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The Most Impressive Stat Of The Playoffs Came On The Road In Game 6

Through two rounds of the playoffs, the Golden Knights lead postseason teams in a few crucial statistics. First and for most, Vegas is tied with Tampa for the most postseason wins with eight. Vegas leads the playoffs with 204 blocked shots and 106 takeaways despite playing the fewest number of games of any playoff team. However, the stat of the postseason may have happened last night in the series-clinching Game 6.

Against a desperate Sharks team, Vegas played smart protecting the puck and maintaining possession all game. Amazingly, the Golden Knights gave away the puck only once in Game 6. One giveaway in a road closeout game. One!

Unsurprisingly, they are the first team this season to complete a game with just one giveaway.

Some argue giveaway/takeaway stats are not truly accurate, but even with the margin of error involved in scoring hockey games, one giveaway is incredible. The definition of a giveaway is when a player’s own actions result in a loss of possession to the opposing team. Think back, can you even remember the one?

Overall, the Golden Knights have hit their giveaway average in four of ten postseason contests.

Fewest Giveaways in a single playoff game (1)
Fewest total Giveaways in Playoffs (83)
Fewest Giveaway average per game (8.3)

Won’t lose many games giving away the puck just once in 60 minutes. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas was so responsible with the puck in Game 6 that San Jose had trouble gaining possession for a majority of the night. To be fair, the Golden Knights only created two takeaways in last night’s closeout game, but that was likely a result of Vegas playing conservatively with a lead while their opponent chased.

If the Golden Knights continue to play error-free hockey, the remaining teams should look out. Surprisingly, Vegas turned the puck over 15 times in Game 5’s victory. Proving the Pacific Conference Champions can win a sloppy game or two… or eight.

(In case you were wondering, Deryk Engelland committed the one giveaway in the game. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of giveaways, keep your eyes out for the next Adam Kutner contest. He’s giving away, see what we did there, two tickets to every Western Conference Finals game, and it’s free to enter. More details soon.)

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 SAN JOSE SHARKS 0 (4-2 VGK)

Not exactly the start the Golden Knights were hoping for taking two penalties and avoiding multiple shots off the pipes, however Vegas avoided disaster exiting the period at 0-0. A dominant forecheck led to the Golden Knights first goal from Jonathan Marchessault. Then, a shot from the high slot from Nate Schmidt appeared to hit off the crossbar, the game continued on but was then stopped moments later to take a look at the goal. It was ruled good and Vegas had a 2-0 lead. The Golden Knights played one of their best periods of hockey of the postseason in the 3rd, controlling play and giving the Sharks absolutely no room to breathe. The Golden Knights are going to the Western Conference Finals!!!

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center.

  • 4th line’s excellent play in Game 6
  • A look ahead to the possibility of Nashville or Winnipeg
  • An absolute clinic in closing out a game.

Three Stars
*** Nate Schmidt
** Jonathan Marchessault
* Marc-Andre Fleury

Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks: Game 5 – Photo Gallery – May 4th, 2018

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 SAN JOSE SHARKS 3 (3-2 VGK)

With a bundle of lineup changes coming in there way a major question mark on what to expect from the Golden Knights in the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t perfect, but with just three seconds left in the period James Neal found the back of the net to give the Golden Knights the 1-0 lead. 2nd period magic returned for Vegas as they jumped down the Sharks throats scoring two more and grabbing complete control of the game, and the series. Alex Tuch scored his second of the game in the 3rd to cap one of his best games of the season. The Sharks didn’t go away scoring three straight to make it very interesting, but a late Marchessault empty netter sealed it.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Gallant pulls all the right strings, especially in getting the 3rd line going again.
  • Photo gallery from SinBin.vegas photographer Brandon Andreasen
  • VGK now 3-0 in odd number games in the series, plus home teams winning Game 5 leads to overwhelming success.

Three Stars
*** Erik Haula
** David Perron
* Alex Tuch

 

Vegas Losing Battle Of Fourth Lines, Especially In Games 3 And 4

Could use a little more of this in Game 5. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas is a team known for its ability to use all four lines in a game. Prior to the series, we talked about San Jose having the same luxury, and it showed on Wednesday night.

It’s important for us to use everybody and try to save energy. We want to make sure our top guys are fresh. Those are the guys that carry the mail for us. -Eric Fehr, San Jose forward

In Game 4, San Jose’s fourth line of Melker Karlsson, Marcus Sorensen, and Fehr were +3 with 2 points (on an illegal “pick” play). Depth scoring is essential in the postseason, but like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s line, San Jose’s fourth isn’t expected to score. Both Coaches expect their depth forwards to clog, pressure, dump, check, eat minutes, and maintain the score.

It was kind of a mix and match. As the game went on we were really just trying to win our matchup with whoever was out there. -Fehr

Fehr logged 12:24 TOI, and created issues for Vegas whenever the center hit the ice. He was four out of five in neutral zone draws, and 70% overall from the faceoff circle. Fehr’s line quieted both third line wingers David Perron and Tomas Tatar. Cody Eakin’s second period shot was the only one on net for the Golden Knights third line the entire night.

We want to do our part when we’re out there chipping in. -Fehr

Fehr sounds like Bellemare after a successful Golden Knights game. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic couldn’t speak enough about the importance of San Jose’s role players.

It’s our depth that has helped us get this far. The guys that don’t play as much as other guys have stepped up. Played their role and we’re getting contributions from all four lines. Which is what you need in the playoffs. -Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose defenseman

When the Golden Knights get the most out of their fourth line, the game is in VGK’s control. Vegas will deploy the Bellemare-Nosek-Carrier line to win situational matchups throughout the game. When Vegas isn’t getting their normal production from the fourth line it makes Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant’s job of balancing lines more difficult. Same goes for the other side.

Well we wouldn’t be here without it. Our guys have recognized the importance of depth and depth scoring for teams that find a way to win. -Pete DeBoer, San Jose head coach

Gallant should expect a bounce back game by his entire team tonight, including Bellamare and the fourth line. Depth can be the difference in this series, and Vegas has the horses to pull it off. It’s just a matter of which team’s fourth line can be more effective, and up in San Jose, it wasn’t the Golden Knights.

Early Non-Call Badly Damaged Vegas’ Chances In Game 4; Tough Breaks Becoming A Bit Of A Trend

The Golden Knights entered Game 4 understanding they were playing against a desperate team, but they also knew they had a chance to all but bury the Sharks with a second consecutive road win. After taking a bit of time to get going early in Game 3, the Golden Knights came out looking like themselves to begin in Game 4.

Then, it all got flushed down the toilet when a line Vegas had bottled up all series, San Jose’s fourth, ran a play, and an illegal one at that, in which the Sharks have become synonymous with. Our buddy Sheng Peng from HockeyBuzz pointed the play out before the series. (Click through for a thorough breakdown of it)

Nate Schmidt said it was a ‘pick.’ Jon Merrill called it ‘subtle interference.’ Gerard Gallant offered, ‘It’s guys skating in front of other guys.’ -Sheng Peng, HockeyBuzz

As Marcus Sorensen skated from the red-line out, Eric Fehr heads back towards the red-line to cross up the defense. Legally, you can skate by, as long as there’s no contact. Here’s the play, you tell me if there’s contact.

It’s not legal doing that, so there’s nothing necessarily we can do. The refs just need to be aware, they were aware in the 2nd period and they called it, but the 1st period they got those two goals because of that and it’s unfortunate. The game moves fast for the refs too and that’s the way it went. -Jonathan Marchessault

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SAN JOSE SHARKS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 0 (2-2)

San Jose struck first on a shot that should have never been allowed. Marcus Sorensen skated from the goal-line to the slot with Alex Tuch on his back. While Tuch was following him, Eric Fehr slashed at him and interfered. The play should have been called a penalty, instead, it ended up in the back of Vegas’ net. Then, late in the period a bit of a mix up allowed Joonas Donskoi to walk one into the high slot and rip it past Fleury. 2-0 at the end of the 1st. The Sharks scored another one on a wrap-around chance early in the 2nd to take a three-goal lead. Vegas got three power plays between the middle of the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd, but couldn’t convert on any of them as Martin Jones played his best game of the series. The Golden Knights never really got going and now head home needing to win a three-game series with two games at T-Mobile Arena.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center.

  • The pick play the Sharks run was an absolute momentum killer. Plus, VGK having a hard time getting breaks from the zebras in this series.
  • Where did the forecheck go on the road?

Three Stars
*** Marcus Sorensen
** Tomas Hertl
* Martin Jones

Scheduled Resiliency Helps Teams In Playoffs

The ability to bounce back in a series is one of the most important team elements of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teams trailing must immediately forget about the painful losses that got them there and work to stay motivated for the next game.

Oh, it’s easy. We’ll practice tomorrow and play the game the next day. The schedule makers do a good job of playing games every other day. So it’s easy to forget about. – Logan Couture, San Jose forward

Couture’s mindset is shared by the Golden Knights locker room as well. Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb also felt scheduling allows for players to move on as all players and coaches say in the postseason.

Yeah it’s nice that way where you can reset the next day. The last game is already gone, so you’re focused on the next game. -Brayden McNabb

It makes sense that fans would have a harder getting over bad or missed calls, tough loses and player mistakes or errors.

You don’t have to dwell on the wins and the losses. You move on quickly. That’s the good thing about the playoffs. -McNabb

Win or lose, there’s another game before you know it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The evidence is there to believe players move on quicker, possibly because of the schedule. In the second round teams that are coming off of a loss are 6-1. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Washington bucked that trend last night; something the Golden Knights will look to follow in Game 4. McNabb did say you the schedule helps forget about a win as well.

Disrespected Flower

This guy is dominating, the Sharks are just afraid to admit it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In back-to-back games the San Jose Sharks have scored a combined seven goals on Marc-Andre Fleury, all coming in the last two games. So sure, offensively San Jose woke up after Game 1, but they’re still down in the series 2-1.

Over the past two games, Fleury has allowed 7 goals on 89 shots. Add in his shutout from Game 1 and most would say he’s been brilliant. And if you don’t, you will after watching Fleury’s highlight reel save on Logan Couture.

Like I said, brilliant. You’d think the Sharks felt the same but…

He’s a beatable goaltender. At the end of the day, everyone is beatable. Goaltenders are meant to be beat. -Evander Kane, San Jose forward

Obviously, Kane is frustrated. The question was about his third period goal but took a turn to focus on Fleury. Kane has a heavy net presence, so maybe there is a brewing animosity.  When I spoke with Tomas Hertl after Game 2 you would’ve thought they dropped a seven-spot in a game, not a series.

We were screening Fleury, and he didn’t see nothing and that’s why we scored… We showed we can score four goals against Fleury, so they need to think about that now. -Tomas Hertl, San Jose forward

It’s not just these two, you can tell the Sharks are irked. They played arguably their best game of the series but ended up on the wrong side of overtime. Of course, it’s not over, but Wednesday becomes a must-win situation for San Jose. If the Sharks cannot tie and comeback in the series then they’ll only have themselves to blame for stupid penalties, sloppy play, and poor defense.

But hey, why not take it out on the nice guy in net instead.

The Golden Knights Have Never Faced Real Adversity, Because They Stop It Before Comes

He’s basically a superhero. Going around saving doubters from doubting. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

All season long there’s been a running narrative that the Golden Knights are strong at overcoming adversity. The storyline dates back to the Fleury injury and has stuck with the team throughout the season, despite the fact it’s never actually been true.

The Vegas Golden Knights had never experienced real hockey adversity. Sure, they lost their goalie, and then his backup, and then his backup, early in the year and battled through a stretch with Max Lagace in the net, but at no time during it was anything expected of them. There wasn’t real adversity there because there wasn’t any expectation. They’ve never had a truly bad stretch of hockey, they’ve never lost more than three games in a row, and once they rose to 1st place in the division they never lost it. Simply put, they’ve had what may look like hardships, but they’ve never really had a true hardship, one that could legitimately destroy their perfect season.

That was until Game 3. Coming off a crushing loss in Game 2 due to a disallowed goal, the Golden Knights went into the 3rd period in control, leading 3-1. They gave up one, but it looked like the clock was going to run out on the Sharks.

It didn’t.

San Jose scored, tied the game, came back from a two-goal deficit, again, and the Golden Knights season was hanging in the balance. Then it got worse. They were gifted a pair of power plays to begin overtime, and couldn’t score. They had a great chance from James Neal that clanked off the bar. Then they gave up the best chance of the game, and Marc-Andre Fleury (without even really seeing the puck) saved it with his glove.

The potential to lose this game, and control in the series, that was real adversity. But they are the Golden Knights, and how they deal with it is to turn to William Karlsson and let him do his thing, and once again, save them from serious adversity.

I mean, sure, it’s tough, but it’s still a tie game, there’s still a chance to step up in overtime. -William Karlsson

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