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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Jason Pothier (Page 2 of 23)

A Different Anaheim Ducks Team On The Schedule Tonight

The Golden Knights are coming out of Christmas break in first place in the Pacific Division and eight points ahead of tonight’s opponent, the Anaheim Ducks. Last time the two teams faced was on December 5th, when Vegas won in a shootout. After the loss, Anaheim players or coaches didn’t seem to be upset. In fact, that’s when Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle joked about the Golden Knights fortunate luck.

At the time, I sensed a satisfied head coach leaving the toughest arena in hockey with one point. Carlyle knew his team wasn’t complete and things could be different the next time they faced the Golden Knights. Since Captain Ryan Getzlaf returned on December 11th, the Ducks have earned nine points in seven games. Also, after trading for Adam Henrique, Anaheim has a point in nine of the twelve games he’s played in. Not to mention, Henrique executed this season’s most amazing goal.

Remember when this guy stoned six shootout attempts against the Ducks. Yeah, that was awesome. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you add a center like Getzlaf back in the mix, the Ducks immediately become a playoff contender. The prototypical center is big, strong, plays all three zones, and has one of a kind ice vision. In limited action, Getzlaf leads the league with 1.08 assists per game. His career average over 13 seasons is 0.68 assists per game. To compare, David Perron leads Vegas with 0.71 assists per game.

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Instead, Washington Was The Flat Team; We’re OK With That

Had to go with a Haula picture after his excellent acting as Santa for the Happy Haula-Days skit. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Did the Golden Knights get the best from the Washington Capitals last night? Braden Holtby didn’t think so.

We just weren’t mentally prepared to work, skate, or anything. Against a team like that you can talk about them being a first-year team, but you know what they play like. They work, and we didn’t work. -Braden Holtby, Capitals Goaltender

We’ve heard many excuses from losing teams this season, but this is the first time a losing opponent admitted his team wasn’t prepared to play.

There is no excuse for that against any team. -Holtby

Ovechkin said it could’ve been a lot worse, had it not been for his goaltender.

We knew it was going to be hard with back-to-back. Again, I think if not for Holtby it would be like 10-0 at the first period. That’s why he’s one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best goalie in the league. He gave us a chance and we couldn’t come back -Alex Ovechkin, Capitals Captain

Holtby agreed, but gave Vegas the credit.

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Golden Knights Getting Scoring From More Than Just The Top Six

There are many reasons for the Golden Knights offensive success. Let’s start with the number of Vegas players having career years. Secondly, younger players are quickly blossoming with more ice time and room to grow. Lastly, the Golden Knights are getting help from their offensive depth.

Look at that photo. That’s depth scoring at its finest. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This season, Vegas has scored 114 goals. They’re tied for the fifth best total in the league. Even more impressive is VGK’s (3.45) goals per game, which is ranked third behind Tampa (3.76) and the New York Islanders (3.51).

Gerard Gallant is blessed to have the depth scoring his team has. Six Golden Knights have more than 20 points. Only nine other NHL teams can claim that.

NHL Teams with six or more Players with 20+ points:

Tampa: 9 Players
Nashville: 8 Players
NY Rangers: 7 Players
Vegas: 6 Players
Los Angeles: 6 Players
Pittsburgh: 6 Players
NY Islanders: 6 Players
St. Louis: 6 Players
Toronto: 6 Players

To go even deeper, the Golden Knights have 14 players with 10+ Points. Only Winnipeg (15 Players), Chicago, Columbus, and the New York Rangers have depth scoring like Vegas.

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How In The World Do You Stop The Tampa Bay Lightning?

Theodore, Merrill, and the VGK defense were superb against Pittsburgh. Can they do it again to an even higher powered attack? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s a question being asked all around the league and very few have the answers. We chatted with young Golden Knights defensemen Shea Theodore and Jon Merrill to get their thoughts on shutting down Tampa’s high-scoring offense.

When you have teams that come in with strong players, you have to keep it simple and zone in on those guys. Sometimes when you give them too much respect, that’s when they’re at their most dangerous. As a d-man that’s when your gap starts to slide and you’re doing too much watching. -Shea Theodore

It’s no secret the Lightning’s top line is lethal. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov have scored 48 goals as a top unit. To compare, the Golden Knights top line has a combined 35 goals. Theodore believes the Golden Knights defense is getting comfortable with defensive challenges.

As you play more and more games you get more comfortable playing with those kind of players. For example, the game against Pittsburgh I thought me and Engo were matched against Crosby all night and we did a good job shutting him down. We tried to eliminate as many scoring chances as we could and I felt like we did a good job. -Theodore

Will Vegas defensemen change their strategy and play more conservative against Tampa?

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There’s Nothing Special About The Golden Knights; In Other Words, They Are Really Special

Special? Not special? Which one do we even want them to be? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the second straight game, the losing goaltender suggested there’s “nothing special” about the Golden Knights. However, by no means were Matt Murray
or James Reimer being critical. If anything, both goalies were overly impressed by Vegas.

I don’t know if you can be underrated with their record, at some point (you’re) not underrated. Honestly, hats off to them. They’re an honest hockey team. They come and they work hard and they work honest. So there’s nothing special to their game, they’re a group that’s working very well and very hard here. -James Reimer, Florida Goaltender

The Panthers goalie fought hard against the persistent Vegas attack but couldn’t stop Erik Haula’s game-winning tip-in. Reimer also called the Golden Knights an honest, well-balanced, hard-working team on the ice. Now compare that to what Penguins goaltender Matt Murray said Thursday night.

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“They Are Just Absolutely A Dog And A Bone On That Puck”

The House Always Wins. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If one game could sum up the Golden Knights season, last night was it. Considered the ultimate redemption game for Vegas, they beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs, and did it with a goal from a guy who has been a healthy scratch in each of the last five games and 12 of the past 13. Not only did the team win for their star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury but they continue to handle the NHL’s best. After the 2–1 Golden Knights win, Fleury’s old mates commented on an emotional night.

When you see him in there it’s a little different, but once you get into play, you’re playing. Yeah, it’s the first time we played against each other, it’s to be expected to feel different. -Sidney Crosby, Penguins Captain

Maybe that’s a reason why #87 didn’t have one shot on goal. Alright, that’s a stretch but it was a difficult night for the two-time Conn Smythe winner.

I think they skate well. Every line plays the same and they keep it pretty simple. They didn’t beat themselves or make mistakes that could hurt them. When they did they didn’t break down and got some saves. Both goalies were good, but it’s just one of those games. Then they found a way to get that last one in the third. -Crosby

The win didn’t seem to upset Crosby nearly as much as it did Mike Sullivan.

It was a hard-fought game. It was another one of those games that could’ve went either way. There were chances on both sides and I thought the goaltending at both ends of the rink was good. It seems like those are the type of games that we’re in night in and night out and we haven’t found ways to win those, and that’s what we have to do. -Mike Sullivan, Penguins Head Coach

As Sullivan mentioned, the goaltending was good on both ends of the rink. For sixty minutes, Fleury was the better goaltender. His new teammates aggressively pressured his former backup Matt Murray.

They are just absolutely a dog and a bone on that puck. They just work so hard, and I think that’s where they know it caught us by surprise on a couple. Especially on the forecheck where like I said, caught by surprise, quick turn over, bang bang to the net. That’s what they are good at we knew that going into it, but they are definitely a hard working team and a fast team. Good in transition. You know, I don’t think they do anything special but they work extremely hard and I think that’s why they have such success. -Matt Murray, Penguins Goaltender

Quick, hard-working, strong on the forecheck, and good in transition. Basically, the Webster’s dictionary definition of an NHL playoff team.

There was also something about a dog and a bone, but we’ll leave that one alone for now.

Hurricanes Came Out Firing At Fleury

Well he had been out for awhile, you know almost for two months. I don’t know if we got to the him as much with bodies in front, but we got some pucks to the net.- Bill Peters, Carolina Head Coach

Stop shooting I’m me, I’m just used to getting back in there. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Overall, the early strategy didn’t affect the outcome but it was clear Carolina tested Marc-Andre Fleury right away. The Hurricanes won the opening faceoff, and took their first shot :20 seconds into the game. Fleury faced five Carolina shots before the Golden Knights took their first. When Brayden McNabb’s errant pass deflected off Marcus Kruger for a goal, the Hurricanes were outshooting Vegas 9 to 4. Kruger’s goal was mere luck, but the early strategy resulted positively for Carolina.

Put aside the first period gift-wrapped goal, and Fleury didn’t mind the early action.

The first shot I slipped, I missed my post… not a pretty first one. A few in the chest, two in the pants, it was nice to feel the puck and make a couple of saves. – Marc-Andre Fleury

On the other side of the ice, Carolina goalie Cam Ward secured his 300th career victory. A proud Ward broke down the Golden Knights two goals he allowed.

Someone flew through my eyes and I didn’t see it. All I could hear is the ping off the crossbar. I’m trying to think of the second goal now, oh the breakaway. A tremendous release by Reilly. He’s kinda gifted with that. -Cam Ward, Carolina Goaltender

The happy-go-lucky ‘tender continued to praise the Golden Knights.

They really push the pace. They put pressure on your D-men with their speed. They’re an exciting team, they feed off the atmosphere at home. It’s no secret that they were 11-2 at home. They have good things going here and I’m not surprised. -Cam Ward, Carolina Goaltender

I guess you could say it was a game of goaltending storylines. Fleury and Ward played well but faced different offensive approaches. Partly because Vegas made things easier on the Canes goalie. Remember, 35 SOG is the magic number? The Golden Knights got just 24 shots on Ward. Not good enough.

35: The Golden Knights Magic Number

The Golden Knights returned from a perfect two-game road trip, keeping their winning streak alive at four games. Overall, they’re 4-1-0 in December. Although three of the four games were decided in overtime, Vegas has come away with eight points out of a possible 10, including two impressive wins in Nashville and Dallas.

Hockey is so simple sometimes. Just shoot it 35 times. Boom. Winner. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One reason could be the rising shot totals the Golden Knights are launching. During their four-game win streak, the team has 39 shots on goal or more in every game. To start the stretch, Vegas slapped, snapped and wristed 45 SOG on Arizona. Next game, Anaheim’s John Gibson faced 43 VGK shots in a losing effort. On the road, Vegas tallied 39 SOG per game against both Dallas and Nashville. These four are a part of the just seven times the Golden Knights have 39+ SOG this season. But when they do shoot 39+ times, they win.

Game 2 @ Arizona: 42 SOG (VGK wins 2-1 OT)
Game 19 vs LA: 40 SOG (VGK wins 4-2)
Game 20 @ Anaheim: 49 SOG (VGK wins 4-2)
Game 26 vs Arizona: 45 SOG (VGK wins 3-2 OT)
Game 27 vs Anaheim: 43 SOG (VGK wins 4-3 OT)
Game 28 @ Nashville: 39 SOG (VGK wins 4-3 OT)
Game 29 @ Dallas: 39 SOG (VGK wins 5-3)

To further the point of how important shot totals are for the Golden Knights, check this out. In every single one of Vegas’ ten losses, they’ve recorded less than 35 shots.

Game 4 vs Detroit: 27 SOG (VGK loses 6-3)
Game 10 @ NYI: 34 SOG (VGK loses 6-3)
Game 11 @ NYR: 34 SOG (VGK loses 6-4)
Game 12 @ Boston: 29 SOG (VGK loses 2-1)
Game 14 @ Toronto: 28 SOG (VGK loses 4-3 SO)
Game 15 @ Montreal: 31 SOG (VGK loses 3-2)
Game 17 @ Edmonton: 24 SOG (VGK loses 8-2)
Game 23 vs. Dallas: 34 SOG (VGK loses 3-0)
Game 24 @ Minnesota: 31 SOG (VGK loses 4-2)
Game 25 @ Winnipeg: 31 SOG (VGK loses 7-4)

When breaking down just shots on goal, common sense says the more shots, the better chance of winning. However, statistically, that’s not always the case. For example, Montreal, Florida, and Edmonton are all in the top ten for total team shots (VGK is 13), and none of them sit in a playoff position in their conference. The Florida Panthers are 2-6-2 when getting 39 or more SOG.

Through 29 games, there has been a direct correlation between SOG and W/L for the Golden Knights. In two worst games of the year (by score differential), at Edmonton and home against Detroit, Vegas fired just 24 and 27 shots.

If they want to continue to win consistently, they’ll need to keep the shot numbers consistently above 35. That or just keep bringing the dads along.

Vegas Paved The Way For Seattle

Well that didn’t take long. Not only is The Creator no longer the newest owner in the NHL, he may not even own the newest team soon enough.

Absent of some really cataclysmic thing that happens with the rink, or the owners, or some extraneous thing we’re not aware of, the 32nd team in the league will be Seattle. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Vancouver

Now that the cat is out of the bag, let’s bring up the obvious. The Golden Knights early success helped speed up the Seattle process for the NHL.

Vegas is a wonderful sales pitch. -Darren Dreger, TSN 1050 Toronto

Of course it is. The Golden Knights have 35 points after 27 games, and they’re 11-2-0 at home. Potential owners in Seattle are salivating with the early return happening in Las Vegas. Future NHL owner Jerry Bruckheimer (who tried multiple times to put a team in Vegas) hasn’t been this excited since he read the script for Con Air.

It feels like (NHL) are almost tripping over themselves to get to the door to make the next move. There’s an excitement to Seattle. They’ve long coveted this market. -Ray Ferraro, TSN Vancouver

The NHL favored Southern Nevada over Quebec City because of its uniqueness and financial security. Las Vegas has its strong tourism industry, and Seattle has its strong tech industry. In the eyes of the league, the demographics of each city make for lucrative NHL markets.

The league forever, even before Vegas was an idea… even if the league will never admit this, I can tell you, the league has always been intrigued with Seattle. -Pierre LeBrun, TSN Ottawa

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‘Tis The Season: Time To Enjoy Family, Friends, And… Playoff Probabilities?

Remember when this sign was kind of a joke? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are currently sitting comfortably in second place in a lackluster Pacific Division. Sure, Anaheim Coach Randy Carlyle thinks some of it could be luck, but a 9-1-0 divisional record is more than a few friendly bounces. Outside of the Pacific, Vegas is 8-8-1 which makes the Golden Knights divisional record that more important.

Arizona is the only team out of the race, but the rest of the Pacific considers themselves in contention, which could create a dogfight for 3-4 open postseason spots, San Jose, Anaheim, Calgary, and Edmonton are all unhappy with their records but they’re far from giving up. Especially when they’re looking up at Vancouver and some expansion team.

HockeyReference.com’s group of hockey prophets continue to predict the postseason future of the league. HR’s Playoff Probability Report runs 1,000 simulations and spits out the results.

Playoff Probability %

Los Angeles 93.9%
Vegas 80.9%
San Jose 62.6%
Vancouver 54.1%
Calgary 30.8%
Anaheim 24.1%
Edmonton 9.9%
Arizona 0.2%

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