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Golden Knights Results At NHL Awards

Should have been a Selke candidate, could have been a Hart candidate, but the Lady Byng will have to do. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For every Golden Knight, any trophy they win tonight is not the one they really wanted. However, a little hardware for an amazing season never hurt anybody. Vegas has four finalists in four separate categories at the 2018 NHL Awards. William Karlsson is up for Lady Byng (sportsmanship), Deryk Engelland for Mark Messier Leadership Award, Gerard Gallant is a shoe-in for Jack Adams (coach of the year), and George McPhee for GM of the Year.

The other finalists for each award are as follows. (We will update each award with the winner as well as some quotes and whatever else we come across throughout the night)

Lady Byng Trophy

William Karlsson (VGK)
Aleksander Barkov (FLA)
Ryan O’Reilly (BUF)

Winner: William Karlsson

To be honest I’m more nervous, kind of scared. What if I win? I have to go up on the stage, it’s kind of scary. For sure (scarier than playing the Stanley Cup Final). Much more. At least I know what I do on the ice. Going up on the stage and potentially having to speak to a lot of people is a lot scarier. -William Karlsson

It’s very special, just looking back a year ago who would have thought I would have been sitting here nominated for an award, but to win it, it’s been a crazy year. -Karlsson

Messier Leadership Award

Deryk Engelland (VGK)
Wayne Simmonds (PHI)
Blake Wheeler (WPG)

Winner: Deryk Engelland

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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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Golden Knights “Didn’t Execute” On The 5-on-3 And It Cost Them Game 2

5-on-3’s changes games whether goals are scored or not. Vegas was on the wrong side of it in Game 2. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

John Carlson called it a “momentum shifter,” Barry Trotz said he was “praying like crazy”, and Jonathan Marchessault said “they played it well.” The Golden Knights unsuccessful 5-on-3 power play in the 3rd period was a major turning point of Game 2.

Definitely when you have a 5-on-3 in the playoffs you have to score, and I think that’s on us. -Jonathan Marchessault

Early in the 3rd period, Tom Wilson took his normal residency in the box for an interference penalty on Brayden McNabb. This gave Vegas a two-minute power play with 16:47 remaining in the game.

Two faceoffs, a stoppage in play, and a Colin Miller shot attempt later, the Capitals made a second blunder. Lars Eller was caught hooking Miller, creating a two-man advantage for Vegas.

I was praying like crazy. They’ve done a really good job in those situations. They’re well prepared and they have a high commitment level. -Barry Trotz, Washington head coach

For the next 1:08, Vegas did very little and only shot once on net.

The chances are there. Really, we didn’t execute them. You look at it back, and everything we wanted to do was there. We just didn’t execute the play right. We didn’t do it quick enough. It was guys not making the right plays at the right time. -Gerard Gallant

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“Remarkably Consistent” Golden Knights Shouldn’t Be Surprising Anymore

All they do is win. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are 12-3 in the playoffs. They have yet to lose back-to-back games, they’ve trailed in just five of the 15 games, and they have only been behind in a series once.

In the regular season, they started the year winning eight of their first nine. They made their way into first place in the Pacific Division on November 24th and held it for all but a few days the rest of the season. Their longest losing streak was three games and they had an excellent 19-10-1 record following a loss.

They are, in a word, consistent.

This team has played really similar to the way its played all year. A lot of times you don’t see that. Some people elevate their game, some people sort of drift on you a little bit, almost to a man this team has been the same. This team has been remarkably consistent from day one. -George McPhee

Of the Golden Knights top 10 scorers in the regular season, nine of them are among the top 10 in the playoffs. Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant has distributed the minutes nearly identically to how he did throughout the whole year. When they have had injuries or sickness, the next guy has stepped up and filled in, just like he did in the regular season. Since the moment the playoffs began, nothing has changed.

I don’t expect guys to do anything more than they’ve done all season long. Just be ready to play, ready to compete and give yourself a chance to win. -Gerard Gallant

The Golden Knights have been a surprise to many around the hockey world this postseason, but to anyone watching every day, the only real surprise is that there hasn’t been any. They’ve played the same brand of transition-oriented offense, the same simplistic style of defense, had the same goaltending, and are enjoying the same results.

There have been long layoffs, early games, unfortunate reviews, and more oddities that have happened since April 11th, but nothing has changed for the Golden Knights.

We just play one game at a time, round to round. For me personally, we’re in the Stanley Cup Finals but it hasn’t really felt like a grind. We felt like we can compete with any team and play with any team so we just move on. It doesn’t feel like a Stanley Cup Final right now. Our guys are fresh and ready to go. -Gallant

It is the Stanley Cup Final though, and if things stay the same for four more wins, the Golden Knights will be crowned the best hockey team in the world. That’ll be a surprise to many, but it won’t be for the Golden Knights, and at this point it really shouldn’t be for anyone, because they’ve been doing it all year, even when most weren’t watching.

“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.

Golden Knights About To Play Biggest Game Of The Year, But You’d Never Know It

Tonight is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Winnipeg Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights. It will be the first home game of the series for the Golden Knights and the first home game since they won Game 5 of the 2nd round against the Sharks on May 4th. The series is 1-1 and in tied series the winner of Game 3 going on to win about 70% of best of seven series.

Add it all up and you have no choice but to come to the conclusion that this is the biggest game in the history of the franchise and the biggest game for just about every single player on the roster. Yet, morning skate and the locker room after looked as if it was just another day at the office.

That’s the coolest thing about our group. Our guys just feel like it’s another game. We’re just having fun. We’re the same way at the rink, same way in the locker room, meetings are the same. (We) keep the pressure on the outside of the room, that’s kind of the way we’ve been handling things all year. Guys are still giving each other crap before games, it’s the same banter as usual, and it’s helping our guys calm down before games. -Nate Schmidt

If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if this was Game 47 against Columbus or a pivotal Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

This isn’t normal.

We had a lot more pressure on our team (in Washington) to win, so yeah it’s a different feeling for sure. -Schmidt

I feel differently about this group. We’re such a tight-knit group. It’s just fun to come to the rink and battle with these guys. -Shea Theodore

It’s important to stay the course no matter what, that’s how we got here. -David Perron

Smile, laugh, joke, who cares? It’s not like Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is in your home building tonight. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Those are three players who were in the 2nd Round or further last season and they all agree this team is different.

They are different because everything remains the same. The same guys stepped on the ice first to start morning skate. They maintained the same tradition of putting the players with the closest connection to the night’s opponent in the center of the stretching circle (Reaves and Eakin got the nod tonight both being from Winnipeg). They ran the same drills. They stayed on the ice for the same amount of time as they always do, and then they went to the locker room and it had the exact same feel it’s had every single game throughout this inaugural season.

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Gallant Pulls Perfect Strings To Once Again Unleash The Big Game Golden Knights

A few moves by Gallant and all of a sudden the Golden Knights looked themselves again for the biggest game of the year. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Individual awards in hockey are earned in the regular season. That’s why Gerard Gallant already has the Jack Adams Award sealed up. However, heading into Game 5, the soon-to-be Coach of the Year made some big boy decisions, and boy did they pay off for his Golden Knights.

Gallant inserted three players into his lineup, two of which hadn’t seen the ice in the playoffs, and made a line swap in an attempt to jump-start the 2nd and 3rd lines. 60 minutes of hockey later, and if there was a Coach of the Playoffs award, Gallant’s name could begin to be engraved on that one too.

Just some hungry guys ready to play and I wanted competitive guys in there playing tonight. When you lose a game sometimes you go through with your coaching staff and look around and say Lindberg has been working really good in practice, Carpenter has been a solid player for us all year long and he missed a couple of games, and Sbisa was due to get back in our lineup sooner or later. I thought all of them performed really well tonight and it was a good night for them. -Gerard Gallant

The additions to the lineup and the move to switch David Perron and Alex Tuch were some of the biggest reasons the Golden Knights took the 3-2 lead in the series.

Tuch was unbelievable. Lindy first game of the playoffs, wow, he was great too. Carpy on the 4th line was a big boost. He was all over the ice. -David Perron

Tuch scored twice. Lindberg and Carpenter each got assists, and Perron looked like himself for the first time during the playoffs netting two assists and creating a ton more chances.

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Major Lineup Shuffling Furthers 1st Period Importance

Game 4 was the first time in the eight-game playoff history of the Golden Knights where they were severely outplayed. It ended as a 4-0 beatdown and the Sharks had evened the series.

In response, Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant appears to be making a host of lineup changes. Based on morning skate, it seems Ryan Carpenter, Oscar Lindberg, and Luca Sbisa will be placed into the lineup, while Tomas Tatar, Tomas Nosek, and Jon Merrill will all come out.

Last year, Lindberg was tremendous in the playoffs. If he does it tonight, Gallant is going to look like a genius. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This will be the first game the Golden Knights will be without Nosek since February 11th, and just the 3rd game all year in which Nosek will be a healthy scratch. Oddly enough, the last time Gallant chose to scratch Nosek it was a 5-4 overtime win against the Sharks on November 24th.

If Sbisa returns, it will be his first game action since February 27th. Lindberg would also be making his Vegas playoff debut having been out since the final game of the regular season on April 7th

You do what you have to do. You put your best lineup in that you think gives you the best chance to win that evening. We’ve done it all year, guys come in and play different spots and play different roles, it’s all you can do. You go with your decision, you talk to your coaches, and you do the best you can. -Gerard Gallant

The changes magnify the 1st period, however. With multiple players who have been out for over a month returning to the lineup and potential changes to three of the four forward lines (see below), the Golden Knights are vulnerable early. It often takes players a bit of time to get back into the flow after missing games, but Vegas can’t afford to fall into a hole.

Throughout this entire season, when the Golden Knights have really needed a game, they’ve usually gotten it. But beyond that, they’ve almost always started out those games well. That was the case the last time they had to “flip the switch” back on going from a disastrous loss in Calgary to the playoff opener, but the time before, against the Flames at home, it took a period or so to really get going.

This team has it in them to play a good game tonight, no one is debating that. They just have to do it right away. They can’t play anything but their best from the moment the puck is dropped, and that’s what makes the lineup changes concerning. The Golden Knights have home-ice advantage in a best of three series, now they have to take advantage of it, and they can’t let cold legs and unfamiliarity get in the way.

Projected Game 5 Lineup

Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault
Perron-Haula-Neal
Lindberg-Eakin-Tuch
Carpenter-Bellemare-Carrier

Schmidt-McNabb
Theodore-Engelland
Sbisa-Miller

Better Effort Expected From San Jose, But It Still Won’t Be Enough

The Golden Knights scored four goals in the first period, three inside of a 91-second span, and continued sticking it to the San Jose Sharks for a majority of the 60 minutes of Game 1 resulting in a dominant 7-0 win.

We can’t play a better game than we played last night. We played a terrific game. -Gerard Gallant

It’s hard to disagree with the Jack Adams finalist. Pretty much every facet of the game outside of taking penalties (which they killed every one) the Golden Knights were great. It looked as if one team was playing at a different speed as the other, which is a great sign for the Golden Knights as the series progresses. However, the same lackluster start for the Sharks is not to be expected in Game 2, or at least so say the Golden Knights.

Definitely tomorrow they are going to come out strong and we are going to see the real San Jose Sharks, and we’ve got to be ready for that. -Jonathan Marchessault

I expect a lot more push from the beginning. I think we caught them a little off guard with our speed. -Nate Schmidt

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McPhee/Gallant Relationship Not As Straightforward As It Once Seemed

VGK’s early success leaves unanswerable questions. They aren’t a problem now, but they could be at some point. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On April 13th, 2017 Gerard Gallant was named head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights. At the introductory press conference, there was a specific quote from George McPhee that stuck out to me at the time. I’ve carried it as somewhat of a pillar of how the organization was going to be run ever since.

Basically, the way we’ll work is we’ll provide the players and Gerard coaches them. We’re not going to tell him how to coach and he’s not going to tell us how to find players. -George McPhee on 4/17/17

With every move the Golden Knights have made, or not made, from sending Vadim Shipachyov back to Russia to healthy scratching Griffin Reinhart every game he was on the active roster to acquiring players like Malcolm Subban, Ryan Carpenter, Tomas Tatar and Ryan Reaves, I’ve viewed the decisions through the lens of that quote. McPhee gets the players, Gallant coaches them.

During the Expansion Draft, that’s how it was. In fact, I can specifically remember speaking to Gallant at an event during the 72 hours the Golden Knights were on the clock, and he sounded as if his opinion was completely unnecessary to the process. However, as the season has worn on the lines of that quote have blurred a bit. When the trades were made, Gallant admitted to having a bit of say on who McPhee would bring in. The Shipachyov saga had the coach’s fingerprints all over it, and the Subban/Pickard goalie situation at the beginning of the year put Gallant in a hole he likely was not terribly comfortable with.

Then came the Tomas Tatar situation. With David Perron returning from injury in Game 3 of the Kings series, Gallant had a decision to make. He basically had three options available to him, and one was going to look awfully bad on his GM. Being up 2-0, he could have left the lineup as is and kept Perron on the shelf. Or, if he wanted Perron back in, he had to choose between Tatar and Carpenter as the player to come out. One player was a waiver addition that cost McPhee nothing to acquire, the other was a deadline trade addition that cost three draft picks including the Golden Knights 1st round pick next year.

Based solely on play, Tatar was the right man to come out. He never quite gelled with a line in Vegas and hadn’t shown the ability that made him a 19+ goal scorer each of the last five seasons. But, he didn’t come cheap, and sitting him in the Golden Knights biggest game of the season would be viewed as an immediate indictment on McPhee’s trade.

You don’t think I talk with George when we make lineup decisions? I’m the coach, I’m going to put them out there if I want them out there, but we talk every day and he knew before I made the decision. We said, listen, this is what we think is best and he agrees with most of the things we do. If he didn’t agree with it he didn’t tell me. (He says) you’re the coach put your best lineup out there. -Gerard Gallant

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