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Rattled By Thatcher Demko?

Following their Western Conference Final loss, Pete DeBoer made a puzzling comment about his team’s mentality.

There’s no doubt that the last couple of games in the Vancouver series against Demko probably rattled our confidence a little bit. -DeBoer

DeBoer casually revealed one of the reasons Vegas struggled to score on Dallas was a rookie backup goaltender from a previous series living inside of his players’ heads.

We’ve heard coaches reference past series to account for injuries or even style of play differences, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one admit his team was psychologically fractured by an individual performance in a prior round. We applaud the honesty, but what is he saying about his team… or maybe even his own coaching job?

Another learning lesson for our guys at this time of year; fighting through, persevering, finding a way to get yourself out of a slump. Getting your confidence back quicker. -DeBoer

What happened to the mentality this team had?(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

These are all things the Golden Knights clearly did not do well inside of the bubble, that they must improve upon if they are to hoist the Cup in the future. But one has to wonder about the fragility of the locker room if they did indeed allow the ghost of Thatcher Demko to ruin their chances to win a completely new series.

What happened to “one game at a time?” To “I’m not worried about the offense?” To “the worst thing we can do is change?”

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Vegas Faces Tough But Attainable Challenge After Losing Game’s 1 & 3

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

If you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it a thousand times on the SinBin podcast. Teams need to win odd-numbered games to clinch a series. So far, the Golden Knights haven’t done that in the Western Conference Final. While losing the first and third contests of a seven-game series isn’t ideal, plenty of teams have actually advanced in that position.

Since the 1999-2000 season, eight teams have gone on to win a conference final or Stanley Cup final after losing Games 1 and 3 of the series. Over the past 20 years it’s been accomplished four times in the Western Conference finals, three in the Eastern Conference finals, and twice in the Stanley Cup finals. Including last season’s Cup winner the St. Louis Blues, who did it twice in their championship run. Vegas is hoping to be the ninth team, starting by winning Game 4 (something all nine teams did).

Teams That Won WCF Losing Game 1 & 3
2000: Dallas Stars- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
2007: Anaheim Ducks- won in six (won 4, 5, 6)
2015: Chicago Blackhawks- won in seven (won 4, 6, 7)
2019: St. Louis Blues- won in seven (won 4, 5, 6)

Pete DeBoer is no stranger to the situation his current team is in. In 2012, DeBoer’s New Jersey Devils lost the first and third games of the Eastern Conference finals and stormed back to win the series in six. Seven years later he was on the other end as the coach of the San Jose Sharks. In last year’s Western Conference final, the Blues overcame defeats in game one and three to outlast the Sharks in seven.

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Vegas Holds The Edge No Matter Who Vancouver Starts In Net

The Golden Knights were expected to smell blood on Tuesday night after the Canucks announced backup goaltender Thatcher Demko as the starter for Game 5. If anything, the reverse happened. Demko became the shark and snacked on a quantity of Vegas shots.

We are aware this photo has nothing to do with this article. But it’s great, so here it is. *Sorry Zach* (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

Since his performance was so strong and starter Jacob Markstrom was designated as “unfit to play”, Vancouver may select Demko to start tonight’s Game 6. So, who benefits more if they do?

First postseason start or not, Demko’s performance was superb and may be tough to match. In his young career, he’s limited opponents to one goal six times. That’s over a span of 36 starts. He’s a fine goaltender that could frustrate the Golden Knights again, but odds say he’ll allow more than one goal tonight. Which might be all Vegas needs to clinch the seven-game series.

Especially if this is the Golden Knights mindset coming into Game 6.

We’re going to come into tomorrow’s game just to try to step on their necks and end this. -Reilly Smith

Smith also mentioned that Vegas needed to stick with their gameplan no matter what the outcome was after Game 5. The Golden Knights play best when they attack with numbers, using all three forwards to force their way into the Canucks’ zone by using their patented aggressive forecheck. If they play like that, it wouldn’t matter who is tending Vancouver’s net. The top seed in the West hasn’t lost its confidence after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, they believe they were merely unfortunate. Vegas knows they’re the better club, and if they were to take 43 shots like they did in Game 5, they will go on to advance to the conference finals.

Plus, Vegas got tipped off how Vancouver successfully outlasted them in Game 5.

We’re just trying to play fast and get the puck in their zone. They clog the middle pretty well so we can’t really skate through it. The longer we wait to pass then their forwards are stuck at the far blue line. So if we pass it to them then they have no speed. For us we were just trying to get it out of our hands quickly so they can get on the forecheck with speed. It’s the defenseman’s responsibility to get up and gap up and try and support the forecheck. -Quinn Hughes, VAN defenseman

Leaked strategy or not, it shouldn’t matter for a good team like Vegas. Coach Pete DeBoer and his players will/should adapt from last game’s miscues.

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Can Vegas Avoid Vancouver’s Shot Blocking Defense In Game 3?

It’s no secret the Golden Knights like to shoot, a lot. In Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks, Vegas took 40 shots on net. Not only were the Golden Knights peppering shots on opposing goaltender Jacob Markstrom, but also the ankles, arms, and legs of the Canucks skaters. At the conclusion of their 5-2 loss on Tuesday, Vegas attempted 93 shots; 2 goals, 13 missed the net, 38 saved by Markstrom, and a whopping 40 blocked by 16 Canucks players.

That shows how unselfish we are. Everyone sticking together and doing the dirty work. I know it’s not fun and you see the ice packs after games. As a goalie I appreciate that. -Jacob Markstrom, VAN goaltender

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

The Canucks set a franchise playoff record with their 40 blocked shots in Game 2. Vancouver’s desperation mode kicked in and players paid a physical price in tying up their seven-game series 1-1 with Vegas. The Canucks were fearlessly getting in the way of shots, frustrating some of Vegas’ most lethal shooters like Max Pacioretty and Shea Theodore. Both had points in Game 2 but were victimized by Vancouver’s wall of defense.

Game 2: Shea Theodore
14 Shot Attempts
8 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Max Pacioretty
15 Shot attempts
5 Shots on Net
7 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Alec Martinez
8 Shot Attempts
0 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots
2 Missed Shots

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Golden Knights vs. Canucks Game 3 Has Been Postponed

A day after games in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS were postponed in response to the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, NHL players have decided to follow suit.

Multiple sources are reporting all NHL games for tonight, including the Golden Knights vs Canucks Game 3, will be postponed.

The Golden Knights are holding media availability at 1:30 PM. (UPDATE: It has been delayed.)

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Game 1 Allowed DeBoer To Balance Time On Ice, Setting VGK Up For The Future

When a team is in complete control of a game like the Golden Knights were Sunday, it allows a coach to balance his players’ minutes a bit more evenly.

It was a luxury coach Pete DeBoer was given when his team held a multiple-goal lead for most of Game 1. He wasn’t forced to utilize Theodore for 28 minutes like he had in the past with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. DeBoer also balanced his forwards, using player’s like Ryan Reaves and William Carrier more than their season average. In fact, Reaves played the third-most minutes he had all season and hit the ice more than Max Pacioretty in Game 1.

Take a look at how DeBoer was able to roll his guys out in a dominant Game 1 compared to the rest of the playoffs and regular season.

Shea Theodore
Game 1: 19:40 TOI
Season Average: 22:14 TOI
Postseason Average: 22:57 TOI

Mark Stone
Game 1: 16:00 TOI
Season Average: 19:25 TOI
Postseason Average: 18:44 TOI

William Karlsson
Game 1: 16:21 TOI
Season Average: 18:52 TOI
Postseason Average: 19:13 TOI

Max Pacioretty
Game 1: 14:38 TOI
Season Average: 17:55 TOI
Postseason Average: 16:42 TOI

Ryan Reaves
Game 1: 14:50 TOI
Season Average: 10:09 TOI
Postseason Average: 10:04 TOI

Thanks to Antoine Roussel, Reaves was needed more than normal but it wasn’t just “to keep the flies off the honey.” Extra minutes for Reaves and Carrier equates to less postseason wear and tear on the top-six. Being that it was Game 1, DeBoer should have some well-rested stars for tonight’s matchup.

Going forward, if the Golden Knights and Canucks go deep in their second round series, or games go into overtime, DeBoer should have a bench full of fresh legs. Hopefully, the Golden Knights won’t be forced into a four or five overtime period game, but if they do, the advantage goes to the team that spread their minutes out in earlier games.

If the Golden Knights are able to perform as they did in Game 1, I’d expect DeBoer to deploy the same strategy again tonight. Any situation that has Vegas up by multiple goals, the bottom six, and the fourth line specifically, should see more ice time. But chances are the Canucks will permit that by sending Roussel on the ice to create his typical havoc.

Remember, Reilly Smith said this about Roussel and his antics.

So, I’m assuming if Roussel is out there mucking it up, DeBoer will be able to rest his stars again. If only Vancouver’s pest knew how to keep flies off the honey.

“Heavy” Becoming Vegas’ New Label

Throughout their series, the Blackhawks used the word ‘heavy’ 31 times to describe the Golden Knights in press conferences.

Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews uses “heavy” to describe two things. Vegas’ size, and their ability to hold the puck once they possess it. It’s no secret, the Golden Knights are big and most of their players are hard to bump off the puck. Which was apparent right from the start of the series.

Mark Stone is 6’4″, 219 pounds but also has the puck super glued on his stick. Alex Tuch is 6’4″ as well, and his skill, speed, and size make it difficult for a defender to strip the puck. Max Pacioretty is 6’2, with the lethal combination of power and a rocket shot. These are examples of being a heavy team, and playing like one.

They play a different game then the Oilers. They’re a very structured, simple team. They play a heavy game. You got to tip your hat sometimes, they play well as a squad. -Calvin de Haan, CHI Defenseman

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan used the word to describe differences between the Golden Knights and a faster, skill-based team like the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton has Connor McDavid, but what they didn’t have was the team structure and physicality Vegas has. The Golden Knights get scoring from multiple players, not just two, they defend, and rarely veer from their gameplan.

We know they’re an excellent team. They’re a heavy team, they get on the forcheck and try and hold you down… We gave them some easy ones, easy chances. They score 3-1 and during that stretch we just weren’t very good.-Jeremy Colliton, CHI coach

Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton called the Golden Knights a heavy team after three of the five games. Again, it wasn’t just their size, it was Vegas’ forecheck. When the Golden Knights push the puck with pressure they make teams feel like they’re being weighed down. All twelve forwards have that ability allowing Vegas the fortune to use all four lines.

Then there’s the natural use of the word.

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Sweeps Are Nice, But Plenty Of Teams Have Won The Cup Without Them

The Golden Knights looked like they were on their way to a quick, easy series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Even without playing their best, Vegas was finding ways to win and clearly displaying they are the better team. Last night, they couldn’t get the job done, missing out on the series sweep and all the benefits that come with it.

It’s widely believed that in the NHL playoffs, the fewer games you have to play, the better your chances of winning the Cup. But, all of the previous four Stanley Cup winners failed to sweep a series in the playoffs, and 11 of the previous 20 winners couldn’t win a series in four as well.

Cup Winners Without a Postseason Sweep

2002 Detroit Red Wings
2003 NJ Devils
2006 Carolina Hurricanes
2007 Anaheim Ducks
2013 Chicago Blackhawks
2014 LA Kings
2016 Pittsburgh Penguins
2017 Pittsburgh Penguins
2018 Washington Capitals
2019 St. Louis Blues

Obviously, extra rest allows an ailing team like Vegas to get healthier. Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Tomas Nosek have all missed time in Vegas’ first round series, so time off would be beneficial. A short series also gives the coaching staff more time to prepare for the next opponent. And while there’s no arguing against these added benefits, teams have proven in the past they are far from prerequisites on the quest to win 16 playoff games.

In 2018-19 the Golden Knights began their first postseason by sweeping the LA Kings. After winning in four straight, Vegas had to wait nine days until their next series. Then, after shutting down the Sharks in six, the Golden Knights sat for six days before facing Winnipeg in the Western Conference finals. After beating the Jets in five, the Golden Knights waited an additional eight days before the Stanley Cup finals began. In total, Vegas had a total of 23 days off in between series, and we know how that worked out for them.

Even without the sweep, Vegas can set themselves up for significant time off. Clinching a series in five or even six games can grants a club some extra healing time, practices, and rest. A little adversity in a series can quietly help a team’s focus as well. That’s what I suspect will happen after last night’s Game 4 loss.

Expect the Golden Knights to be at their best in Game 5, because series sweeps are overrated anyway.

Letdown Periods Trending In Round-Robin Games

No one knew what to expect in Vegas’ first round-robin game against the Dallas Stars. Some Golden Knights players talked about bringing intensity, some said they would play it safe, making sure they were healthy for the first round. So when Vegas won 5-3 in a roller coaster game, it was no surprise that it was a forgettable victory.

While their 3rd period, four-goal outburst was outstanding, the 2nd period letdown may have some Golden Knights worried. However, trends are showing that most round-robin teams have had a letdown period in their first game. Five of the eight teams allowed two or more unanswered goals in a period, and three of those five teams lost.

Vegas vs. Dallas

We all watched it, Vegas looked like they were toast by the conclusion of the 2nd period. Then Dallas decided to sit back in the 3rd. Both teams allowed three or more unanswered goals and had extended moments of sloppy hockey.

VGK 2nd Period:

  • Allowed three straight goals (One PP goal)
  • Outshot 13-10
  • Faceoff Wins 43%
  • Committed one penalty (Theodore/Hooking)
  • Lost the lead

The puck was deep in Vegas zone for the majority of the 2nd period and Dallas took advantage, scoring three unanswered goals. Dallas took six out of the first seven shots taken in the period. At one point it looked like Vegas would never be able to clear the puck from their own end. Thankfully the Stars made it easy for the Golden Knights to come back. Dallas equally broke down and gave Vegas the room to snap off four goals in the final period.

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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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