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Category: Game Analysis (Page 2 of 12)

Who Are The Kings Forwards?

How often do I get to use a Shipachyov picture? Wasn’t passing on this opportunity. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Los Angeles Kings are not built like the Vegas Golden Knights when it comes to forwards. Vegas has a top six that generate much of the offense for the team and they rely on the bottom six to keep the pace of the game high, create chances, and wear down opponents. The Golden Knights are at their best when all 12 forwards are active in the game, allowing them to come in waves at the opposing team.

The Kings are much different. Instead, the Kings have three elite players that carry a majority of the load, they have a little group of offensive-minded players that chip in by essentially complimenting the stars, and they fill the rest of their roster with role players. Some are defensive-oriented, others are there to win face-offs, then there are the grit and toughness guys, but all are mainly specialists.

So, I sat down with friend of the site and host of the official podcast of the LA Kings,  All The Kings Men, Jesse Cohen, to figure out, who exactly are these guys and what do they do best?

Anze Kopitar – Hart-trophy winning defensive forward who just flat out does everything well.

Jeff Carter – playmaker that is dangerous every second he’s in the game. He scores, he creates chances for others, he’s an elite skater, he wins face-offs, he’s simply an offensive weapon.

Dustin Brown – Having a tremendous offensive year and tends to be a player that imposes his will all over the ice while having the skill set to finish chances when they arise.

Adrian Kempe – Has a dangerous wrist shot from 30 feet out but seems to rely on it heavily. When his game is activated and he’s in on the forecheck he’s a disruptive and dangerous offensive weapon. When it’s not he has a tendency to disappear and rely on his skating and shooting. High ceiling, middle output.

Tobias Reider – Speed to burn with offensive upside that has still yet to fully develop. Can move the puck and his feet quickly.

Trevor Lewis – Defensive specialist having a career year offensively. Penalty killer that can play center or wing but it mostly deployed at wing.

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Golden Knights Face “Pressure” Unlike Any Other Playoff Team

On numerous occasions this year, TSN’s legendary reporter Bob McKenzie has declared the Golden Knights to be the best story he’s ever covered in hockey. For an expansion team that goes on to tally 109 points, never experience a four-game losing streak, dominate the Western Conference, and eventually be crowned champions of the Pacific Division, it’s hard to disagree with him. But every great story needs an ending, and not every ending is as great as the story that led up to it.

When you go into the playoffs you are not going to be satisfied just to be in the playoffs. Right now my expectation is to have a great series and move on to the next round, but I understand that all over the town the expectation is a little more than that because we aren’t going to lie to each other, it’s a cool story, we are a cool story. So when we stop, everyone is going to be like “ahhh, it’s too soon,” for everybody, not just for the players, but for the town. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

It’s been a ride that’s captured the hearts of every resident of Las Vegas, most hockey fans, and the sports world in general, but what will the Golden Knights do next?

I think there is a hope. The expectation from the media is “I hope this team goes far” because it’s been a great story and nobody wants it to end. -Bellemare

That hope brings unique expectations on the Golden Knights. Unlike the Predators, Penguins, Capitals, Lightning, Bruins, or any of the other top teams, Vegas isn’t necessarily expected to win the Stanley Cup. But also unlike the Avalanche or Devils, the Golden Knights are not without outside pressure to perform.

I don’t like the word pressure. That word, I just don’t like it. I think it brings negativity in the air. I don’t know what word would be better, but I just don’t like the word pressure. I know the swings that you go through, good and bad. I’ve been down (in series), I’ve been up in series, and you’ve just got to ride those things and you’ve got to stick together as a group, and just have fun with it. This is supposed to be fun and hopefully it lasts a long time. -Erik Haula

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Golden Knights 2017-18 Season Already In 94th Percentile In NHL History, Could Reach 97th Percentile

The Golden Knights head into tonight’s game with 109 points looking to push that total to 111 and eventually 113 with another win in Calgary on Saturday. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we wanted to take a moment to show how unbelievable reaching 109 points is on its own… then, of course, we’ll project ahead.

In the 100 years the NHL has been around, there have been a total of 1,506 seasons teams have competed in, including teams from this year. Only 89 other teams have ever reached 109 points. That means the inaugural season of the Golden Knights already ranks in the 94th percentile of all NHL seasons in the history of NHL. In fact, it’s tied for the 75th best regular season in NHL history, and the Golden Knights have two games to go.

It took Vegas less than a year to do what Toronto couldn’t in 100. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Six teams, the Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Panthers, Kings, Wild, and Maple Leafs have never reached 109 points in a regular season.

But that’s just the here and now, we’ve still got games to watch tonight and Saturday, so, let’s look forward. There are five possible outcomes over the next two games for the Golden Knights. They can earn 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0 points which would see them finish their season with 113, 112, 111, 110, or 109 points. Here’s what each of those would look like compared to all other seasons played in NHL history.

PointsNHL RankNHL PercentileTeams Never To Reach
*Winnipeg (110) and Tampa Bay (110) are currently at their record highs. Both have 2 games left so they can reach up to 114.

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Vegas Golden Knights: Pacific Division Champions

Sweet graphic made by our guy Lance Maxwell.

Prior to the game, the Golden Knights retired #58 in honor of the victims of 1 October. Here’s the entire ceremony.

During the game, William Karlsson scored one of the prettiest goals in the NHL this year.

After the game, the Golden Knights awarded their “Inaugural Season Awards.” The winners were:

7th Man Award (Player whose on-ice performance exceeded your expectations this season) – William Karlsson
Vegas Strong Award (Player who was most involved in serving and giving back to the Las Vegas community) – Deryk Engelland
1st Star Award (Player who played best on home-ice) – William Karlsson

Here’s the entire post game ceremony.

Cody Eakin Should Take PK Minutes From Reilly Smith In The Playoffs

Look around, you won’t find a harsher critic of Cody Eakin’s play since he’s joined the Golden Knights than me, but since Reilly Smith has been out with the wrist injury, Eakin has proven his value to a playoff team in a huge way on the penalty kill.

We always knew #21 was good on the PK, but he’s been on another level for a little while now. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights are fully healthy, they use six penalty killers, but like the forward lines and defensive pairings, they are not used equally. Since early in the year, All Star head coach Gerard Gallant has relied upon a pair Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek and another pair of Reilly Smith and William Karlsson to handle most of the load. Cody Eakin has consistently been the next man up to fill in for any of those four who are missing or to play with someone like Ryan Carpenter, Oscar Lindberg, or Erik Haula to round out the six.

In the absence of Smith, Eakin has been tremendous killing penalties with William Karlsson. Last night alone he sprung Karlsson for a shorthanded goal and earlier in the game he took on two defensemen and nearly scored shorthanded himself. There are countless other examples over the past three weeks as well. Simply put, Cody Eakin has looked like the best player on the ice when Vegas is down a man for nearly a month now.

As we head towards the playoffs, I’m suggesting Gallant utilizes Eakin as his top penalty killer with Karlsson or Smith, instead of moving him down the ranks and putting even more responsibility on two of the Golden Knights’ most important offensive weapons, 19 and 71. 

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Blues’ Jake Allen On Facing Vegas; “If That’s The Scenario Then We Have Our Work Cut Out For Us”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Minnesota said they’d be “pretty confident playing against these guys.”

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon said “hopefully we do see them in the first round. I think we match up pretty well against them.”

Last night was the St. Louis Blues turn to answer the question. How do you feel about a potential first round matchup against the Golden Knights?

All the games have been entertaining. They’ve won two, we’ve won one but I think we’ve played well, they’ve played well. It would be an entertaining series. -Alex Pietrangelo, STL Captain

Losing goaltender Jake Allen wasn’t as confident as his captain.

“Yeah, if we do. We’re looking to just get in right now, and we play whoever we play. If that’s the scenario then we have our work cut out for us. -Jake Allen, STL Goaltender

After three games against Vegas, the Blues goalie has seen enough. He’s well aware how dangerous the Golden Knights are.

They’ve been a great team all year and they showed it again tonight. They’re a quick strike team, and very quick transition. You have to limit their chances, because they’re going to capitalize on most of them. -Allen

“Former” Golden Knight, Chris Thorburn (he was drafted in the Expansion Draft and never signed) was with his captain. I got the feeling neither player was concerned facing Vegas in the first round of the playoffs.

I think it would be a lot like we saw tonight. Two good teams slugging it out. I think the defensive part of the game will be keyed on, just because of the offensive power on both sides. It would be a good matchup. It would be fun. -Chris Thorburn, STL Forward

I asked Blues coach Mike Yeo the same question but before I could finish he cut in.

… I don’t want to talk about that right now. I just want to get in the playoffs. Thank you. -Mike Yeo, Blues Head Coach

Jeez. Fair enough coach.

What Do The Avalanche Think Of Playing The Golden Knights In The Playoffs?

Has there ever been a more fitting picture for an article on this site? I think not. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like we asked after the Minnesota Wild game, we posed the same question to the Colorado Avalanche. How does your team matchup against the Golden Knights in a seven game series?

I think it would be a good matchup. I think it would be a fun series. In the playoffs anything can happen.  -Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Captain

The Captain was diplomatic and carefully didn’t give out any bulletin board material. His frustrated teammate however…

I think it’s pretty even. They came out buzzing in the third, but I thought for the first two periods of 5-on-5 we did a good job. Yeah, hopefully we do see them in the first round. I think we match up pretty well against them. -Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Forward

The Hart candidate followed up with why he believes playing the Golden Knights in the first-round would be a good draw for the Avalanche.

Yeah, it’s not a super physical game from either team. I think it’s exciting hockey to watch. I think in Denver it was a fun game to watch and being here is another entertaining game. It’s a lot of off the rush stuff and a lot of speed. -MacKinnon

Avs coach Jared Bednar initially spit out a whole bunch of nonsense coach speak, but we eventually got him talking Golden Knights.

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Alex Tuch’s Production Slip A Cause For Concern

2017 Tuch and 2018 Tuch haven’t quite been the same. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may be sensitive so I’ll tread lightly. Alex Tuch is a fan favorite for many reasons. He’s big, young, skilled and charismatic. What’s not to like? Well, maybe his play as of late. Instead of making the argument myself, let’s let the numbers speak for themselves.

Since January 1, 2018
13 points
5 goals (two scored on 3/8)
8 assists
-7 +/- (-3 on 3/16)
0 Power Play goals
0 SOG eight times
1 SOG nine times
2 SOG ten times
6+ SOG twice: 2/26 (7), 1/25 (6)
5 five-game scoreless streaks: 1/7-1/19 (5 games), 1/23-2/02 (5 games), 2/8-2/19 (6 games), 2/23-3/4 (5 games), 3/10-3/18 (5 games)

Over the last few months, Tuch’s production has been disappointing, totaling only 13 points (5G, 8A) since January 1st (He scored eight goals and tallied 10 assists in five fewer games in 2017). What’s just as worrisome is Tuch’s overall game (points per game, shot attempts, time on ice, plus/minus) has regressed since the new year as well.

+6 before January 1st
-7 since January 1st
+4 in October, +1 in November, +3 in December, +0 in January, -4 in February, -3 in March
Five games of -1 or worse in March
Eight games of -1 or worse in February

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How The Golden Knights Clinch A Playoff Berth With Just A Win Over Colorado

65 minutes away! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

So here we are, Golden Knights game 75, already with 100 points in the bank, and exactly one win away from clinching a playoff berth in their inaugural season. All it takes is a win in regulation or overtime against Colorado today or Monday. Here’s why.

Vegas currently sits with 100 points. This is already enough to have clinched a higher season point total over Arizona, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Chicago, and Dallas. To clinch a berth, the Golden Knights must have a higher point total than at least five Pacific Division teams OR seven Western Conference teams. With four Pacific and six Western teams in the bank, they just need one more.

A win today or Monday would put them at 102 points.

If the win occurs in regulation, the Avalanche would remain at 88 points with seven games to go. Thus, if they win every game the remainder of the season, they would match Vegas’ total at 102.

The Ducks have 89 points with seven games left. Thus, if they win out, they’ll have 103 points, one more than the Golden Knights.

On April 1st, Colorado travels to Anaheim to face the Ducks. If the Ducks win, they still have the possibility to finish the season at 103 points (ahead of Vegas), but that would mean the Avs lose at least one point, making 101 their highest possible total. Thus, becoming the seventh Western Conference team needed for Vegas to clinch.

If the Avalanche win, the Ducks will be left with 102 as their highest possible total, equal to the Golden Knights. However, the Golden Knights have clinched the tiebreaker (regulation or overtime wins, aka ROW) against the Ducks. Vegas already has 44, Anaheim has 34 so they can only reach 41 if they win every other game. Thus, an Anaheim loss to Colorado would also be enough to eliminate the final team needed for Vegas to clinch.

The one last caveat is if Vegas beats Colorado in overtime.

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Golden Knights Using Others’ Desperation To Turn On Playoff Mode

This is Marchy’s playoff face. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since February 21st, the Golden Knights have played eleven games against teams in or fighting to get in the playoffs. Vegas went 4-5-2 in those games losing to Anaheim, Columbus, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New Jersey and San Jose. One thing in common with all of those teams is their urgency to win.

Ever since February teams have stepped their game up. We did also. -Jonathan Marchessault

You could see it in the game in San Jose. There was a playoff intensity, pace, and attitude and the Golden Knights matched it despite not having the same desperation as the Sharks.

We don’t necessarily need a playoff lineup, we need to have a playoff mentality. That’s by playing the right way and that’s what we’re focused on right now. -Marchessault

Shea Theodore agreed playing teams fighting for postseason berths can be beneficial. Late season competitive games can help the Golden Knights switch on to playoff mode.

Definitely. When you play teams that are playing desperate, that’s when you tighten down, watch all the turnovers and really just play the right way. You have to be consistent in the final stretch leading into the playoffs. -Shea Theodore

Playoff mode isn’t just about picking up the intensity on the ice though.

It’s a fun time the of year. It’s definitely a hard time of year on the body but at that time you just need to rest, eat well and be ready for the next challenge. -Marchessault

While his players are openly discussing the postseason, All Star head coach Gerard Gallant is still maintaining his signature “take it game-by-game” mentality.

When we get the X beside our name, if we do that, then you’ll have your perfect playoff lineup… if we’re lucky enough to make the playoffs. -Gallant

Coach, you just played game 74 and you have 100 points. Lighten up a little, will ya?

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