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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Jason Pothier Page 1 of 38

“He’s A Man That Just Oozes Character”

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First it was Kawhi Leonard nailing an improbable buzzer-beater, then Mark Stone scored a power-play game-winner with 1.8 seconds left to beat Slovakia. Needless to say, it was a pretty good 24 hours for Canadian sports. (And, not a bad birthday for #61.)

That line had been pretty quiet. They really had been. The power play had clicked through the early going of this tournament with Stone and Marchessault. -Darren Dreger, TSN

TSN reporter Darren Dreger is in Slovakia for the IIHF World Championship tournament and got a chance to speak intimately with Stone about an array of topics, including Game 7, Canadian pride, and leadership.

We had high expectations for us. As an organization, we want to be deemed as one of the best teams in the league and we felt like we had one of the best teams in the league. We’re going to move on and get better from this. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to be a competitive team going forward for a long time in Vegas. -Mark Stone

Dreger points out that Team Canada has an awful lot of critics and Stone’s veteran, star power presence has helped keep an untested Canadian men’s hockey team focused.

He’s a man that just oozes character, and on top of that he’s a gifted hockey player. The character he brought over and into this lineup was vastly needed given the inexperience of Team Canada. Add to that they lose John Tavares and things could’ve gone sideways… He most definitely, Mark Stone is the primary leader. -Dreger

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

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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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The Handshake Line: “It’s The Hardest Thing To Do.”

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Anyone who has watched playoff hockey has probably imagined being part of a handshake line after a successful series. Walking through as the team that lost though, that’s not one that normally comes up in the childhood dreams.

It’s the hardest thing to do. -Nate Schmidt

After the Golden Knights brutal Game 7 loss in San Jose, the players followed hockey tradition and formed the classic handshake line. Still torn up from last season’s Stanley Cup finals handshake, an animated Schmidt confirmed it’s as miserable as it looks.

The hardest thing I did last year was the handshake line, and the hardest thing I did this year was the handshake line. -Schmidt

For many of the Golden Knights, it’s their fifth handshake line in two years, the last two have been tough to swallow. It’s painful to watch for fans (I bet many of you didn’t even leave the TV on long enough to watch it) and even more painful for the players to go through. No one wants to end their season shaking the hand of the victor, especially after a series as bitter that that one.

It’s hard to win. Just look at all the teams that are out. It’s crazy. It’s a hard league to win, but that doesn’t make it any easier right now. -Schmidt

I’ve never been in a position to basically be forced to shake hands with an enemy, but I imagine I probably couldn’t handle it as well as Nate, Ryan Reaves, and every other Golden Knight.

It doesn’t matter what happens in the series. You go to war with guys who play the same sport as you. No matter what the outcome is, you shake their hand. -Ryan Reaves

Just imagine shaking hands with Evander Kane, Logan Couture, or Joe Thornton after being shoved and slugged for seven games. It would take a lot of sedatives to get me through it. Fortunately, NHL players make enough money (or are just better people) that they quickly forgive dirty elbows and gloved sucker punches after the whistle.

Whether we like each other or not, it was a good, hard fought series and you got to show your respect. -Reaves

These guys are pros, in every sense of the word.

Most Intense Series Of Their Careers

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I’m sure viewership is low in Las Vegas for the Sharks/Avalanche second round series. Although, San Jose did lose Sunday so maybe VGK fans tuned into the postgame show. Either way, it’s been a painful series to watch for most in Vegas. The two teams have no history of emotions so it’s a little boring, to say the least. There have been twenty-two minutes in penalties and exactly zero chirps. It’s nothing like the first round matchup between Vegas and San Jose. It lacks the same passion.

On Vegas’ locker clean out day I went around the room asking players ‘was this one of the most intense series you’ve played in?’

Here were their responses:

This one was pretty wild. There’s definitely some hate there. It was intense and fun. Fun to be a part of. It just sucks we didn’t come out on top. -Brayden McNabb

I played Game 7 in Boston. Won a Game 7 in Boston but this series was crazy. The momentum shifts, the physicality, the emotions and obviously the drama. It was a lot of fun but I feel like we deserved better. This series could’ve gone either way. Everyone knows that. It was a lot of fun to play in and I think going through this experience… will make this group a lot better. -Max Pacioretty

Very intense. It was a grind. People don’t realize how tough it is to play in the playoffs. A lot of people think teams just walk through and you play and you win. It was tough physically and mentally and it sucks to be on the losing end. -Shea Theodore

The first round is usually the toughest to win. It’s true because everyone is so fired up, everyone is fresh and excited about being in the playoffs. It was an intense series, probably the most intense series I’ve ever been a part of. Going back to when I was with Washington versus Pittsburgh. It had that similar feeling to it, you know, two teams with no love lost on either side. It’s making for a good rivalry though. -Nate Schmidt

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Game 7 Mentality For Game 6 Reality

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The Golden Knights are one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Although it’s not an elimination game for Vegas, many players are mentally preparing as if tonight’s contest is a series-deciding Game 7.

We’ve got to play like it’s our last one.-Cody Eakin

Yesterday, several Golden Knights expressed having a Game 7 mindset. Jonathan Marchessault has been a part of every clinching game in franchise history. The forward knows how crucial it is advancing in less than seven games. Something Vegas never faced during last season’s Cup chase.

This has to be the biggest game of the series. We need to close it out. It’s hard to do but we need to want it more than them. -Jonathan Marchessault

Golden Knights veteran Max Pacioretty has played in a handful of deep series over his eleven-year career. His focus for tonight’s game is the same as if it were an elimination game.

There’s really no excuse when you come home and you have a day off, and then a practice day the next day. No matter what, you should feel one hundred percent. You get a day off you really need to use it to your advantage. Sure, both teams have it but at the same time we feel that being at home in front of our crowd… we’ve found ways to get them to be the difference maker in home games. -Max Pacioretty

Eakin is only concerned about winning because he’s aware of the edge San Jose would gain if they were to force a Game 7.

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Marchessault: “Maybe They Should Start Giving Out Fines And Guys Will Think Twice About It”

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With the exception of last night’s Game 5, at the end of games in this first-round series I catch myself having the same thought, how do players have the energy to beat each other up after a playing a grueling 60-minute playoff game?

Come to find out Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault has had the same concern.

Yeah we were actually talking about this. I think the league should start giving out fines when games are out of hand… it’s just stupid stuff that happens. It’s not only our series. -Marchessault

Of course we can’t let the Golden Knights off the hook but San Jose was out of control up until last night. Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Marcus Sorensen and others have created several barroom brawls at the end of their three losses. Causing multiple game misconducts, and unnecessary injuries. Vegas got a quick scare when Cody Eakin was bloodied up wrestling with Meier after Game 3.

With little consequence why would a losing team stop instigating when the game is out of hand? If a penalty is assessed it won’t matter to an angry player because penalties don’t carry over. In a strange way, physical scrums late in one-sided games can benefit the losing team.

There’s a time and a place for it. When you’re up 5-0 last thing you want to do is give them any advantage. That’s all extra stuff. At the end of the day, you just want to win games. That’s what we’re all here for. -Brayden McNabb

Mucking it up after the whistle is one thing, but intent to injure another player when a game gets out of hand is beyond the code.

Maybe they should start giving out fines and maybe guys will think twice about it. They had Meier clearing the puck on Miller on purpose. It’s just stupid. We don’t need this. You really want to injure a guy? I think it’s something they should look into.”-Marchessault

Last night’s game was tight down the stretch so neither team could risk a minor or a severe penalty. Both teams played more disciplined and kept it clean after the horn. With two elimination games left I’d expect Vegas and San Jose to control their emotions and focus solely on winning, but if a game gets out of hand in the third, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the extracurricular stuff comes back.

That being said, don’t worry about the end of series handshake line, both teams respect the game and their opponent enough to forgive the insults, elbows and left-hooks.

In the immortal words of Omar Little, “A man must have a code.”

The War Of Words That The Golden Knights Are Winning

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Ryan Reaves has 40 career NHL goals. Sharks center Joe Pavelski has accrued 355 career goals, 38 of them this season. Pavelski averages 12+ more minutes a game and has $40M more in career earnings. Simple numbers alone show the wide gap between the two players. So after dropping their third straight series game, why in the world is the Sharks Captain so concerned with Reaves?

He’s called himself the lion in the jungle. You see what he does, he baits guys in and enjoys when he’s doing it. Give him credit. -Joe Pavelski, Sharks Captain

Reaves gets paid $2.75M and scored nine goals this season. Costing $300,000 per goal, clearly, the Golden Knights aren’t paying their fourth liner to score. Reaves is being paid to get into the heads of highly skilled players in the postseason. And he’s earned every penny against the Sharks.

Reaves is doing his job, he’s got us fired up at times. We’ve played against this guy 5-10 years ago when there were other heavyweights in the lineups and he was just very quiet. Now you see him he starts yapping when Haley’s out. -Joe Pavelski, Sharks forward

After each game in the series, one of the Sharks stars have brought up Reaves. The question is, why? Why are San Jose’s veteran leaders so concerned with a player that averages under ten minutes a game in this series?

Future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton also piped in after Game 3. While Thornton was carrying on about Reaves, the league was getting his suspension papers prepared for the morning.

For a 30-goal scorer, boy he looked good in that fight… He looked like Brett Hull fighting Ryan. It was just tough to see Ryan go down like that versus a 30-goal scorer but hopefully he’ll have better luck next time. -Joe Thornton, Sharks forward

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“So-Called” Fourth Line Having Major Impact Vs. Sharks

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In three playoff games, the Golden Knights top six have been outstanding. Between the two lines they have 11 goals, and 14 assists. However, after a winning night that featured Mark Stone’s hat trick and the second line’s offensive explosion, Gerard Gallant took time to praise a different line. The so-called fourth line.

For me tonight, they were as good as their top line, for the role they play on our hockey team. -Gallant

The trio of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves, and William Carrier averaged 10 minutes of ice time, generated four shots on net, had three takeaways, three blocked shots and won 75% of faceoffs.

They are momentum guys. They finish checks, they take very few penalties and play the game the right way. -Gallant

Playing the game the right way means pushing the puck towards the offensive zone, pouncing on loose pucks and winning board battles. Sure, it’s a bunch of cliches but for anyone that watched Game 3, they noticed the impact the fourth line had in their 10+ minutes played.

When you cause turnovers, when you’re skating hard that’s a big part of it… I’ve talked about forecheck for a year and a half, two years. When we’re forechecking well and moving our feet well we’re a good team. -Gallant

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Golden Knights Agree They’ll Have To Protect Their “Bubble” Better

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Earlier last week Golden Knights defensemen Shea Theodore talked about what the team learned from last year’s second round series against the San Jose Sharks.

It was our first playoff run as a team and we learned a lot from each series. (The Sharks) are good with their sticks around the net. When you look at Pavelski, the amount of goals he’s tipped in right around low. Kane’s another guy, Hertl’s a guy, Couture, they’ve got a lot of guys that play really well in tight and around the net. -Theodore

One of the elements to the Sharks game last season was to crowd the open space in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, and boy did they ever do it again in Game 1. As Theodore mentioned, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane and Logan Couture were, and still are, tough to handle. San Jose tried circling around and camping out in front of Fleury, but thankfully for Golden Knights fans, the Golden Flower was superb.

On Wednesday night, the tables were turned. Sharks players spent a majority of the night camped out in front of Fleury and the Golden Knights couldn’t clear players out of the “bubble.” The area from the crease and extended out a few feet has to be locked down if Vegas wants to keep the Sharks off the board as the series continues.

Coach Gerard Gallant spoke about the Sharks tight down low-pressure yesterday at his daily press conference.

We gave them too much time there. They came out they were physical and they forechecked real good. You got to be physical, you have to be strong. They spent too much time in our zone against our D. -Gallant

So, what’s the adjustment for Game 2?

I think you have to be aware of where they are. When they add that fourth guy in the rush as d-men we have to be talking to our forwards on who to pick up. That’s when it can become really deadly. -Theodore

While we all watched Fleury make amazing saves series after series last season it’s tough to expect him to do it again. He’ll need less traffic and double parked Sharks in his zone. If his teammates can do a better job of sealing up the bubble in Game 2 they’ll have a great chance to even the series.

Ryan Reaves Is Ready For The Playoffs; Where He Thinks His Game Plays Best

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Ryan Reaves is well aware of the line. The line that he doesn’t cross often. Sure we just watched him serve a goofy 10-minute jousting misconduct with Joe Thornton but overall as a Golden Knight he’s been disciplined. This season Reaves played the second most games (80) in his career and had the second least penalty minutes (74). And, of those 74 minutes, just 24 came on minor penalties, meaning Reaves is rarely the reason for an opposing power play. But, can he amp up the physicality in the playoffs and continue to stay out of the sin bin?

I know how to do that. That’s a big reason why I’m still in this league. I play physical but I know how to stay within the limits of the game and not take penalties and hurt the team. Otherwise, I think I’d be out of the league by now. -Ryan Reaves

In the postseason, checking gets questionably cleaner but definitely more impactful. Reaves can become more valuable in the postseason by his forward pressure. If #75 can stay clean and remain out of the box, it’ll allow more offensively skilled teammates the ability to clean up his line’s forechecking crumbs.

I think it’s a little of both. Penalties aren’t called as much but at the same time penalties are magnified. You need to know when to pick your spots and make those clean hits. The ones that are maybe a little bit from behind you don’t go for those ones. Those might be called for boarding. One penalty can change the momentum of the series really quickly. -Reaves

Another way Reaves can impact a series is his continuous wearing down of opponents. In a long series his vicious body checks, out-muscling players, and bruising puck battles along the boards will eventually start to add up.

It’s definitely not going to slow down. This is exactly what I live for. This is the type of game I live for. These physical games that you play a team over and over and those physical games can wear on a team. You keep running their d-men, well they’re going to get sore eventually. I expect it to amp up if anything. -Reaves

In 46 career postseason games, Reaves has accrued only 41 PIMs. Last year, Reaves’ PIM number ballooned in the playoffs as he spent 18 minutes off the ice. However, 10 of them came from a misconduct call with less than a minute left in a Cup Final game the Golden Knights trailed by 4.

It’s tough to stay in the league and it’s tough to stay in the lineup, especially in the playoffs if you’re taking a bunch of penalties. Especially, when you’re not a top goal scorer. -Reaves

While it’s a cute, made for TV type storyline, Reaves will not be circling the ice searching for Brent Burns or Evander Kane’s blood. Nor is he told to protect his team from a physical guy like Michael Haley, should he play. No, Reaves is prepared to effectively check any opponent off the puck, create turnovers and hopefully score. He is told to play his game.

And in Reaves’ mind, his game is made for the postseason.

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