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Category: Game Analysis (Page 1 of 17)

It Felt Like It Was Happening Again; Then It Didn’t

Say it ain’t so, ref! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Here we are, 8:40 into the 1st period at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights are buzzing, creating chances left and right, and defending about as well as they have all year, when Shea Theodore skates through nearly the entire Buffalo Sabres team to score a highlight toe-drag goal. The arena is going crazy, the Golden Knights are celebrating, and that nervous feeling that’s been plaguing Vegas early this season feels like it’s fading away, but then, the referee skates to the red line, turns on his mic and says “Buffalo is challenging if the play is offside.”

Oh no.

Watching the replay, it was clearly offside as Max Pacioretty entered the zone early. That feeling of euphoria, gone.

We knew right away the goal was offside as soon as we looked down. It wasn’t a big deal. We knew it was coming. -Gerard Gallant

When something like that happens it all part of the game, you’ve got to regroup from it. It’s still an unbelievable play by Shea, it’s still a highlight. -Brad Hunt

Wrong little guy skating to the box, but you get the point. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Ok fine, no big deal, right? But then, minutes later, Tomas Hyka took a hooking penalty, and all the good the Golden Knights had done in the 1st 10 minutes was ready to disappear into thin air if the penalty was not killed off.

It’s an all too familiar story seven games into the season, and a feeling every Golden Knights fan had the second the penalty box door opened. Here we go again.

Yeah, it felt like that was our luck at that time, but you know, what can you do? It’s in the past and all you can do is battle forward and I’m proud of the way we did that. -William Karlsson

That’s exactly what the Golden Knights did. They killed that penalty (and like a thousand others), they kept battling through the misfortune, and they made it change. Jonathan Marchessault scored a power play goal, Cody Eakin raced for a shorthanded one, and Karlsson even got on the board for the first time this year as well.

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Two Golden Knights Say VGK Played Well, Two Others Completely Disagree; The Divide Is Not Ideal

There hasn’t been nearly enough of this thus far. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are now 1-3-0 in their first four games of the season. Two points in four games is not going to make anyone happy. However, there is a bit of a sense that Vegas has been playing a little better than the scores have indicated at times.

Specifically, last night in Washington, the Golden Knights created plenty of goal scoring chances and got bit by the post a few times. To me, it was a well-played game for Vegas on the road against the best team in hockey. On most nights, especially at home, that level of play will win games, even with the few mistakes that were made. One Golden Knight and the Jack Adams award winner agree.

Maybe the score wasn’t relative to the game that was shown. We had a lot of posts, maybe three or four. We had the puck a lot. I thought it was probably one of our better games so far. It’s a good sign. We are getting chances, we are getting pucks to the net. We’re going to score at some point. -Marc-Andre Fleury

I thought we played a real good game 5-on-5, we got lots of scoring chances, their goalie played real well, so I liked a lot of our game but we gave them too many odd-man rushes and too many power plays. -Gerard Gallant

However, that sentiment was not shared by everyone in the locker room.

I don’t think this was our best game. We played like a team with no identity and if we are going to try and trade chances with the Capitals we aren’t going to win. It wasn’t our best and there are some things we can tighten up and I think awareness is something we can do a much better job with. -Reilly Smith

I just think as a whole we aren’t playing our game. We are taking too many penalties. It’s a long year but we have to figure out things quick. Our goal from this road trip is to be a .500 team and when we are playing like this, that’s not going to happen. We definitely have to work some things out and find our game. -Shea Theodore

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Points To Elimination: Golden Knights Path To Playoffs

When they all reach 0, we pop the champagne. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year we popularized the term “Points To Elimination” to show how close the Golden Knights were to clinching their division as the season wrapped up.

This year, we decided, why wait until February to start counting towards a playoff berth, let’s just do it now… after a win.

So, Points To Elimination is back. It’s on the sidebar of the site at all times on desktop and it’s all the way at the bottom of every page on SinBin.vegas on mobile.

Remember, here’s what it takes for the Golden Knights…

  • To clinch the playoffs
    • Vegas must have eliminated either five teams in the Pacific Division OR seven teams in the Western Conference.
  • To clinch the Pacific Division
    • Vegas must have eliminated all seven Pacific Division teams.
  • To clinch the Western Conference
    • Vegas must have eliminated all 14 Western Conference teams.

Here are the updated numbers as of right now, this page will not be updated daily, but the sidebar and bottom banner will be.

Points to Elimination

Arizona Coyotes – 159
Calgary Flames – 161
San Jose Sharks – 161
Edmonton Oilers – 161
Los Angeles Kings – 162
Vancouver Canucks – 163
Anaheim Ducks – 163

St. Louis Blues – 160
Minnesota Wild – 161
Winnipeg Jets – 161
Colorado Avalanche – 163
Dallas Stars – 163
Chicago Blackhawks – 163
Nashville Predators – 163

What does the “points to elimination” number mean?

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Quite A Bit Of Pressure On Golden Knights To Gather Points On Road Trip

This guy is going to have to be much better if the Golden Knights are going to beat the Wild for the first time ever. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the schedule was first released it didn’t take most long to realize the quirk in the Golden Knights first 11 games of play. One at home, then five away, then five at home. Both the longest road trip and longest homestand, back-to-back to start out the season.

This odd schedule arrangement put the Golden Knights in a bit of a weird spot with seemingly more importance on the first game than normal. With a win, Vegas would head on the road already with two points in hand and really would only need a few points to stay afloat through the rigorous start to the year. However, they dropped Thursday night’s game and now stare at a five-game trip in which they really need to return with at least five points.

We knew we were a good team (last year), we know we’re a pretty good team again this year, but you got to get back to work. We have to work hard and play the game that we played last year. Tonight wasn’t a good start. -Gerard Gallant

Just look at the numbers. If the Golden Knights get anything less than five points, they’ll return home with just four or fewer in their first six games. Then, even if they sweep the five-game homestand, that’s still only 14 in 11, and that’s unlikely. It’s more likely they drop at least one of the five at home which would mean at best barely a point per game through an eighth of the season. Not a single time last season did the Golden Knights fail to put up at least 10 points in any 11 game stretch. A less than five point road trip would almost assure that to be the case in the first 11 this year.

I’m aware, I’m jumping ahead drastically after one game, but in the NHL, the standings are fickle. If you fall in a hole early, it’s incredibly tough to get out of it. It takes months to make up lost points, especially lost home points.

Road trips are always important to bring home as many points as you can, but we really can’t focus on anything but the next one. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

A win tonight in Minnesota basically erases the loss to Philly, but a loss, even in OT, would instantly put the Golden Knights behind the 8-ball staring at four more consecutive road games including a back-to-back in Washington and Pittsburgh.

Last year, when this team was faced with important games, they always found a way to get them (until the last four, but we’ll skip that for now). This isn’t exactly that scenario, but it’s surprisingly close due to the weird schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if the Must-Win-Golden-Knights still exist or if they were left behind in Year One.

Gallant On Stanley Cup Final Loss, Theodore, Free Agency, In TSN Interview

“When you’re 22-years-old in the Stanley Cup final, or even in the Stanley Cup playoffs you’re going to make mistakes.’ (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant celebrated with thousands of fans on Fremont Street, he joined old buddy Chris “Knuckles” Nilan on TSN Montreal.

It was an outstanding year. We battled, we worked hard, and we had an unbelievable regular season. It just carried over to the playoffs. -Gerard Gallant

Nilan asked about coming up short in the finals, and if Washington was able to slow the Golden Knights down.

Our guys weren’t gassed and they weren’t tired, I think Washington made us look tired. They really took it to us, and played a physical brand of hockey. Washington was a better team… Our top line is an outstanding line and they played really well. I gotta give Washington credit, their two top lines played outstanding hockey. Down the middle, Kuznetsov was outstanding, Backstrom was outstanding. They just had more fire power in the final. -Gallant

One of the best exchanges in the interview was about Shea Theodore and his costly giveaways in the Cup finals. Knuckles alerted Gallant he wasn’t calling out the young defenseman but was more interested in how he handled his mistakes after games.

There was no issue with that. The kid made a couple of mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, and that’s what we told the kid. When you’re 22-years-old in the Stanley Cup final, or even in the Stanley Cup playoffs you’re going to make mistakes. That kid made more good plays for us than enough, we’re real happy with him. He just shook it off. -Gallant

Moving on to next season, the TSN host asked the Golden Knights coach about the offseason and building a roster for next season. I’m beginning to think Gallant gets the latest NHL Rumors push notifications on his iPhone. For a guy that doesn’t read box scores or standings, he sure knows who’s available.

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End Of Season Media Day Takeaways

An unbelievable year comes to a close, three wins too soon. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There was so much to take away from the end of year media availability with the players, Gallant, and McPhee, that we figured we’d chuck it all into one post and then break out stories from it over the next couple weeks. So, here are all of our takeaways from the final day of the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights.

  • Las Vegas has become home for a lot of players on the Golden Knights, but no one has adopted Vegas quite like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
    • “It’s home. It’s easy to judge other places and I’ve always told myself, I’ll go back to France because I love France. Then I came to Vegas and for the first time in my life my wife and I were like why not in the States then, we don’t mind Vegas whatsoever, we like it. Vegas has been a place you came to think you are going to play hockey and suddenly you find a home.”
  • This team realized they were going to be good a lot earlier than they led on. Many different players were asked and the answers varied from the second day of training camp to Christmas.
  • David Perron and the Golden Knights had some contract negotiations during the season but they never came to an agreement
    • He absolutely wants to stay.
    • He believes there’s room to work on both sides. “I’ll deserve what I’ll deserve, but I’m willing to work with them to stay here.”
    • He has always found stability important because he’s bounced around teams a lot in his career. Term length seems fairly important to him.
    • Mentioned “his buddy” Marchessault specifically a few times as a reason he wants to stay.
  • Perron’s illness which kept him out of multiple games against Winnipeg was a 103-degree fever. He told the doctors he wanted to play but their fear was that he could possibly spread it around the room. He was sent back to Vegas before Game 2 of the series and felt better when he came back.
  • The reason Perron was kept out of a portion of the Kings series was due to an injury to his neck. He sustained it earlier in the year and said he and the doctors didn’t think early in that series was the right time to come back.
  • One of my favorites moments was when William Carrier said he will never change the way he plays. I chimed in by saying “even when you completely whiff on the guy and check yourself super hard into the boards in that last game?” He responded “which time?”

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Return To Scoring First/Playing With Lead Imperative For Golden Knights

The Golden Knights scored first in both home games in the series, they need to do it again. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights score first they’ve been almost impossible to beat in the postseason. Their record is an astounding 11-2 when netting the game’s first goal. In the Stanley Cup Final, they’ve scored the opening goal just twice, which is one of the reasons why Vegas is facing elimination tonight.

It’s very important. I feel like we’ve been trailing this entire series. We had a lot of chances last game to be able to get that goal ahead and I think we just have to bear down and get that first goal. That means a lot to our structure of play. -Reilly Smith

Smith’s linemate laid it out even simpler.

I think we need to play with a lead. We’re a good team when we play in the lead. -Jonathan Marchessault

The Golden Knights were 34-5-2 in the regular season when they took the games first lead.

Yeah it’s been important all postseason, for all teams. It’s going to be a fight to get that lead. We’re a really good, dangerous team when we get the first goal. Get the crowd into it and go from there. -Erik Haula

Taking a lead, protecting it, and winning playoff games was a winning formula for the Golden Knights, until this series. Leading up to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, in 16 postseason games the Golden Knights lead for 162:43. Since then, they’ve lead for just 9:29 minutes, and have trailed for 123:18 minutes.

They’re doing a good job. They’re scoring at opportune times as well. Their power play’s sparks the team. It’s important for us to score that first goal and play with that lead. That’s what our mindset is for the next game. -Smith

Having a good first ten minutes is really important. Washington is a team that when they have a lead, they play to shut down and play really good defense. We’ll try and get the lead early on. -Alex Tuch

The Golden Knights seemed confident Game 5 will be a different outcome than the last three games. It begins with the Vegas top line and top players.

They’re a tough team to play against. They wait in the middle and let you make mistakes. We have to put pucks behind them, and let them make the mistakes. -Marchessault

Going by the numbers, scoring first will greatly help the Golden Knights chances to extend the Cup Final. The series isn’t over if Washington jumps on the scoreboard first, but it puts immediate pressure on Vegas to answer. It doesn’t matter which Golden Knight scores, just as long as it’s the opening goal.

The Ugly Numbers Behind 3-1

The hole is deep, but the opponent has blown leads like this before. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Here’s the bad news, it hasn’t happened in 76 years. Here’s the good news, it has been done. In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs were trailing the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Toronto went to win four straight games to hoist the Cup.

The silver lining, the Golden Knights will only have to win three straight.

I think at home’s our best games for sure throughout the playoffs that crowd will be getting us going for sure and we’ll be ready. -Alex Tuch

The Golden Knights have played with confidence all season, and now it’s time to dive deep down and find that assurance. It’s been a successful “one game at a time” mentality for Vegas. It’s really one game at a time right now, and there’s no room for error.

To win three games in a row is tough in this league, but at the start of the season, if you told anyone in this locker room, ‘If you win three games in a row, you win the Stanley Cup,’ I think everyone would be excited about that opportunity. -Reilly Smith

Since 1942, only that one Maple Leafs team has won the Stanley Cup series trailing 3-1. Only the 2006 Philadelphia Flyers and the 1987 Oilers pushed the series to a seventh game. So it’s possible to force a Game 7, but the odds are stacked against Vegas.

That being said, as rare as it is in the Final, teams coming back from 3-1 in the playoffs is not horribly uncommon.

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The Golden Knights Haven’t Been Here Before, But They Feel Like They Have

The word of the day in the Golden Knights locker room was “doubt.” It’s a word that’s all too familiar to expansion team who now finds itself in a 3-1 hole in the Stanley Cup Finals. They’ve been doubted every step of the way, and now they hear the doubt from the outside creeping back up, maybe as strong as it ever has, and they are ready to relish the opportunity like they have before.

It would be another crazy element to the fairy tale. As if it needs another one. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

I asked Nate Schmidt if there was more doubt now or before the opening game of the season. He gave the classic puzzled Schmidt look, thought about it for about 10 seconds, and said “equal.”

They’ve never been down 3-1 in a series. They’ve tied their longest losing streak of the year. They are facing a climb no team has successfully made since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. Quite simply, they’ve never been here before, but in a way, it kind of feels like they have.

I don’t think anyone thought we could make it to this point now, and I know a lot of people that are already giving it to Washington and saying the Cinderella story is over but we’ve been resilient all year and we’ll be ready for tomorrow. We are not looking past tomorrow. -Alex Tuch

We’re going to do what we’ve done all year. We’re just going to focus on the next game and see where it takes us. Stuff that we’ve done this year has never been done. -Jonathan Marchessault

What they’ve done all year is win. At every pass, they’ve proven the doubters wrong and found a way. Now, down 3-1, they’ll look to do it again; all the while trying to do the only thing they really set out to do in the first place.

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May The Real Golden Knights Please Stand Up

Play like the Golden Knights and win Game 4. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jonathan Marchessault used the words “must-win” three times in the first two questions during his morning skate media availability. That term has been thrown around by others in the moments since the Golden Knights went behind 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, the deepest they’ve trailed in a series all postseason. However, the focus is inward, looking at themselves to get back to the style of hockey that’s gotten them to this point, something they believe they haven’t played in any of the three games this series.

We haven’t shown our game yet, that’s the reason we are down by one. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Bellemare believes the fix is easy too.

Small details. Late on the forecheck, sometimes forwards are not reloading as hard as they have been all year. It’s the Final, so being close to a player isn’t good enough, you have to be on him. At the end of the day I feel like we’ve been able to play our game against any team we’ve played and it shouldn’t be any different if we are all committed to it, it’s as simple as that. -Bellemare

His message has also comes through on the ice. The Golden Knights fourth line has been consistently excellent in the series, scoring goals, checking both ways, and controlling play a majority of the time they are on the ice.

It’s just making the right play at the right time. If the play’s not there in the middle then just chip it (in). The best example is the Bellemare line, they play a simple game and they have a lot of success. I think we should definitely play more like that. -Marchessault

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