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
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
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.
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
1st Place in the Round-Robin Perfect since the Pause Undefeated since March 6th Missing their best scorer
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.
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.
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
Recap: Officially the 2020 postseason began for the Golden Knights in Edmonton. Vegas faced the Dallas Stars for their first of three Round Robin games. Coach Peter DeBoer gave Marc-Andre Fleury the day off and started Robin Lehner in his place.
Chandler Stephenson gave his team a quick 1-0 lead :64 seconds into the contest. New linemates William Karlsson and Mark Stone assisted on the goal. Vegas was awarded two power play opportunities in the first period but couldn’t convert on either. Lehner sealed the net tightly and stopped all eight shots from the Stars.
Dallas came out fast and hard to start the second period. The Stars peppered Lehner with shots eventually scoring two goals in :42 seconds to take a 2-1 lead. Four minutes later Dallas extended their lead 3-1 scoring on their first power play. The Golden Knights severely struggled to clear the puck from their zone and allowed the Stars to set up their offense. After two periods Vegas trailed 3-1.
The Golden Knights woke up midway through the third period and scored three goals of their own. Stone scored a power play goal to make it a one goal game, Nate Schmidt tied the it 1:29 later. Three minutes later William Carrier scored with his back to the net and between his legs to give Vegas the 4-3 lead. William Karlsson put the game away with an empty net goal.
Vegas won their first game of the postseason 5-3, and are tied with Colorado in the Western conference Round Robin standings. The Golden Knights will next suit up against the St. Blues on Thursday. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: The Golden Knights started the game just how they wanted to. A quick strike transition goal from Stephenson opened the scoring and got Vegas going. They continued to control play with a few power plays thrown in throghout the first period. But, it all went downhill in the 2nd as the Golden Knights gave up goals on back-to-back shifts and couldn’t get out of their own zone the for most of the 20 minutes. In the 3rd, DeBoer’s line shiffling started to take hold as the old Karlsson, Smith, Marchessault line got going, Stone was tremendous working with Stephenson and Cousins, and the one line he left alone came through with the game winner. Wild, wacky, unpredictable game, but VGK is officially on the board in the round-robin. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.
Line change brilliance or round-robin experimentation? Either way, VGK have 2 points.
Ken’s Three VGK Stars *** William Carrier ** Nate Schmidt * Mark Stone
"At the end of the day this is not about politics, it's about human rights. It's time to start doing something, not just let this be a new cycle and forget about it and do it over again." -Lehner
Didn't think it was possible for the PK to look worse than the 5-on-5 has this period, but it did. That pressure PK system has not taken hold yet at all and they're running out of time to figure it out.
With the extended roster available to the Golden Knights, I wanted to take a look at how they might roll out their players as they need to go deeper into the lineup.
The best way to illustrate that was by using an element common to football but somewhat foreign to hockey, the “depth chart.” This is my best guess at how Pete DeBoer’s “depth chart” looks heading into the 2020 Playoffs.
(Note: This is not a way to build lines. Instead, it’s to show which players are best at each individual position. Thus, in the event that there’s an injury, which player would be the next to fill in. The idea is to use each player the highest up the chart at each position to build the roster of 12 forwards and six defensemen. Then, lines and pairs are created around that group of 18.)