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Western Conference Hub Hosting Cup Final Could Benefit Western Conference Champ

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Now that playing at home appears to be on the fritz, the Golden Knights will turn their attention to playing in Western Canada, where it appears they’ll stay if they have success early in the playoffs.

Vegas will have the ability to set up shop in Alberta and stay for the entirety of the postseason, or however long they last. That shouldn’t be an advantage considering the oddities surrounding this format, but the raw numbers suggest staying west could benefit the Golden Knights.

Overall, the Golden Knights proved for a third straight season that they were a Western Conference challenger. Unsurprisingly, when on the road, they’re at their best when playing inside Pacific Division buildings.

VGK at Pacific Division
19-20: 7-3-1 (.682)
18-19: 9-5-1 (.633)
17:18 – 10-3-2 (.733)
Total: 26-11-4 (.683)

VGK at Central Division
19-20: 3-4-0 (.429)
18-19: 4-6-0 (.400)
17-18: 4-5-1 (.450)
Total: 11-15-1 (.426)

VGK at Eastern Conference
19-20: 7-6-3 (.531)
18-19: 6-9-1 (.406)
17-18: 8-6-2 (.563)
Total: 21-21-6 (.500)

The numbers really skew against the Golden Knights when you take into account who they were playing. Most of the wins were against the below-average Eastern conference teams as seven of the nine losses came at the hands of East playoff teams.

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Probabilities Of Each Opponent Based On Round-Robin Seed

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL is a league built on parity. Winning the Stanley Cup is as much about matchups (and luck) as it is the skill of any given team. This year, the matchups have a chance to vary wildly as the league is re-seeding teams at the conclusions of the play-in and first rounds.

Unlike the eight teams with set play-in round matchups, the Golden Knights seed throughout the tournament is dependant on their performance in three round-robin games. The round-robin not only determines who the Golden Knights will play in the 1st Round, but it also determines the opponent in the 2nd round as well.

With four games in the play-in round, there are 16 possible outcomes between the eight teams. Using William Hill odds, we ranked them from most likely to least likely to occur. Then, using those rankings, we are able to show the probabilities of which team the Golden Knights would be most likely to face depending on which seed they end up with in the round-robin. (An explanation of how I arrived at these numbers is at the end of the article.)

 #1 Seed#2 Seed#3 Seed#4 Seed
Edmonton (5)59.6%
Nashville (6)33.0%22.3%
Vancouver (7)19.1%28.4%10.5%
Calgary (8)10.4%22.9%16.8%4.1%
Winnipeg (9)8.7%19.3%14.2%3.5%
Minnesota (10)13.8%20.6%7.6%
Arizona (11)26.7%18.1%
Chicago (12)40.4%

As you can see from the chart, there’s a significant advantage to finish atop the round-robin. Finishing first eliminates the possibility of a matchup with Edmonton, Nashville, or Vancouver, while coming in fourth takes away any chance to play Chicago, Arizona, or Minnesota.

Compare that to this chart, how Vegas has played against each of these eight teams.

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Potential Realignment Shouldn’t Affect Golden Knights

The NHL pause has become the newest, most addicting daily soap opera. Every morning fans wake up to read the latest news on the NHL’s plans to restart the season. Yesterday, Commissioner Gary Bettman shared his optimism with the NHL network.

We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start. There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

Now that the players and owners are engaging in daily conversations it shows the effort to recover the season from both sides. One scenario NHL officials have mulled over was originally conceived by Major League Baseball.

MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.

The plan, pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and allow them to still play at their home ballparks while severely reducing travel. -USA Today

TSN’s Bob McKenzie weighed on the possibility of the NHL taking the realignment approach, specifically reducing travel which allows players to play in locations closer to their homes and families.

If they get four sites, and we kind of assumed it would try to be done divisionally if they try to get the 19-20 season finished up. Four NHL sites, one for each division. There is the possibility that they would just say ‘well the Atlantic division is going to based out of Toronto. We’re not going to do can’t that, Florida and Tampa Bay can’t get from Florida up to Toronto. We’ll put them with some of the Metro teams, and move one of those Metro teams.’ You could do some mixing and matching on geographical lines versus divisions. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Analyst

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 EDMONTON OILERS 2 (39-24-8 86 PTS) – OT

Recap: Without superstar Connor McDavid, Edmonton still managed to score the first goal of the game midway in opening period. Nic Roy tied the contest with 3:02 left in the 1st period.

It was a scoreless second period in Edmonton. Both teams got great goaltending and tight defense to keep things locked up 1-1.

Edmonton broke the tie 6:46 into the 3rd period. Jonathan Marchessault’s 22nd of the season evened the game 2-2 making it a tight finish. After 60 minutes, the game needed an overtime period to decide a victor. Shea Theodore finished the game in OT with his 13th of the season to beat the Oilers 3-2.

Vegas improves to 39-24-8 and maintain sole possession of first place. The team will get a couple of days off to prepare for their game in Minnesota on Thursday night. Game time is scheduled for 5PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It seemed to be headed in the direction of another game where the Golden Knights control play but a few mistake cost them the game. But, a hero stepped up late and his name was Jonathan Marchessault. First, he put one past Koskinen and then in OT his and Karlsson’s forechecking ate up Draisaitl and Bear and set up Theodore for the winner. A heck of a pair of wins back-to-back and the Golden Knights are now in the driver’s seat to win their second division title in three years. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place

  • Babies on the mind. Nosek, Carrier, and Pothier

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Shea Theodore
** William Karlsson
* Jonathan Marchessault

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 EDMONTON OILERS 0 (35-22-8 78 PTS)

Recap: Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers visited Las Vegas for a midweek matchup against the Golden Knights. After multiple attacks by the Oilers, the Golden Knights fought back and stole the early 1-0 lead. Max Pacioretty scored his 30th of the season giving his team the one-goal edge after the opening 20 minutes.

The 2nd was a back and forth defensive period. Each team was awarded a power play but neither could convert. Both goaltenders made some key saves to keep the game tight. After two periods played the Golden Knights held on to their 1-0 lead.

Newly acquired forward Nick Cousins gave Vegas a 2-0 lead with his first goal as a Golden Knight. Shea Theodore would later add to the lead scoring his 10th of the season. Marc-Andre Fleury continued to shut down the Oilers in the 3rd, preserving his 5th shutout of the season. Vegas tripled up Edmonton 3-0 for the final score.

Vegas’ record improves to 36-22-8 four points clear of Edmonton and in first place in the Pacific. Next, the Golden Knights face off against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. Game time is scheduled for 7pm. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was an ugly start for the Golden Knights spending a majority of the period in their own end and killing penalties. However, thanks to some Fleury heroics they survived it and ended up exiting the period up a goal. From there, the Golden Knights took over and made it look like the Oilers were on a back to back. Vegas controlled the rest of the game and kept Draisaitl and McDavid at bay. Vegas came in with the schedule in their favor and they held up their end of the bargain for a 7th straight W. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Edmonton Oilers at T-Mobile Arena

  • A deeper dive into the statistics of VGK players making their debuts
  • A chat with Stanley Cup champion Grant Fuhr about the VGK goalie situation
  • DeBoer’s commitment to experimenting before the playoffs

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nick Cousins
** Marc-Andre Fleury
* Marc-Andre Fleury

EDMONTON OILERS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (11-10-4 26 PTS)

Recap: It didn’t take long for the greatest hockey player in the world to get going. Edmonton took an early 1-0 lead on a dandy of a goal by Connor McDavid. The Oilers would add another late in the period to make it 2-0. However, the Golden Knights fought back and got a much needed goal by Cody Eakin to trim the leave in half. After 20 minutes Edmonton held a 2-1 advantage.

Markus Granlund would give the Oilers a two goal lead 3-1 midway through the second period. However, Shea Theodore would show of his dangling skills and score a beauty getting Vegas within one.

Vegas would get stuck on an early 3rd period penalty kill and McDavid would tack on his second of the evening. Edmonton controlled the third period and won the game 4-2.

Vegas’ record drops to 11-10-4 and get ready for a brief road trip before Thanksgiving. The Golden Knights will take on the Stars Monday night in Dallas. Game is scheduled for 530P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights came up short in every aspect of tonight’s game. They were outplayed by the best player in the world, they didn’t get good enough goaltending, they didn’t create enough when McDavid wasn’t on the ice, and quite frankly they were soft in puck battles.

It’s the type of game that should act as a kick to the groin to make them realize that the talent in the room isn’t going to be enough if most of it isn’t playing to the level of their talent. They got beat by a team that was better than them in all three zones tonight and it should sting. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Edmonton Oilers at T-Mobile Arena

  • Steve Carp’s Sunday article on Gallant’s line change decisions
  • Photo gallery from the game

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** William Carrier
** Ryan Reaves
* Cody Eakin

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 EDMONTON OILERS 1 (43-30-7 93 PTS)

The Golden Knights hosted the Edmonton Oilers for their second to last home game of the regular season.

Cody Eakin broke the scoreless tie late in the 1st period giving Vegas the 1-0 lead on his 22nd goal of the season. Malcolm Subban starting in net again for Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all eight chances from Edmonton.

It didn’t take Vegas long to double up their lead in the 2nd period as Jonathan Marchessault scored :51 seconds in. Marchessault registered his 25th goal, and third straight season scoring 25 or more. Oilers superstar Connor McDavid did the inevitable and scored his 41st goal cutting the Golden Knights lead 2-1. In eight career games against Vegas he has 13 points.

It was stalemate for most of the 3rd period with both goalies making key saves to hold the 2-1 lead. The Golden Knights would fight off a 6-on-5 by the Oilers leading to a late penalty by Tomas Nosek. Down two men, Vegas added another as Pierre-Eduard Bellemare jumped on a loose puck created by William Karlsson. Vegas broke their losing streak 3-1.

The Golden Knights record drops to (42-30-7) with two games left to play. The team will get back on the ice Thursday night for Vegas’ last home game of the 2018-19 season. Opening faceoff against the Arizona Coyotes is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers at T-Mobile Arena

  • Stop using Tuch on the left wing
  • Depth is a potential problem for VGK

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Cody Eakin
** Ryan Reaves
* Jonathan Marchessault

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 6 EDMONTON OILERS 3 (40-27-5 85 PTS)

The color green was on full display at the T-Mobile Arena for a St. Patrick’s Day matchup against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

Vegas came out fast, launching the first six shots of the game. The Golden Knights continued pursuit paid off 5:40 into the first period on Mark Stone’s 31st goal, and second as a Golden Knight. Later in the period, Edmonton would tie things up on a PP goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Cody Eakin would regain the lead for Vegas back scoring his 18th goal of the season on a beautiful top shelf wrist shot. After twenty minutes of play the Golden Knights led the Oilers 2-1.

Edmonton didn’t take long to even the game 2-2 on Leon Draisatitl’s 43rd of the season. Luckily, the game wouldn’t be tied for long. Jonathan Marchessault tallied his 21st goal giving Vegas the 3-2 lead.

Marchessault would celebrate again :40 seconds into the final frame giving Vegas the two-goal lead. With #81’s second goal, the first line had a total of six points. Edmonton would chip away getting a third goal past Malcolm Subban early in the period. However, Vegas wasn’t done on offense as Brayden McNabb registered his 4th goal of the season. The Golden Knights captured their second two-goal edge of the night leading 5-3. Then Alex Tuch took one away from a defenseman and tallied Vegas’ sixth of the night.

Vegas improves their record to 40-27-5 and remain in the Pacific Division’s third place position, with 10 games left to play. The team gets back on the ice tonight as they’ll play a back-to-back in San Jose. Opening faceoff starts at 730PM. (Recap by Jason)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Steve Carp’s “Sunday” column on Alex Tuch’s playoff impact. (Delayed for reasons beyond our control)
  • How Gerard Gallant values his timeout.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** William Karlsson
** Reilly Smith
* Jonathan Marchessault
(Honorable *) Mikko Koskinen

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 6 EDMONTON OILERS 3 (9-11-1 19 PTS)

A funky bounce off a blocked shot found its way into the back of the Golden Knights net to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Vegas was able to get one back on a tip-in by William Karlsson, but couldn’t keep the score tied for long. The 1st period ended 2-1 Edmonton, but the Golden Knights 2nd period woes disappeared for a night as they scored three goals in the middle frame. Vegas did not let up eventually tallying five unanswered goals which sealed the game.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.

  • Illustrating the difference Schmidt had while on the ice with videos and pictures

Three Stars
*** Connor McDavid
** Colin Miller
* Jonathan Marchessault

EDMONTON OILERS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (51-23-7 109 PTS)

Playing without three of their top six and Nate Schmidt the Golden Knights looked a bit disjointed in their second visit to Rogers Place. They managed to take a 2-1 lead into the 3rd, but it all went downhill from there. With Nashville’s win earlier the game had little to no meaning to Vegas, and they played like it. Not their best game, but who really cares.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.

  • How many goals does it take to win the Stanley Cup?

Three Stars
*** Cam Talbot
** Ty Rattie
* Connor McDavid

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