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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 7 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 3 (29-17-4 62 PTS)

Pittsburgh started out the period on fire controlling the game and peppering Marc-Andre Fleury’s net. They got on the board first, but then the Golden Knights got hot and scored three straight, including two in under a minute and had multiple other chances. It didn’t take long into the 2nd for Pittsburgh to storm back in as they tied it early. Then, a reviewed goal that went in Vegas’ favor on a Penguin PP seemed to ignite the Golden Knights. A misplay by Casey DeSmith led to Jonathan Marchessault’s first goal, he then tallied another to restore the two goal lead heading to the 3rd. The game cleaned up a bit defensively in the 3rd as William Karlsson got on the board for the first time in a while. Marchessault sealed it with the empty netter to become the 2nd player in VGK history to score a hat trick.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Pittsburgh Penguins at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Carp on Miller’s return

Ken’s Three Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Colin Miller
* Jonathan Marchessault

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (1-4-0 2 PTS)

Another road game and another similar story. The Golden Knights played well in the 1st period but did not leave the ice with the lead. Then, multiple breakdowns in the 2nd led to a Phil Kessel hat trick. The Golden Knights got one to get back within two, but couldn’t ever get closer. That’s five games and just one win for Vegas to start off the year. More alarming, they’ve only scored nine goals in the five games.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

  • Unveiling of the “Golden Knights Line Chart” page which tracks not only lineups from every game, but also line and player utilization rates.

Three Stars
*** Casey DeSmith
** Evgeni Malkin
* Phil Kessel

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 (35-14-4 74 PTS)

What was meant to be a night for Marc-Andre Fleury to be celebrated turned into a goal fest in the first 40 minutes. Vegas struck for the first two on goal from William Karlsson and James Neal, but the Penguins were able to get three straight to end the 2nd with a one goal lead. Pittsburgh got the next two making it five unanswered. Vegas was able to make it a game but never could find the equalizer.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

  • Tonight was about Fleury facing his former team; so it’s time to take a look at how everyone has done against their old teams.

Three Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Sidney Crosby
* Evgeni Malkin

 

“They Are Just Absolutely A Dog And A Bone On That Puck”

The House Always Wins. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If one game could sum up the Golden Knights season, last night was it. Considered the ultimate redemption game for Vegas, they beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs, and did it with a goal from a guy who has been a healthy scratch in each of the last five games and 12 of the past 13. Not only did the team win for their star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury but they continue to handle the NHL’s best. After the 2–1 Golden Knights win, Fleury’s old mates commented on an emotional night.

When you see him in there it’s a little different, but once you get into play, you’re playing. Yeah, it’s the first time we played against each other, it’s to be expected to feel different. -Sidney Crosby, Penguins Captain

Maybe that’s a reason why #87 didn’t have one shot on goal. Alright, that’s a stretch but it was a difficult night for the two-time Conn Smythe winner.

I think they skate well. Every line plays the same and they keep it pretty simple. They didn’t beat themselves or make mistakes that could hurt them. When they did they didn’t break down and got some saves. Both goalies were good, but it’s just one of those games. Then they found a way to get that last one in the third. -Crosby

The win didn’t seem to upset Crosby nearly as much as it did Mike Sullivan.

It was a hard-fought game. It was another one of those games that could’ve went either way. There were chances on both sides and I thought the goaltending at both ends of the rink was good. It seems like those are the type of games that we’re in night in and night out and we haven’t found ways to win those, and that’s what we have to do. -Mike Sullivan, Penguins Head Coach

As Sullivan mentioned, the goaltending was good on both ends of the rink. For sixty minutes, Fleury was the better goaltender. His new teammates aggressively pressured his former backup Matt Murray.

They are just absolutely a dog and a bone on that puck. They just work so hard, and I think that’s where they know it caught us by surprise on a couple. Especially on the forecheck where like I said, caught by surprise, quick turn over, bang bang to the net. That’s what they are good at we knew that going into it, but they are definitely a hard working team and a fast team. Good in transition. You know, I don’t think they do anything special but they work extremely hard and I think that’s why they have such success. -Matt Murray, Penguins Goaltender

Quick, hard-working, strong on the forecheck, and good in transition. Basically, the Webster’s dictionary definition of an NHL playoff team.

There was also something about a dog and a bone, but we’ll leave that one alone for now.

Golden Knights vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Photo Gallery – December 14th, 2017

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (20-9-2 42 PTS) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 1

Vegas came out with flames in their skates as was to be expected. They jumped out on top within the games first few minutes with a James Neal goal. The Penguins got one back and the game remained tied at one through the 2nd. The most unlikely of scorers comes through for the Golden Knights as Jon Merrill gets the go ahead goal.  Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular in his first game against his former team.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at T-Mobile Arena.

  • The Golden Knights can play with (and sometimes outplay) the NHL’s elite.
  • Penguin’s reaction to Fleury, T-Mobile, and of course… VegasFlu.
  • Photo gallery from Brandon.

Three Stars
*** James Neal
** Matt Murray
* Marc-Andre Fleury

NMCs Causing All Sorts Of Expansion Speculation

Never before has the NHL world cared more about No Movement Clauses. The most obvious candidate to waive his NMC, Marc-Andre Fleury signed his paperwork after his third ring-fitting. Others like Dion Phaneuf were asked, and though it’s expected he declines, we may have to wait to see the lists to get the final answer.

With the buyout period looming and roster lockdown a few days away, NHL clubs are scrambling to get prepared for the Expansion Draft. However, some teams appear willing to stand pat and take their Vegas lumps.

In Florida, the first reports were that Panthers front office had asked defenseman Keith Yandle to waive his NMC. The 30-year-old signed a seven-year deal last offseason and apparently Florida was willing to chance him in expansion. Updated reports now confirm Yandle was never asked and will not be exposed. Out guess, Yandle was asked, politely declined, and then the team covered his back by saying they never asked.

Either way, Yandle’s exposure would’ve created an interesting dilemma. Had the Golden Knights selected the All-Star defenseman they could’ve scored big in a flip. Established teams are desperate for blueliners and a rock like Yandle would draw plenty of interest. Or, with the long term deal, would the Golden Knights have thought to keep him and make him part of their “Cup in 6” plans.

Other notable players with NMC’s that were not asked to waive; Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Andrew Ladd, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, David Backes.

A lot of things are out of my control right now. I don’t know what other teams are discussing with regard to expansion and Vegas. I know what I’d like to do, but we’ll see how it plays out. -Steve Yzerman, Tampa GM

In Tampa, despite speculation, the Lightning did not ask Ryan Callahan to waive his NMC. Reports are GM Steve Yzerman reached out to the Golden Knights and is interested in protecting more players in exchange for picks. The Lightning are also rumored to be shopping stud Jonathon Drouin possibly for a defenseman in Anaheim or Minnesota. Opposing GM’s are calling McPhee but they’re texting one another as well. But even if teams make offers to the Wild it doesn’t mean they’ll agree to a deal prior to the roster lockdown.

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Let’s Talk About MAF, Baby

Today was a big day in the world of Marc-Andre Fleury rumors, as the Penguins officially asked the back-up goalie to waive his No Movement Clause (NMC) to allow Pittsburgh to expose him for the Expansion Draft.

But before we go into the significance of that news, let’s go all the way back to October when the Penguins signed Matt Murray to a contract extension. At that point, it was clear one of two things were going to happen (whether at that moment or later), either the Penguins knew Fleury was going to waive his NMC, or the Penguins were planning on giving up assets to the Golden Knights in exchange for passing on Murray in the Expansion Draft.  We now know, the more likely of the two has happened. Fleury has waived his NMC and the Penguins will protect Murray.

So now on to the next portion, “only for Las Vegas.” Here are the important facts surrounding Marc-Andre Fleury, his contract, and the Expansion Draft.

  • Today, June 12th, was the last day “for Clubs to request that a player ‘waive’ his ‘No Move’ clause for purposes of Expansion Draft.” (From NHL press release)
  • Fleury has two clauses on his contract, a “No Move” clause and a “Limited No Trade” clause. These are part of the contract he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in November of 2014.
  • Players with NMCs must be protected in the Expansion Draft, unless the player agrees to waive it.
  • All contracts will be taken over, with clauses, when the Golden Knights select a player in the Expansion Draft.
  • Fluery’s limited NTC includes a list of 18 teams in which he can be traded to. The remaining 11 he must sign off on if a deal is made. We are unaware of which teams are on this list.

So, today, Fluery waived his NMC, for one purpose, the Expansion Draft. Once he is selected by the Golden Knights (or not selected by the Golden Knights) his NMC will be reinstated. His limited NTC does not affect the Expansion Draft, and will stand whether he is on the Golden Knights or the Penguins on/during the Expansion Draft.

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Golden Knights Expansion Trade Rumor Roundup

In less than a week George McPhee will finally have the protection lists in his hands and the Golden Knights will be on the 72 hour Expansion Draft clock. Until then, the hockey world will be buzzing about all the trades that are being discussed in the lead up. It’s time we take a moment to round em all up into one post, and try to make sense of what’s set to go down on June 21st.

Before we start though, we need to clarify something. While McPhee is making calls and probably coming to agreements, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman confirmed no deals will be made official, or even be announced, prior to June 21st. So, tread carefully out there, everyone’s trying to make a name for themselves.

Chicago Blackhawks – The chatter with Chicago started in late May from a pair of tweets from TSN’s Frank Seravalli.

The main question is which way the picks would be going, if any are involved. Chicago has three defensemen with NMCs, so van Riemsdyk would have to be exposed unless one of Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, or Niklas Hjalmarsson waives their NMC, and/or is traded. So, in theory, Vegas would be getting picks in exchange for taking on Marcus Kruger‘s salary, and simply select van Riemsdyk in the Expansion Draft.

Many news outlets, including most notably a news anchor from Kansas City (why?), have reported that Kruger to Vegas is done. The most common return is a 3rd round pick from Chicago. But there’s likely another piece to the puzzle here that’s missing. Whether that’s Chicago “moving a core player” as reported by WSCR’s Jay Zawaski, or Kruger being flipped through Vegas is yet to be seen. Either way, it’s highly probable McPhee makes a deal (or two) with Chicago, but the details out there currently, are likely not telling the whole story.

Columbus Blue Jackets – In Elliotte Friedman’s “30 thoughts” column he mentions murmurs of trade discussions here. The name mentioned is David Clarkson, who is Expansion Draft exempt due to a long term injury. Clarkson’s back will likely keep him off the ice in 2017-18 and could be career ending, however, his cap hit remains at $5.25 million through 2020 (three more seasons). Freidman mentions the 24th overall pick as well as “some young forwards at the AHL level” as possible compensation for Clarkson’s contract. Once again, the details are fuzzy because this would occur outside the parameters of the Expansion Draft. Vegas would still have to select a player from Columbus, so there’s another piece in the mix. Joonas Korpisalo just signed a team-friendly deal, is he involved? Vegas would get rewarded handsomely for taking Clarkson off Columbus’ hands, but there still has to be an Expansion pick, so more is certainly to come on this one.

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Penguins GM Extension Opens Door For Las Vegas To Nab Assistant

As we speak The Creator and his staff are somewhere in Montana coming up with a game plan for the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the Stanley Cup winning Penguins signed GM Jim Rutherford to a three year extension through the 2018-19 season.

The common thread between those two pieces of news is the name Jason Botterill. Botterrill is the Associate GM in Pittsburgh and has widely been considered the GM-in-waiting to take over with Rutherford’s decides to hang em up.

The 40 year old Canadian was the 20th overall pick in the 1994 NHL Draft to the Dallas Stars. His playing days ended abruptly appearing in just 88 NHL games before suffering a miserable concussion that forced him into early retirement in 2004. It didn’t take long before Botterill found his way onto the other side of the glass as a scout in 2006 for the Stars and eventually made his way to Pittsburgh a year later as their salary cap-ologist.

He was then promoted to Associate GM after the 2013-14 season ended and appeared on his way to being the full GM shortly thereafter. Now, with the Rutherford extension, Botterill may just be the perfect candidate to become Las Vegas’ first General Manager.

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