The antidote. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
It’s common in the NFL. Dez Bryant vs. Josh Norman, Julio Jones vs. Patrick Peterson, or Larry Fitzgerald vs. Richard Sherman. Top wide receiver vs. shut down cornerback.
Often times in the NHL teams have their defensive stalwarts, but not always are they asked to do what top cornerbacks in the NFL are expected to do. Here in Vegas, the Golden Knights have that, his name is Luca Sbisa, but we can’t go with the football term, so we’re dubbing him the “superstar shadow.”
Coach was pretty much saying every time he’s on the ice you’ve got to be out there. Wherever he lines up on the draw, make sure you are next to him. -Luca Sbisa
That was what Sbisa had to say about Vladamir Tarasenko, but he’s been doing it for a few games now. Look at his TOI numbers against the opposition’s scoring superstar the last three games.
TOI vs. Shadow
That’s one of his roles. He plays against the top lines a lot and against the top players. That’s a role that he likes and he’s done a pretty good job of it. -Gerard Gallant
At even strength against those three top players, while Sbisa is on the ice, the Golden Knights have allowed just one goal in three games. Think about that for a second. 25 minutes and 51 seconds against Vladimir Tarasenko, Evander Kane, and Brad Marchand, and Luca Sbisa has held them to ONE even strength goal. That, is a recipe for success.
Next up is Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks. Normally this should give the Golden Knights nightmares, but with Luca Sbisa: Superstar Shadow on our side, Gerard Gallant and VGK fans can rest easy and start dreaming of a 7-1 start.
In the last episode of Puck Daddy’s Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast (must listen radio) the guys answered emails as they normally do. One email question that stood out was “What player wearing #91 is the best the NHL?”
Let’s face it players that wear #91 are studs. Okay not all of them, sorry Oleg Saprykin. However most are successful, and it made me realize that Las Vegas needs a #91. It’s not your traditional superstar number, but nothing about Las Vegas is traditional. Automatically having a #91 on the team could fear opposing goaltenders. Plus it’s only eight away from Gretzky’s number which no one can wear.
Our friends at NHLNordiques.com recently wrote a fine piece highlighting The National Post asking NHL’ers about expansion. I got to give it to NHL players, most pay attention to league news. So when asked what city they would rather play in (video at the bottom of this post), players seemed to favor Quebec. However, looking deeper I found some fuzzy math with their methodology. Most of the players asked were Canadian, and one of the Americans asked James van Riemsdyk, plays for the Maple Leafs.
Let’s try and break this down a little more fairly.
Van Reimsdyk is basically forced to say Quebec or the whole country will hate him. Also if you notice, Van Reimsdyk says “so I guess I’ll go with that one” not a huge endorsement for Quebec. So I’m gonna call it a wash. No goal. LV 0 QC 0
Next Steven Stamkos chose Quebec over Vegas but Stevie S. has good reasons. Stamkos played Pee Wee hockey in Quebec. Anyone who played Pee Wee’s will never forget those days. Pee Wee’s in America is when checking is introduced, probably earlier in Canada. I’m convinced Canadians were born knowing how to hit. You never forget playing youth hockey and apparently Stamkos doesn’t either. Goal.LV 0 QC 1
I’m nauseous after watching Leafs Dion Phaneuf play both sides like a cheap suited politician. It’s fairly obvious that Dion is well trained by his smoking hot wife‘s PR team because he barely gave an answer. He said it would be great for both cities. Yeah we know that Mr. Cuthbert, give us a real bleeping answer! Phaneuf’s answer is so diplomatic that it doesn’t cross the goal line. No goal.0 LV 1 QC
Okay now things get real. Nashville’s Roman Josi is neither American nor Canadian, so his answer might be the purest. When asked Josi quickly blurted out Las Vegas while wearing a huge smirk. You hear a follow up question “any reason for that?” which the Swede shakes his head and laughs. It was one of those secretive, ‘I had the best time of my life in Vegas but I can’t tell you why’ type grin. You can’t buy a grin like that in Quebec. And even our friends at NHLNordiques.com would admit it. I heard Swedes like to party and Josi doesn’t look like he’s missing the net on the Strip. Goal.1 LV 1 QC
Next is Patrice Bergeron, the one Bruin everyone can like. However, he’s from Quebec, played their growing up so… See above Steven Stamkos. Goal.1 LV 2 QC
Here we go, now things get interesting. The Russian Vladimir Tarasenko was up next and he was wearing the same smirk as Josi. This time however when asked he blurted out Quebec and started laughing. Vladimir gave the same secretive laugh and grin as Jossi, meaning only one thing. Tarasenko also had the time of his life on the Strip but can’t tell anyone about it. I believe Tarasenko smartly chose Quebec because he couldn’t handle the Vegas. It’s an understandable reason to pick Quebec, I might not like it but… Red light. Goal.1 LV 3 QC
Lastly we have Dallas Stars Center Tyler Seguin. I thought this was an easy one based off Tyler’s reported partying. Seguin was outed by the pathetic Bruins smear campaign as an avid booze and skirt chaser. Hmmm, that kinda sounds like Las Vegas. However, knowing that his reputation was on the line, Sequin cleaned up his act in Dallas. Tyler smartly toed the party line on the question. Leaving Las Vegas empty on a last minute 6-on-5. No goal.1 LV 3 QC
Final: Las Vegas – 1 vs. Quebec – 3
I love that The National Post asked players this question and hope they continue to do it throughout the league. Considering the partying some LA King players have done in the past, and the players that show up at the award show I think Las Vegas might get more votes. If you take out Stamkos and Bergeron, this was a much closer contest. In fact Josi and Tarasenko’s answers are the most credible which means we should be heading into 3-on-3 overtime.