drew two penalties and scored on the latter. The series is now tied and heads to San Jose on Monday.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Did the Sharks execute their game or did the Golden Knights give one up by losing their composure?
  • Stay at 5-on-5 and Vegas will win the series. It’s really that simple.
  • A closer look at the goalie interference. Sorry, but they may have just gotten it right.

Three Stars
*** Brent Burns
** William Karlsson
* Logan Couture

After the game Ken did a Periscope to get out all his thoughts about the game. (Link below) We are going to do a lengthier podcast on Monday while we drive to San Jose for Games 3 and 4. That’ll be posted before the game Monday.

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS SIGN DERYK ENGELLAND (D) TO 1 YEAR EXTENSION WORTH $1.5M

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Quick Thoughts – Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche 9/19/17

  • Even more impressive than the three goals in the first eight minutes was the play of Oscar Dansk after coming in to begin the 3rd period. Dansk made 18 saves without allowing a goal and made a few special ones in a row during a power play.  -Ken
    • Note: After reviewing the game Dansk actually entered with 8:59 left in the second while VGK were on a power play. Official stats from the game are incorrect. He allowed the one goal the Golden Knights gave up. Nonetheless, one 5 on 3 goal doesn’t change the fact that he was still excellent between the pipes.
  • The VGK Alternate Captains on Tuesday night were; Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, and Reilly Smith. Each logged heavy minutes and made significant contributions in both zones. Garrison was very active offensively, collecting two assists in the first period. Smith added an assist and led the offense with 17:23 TOI. Early in the third period, Captain Concierge Engelland broke up an aggressive Avs attack. With under ten minutes to go, Engelland made a crucial neutral zone stop, allowing for a much-needed shift change. -Jason
  • Vadim Shipachyov really struggled on face-offs. He was thrown out of many draws (which is a much bigger deal now with the new stupid delay of game penalty) and the ones he did take were not pretty. Shipachyov lost six face-offs, mostly against Nathan MacKinnon before he finally got one. He finished 2-7 in the circle. -Ken
  • The Golden Knights have committed 19 penalties in two preseason games. That’s almost two full periods with a man in the box. On Tuesday, the officials called six slashing penalties. The Golden Knights committed four slashing minors in Colorado, and one in Vancouver. We’ve been warned about a crackdown after a few dangerous incidents last season, looks like they are going a bit overboard with it to make a point in the preseason. -Jason
  • Alex Tuch stood out passing the puck. He assisted on the first goal with an excellent pass to Brad Hunt from below the goal line. There were multiple other examples of Tuch’s passing throughout the game as well. Couple that with his willingness to shoot and his physicality and he absolutely looked like he belonged on the NHL roster. -Ken
  • During the second intermission report, an Avalanche TV analyst suggested the NHL needs more personality. He thinks, the league should allow players the chance to customize their equipment. Of course, it would look cool, but wouldn’t it distract the players on the ice? It’s much easier to separate goaltenders. Plus, it’s better to add flair to an otherwise boring mask. Adding more personal art will confuse players, coaches, refs, and fans. Watch, instead the league will add sponsor patches and call it personality. -Jason
  • There were a total of 14 power plays during the game which led to every Golden Knight except Tomas Hyka to get time on both the power play and the penalty kill. While it’s great to get chances a man up, a man down, and in this game multiple times two men up or down, Gallant would probably prefer more 5v5 time to evaluate his players. -Ken

“Just A Matter Of Me Not Playing A Game In A Long Time”

Clayton Stoner at training camp at City National Arena. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Instantly after seeing the roster for the first preseason game, our eyes went straight to the outlier on the list, Clayton Stoner. On a roster full of young players either headed back to juniors or to the AHL, the 32-year old, eight year veteran of the NHL stuck out like a sore thumb. Our thought was that it spelled bad news for Stoner’s future with the Golden Knights. But, what do we know, we are just some bloggers with a website that couldn’t even afford a .com domain. So, instead of playing “ask the 8-ball,” we went right to the source to see what he thought about his inclusion in the first preseason game.

I think it was just a matter of me not playing a game in a long time. I was hurt since November 15th last year. It was one of those things that they mentioned they wanted to get me in a game early and get on the ice. And get that game feeling back. -Clayton Stoner

The former Duck played 14 games last season, due to an abdominal procedure he had on November 17th. It’s no wonder Stoner was eager to compete on Sunday.

Right now I feel very good. I’m just trying to stay healthy. I’m not as young as I was, but injuries are something that are preventable. I spent a lot of time last season, and the offseason rehabbing. I feel, like I’m in a strong place right now with my body. I feel good. -Stoner

The only bummer to Sunday’s victory was that Stoner couldn’t keep his A-stitched jersey. To his knowledge, it doesn’t exist anymore.

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Final Thoughts From Frozen Fury XVII

The Colorado Avalanche reached double digits in shots midway through the third period but most of the Kings fans in attendance seemed to reach that mark way before game time.

I knew the fan in front of me had a few too many when he started a “let’s go Raiders” chant.  He left the game wearing a beer because his female companion finally had enough. The more I looked around the more I felt as if that chant was appropriate. (And to think they are going to end this series)

In two years, when our community piles into the Cox Las Vegas Arena, my personal guess, we need to understand that our team will need us loud and proud, but let’s also remember that no other city will be under the microscope as much as our city will be so let’s always remember to bring our class and perhaps keep our “shots” to single digits.

William Karlsson Deserves $6+ Million, But Vegas May Not Have It To Give Him

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the biggest stories of the offseason outside of Vegas is the stalemate between Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marner was the 11th most productive player in the entire league last season and his stock has soared. So it appears the two sides are headed for a messy negotiation this summer in Toronto.

To a smaller degree, the Golden Knights have their own Mitch Marner situation.

Like Marner, Golden Knights center William Karlsson is a restricted free agent that wants a long-term deal. Both sides seem to have an interest in getting a deal done to keep Karlsson in Vegas for the foreseeable future, but we’ve been down this path before and it ended in a one-year deal moments before arbitration.

The challenge is with where Karlsson fits in with the rest of the roster. He’s clearly not on Mark Stone’s ($9.5M) level, but is he on Max Pacioretty’s ($7M) or Paul Stastny’s ($6.5M)? Or maybe he should fit in closer to Reilly Smith ($5M), Jonathan Marchessault ($5M), or Alex Tuch ($4.75M).

Karlsson is a center though, and a damn good one at that. He finished in the top 10 in Selke voting in 2017-18 and won the Lady Byng. He backed it up with a down year offensively but carried the torch for the Golden Knights defensively until Stone arrived. So, he probably deserves more than most of the wingers on the team, but the Golden Knights may not have the money.

There in lies the problem, because like it or not, William Karlsson deserves at least $6 million, if not much more. Here’s why.

He’s a center

We’re all aware that centers make up some of the highest paid played players in the league. Currently, seven of the top ten highest paid NHL players are centers, and 19 of the top 50. Karlsson’s 2018-19 $5.25M cap hit was lower than 152 other NHL’ers, and 46 other centers. Numbers alone, Karlsson is a better player than half of the players paid higher.

Only a handful of centers scored 67 or more goals over the past two seasons and Karlsson was one of them. Most of those centers earn well above $6M a season. It’s the market price for two-way centers that log heavy minutes, handle faceoffs, averages 65+ points and receives Selke votes.

Production

Some have devalued Karlsson after a “sub-par” 2018-19 campaign. Sure his scoring numbers dropped after his offensive explosion two seasons ago, but overall the Swede continued to produce for Vegas.

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McPhee Fires Cryptic Shot At Sharks In Final Press Conference

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Emotions ran very high during the Golden Knights and Sharks seven game first round thriller. From the Ryan Reaves vs. Evander Kane jabs (both literal and figurative) to Joe Thornton’s dirty hit on Tomas Nosek, to the “clown” comment from Gerard Gallant, the series will leave a lasting impression.

George McPhee clearly had some thoughts on the way the Sharks played in the series and in the most calculated way possible, he didn’t take long to let some slip out early in his season-ending press conference.

(Our) guys played their guts out. I like the way they competed for this organization, for this city. I think it’s a team that people can be proud of, they play hard, they play honest, they don’t embellish, we don’t cheat, we play the game right. We play hard. -George McPhee

Who could he possibly be referencing that plays a different way?

Aside from the apology from the NHL, admitting that the Sharks were the benefit of a horrendous call that changed the series, McPhee obviously wasn’t a fan of some of the embellishing, and apparently cheating, the Sharks did in the series.

San Jose benefitted from a 114-105 penalty minute advantage in the series, and were called for more penalties than Vegas in just two of the seven games, in Games 3 and 4.

There was a lot of after-whistle garbage and even an after game scrum that left Cody Eakin with a broken nose.

It was a hard fought series, but clearly, the GM of the Golden Knights felt there were a few liberties taken by the eventual winner of the series. It doesn’t matter now, but there’s no question the Golden Knights franchise, from top to bottom, will be ready to make amends against San Jose as quickly as possible.

Golden Knights’ “Top” Line Playing Like It – Just In Time

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

For the first couple of weeks of March, you were sure the world had flipped upside down.

Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and the recently acquired Mark Stone were the Golden Knights’ top line. They were competing. They were scoring. They were dominating at both ends of the ice.

It made you wonder what was going on with William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, the Knights’ regular No. 1 unit. They had been running hot and cold most of the year and if you were the opposing team’s coach, you had greater concerns for the Stastny line.

But as we have seen the past week, Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith are playing like the top line they should be. And could the timing be better?

We’re in the final push to the playoffs. The Knights, who are likely to remain in third place in the Pacific Division, have 41 wins and 87 points with nine games to play, seven behind second-place San Jose and nine in front of Arizona, which is batting for the final wild card spot.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

And while it’s easy for us to look ahead to the second week of April and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, if you’re Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith, these final 2 1/2 weeks, beginning Thursday at T-Mobile Arena against Winnipeg, are critical in building momentum and confidence. You want to go into the postseason playing your best hockey and we’re seeing signs of that from the line.

Here’s the way things have broken down over the last five games, which saw the Knights go 4-1 as part of their current 9-1 run:

Marchessault — 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points
Smith — 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points
Karlsson — 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points

That’s a combined seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points, an average of four points a game for the line. Any coach would take that kind of productivity.

So what changed?

Part of it is Smith is 100 percent healthy and he has remained on the line after Gerard Gallant moved him around after he returned to the ice after he missed nearly a month in early January with an injury. When he’s right and playing his game, Smith is arguably the best two-way winger on the Knights, though some may point to Stone and say he has supplanted Smith in that role.

Marchessault? His thing is putting the puck in the net. And with back-to-back two-goal games, he may be finding his groove. Granted, he beat a sieve of a goalie Sunday in Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen, who could have the worst glove I’ve seen from an NHL goalie in years. But think about all the times we’ve seen Marchessault look up to the heavens after hitting a crossbar, missing an open net or getting robbed by the other team’s goalie? Things tend to even themselves out in hockey and if you’re a goal-scorer like Marchessault, your puck luck ultimately finds its level.

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Deal or No Deal? Should The Golden Knights Make A Move?

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

From Feb. 1 through Saturday night, there had been 20 trades consummated in the NHL.

The Golden Knights were not a participant in a single one of them.

The trade deadline is 24 hours away. And it begs the question: What will George McPhee do?

Will he make a major move? Will he make a couple of small deals? Will he stand pat?

You can make an argument for any of the above and have a valid point. My gut is telling me he is listening about participating in a big deal, one that perhaps could have multiple teams involved. Whether he takes action, only he knows. He doesn’t share his thoughts with me, though sometimes it would be nice to have a general philosophical conversation with GMGM about hockey and take his temperature on various topics surrounding the game in general and his team in particular.

But that’s not his style. So that leaves me to guess what I think he’s going to do, which is a dangerous, and most likely, inaccurate game.

A week ago, I proposed making a serious run at Ottawa forward Mark Stone, the team’s leading scorer. I cited several reasons why Stone should be McPhee’s target with the caveat being he has to have a guarantee Stone would agree to a long-term deal to play in Vegas. No rentals here.

As of this morning, Stone was still with the Senators while Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel are no longer in Ottawa, both having been dealt to Columbus in separate trades. I have no doubt Sens GM Pierre Dorion is going to demand a ton for his best remaining player and the price may simply be too steep at this point for the Knights.

But if you’ve watched this team perform the past three weeks, it’s not just scoring that they need or a boost to its anemic power play.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The defense has struggled, particularly Colin Miler and Brayden McNabb. McPhee watches the same game we all do and while he may view things through a slightly different prism, he no doubt sees some sketchy play from his blue line corps and perhaps his attention may be shifting from looking to trade for some scoring to shoring up his defense.

He has been quoted recently that he likes this team the way it is currently constructed and that when they are playing the right way, the Knights are a very good hockey team. But the reality is Vegas has not been on the right side of things lately. They were on Feb. 16 when they dominated Nashville, 5-1. They played O.K. in losing to Boston in a shootout last Wednesday, 3-2.

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