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Probabilities Of Each Opponent Based On Round-Robin Seed

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL is a league built on parity. Winning the Stanley Cup is as much about matchups (and luck) as it is the skill of any given team. This year, the matchups have a chance to vary wildly as the league is re-seeding teams at the conclusions of the play-in and first rounds.

Unlike the eight teams with set play-in round matchups, the Golden Knights seed throughout the tournament is dependant on their performance in three round-robin games. The round-robin not only determines who the Golden Knights will play in the 1st Round, but it also determines the opponent in the 2nd round as well.

With four games in the play-in round, there are 16 possible outcomes between the eight teams. Using William Hill odds, we ranked them from most likely to least likely to occur. Then, using those rankings, we are able to show the probabilities of which team the Golden Knights would be most likely to face depending on which seed they end up with in the round-robin. (An explanation of how I arrived at these numbers is at the end of the article.)

 #1 Seed#2 Seed#3 Seed#4 Seed
Edmonton (5)59.6%
Nashville (6)33.0%22.3%
Vancouver (7)19.1%28.4%10.5%
Calgary (8)10.4%22.9%16.8%4.1%
Winnipeg (9)8.7%19.3%14.2%3.5%
Minnesota (10)13.8%20.6%7.6%
Arizona (11)26.7%18.1%
Chicago (12)40.4%

As you can see from the chart, there’s a significant advantage to finish atop the round-robin. Finishing first eliminates the possibility of a matchup with Edmonton, Nashville, or Vancouver, while coming in fourth takes away any chance to play Chicago, Arizona, or Minnesota.

Compare that to this chart, how Vegas has played against each of these eight teams.

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Potential Realignment Shouldn’t Affect Golden Knights

The NHL pause has become the newest, most addicting daily soap opera. Every morning fans wake up to read the latest news on the NHL’s plans to restart the season. Yesterday, Commissioner Gary Bettman shared his optimism with the NHL network.

We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start. There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

Now that the players and owners are engaging in daily conversations it shows the effort to recover the season from both sides. One scenario NHL officials have mulled over was originally conceived by Major League Baseball.

MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.

The plan, pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and allow them to still play at their home ballparks while severely reducing travel. -USA Today

TSN’s Bob McKenzie weighed on the possibility of the NHL taking the realignment approach, specifically reducing travel which allows players to play in locations closer to their homes and families.

If they get four sites, and we kind of assumed it would try to be done divisionally if they try to get the 19-20 season finished up. Four NHL sites, one for each division. There is the possibility that they would just say ‘well the Atlantic division is going to based out of Toronto. We’re not going to do can’t that, Florida and Tampa Bay can’t get from Florida up to Toronto. We’ll put them with some of the Metro teams, and move one of those Metro teams.’ You could do some mixing and matching on geographical lines versus divisions. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Analyst

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WINNIPEG JETS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 0 (37-24-8 82 PTS)

Recap: It was a tough start for the Golden Knights in Winnipeg. The Jets scored two early goals and one late in the first period to take a commanding 3-0 1st period lead.

Vegas battled for most of the 2nd period but couldn’t get anything going offensively. Winnipeg extended their lead 4-0 with a late power play goal. The Golden Knights rifled 11 shots on net but Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck continued to shutdown Vegas.

Neither team had much going for them offensively and the game stood 4-0. Hellebyuck was strong for a third straight period stopping all 30 of Vegas’ shots to preserve a shutout for Winnipeg.

Vegas’ record drops to 37-24-8 but the Golden Knights remain in 1st place in the Pacific Division with 82 points. The five-game road trip continues for the Golden Knights as they head to Calgary for a matchup with the Flames. The game is scheduled for 4PM on Sunday night. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Yet again the Golden Knights found themselves in a hole because of the mismatch DeBoer creates by starting his 4th line. The game spiraled out of control a bit on the Golden Knights as they allowed three in the 1st and just couldn’t get one by Hellebuyck.  (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place

  • Goalie duos in the playoffs; how have the teams done it the last 10 years?

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Alec Martinez
** Nic Roy
* Chandler Stephenson

WINNIPEG JETS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (8-5-2 18 PTS) – OT

The Golden Knights seemed to forget the game started as they allowed a quick one from the Jets, but that goal sure did wake them up. An incredible response started with a goal from Jonathan Marchessault, and then two more from Nate Schmidt and Max Pacioretty inside of four minutes. Vegas took the 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

The 2nd period was highlighted by a dirty hit by Adam Lowry on Alex Tuch. A clear head shot sent Tuch to the locker room and left Lowry to have to fight Ryan Reaves. Lowry actually did very well and then his team backed up him playing much better as the period went on. However, Vegas did well to fend them off keeping the score at 3-1.

A power play goal cut the lead to one. Then a missed call gifted the Jets the game-tying goal.

Vegas struggled again in overtime blowing another game in which they had a two-goal lead in the 3rd period.


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets at T-Mobile Arena

  • Steve Carp’s Sunday column on awful officiating.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** William Karlsson
** Brayden McNabb
* Nate Schmidt

Alex Tuch did not return from this hit in the 2nd period.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 WINNIPEG JETS 0 (42-27-5 89 PTS)

The game couldn’t have started any faster for the Jets and the Golden Knights. On the first shift of the game Mark Stone laid a hit on Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler which the Jets captain didn’t appreciate. The 6’5 Wheeler and the 6’4 Stone slugged it out in a good old fashioned heavyweight bout. Both players were given five-minute major penalties for fighting.

After tempers settled down William Karlsson and Reilly Smith took over. Karlsson scored his 21st goal of the season 1:24 into the game, and Smith added his 16th seven minutes later. The 1st period was a big success for Vegas but unfortunately, Max Pacioretty left the game late in the period with an apparent injury.

The Golden Knights would have to start the 2nd period down a man as Pacioretty wouldn’t come back. Vegas would be forced to kill multiple penalties in the second frame but it didn’t impact their offense. Tomas Nosek nabbed his 8th goal of the year on shorthanded shot just under the crossbar. Smith and Karlsson would join the party again and both added 2nd period goals :24 seconds apart. After forty minutes in the books the Golden Knights controlled the game 5-0.

In the third Malcolm Subban continued to turn away every chance the Jets had.

In the third Malcolm Subban continued to turn away every chance the Jets had. Overall the goalie had 20 saves for his third consecutive victory. Subban and his teammates smoked the Jets 5-0 and his first career shutout.

The Golden Knights improve their record to (42-27-5) and remain in the Pacific Division’s 3rd place position, with eight games left to play. The team will get back on the ice Saturday as Vegas will host the Detroit Red Wings. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets at T-Mobile Arena.

  • What are the Golden Knights best at? (This story is coming eventually)
  • Hopefully a Max Pacioretty update

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** William Karlsson
** Reilly Smith
* Malcolm Subban

 

WINNIPEG JETS 6 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (32-26-5 69 PTS)

The Golden Knights were horrendous out of the gates giving up a pair within the first 90 seconds of the game. They worked their way back into the game with one in the first from Bellemare and the equalizer in the 2nd by Theodore. But, like they did in the first 90 seconds, the Golden Knights fell asleep again at the end of the 2nd allowing two more. Jonathan Marchessault got Vegas back within one with a quick goal in the 3rd. But (which is the story of this game) two penalties from Pacioretty and McNabb sent the Jets on a 5-on-3. Winnipeg scored on that one, and that was enough to bury the Golden Knights for the night.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Just how close were the Golden Knights to getting Erik Karlsson, and how might that trade falling apart effect this deadline?

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Alex Tuch
** Jonathan Marchessault
* Shea Theodore

The Prelude To The Sequel?

**Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

Watching Tuesday’s first meeting between the Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets reminded me just how good the hockey is when these two teams get together.

It’s a fast-skating, hard-hitting, opportunistic kind of game. The atmosphere at the Bell MTS Place is amazing, just like it is at T-Mobile Arena. You can see both teams have a mutual respect for each other.

And they should. Both have been smartly built by their general managers. Both are well-coached. Both are always prepared. Both are playing at a high level despite key injuries.

Which begs the question: If you’re a Golden Knights fan, would you sign up right now for a sequel of last year’s Western Conference Finals?

Damn right you would. Ditto if you’re just a fan of the sport.

Tuesday may have been a prelude for what could happen this spring. The Jets prevailed 4-1 on the strength of a short-handed goal and pair of final-minute empty-netters. The Knights, despite a team-record 26 second-period shots and seven power-play opportunities, managed to get just one of their 43 shots by Jets backup goalie Laurent Brossoit. He is 10-0-1 as a starter this year and has won seven straight.

You know what, I like periods like that. I like games like that where I’m tested early and often. The second period was definitely one of those and it got me into the game. There’s not a lot of rest in between. I like that. -Brossoit

Yeah, the Knights ran into a hot goaltender. It happens. Think of all the opponents who mutter to themselves on the bench when they face Marc-Andre Fleury. But the Knights can take solace in the fact they went into a tough building, fell behind 2-0, kept battling, made it a one-goal game thanks to you-know-who (more on him in a moment) and had plenty of chances to gain a point or two.

If there’s a postseason rematch, will the Knight cut another Jet in half? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But that’s what makes things so compelling when I watch the Knights and the Jets. The matchups are great. The coaching battle so acute.

These two teams have two more meetings left in the regular season, both in Las Vegas — Feb. 22 and March 21.— and I would anticipate it’ll be more of the same. Hopefully, it leads to another meeting in the postseason.

By then, I would like to think Jonathan Marchessault will have scored again and William Karlsson will have registered a point. The team’s No. 2 and 3 scorers are trying to battle through some tough times. Marchessault has just one goal in his last 10 games while Karlsson has just one point since Christmas and has been held off the scoresheet for eight straight games, his longest drought as a member of VGK.

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WINNIPEG JETS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (28-17-4 60 PTS)

Vegas spent a majority of the first two periods on the power play, including a late 5-on-3, but the only goal that came from it was a shorthanded goal for Winnipeg. A  turnover at the blueline led to the Jets second goal and the Golden Knights headed to the locker room down a pair in the 2nd. Vegas finally got on the board early in the 3rd, but Laurent Brossoit played unbelievably. Winnipeg added two empty-netters late.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place.

  • Nikita Gusev update from George McPhee
  • Carp’s Wednesday column presented by the Jimmerson Law Firm

Ken’s Three Stars
*** Laurent Brossoit
** Laurent Brossoit
* Laurent Brossoit

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 WINNIPEG JETS 1 (4-1 VGK)

Vegas’ forecheck came out firing to start Game 5 creating all sorts of turnovers in the Jets d-zone. About five minutes in one hopped off Ryan Carpenter, directly to Alex Tuch in front and he spun and got it past Connor Hellebuyck. Vegas stayed in control for a bit of the period but it faded as the Jets 2nd line ramped up the pressure. Winnipeg tied it on a clean draw win and a shot to the top corner by Josh Morrissey. The 2nd period was a high octane one and it ended with Ryan Reaves scoring his first ever Golden Knights goal to give Vegas the lead heading into the final period. The Jets scratched and clawed but could not find a way to get one past Fleury. The Vegas Golden Knights have won the Western Conference and are going to the Stanley Cup Final!!!

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of Western Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place.

  • No clue, but the Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup Final!

Three Stars
*** Josh Morrissey
** Ryan Reaves
* Alex Tuch

“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’ll 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.

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