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VGK 2020 Playoffs “Depth Chart”

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.)

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Left DRight D

The 2020 Postseason Is A “Once In A Lifetime” Event For Hockey Fans

Today begins the official start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and while the Golden Knights won’t play until Monday, there are several games to keep your eyes on.

Vegas fans couldn’t get a true feeling of the NHL’s game presentation during Thursday night’s exhibition game against Arizona because the league used a fraction of what they have planned going forward.

We’re super excited about what we are going to be debuting and showing from Saturday all the way through the Stanley Cup Final. What you were seeing was probably five percent, ten percent of what you’re going to start to see on Saturday.- Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer

The NHL intends on making the television broadcast an experience for the viewing audience. They’ve added dozens of cameras for alternate views of the ice, creating a unique event, not just a typical hockey game.

Starting today, fans should keep their eyes open for some of the new additions the league will use throughout the entire postseason. They’re hoping fans will be entertained like they’re watching a movie or a television episode.

As a fan you’re not going to miss anything. Camera angles, the low angles, the replays, super slo-mo. There’s some really cool looks. The ability that we’ve had to really get inside of the game. It’s a made for television event. We don’t have fans here, so we essentially built a set. Every screen we’re going to highlight players. We’re going to highlight highlights, the history of the game, the statistics of the game. Visually I think you’re going to see things that you have never seen and probably never see again. -Steve Mayer

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Introducing Our 2020 Playoff “Photographer”

Here at we have the best photographer in the NHL. Game in and game out Brandon Andreasen provides us with unbelievably amazing pictures capturing the action at T-Mobile Arena.

But, with the games for the next two months taking place in the bubble north of the border, Brandon wasn’t given access to shoot photos for our site. Due to licensing rules, that means we don’t have legal access to a single photo of any game in Edmonton or Toronto.

So, we had to improvise.

We’d like to introduce our 2020 Playoff “Photographer,” the one, the only, @BadSportsArt. His first assignment for was to “shoot” the Golden Knights exhibition game against the Coyotes.

Truly stunning images of the Golden Knights 4-1 win over the Coyotes.

@BadSportsArt will be with us throughout the entirety of the Golden Knights playoff run.

Give @BadSportsArt a follow on Twitter and/or follow him on Instagram, and if you ever have a moment you want to be drawn, give him a shout.

Gear Up For A Lot Of Shea

From here on out the games matter, and once the 1st round starts, the games really matter. For Pete DeBoer, when the games matter, he rides his best players much more than Gerard Gallant did.

Last year, in the series between the Sharks and Golden Knights, in all but one game of the series a Shark led in TOI. Most games, multiple Sharks did.

Game 1
Burns – 28:25
E. Karlsson – 26:25
Theodore – 24:00

Game 2
E. Karlsson – 29:08
Burns – 28:36
Pavelski – 25:35
McNabb – 25:10

Game 3
Burns – 25:10
Braun – 22:34
E. Karlsson – 20:54
Engelland – 20:11

Game 4
Schmidt – 23:39
Burns 23:16

Game 5
Burns – 26:10
Vlasic – 23:43
E. Karlsson – 22:20
Hertl – 21:14
Pavelski – 20:59
Couture – 20:27
Dillon – 20:25
Theodore – 20:03

Game 6
Burns – 42:04
Vlasic – 37:14
E. Karlsson – 36:40
Braun – 36:12
McNabb – 35:34

Game 7
Burns – 39:37
E. Karlsson – 33:46
Hertl – 30:22
Kane – 29:30
Stone – 28:53

Game 4, where Vegas won 5-0, is the only game in which a Golden Knight led the game in TOI. In Games 2, 5, 7, there was a Sharks forward with more time than any Golden Knight.

This continued throughout the playoffs for DeBoer and he’s expected to do the same with his top guys now that he’s in Vegas. Which means get ready to see a lot of Shea Theodore.

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Recap: It was the Golden Knights first game action since March, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the first period. Vegas played vintage Golden Knights hockey scoring two goals on special teams. Reilly Smith scored both goals, one shorthanded and the other on the power play. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all five shots from Arizona holding a 2-0 Vegas lead.

The score didn’t change after two periods of play. Fleury was sharp again, and the Golden Knights penalty kill unit did a strong job of shutting down the Coyotes PP.

Leading 2-0, the Golden Knights continued to control the game. Midway though the third period, Arizona finally snuck one by Fleury on the power play. Alex Tuch put Vegas ahead by two late in the game and Nick Cousins sealed the deal with seconds remaining. Fleury saved 22 of 23 shots and skated off with a 4-1 victory.

The Golden Knights play their first official playoff game on Monday against the Dallas Stars. It will be the first of three Round Robin games Vegas will play. Game time is scheduled for 3 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights looked like the much sharper team in the meaningless game against Arizona. It was excellent to see Reilly Smith puck up his great season where he left off. The Golden Knights weren’t great at 5-on-5, but they did enough getting the late goal from Tuch. All in all, not too bad for the only exhibition game. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • Get ready for A LOT of Shea Theodore ice-time

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Alex Tuch
* Reilly Smith Podcast #203: Lie

Hockey is almost back. But, because the Golden Knights have a hard time telling the truth, we’ve got plenty more than just that to talk about. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Fleury first, does that tip DeBoer’s hand on his goalie plans?
  • What is really going on with Max Pacioretty?
  • Prediction time
  •  An in-depth discussion on the Dave Prior story (Begins at 1:31:03)
  • How the media in Vegas has created an environment that allowed, and still allows, the Golden Knights to lie.

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

Defense Can Benefit From Softer Crowd Noise

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We can’t get Golden Knights defensemen to shut up about the importance of their on-ice communication. They say it’s key for a pair to be aware of one another during a game, especially defending a rush, or if one is in possession of the puck. Sure, they know where the other is most of the time but the chatter can often help to get back in position, develop a play or break out of the defensive zone safely. Come this time of year (well, not normally actually this time, but you get my point), it takes on even more significance as one broken play in the postseason can lead to the winning or losing goal.

With the Return-to-Play underway, fans were introduced to the recorded ambiance that the league will use during games. It’s interesting, to say the least. The crowd noise will be pumped through arena speakers giving some sort of fan representation. However, the volume level was lower than a normal sold-out NHL game. During yesterday’s exhibition broadcasts, you could hear the atmosphere of a typical NHL game but the natural sounds of hockey were much more defined.

Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt have three years of chemistry playing together in Vegas. It’s a luxury the young franchise has. We’ve seen the impact Shea Theodore has on the ice but he wasn’t paired with Alec Martinez until deadline week back in February. There’s no doubt the veteran Martinez won’t have a problem connecting with his pair pal, but one injury or one bad night and that can all change.

If the third pair of Nick Holden or Zach Whitecloud are struggling you might see coach Pete DeBoer shuffle his lineup, or cut some minutes. In that scenario, the lessened crowd noise might allow whatever d-pair that’s on the ice to have clearer communication. Holden even made a crack to the media about using code words because opponents will likely hear what the Golden Knights are discussing. Without rabid fans, the defensive players should have no problems picking up each other.

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DeBoer Shares Goalie Plans For First Four Games

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights enter the return to the 2019-20 season with a luxury. Vegas is part of the group of eight teams that will not be fighting for their playoff lives instantly upon the season’s resumption. Instead, they have an exhibition game followed by three round-robin games which come with reward but little consequence.

Head coach Pete DeBoer intends on taking advantage of that luxury in regards to his goaltenders.

My plan here is both guys are going to play through the round-robin. I think coming off a four-month pause in order to make sure that we get everybody up to speed and are fair and have all the information at our disposal when we start the playoffs that’s the right thing to do. They’ll probably play two and two between the exhibition game and the three round-robin games and then we’ll make some tough decisions. -DeBoer

Since the Golden Knights acquired Robin Lehner at the deadline, they have rotated between he and Marc-Andre Fleury every game. It was just a six-game stretch, but it appears that plan will continue through the first four games in Edmonton.

That first of those four is an exhibition game against the Coyotes on Thursday. DeBoer is planning on taking that game a lot more seriously than he would a normal preseason game.

I do know I’m not a big believer in splitting goalies half games so whoever we start with we’ll plan on ending with. We have the option of dressing 22 where a normal roster is 20. I’m leaning towards dressing 20 just because I want to get into our game rhythm. We only have one game prior to starting the round-robin so I want it to feel like an important game. -DeBoer

He did not reveal which goalie that will be, but the assumption based on how they’ve been rotating goalies is that whichever it is, he will also be in the net for the middle round-robin game against St. Louis. Obviously things could change, but we expect it to look like this…

7/30 – ARI – Goalie 1
8/3 – DAL – Goalie 2
8/6 – STL – Goalie 1
8/8 – COL – Goalie 2

The Golden Knights will then have a day or two off before they start the real playoffs, a best-of-seven series against a qualifying round winner. At which point, DeBoer will select the true starter.

Those decisions are never written in stone and whoever we start with that can change very quickly depending on how the playoffs go and injuries and matchups and things like that. -DeBoer

Let the story of the playoffs for the Golden Knights begin.

Golden Knights “Weren’t Truthful” About Coaching Change

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Two days after the NHL trade deadline which saw the Golden Knights pull off a blockbuster trade acquiring Robin Lehner, head coach Pete DeBoer, who had been with the organization for just over a month, approached the podium in the media room at City National Arena.

You probably noticed Dave Prior wasn’t out there today. We’ve restructured our goaltending department a little bit here. Mike Rosati, starting tomorrow, will handle the day to day stuff. -DeBoer on February 26th, 2020

Within a matter of 48 hours, the Golden Knights had brought in competition for the face of the franchise, shipped out the supposed heir-apparent who served as the backup for two and a half seasons, and shuffled their goaltending coaches. All with just 17 games left in the regular season and while riding a six-game win streak that would extend to seven that night.

Dave is still part of the organization. It’s not health-related. Dave’s role here has always been bigger than the day to day coaching job and he’s going to base out of Ontario and continue to support us that way. -DeBoer on February 26th, 2020

Prior was among the first group of employees hired by George McPhee back in August of 2016, eight months before Gerard Gallant. He was more than just a goalie coach as DeBoer noted. Given the title “Director of Goaltending,” Prior had his hand in every decision the team made from which goalies to draft to who to sign to even the most fundamental choice of which goalie will start every single game.

Suddenly, the most important man in Golden Knights goaltending was no longer needed in Las Vegas, and instead, would be working 2,000 miles away, from his home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Peculiar under any circumstances, but especially considering the team who had leaned on Prior for three seasons had just acquired a brand new goalie to bolster their chances at winning the Stanley Cup.

However, according to Prior, the statements made by DeBoer on February 26th weren’t entirely accurate.

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Other Postseason Teams Not Sounding As Confident As Vegas

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As we near the end of Phase 3, the Golden Knights confidently continue to prepare for life in the bubble. Coach Pete DeBoer and his players have expressed their goals throughout training camp and sound as if they are already in postseason mode.

We’re not going there for vacation. We’re going there for work and a goal in mind to win the Stanley Cup. –Alec Martinez, SiriusXM NHL

The message is clear from this organization that while their surroundings will be unique, nothing has altered their objective. The chatter from the Golden Knights since training camp has been focused and positive, more so than other clubs. And it starts with the head coach.

Even if we had a first-round opponent, through this portion we would be spending 90% of the time on our game anyway. I’m a big believer that if our game is in a good place that we throw that out there and let the other team adjust to us. –Pete DeBoer, NHL Network

While the local team feels good about their playoff chances other franchises are still trailing in preparation. The clock is ticking for some to get their act together before traveling to their hub city destination.

The Blue Jackets have a qualifying round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs, however, neither seem to be feeling as confident as Vegas. As most fans already know, Tortorella never holds back and he isn’t now. Maybe it’s motivation or maybe he’s legitimately concerned that his players aren’t ready for August.

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