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Category: Game Analysis (Page 2 of 17)

Golden Knights Not Satisfied With Game 1 Performance

Just win baby. Are we allowed to use that? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last time the Golden Knights gave up four goals and won a home game was on November 24th vs San Jose. The only other time Vegas allowed four at home and won was sixth game of the season when they beat Buffalo. In both games the Golden Knights led 4-1, watched their lead disappear, and needed overtime to seal the victory. Between those two games, the lead changed hands just one time.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was not the best time to once again give up four goals at home, but the outcome was the same as those two early season games, which in theory should be good enough and make everyone wearing steel grey happy. It didn’t.

For us, we’ve got to make sure we do a better job managing the puck. You see what happens when they start their cycle game when they start getting the zone and trying to make plays. It just goes to show you that we need to be better defensively in some areas where they were exploiting time and space. That’s something we’ve done really well the last couple of series, taking that away from teams. -Nate Schmidt

I don’t think either team was happy with the way they played. Hopefully, we can play a little tighter in the defensive zone. We let up four goals it’s going to be hard to win every game. -William Karlsson

Being “better” was common theme from just about every player in the Golden Knights locker room. Better in the neutral zone, better on the puck, better in their own end, just be better. None of these terms are uncommon to hear in a locker room following a game or the day after, but hearing them after a Stanley Cup Final win says a lot about the Golden Knights.

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Nosek And Theodore Talk About The Goal That Won Game 1

Tomas Nosek has a knack for the big goal. He scored the 1st goal in T-Mobile Arena history too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tomas Nosek’s Game 1 winning goal was a Stanley Cup moment we’ll see for years to come. The men behind the tiebreaker were understandably laughing, smiling and in quite the jovial mood the following day.

In those type of games you just want to get pucks on the net and create a rebound. He made a good play popping out and a lane just kinda opened right up, and I found it. -Shea Theodore

Theodore’s first thought was to shoot the puck but hesitated because his aim was off earlier in the game.

A couple of plays earlier I tried walking in and had a terrible shot that missed the net. You go through ups and downs throughout games. -Theodore

Nosek created open space off to the side of the net, allowing Theodore to make a beautiful pass.

At this time of the year no shot is a bad shot. You want to get pucks to the net and create rebounds. You want to create some havoc around there. -Theodore

The 25-year-old Czech showed immense emotions in Game 1, something Golden Knights fans don’t often see from #92. At one point in the game, Nosek skated back to the bench and repeatedly slammed his stick on the boards. It was clear he was frustrated about something.

It was probably after the Oshie hit. There’s a lot of emotions in a game and sometimes you need relief a little bit. -Tomas Nosek

Is that why Nosek erupted in celebration after scoring his game-winning goal?

Maybe, yeah. It’s the Stanley Cup Final, you don’t get a chance to play in it every day. When you score a goal, and you help your team win a game. It’s perfect. -Nosek

Both players are relishing the moment of playing on the NHL’s biggest stage. They’re feeling confident and ready to make an impact in Game 2. Nosek and Theodore are normally reserved on the ice, so fans should appreciate the emotions in the Stanley Cup Finals. Because it’s working.

Golden Knights First Line: “It Was Not Good Enough For Us”

They scored two goals, but described themselves as rusty and “not good enough.” That’s got to be a scary thought for Washington. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights top line has been one of the best in the league all season, both offensively and defensively. Not only have they been terrorizing defenses all season and into the playoffs but they’ve been incredible shutting down the opposition’s top line throughout as well.

Last night in Game 1 it was all going swimmingly for Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith early. At a point in the 2nd period, their line had a 100% Corsi For rating against 12 of the 17 skaters that they had significant time playing against. Karlsson and Smith each had a goal and the line was controlling play pretty much the entire time they were on the ice.

Then, it changed. The Vegas top line was on the ice for the next two Washington goals (Carlson and Wilson) and was no longer taking it to the Capitals. They ended the game with about a 60% Corsi For, a 0 +/- rating, and feeling like they could have been the reason if that game had slipped away.

Little rusty the 1st period. It was not good enough for us. We can’t be on the ice for two goals like we were. One goal was my fault and definitely we need to be tighter defensively and we’ll be ready for Game 2. -Jonathan Marchessault

Part of the reason for the change was the matchups they were facing. Early in the game a majority of their time was spent against the Capitals top offensive line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson, but as the game wore on the matchups became more random.

It may not seem it because of the star power on the Capitals, but the Golden Knights have the advantage between the two top lines. Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant has the last change in Game 2, he’d be wise to use it to get Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith on the ice as often as possible against Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Wilson.

Luckily for the Golden Knights, the mismatches created an opening for the “fourth” line who played one of its best games of the season.

Vegas’ top line vows to be better in Game 2, if they are and they play most of their minutes against Washington’s top line, the series will likely head to DC at 2-0.

Back And Forth Game 1 Proves Golden Knights Can Thrive Ahead, Behind Or Tied

Last night was not your typical Golden Knights playoff game.

In the Western Conference final, there were no lead changes and Vegas was ahead in the series for 193 minutes. In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Golden Knights maintained a lead for only 22:50 minutes.

Here’s the breakdown of the four lead changes in Game 1:

Game Tied: (0:00-7:15)
VGK Lead: (7:15-14:41)
Game Tied: (14:41-15:23)
WSH Lead: (15:23-18:19)
Game Tied: (18:19-23:21)
VGK Lead: (23:21-28:29)
Game Tied: (28:29-41:10)
WSH Lead: (41:10-42:41)
Game Tied: (42:41-49:44)
VGK Lead: (49:44-60:00)

The Golden Knights played a lot more time with the lead than Washington did in Game 1. The Capitals had a hard time holding the lead, which led to the scoring being tied for a majority of the night despite the fact that 10 goals were scored.

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NHL GM’s May Try To Copy Golden Knights’ Balanced D Unit

Since coming in for Jon Merrill, Sbisa has been excellent with Colin Miller. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Throughout the postseason, analysts have talked about the Golden Knights as a future model for teams living under a tight salary cap. The players’ average age, salary, skill, desire, leadership, and unity is what makes Vegas so ideally well-balanced.

We don’t have that superstar D-man that has to play thirty minutes. As a group, we’re pretty balanced. Everyone can do each other’s job… we’re a real tight unit. It’s been fun. -Luca Sbisa

Signing a defenseman, or any player, to a massive contract can sometimes hurt a club’s progression. Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty averaging up to 30 minutes a night doesn’t guarantee great team defense. Instead, the plan of balancing minutes among three defensive pairings has been wildly effective for Vegas.

Ice time is pretty spread. In certain situations guys play more but I think everyone is pretty fresh because every guy plays around 20 minutes. You don’t have to play 28-30 minutes over 82 games because eventually it’ll catch up to you. -Sbisa

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos said he expects the Golden Knights “passive aggressive forecheck” a problem for Washington’s defense. The same unit he said looked “done” against Tampa. Through 15 games in the postseason, no one has said the Golden Knights defensemen looked tired.

A D-pair that only plays 12 minutes a night, I don’t think they’d play at their best. If everyone is getting regular shifts it gets you into a rhythm playing more at their abilities. -Sbisa

Like other leagues, the NHL is a copycat league. Other GM’s have to be taking notes, drooling over the Golden Knights success. A team with four solid lines, six reliable d-men, and a lights-out goaltender is a blueprint every franchise dreams of designing.

I think we’ve done a good job blocking shots, giving them shots from the outside. They may create some chances, that’s the way hockey is. -Sbisa

Sbisa and the other Golden Knights defensemen will have to continue playing brilliantly against the Capitals. If Vegas can keep fresh on the ice by sticking to their gameplan, Washington’s offense will have a hard time getting close to “Superman” Fleury.

And if that happens and Vegas wins the Cup, every NHL GM may look to add ‘Golden’ to their team name too.

Scoring First Is Great, What Vegas Does With It Is Better

If VGK jumps out ahead of Washington like they did Winnipeg, it might be another quick series. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the Western Conference finals, the team that scored the first goal of the game won all five games. Pretty simple formula. However, it was what Vegas did once they had the first lead of the game that really determined the series. The Jets tied things up in Games 3, 4, and 5, but failed to take ever over a lead. After Game 1, Vegas never allowed Winnipeg to take a lead in the series.

It definitely is a testament to great goaltending. Its something special, especially with all of the big saves. It’s a common effect when Marc has the net. -Reilly Smith

There’s no question Marc-Andre Fleury has been the difference maker for Vegas this postseason, his brilliance has made it easier for teammates do their job.

We played well defensively, our goalie was tremendous. We made the right play at the right time. Time after time the way we play, the right plays happen more often than not. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Against Winnipeg, the Golden Knights played disciplined, made quick decisions moving the puck, and capitalized on forced mistakes. In 300 minutes played against the Jets in the WCF, Vegas had the lead for an astounding 194 minutes.

Game 1: Vegas @ Winnipeg
WPG Time in Lead: 58:55
Tied: 1:05
VGK Time in Lead: 0:00

Game 2: Vegas @ Winnipeg
WPG Time in Lead: 0:00
Tied: 13:23
VGK Time in Lead: 46:37

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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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Engelland, Golden Knights Join Team #JinxesAreForLosers By Picking Up Campbell Bowl

The winner of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals is awarded the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. There’s a long standing tradition in which players and teams refuse to touch the trophy because the only trophy a winner touches is the Stanley Cup.

I didn’t touch it. I’m a rookie, I follow what they say. If they tell me to touch it, I’ll touch it. If they tell me not to touch it, I won’t touch it. -Alex Tuch

It’s a supersition that’s been followed for many years, and according to some, has jinxed many a team, but the Golden Knights were not afraid.

After winning Game 5, 2-1, and clinching the Western Conference Championship, Deryk Engelland skated over to the trophy, immedeatley put his fingers on the handle, and eventually lifted it and brought it back to his teammates.

We decided as a group to take it because we went through the experience togehter. (Fleury) has been the backbone to our team, so more or less it came down to what he wanted to do. -Deryk Engelland

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Western Conference Champions! The Vegas Golden Knights Are Going To The Stanley Cup Final

12 down. 4 to go. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

544 days ago the words Vegas Golden Knights meant absolutely nothing. Now, those same words and the logo they’re represented by are on T-Shirts, caps, sweatshirts, and pennants next to the words “Western Conference Champions.”

No matter what anyone says about the price tag, the rules, or other GM’s messing up, this story is nothing short of preposterous. An expansion team, Western Conference Champions and heading to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season

They started the season 8-1-0 including winning their first three games five, six, and nine days after the worst day in the history of the City of Las Vegas. By Thanksgiving, they were squarely in a playoff position and it appeared they would stay there until the end. On Christmas, the Golden Knights had the best record in the Western Conference, and on January 21st they had the best record in the entire NHL. They waltzed to a playoff berth, then a Pacific Division title. They swept the Kings, dispatched the Sharks, and now have knocked off the Winnipeg Jets in five games to punch their ticket to the NHL’s grandest stage.

It’s just unbelievable and it’s all a credit to all the people that created the franchise and that worked for the franchise before we even got picked up to come to Vegas. When we got to Vegas we all felt welcome and at home. Even if you don’t have the biggest superstars in the league, you still have a bunch of guys that are going to work as hard as they can and they will be tough to beat. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

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“Are You Serious? What Do You Mean Luck?”

Connor Hellebuyck used the word “luck.” Adam Lowry chose “bounces.” Blake Wheeler said the Jets would have won Game 4 “nine out of ten times,” and Tyler Myers believes his team has been better of the two “for the last five periods.”

The narrative floating around the series has been that the Jets have had control but through a combination of Marc-Andre Fleury’s domination and a touch of luck the Golden Knights are one win away from punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.

Are you having a lucky series? -SinBin.vegas

Are you serious? What do you mean luck? I think we’re playing pretty well. Winnipeg is playing well too. I wouldn’t say we are lucky. We are playing good hockey, we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t a good hockey team. Maybe we’ve had a couple puck luck goals but there’s some luck that’s gone against us too in this series. No, I think we are playing good hockey. -Gerard Gallant

The Jets have the advantage in shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, high danger scoring chances, and expected goals, yet they find themselves down 12-9 in the only stat that matters and 3-1 on the big scoreboard that determines who wins the Western Conference.

Nothing this man is doing is this series has been lucky either. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Winnipeg can call it whatever they like, but the fact of the matter is they haven’t been the better team in this series to this point. The games have been tied for 25:39 in the series, and the Golden Knights have scored the tiebreaking goal five of the six times.

The Golden Knights are forcing the Jets into mistakes and then capitalizing on them. It’s what they’ve done all year, and for whatever reason, opposing teams, media, and fans can’t seem to wrap their head around it.

Nonetheless, no matter what anyone thinks, if the any of the next three games go like the previous three, the Jets (like the Sharks and Kings) will leave the series like most leave the fine magic shows of Las Vegas wondering, how in the world are they doing this?

And just like the people who pay hundreds of dollars every night to be amazed by con artists who are good at misdirection, they’ve head home none the wiser and the show on the Vegas Strip will go on. Oh, and none of it has to do with luck.

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