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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Jason Pothier (Page 1 of 29)

Trends, Trends, And More Trends… All Of Which Aren’t Really Trends

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since 1987, fourteen NHL teams advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in 15 games or less, five won the Stanley Cup.

2018: Vegas Golden Knights (15)
2012: LA Kings (14)
2008: Pittsburgh Penguins (14)
2007: Ottawa Senators (15)
2003: Anaheim Ducks (14)
1999: Buffalo Sabres (15)
1997: Philadelphia Flyers (15)
1995: New Jersey Devils (15) 
1995: Detroit Red Wings (14)
1993: Montreal Canadiens(15)
1992: Chicago Blackhawks (14)
1989: Montreal Canadiens (15)
1988: Edmonton Oilers (14) 
1987: Edmonton Oilers (14)
*Bold = Won Cup

This postseason the Golden Knights swept LA, beat San Jose in six games, and ruined all of Canada’s dreams in five games. Combined, Vegas will have 21 days off in between series this postseason. It’s very rare for a team to have that much rest in between playoffs series. To compare, back to back Stanley Cup champs Pittsburgh Penguins had 19 days off between series in 2016 and 2017 combined.

Teams to make the Stanley Cup finals in 15 games or less are 5-8 since 1987. Not ideal, but also not much of a trend to get upset about if you’re a Golden Knights fan. In that same timespan, 26 NHL Champions took 15 or more games to get to the Cup finals.

Continuing in the useless trend department, the Golden Knights should feel good about Deryk Engelland handling the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. Pittsburgh is 3-0 when they touched the Prince of Wales trophy, but prior to 2016, six champions in a row did not touch their conference prizes.

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Ryan Reaves Earned His Golden Moment For Vegas

Just like we all expected; Ryan Reaves with the series-clinching goal of the Western Conference Finals. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Game 5 hero Ryan Reaves has only been a Golden Knight for four months but is easily the most polarizing player in franchise history. That was up until yesterday’s series clinching goal.

Reaves is a big body that can hold his own in front of the net. His strength around the crease opens up shooting lanes for his teammates, which is what happened on Reaves’ game winning tip in. Defenseman Luca Sbisa saw some light and let it sling. Like they’ve done hundreds of times together in practice, Reaves kept his eye on the biscuit and deflected it over Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

You’re always trying to get some offensive opportunities. You don’t want to be running around, getting some hits and not doing anything. You try and help out on the scoreboard anyway you can. -Ryan Reaves to SinBin.vegas on 5/15/18

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Vezina Candidate Being Outplayed By Conn Smythe Favorite

Hellebuyck had no chance on this one, but the other two… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like all sports, NHL award voting takes place before the postseason begins. This season, both the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets have several award nominees. One of which is Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who was nominated for the Vezina trophy along with Eastern Conference finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, and amateur golfer Pekka Rinne.

Over four games against Vegas, the Vezina nominee has allowed 11 goals and has lost three straight conference final games. Not the trait of a goaltender of the year candidate. Neither is this.

It’s a great effort by Reilly Smith, that’s clear, however Hellenuyck has to have this one. Dustin Byfuglien misses his mark, Smith jumps on the puck and streaks for the net. Hellebuyck had a clear view of Smith’s approach tracking the puck immediately after the turnover. He had plenty of time to get into position. The Golden Knight pulled the trigger at the top of faceoff circle with a good wrist shot, not a great one. Byfuglien’s mishap began the breakout but the Jets goaltender could’ve bailed his teammate out.

Down a game in the Western Conference finals, a reliable goaltender makes that save. Hellebuyck did not.

And that wasn’t even Hellebuyck’s worst mistake of Game 4. He bobbled a seemingly harmless shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, then allowed a rebound shot through the five-hole on Tomas Nosek.

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Deeper Dive Into What Happened With James Neal’s Injury

Step 1: Pass concussion protocol Step 2: Dominate (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s time to step back from last night’s thrilling victory and take a minute to applaud the Golden Knights medical staff and the NHL.

In the first period of Game 3, James Neal took an elbow to the head from the guy they call Big Buff.

I think Dustin Byfuglien just hit me with his elbow right. It just got me in the eye and mouth, and then you have to go off for protocol. -James Neal

After the collision, Neal took time returning to his skates and eventually to the bench. This began the initial protocol.

Here are excerpts from the NHL’s concussion evaluation and protocol guide:

If any of the following symptoms or signs occurs after a direct blow to the head (including contact with the glass, boards and ice) or an indirect blow to the head (such as a blow to the body that causes acceleration/deceleration of the head), the Club shall remove the Player from the playing environment for an acute evaluation:

1. “Symptoms”: The Player reports or exhibits one or more “Symptoms” of possible concussion, including:

Headache, Pressure in head, Neck Pain, Nausea/vomiting, Dizziness, Blurred Vision. Balance Problems

2. Sign: “Lying Motionless on the Ice”: A Player lies motionless on the ice or falls to the ice in an unprotected manner (i.e., without stretching out his hands or arms to lessen or minimize his fall).

3. Sign: “Motor Incoordination/Balance Problems”: A Player staggers, struggles to get up or skate properly, appears to lose his balance, trips or falls, or stumbles while getting up, trying to get up, or skating.

4. Sign: “Blank or Vacant Look”: A Player has a blank or vacant look.

5. Signs: “Slow to Get Up” or “Clutches his Head”: A Player is slow to get up or clutches his head (including any part of his face)

Golden Knights trainers immediately spoke with Neal on the bench, but he had his head down and was shaken up. It was concerning enough for team medical staff and league spotters.

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Jets Getting Shots In Close, But Like Sharks, It’s Not Paying Off

Marc-Andre Fleury has had players all over him the last eight games, but he’s done well to keep them out. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A big story heading from Round 2 to the Western Conference Finals for the Golden Knights was limiting shots in close to the net. San Jose lived in front of Marc-Andre Fleury’s goal, but couldn’t get enough past him to win games. It was assumed if the Jets did the same, the result would be different.

Vegas defensemen made it a point coming into the series with Winnipeg.

Yeah they’re strong and fast, and they can make plays. They’ve got guys that play well in that slot, and play well in tight. That’s going to be our job to make sure that we eliminate those chances. -Shea Theodore on 5/10/18

In Game 1 everything was a mess, especially the first eight minutes (unless you are Ken). Early on in Game 2, it could’ve gone the same direction. In the first period, Vegas allowed multiple scoring chances from the Jets in front of the net. In other words, Winnipeg had a flurry of shots in Fleury’s kitchen.

Well we don’t want to allow chances in front of the net.- Brayden McNabb,

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Golden Knights Weren’t Just Off In The First Eight Minutes

Wonder if Gallant makes any changes to the lineup. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

NBC announcers Joe Micheletti and Pierre McGuire used words like panic, upset and frustrated to describe the Golden Knights in Game 1. In the first period, Micheletti even said “Winnipeg is the quicker team” and he wasn’t wrong, at that time. The Jets deserve a ton of credit jumping on Vegas early and winning the series opener.

However, outside of the first twenty minutes of play, the final numbers tell a different story. The Golden Knights average game stats were all out of whack but can take away some positives.

Shots on goal
VGK – 21
WPG – 26

  • Vegas tied their lowest SOG total over the entire regular season and postseason
  • First game this season without a shot from Erik Haula, Colin Miller, James Neal and David Perron
  • First game since 2/21 (loss at Wild) that James Neal failed to register a shot on net
  • Colin Miller now has four postseason games without a shot on net
  • David Perron has three postseason games without a shot on net

Giveaways
VGK – 11
WPG – 14

  • Third highest total of giveaways in a playoff
  • Vegas is 1-3 when they turn the puck over 10+ times in a game

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“Big” Problem Against Sharks Even Bigger Problem Against Jets

San Jose had its best lucky when they were right in Fleury’s face. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

By now you’ve heard about Winnipeg’s size and skill. It was on full display last night as the Jets outworked Nashville defensively and offensively. All postseason, Winnipeg has effectively used their size in front of the net creating messy traffic and high-scoring chances. Something San Jose did well against Vegas in the second round.

They are always kind of in my kitchen, right? -Marc-Andre Fleury

Overall, San Jose had plenty of chances in front of the net, but was mostly unsuccessful.

We had some defensive breakdowns that we kind of got lucky. They hit a number of posts. They were buzzing in front of our net pretty good. -Shea Theodore

Tomas Hertl (6’2″/220) used a mix of size and talent, tallying three goals in six games. Two were almost identical in that Vegas defenders couldn’t clear the puck, or San Jose attackers. Notice the swarm of teal surrounding Fleury.

Five Golden Knights allowed four Sharks countless opportunities to convert. Inches away from Fleury.

I think San Jose was one of the best teams in front of the net. That last game, they threw everything at net. Flower made some big saves and the post helped us a couple of times. -Luca Sbisa

In the end, VGK’s defensive lapses didn’t hurt them from advancing, but it could in the conference final. Winnipeg’s net presence is similar, if not better than San Jose’s attack.

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The Creator And McNabb Talk Golf With Sirius PGA Radio

Neal might be better at golf than he is hockey, and he’s pretty good at hockey. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As they await their next destination, the Vegas media tour continues. This time, legendary PGA golfer Fred Couples chatted with two of the Golden Knights biggest contributors.

I went to George and I said, ‘George are you going to grow a beard?’ He said, ‘You know I’ve seen a lot of coaches grow a beard and they lose the first two games. That beard comes right off.’ -The Creator on Sirius PGA Radio with Fred Couples

Couples has followed the Golden Knights success all season and is captivated by their deep playoff run. In separate interviews with The Creator and defenseman Brayden McNabb, Freddy “Boom Boom” discussed the Western Conference finals, and of course a little golf.

We knew we were contenders. We knew we could possibly go far in the playoffs and even win. We believe in that room and it’s contagious. -Brayden McNabb on Sirius PGA Radio with Fred Couples

The Sirius PGA Radio host brought up x-factor type players and mentioned Marc-Andre Fleury and his postseason performance. Naturally, the man in charge spoke of his admiration for Fleury and made it known the goaltender is a Golden Knight for life.

He’s a great individual. He’s got a great family. My goal for Flower is to have him retire in this town. I really appreciate what he’s done, his attitude, and what he’s done for this team. -The Creator

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The Most Impressive Stat Of The Playoffs Came On The Road In Game 6

Through two rounds of the playoffs, the Golden Knights lead postseason teams in a few crucial statistics. First and for most, Vegas is tied with Tampa for the most postseason wins with eight. Vegas leads the playoffs with 204 blocked shots and 106 takeaways despite playing the fewest number of games of any playoff team. However, the stat of the postseason may have happened last night in the series-clinching Game 6.

Against a desperate Sharks team, Vegas played smart protecting the puck and maintaining possession all game. Amazingly, the Golden Knights gave away the puck only once in Game 6. One giveaway in a road closeout game. One!

Unsurprisingly, they are the first team this season to complete a game with just one giveaway.

Some argue giveaway/takeaway stats are not truly accurate, but even with the margin of error involved in scoring hockey games, one giveaway is incredible. The definition of a giveaway is when a player’s own actions result in a loss of possession to the opposing team. Think back, can you even remember the one?

Overall, the Golden Knights have hit their giveaway average in four of ten postseason contests.

Fewest Giveaways in a single playoff game (1)
Fewest total Giveaways in Playoffs (83)
Fewest Giveaway average per game (8.3)

Won’t lose many games giving away the puck just once in 60 minutes. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas was so responsible with the puck in Game 6 that San Jose had trouble gaining possession for a majority of the night. To be fair, the Golden Knights only created two takeaways in last night’s closeout game, but that was likely a result of Vegas playing conservatively with a lead while their opponent chased.

If the Golden Knights continue to play error-free hockey, the remaining teams should look out. Surprisingly, Vegas turned the puck over 15 times in Game 5’s victory. Proving the Pacific Conference Champions can win a sloppy game or two… or eight.

(In case you were wondering, Deryk Engelland committed the one giveaway in the game. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of giveaways, keep your eyes out for the next Adam Kutner contest. He’s giving away, see what we did there, two tickets to every Western Conference Finals game, and it’s free to enter. More details soon.)

Odd Numbered Wins Prove Massive In 7-Game Series, Especially Winning Game 5

7 down, 9 to go! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Game 6 is tonight and the Golden Knights are one win away from the Western Conference finals. Kind of chilling, isn’t it? History shows Game 5 was a whopper of a win for the Golden Knights.

In league history, 267 series have been in scenarios where the higher seeds have a 3-2 series lead.

  • Game 5 winner has a 79% chance of winning that series.
  • Game 5 winner on home ice has 81% chance of winning series
  • Teams trying to close out series in Game 6 are 102-61 (.623)
  • Visiting team up 3-2 has 53% chance of winning Game 6
  • Home teams hosting Game 7 have a 58% series edge

We talked about the importance of winning odd-numbered games. Vegas did their job winning games 1, 3, and 5. Odd games give the winning team control allowing them a chance to take over a series with another win. The Golden Knights faltered in their first two chances, but they have a third tonight.

  • Teams that win Game 1 win the series 69.9% of the time
    • Home teams that win Game 1 win the series 76.7% of the time
  • Teams that win Game 3 win the series 65.0% of the time
    • Away teams that win Game 3 win 71.6% of the time

Oh, and if you were worried about Game 6 going to an overtime period, don’t be. Home teams are 36-45 in sudden death.

We’re no good at prognosticating, but stats say, Nighty Knight San Jose.

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