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Blueprint To VGK Beating The Minnesota Wild

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The first round playoff matchup for the Golden Knights is less than ideal considering the history between the two teams. The Wild boast a 5-1-2 record against Vegas this season, they have the best record of any team in the NHL against the Golden Knights at 11-2-3, and Vegas has never won in regulation at the Xcel Energy Center.

However, none of this means the Golden Knights can’t, or even shouldn’t, beat the Wild in four of the next seven games to win the first round. Vegas completed the season as the only team to reach 40 wins, never lost more than three straight, and outscored their opponents by 68 goals in 56 games, so we know they are capable.

Despite the lack of success against Minnesota, the eight games between the teams have shown the advantages the Golden Knights have as well as the pitfalls they must avoid. I’ve studied all eight games and have come up with my “blueprint” of what the Golden Knights need to do in order to beat the Wild. It’s broken down into four parts, with the most important being first, and the least last.

Bottom 6 Hold Strong, Top 6 Advance

One of the most important differences between Vegas and Minnesota is scoring depth. While the Golden Knights have more high-end players with the capability of scoring consistently in a series, the Wild have the deeper roster when it comes to overall scoring ability. Minnesota genuinely roll out four lines that can score on any given shift, the Golden Knights really only have two. Therefore, it is going to be crucial for the Vegas top-six to dominate play when they are on the ice and stick the puck in the net much more often than their opponents. On the flip side of that, Vegas’ bottom-six cannot drown against the Wild.

The good news is that the Golden Knights’ 3rd and 4th lines don’t need to score in order for Vegas to win the series. Instead, they need to be able to hold their own and not require a majority of their shifts to be matched up properly and/or start in the offensive zone. If the VGK bottom-six simply break even, the top-six will be able to carry the water and bring the Golden Knights a fairly easy series win.

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SinBin.vegas Podcast #234: VGK vs MIN Preview

After the Kings let everyone down, the 1st round is set. Vegas will have to overcome the demons of facing the Minnesota Wild to advance. We take a deep dive into the series. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Goalie talk (don’t worry, we moved on fairly quickly)
  • Looking at the Wild lineup
  • VGK’s preferred style
  • The importance of Game 1
  • Series predictions game-by-game

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

VGK Lead West Division In Playoff Experience, But Not By Much

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

From the two elite teams at the top to the solid pair in the middle to the dumpster fire group on the bottom, the West has been anything but a gauntlet for the four teams that qualified for the postseason.

Vegas and Colorado ran away with it pacing not only the division but also the entire NHL. St. Louis and Minnesota each had their good and bad moments but neither were ever really in grave danger of missing out on the best time of the year.

But now, we’re here, and it’s all erased. From here, it no longer matters how many times you beat the Kings or Ducks, instead, it’s who can withstand a pair of seven-game series, emerge the true champion of the division, and represent the West in the NHL’s Final Four.

A lot is made at this time of year about experience. Whether we’re talking about Stanley Cup Champions or just NHL playoff experience in general, it’s always better to have it than not. For the Golden Knights, they have plenty of it.

We’ve been through that road the last three years. We’ve had good rounds and bad rounds and we know what to expect. We have a lot of playoff experience as a group. Obviously we’re not going to have an easy path if we want to go all the way but we have the gamers in that locker room that I’m confident we can go a long way here. -Jonathan Marchessault

In fact, the Golden Knights actually have more playoff experience, by games played, than any other team in the West Division. But not by much.

Playoff Experience
Vegas – 1,086 games
St. Louis – 1,035 games
Minnesota – 783 games
Colorado – 778 games

The Golden Knights are led by Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been on a team that’s qualified for the playoffs an insane 15 consecutive seasons. He, with Robin Lehner, have Vegas atop the goalie experience chart by a wide margin.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 6 SAN JOSE SHARKS 0 (40-14-2 82 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: The Golden Knights came out motivated to win their last regular season game and a chance to win the West Division. Alex Pietrangelo got things going in the 1st period, scoring his seventh goal of the season. Keegan Kolesar doubled the score :56 seconds later. Vegas held a 2-0 advantage after the opening twenty minutes.

William Carrier continued the scoring for Vegas in the 2nd period. Carrier tripled the lead chipping his sixth of the season. Jonathan Marchessault contributed his 18th to give the Golden Knights a 4-0 edge.

Vegas forward Dylan Sikura scored his first goal as a Golden Knight and later added another in the final frame. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pitched a perfect game in net to register his sixth shutout of the season.

With their 6-0 victory in San Jose, the Golden Knights finish the regular season with a record of 40-14-2. The Golden Knights now wait for Colorado to conclude their season tomorrow night. Vegas will win the West Division with a Colorado loss against LA. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights showed up to play a game they needed. The Sharks didn’t for a game they didn’t. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks at SAP Center

  • SinBin.vegas Podcast (whenever the playoff series is set)

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Vegas’ Salary Cap Management A Topic Around The League

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It hadn’t happened in 11 years, and it probably won’t happen for 11 more. The Golden Knights’ decision to only dress 15 skaters on Monday night in a critical game against the Colorado Avalanche was a bit of a shock. General Manager Kelly McCrimmon explained the situation and pointed towards unexpected injuries to several players at the same time. This left the organization without enough cap space to call up a player in time for Monday’s game. However, the explanation didn’t sit well with some in the hockey world.

Immediately after McCrimmon’s last minute Zoom conference, TSN’s Frank Seravalli challenged Vegas’ reasoning.

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Las Vegas Starting To Dress Up For The Playoffs

It’s the best time of year, playoff time. One of my favorite things about the playoffs is how the city responds to the excitement of a potential Stanley Cup run.

Of course, we kicked things off with the launch of our playoff hashtag, #FourTheCup and are starting to ship out shirts, tanks, hoodies, and stickers tonight.

The city is also starting to come alive with VGK pride too. First, the Credit One building right off the 215 has been wrapped with the words “Knight Up” and a gigantic logo.

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Next, the nightclub at Red Rock has been transformed into Crimson at Knight.

Photo Credit: Red Rock Resorts

You can see more pictures of Crimson on Fox 5’s website.

My favorite is the VGK themed food starting to pop up around town. First, at one of the best restaurants in the entire city, Zuma, is the Golden Maki Roll. An eight-piece sushi roll of bluefin tuna, tempura flakes, and pickled daikon topped with toro, fried ginger, Ossetra caviar, and 24-karat gold leaf.

Photo Credit: Zuma at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Staying with the sushi theme, Sushi Ichiban has the Golden Knight roll made with soft shell crab and onion crunch and topped with peanut butter, spicy crab meat, spicy garlic ponzu, and spicy yum sauce.

Photo Credit: Yelp

And lastly, this post would not be complete without a doughnut. Pinkbox Doughnuts offers the Golden Knight.

Photo Credit: Pinkbox Doughnuts

And this is just the start. It’s go time and Vegas is ready.

Twitter “Space” Post Golden Knights vs Avalanche – May 10th, 2021

Here is the postgame “Space” which is essentially a call in radio show in which I talked about the heartbreaking loss to the Avs and what it means for the future.

COLORADO AVALANCHE 2 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (39-14-2 80 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: Down a few men the Golden Knights stepped up early against the Avalanche. Alex Pietrangelo gave Vegas a major boost by scoring the first goal of the game. Robin Lehner was strong in net stopping all nine 1st period shots from Colorado.

The Golden Knights kept the game tight in the 2nd period holding the Avalanche to only four shots on net. However, seven minutes into the middle frame Colorado was able to answer and tie the game.

All tied up 1-1 with 20 minutes left the game tightened up. Colorado eventually broke the tie and took a 2-1 lead. The Golden Knights had several quality chances down the stretch but couldn’t score the equalizer.

Vegas’ record drops to 39-14-2 after their heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Colorado. The Golden Knights will play their last regular season game on Wednesday in San Jose. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: What a tremendous hockey game that was. The Golden Knights were behind the eight-ball from the jump playing down three skaters but they came out and took it to COL early in the game. They played with excellent defensive structure and played through the adversity created by their front office. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough but it’s certainly nothing to hang their heads over. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena

  • SinBin.vegas Podcast (whenever the playoff series is set)
  • That’s the Pietrangelo that can lead this team to a Cup

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Adapting To Opposing Team’s Strengths Crucial For Golden Knights Heading Into Playoffs

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s not much to like about the format of this season’s schedule, but if there is one place where it offers something unique it’s in how teams respond to each other on their second night playing the same team.

On Friday night, the Golden Knights really struggled in the first period dealing with the St. Louis forecheck.

They came out flying in the 1st and were very physical and they took it to us at the beginning of the game. -Alec Martinez

The Blues constantly caught the Golden Knights standing still in their own zone and they appeared to be a step faster all over the offensive zone because of it. Vegas eventually conceded three times in the first two periods before they really settled in.

When presented with the same challenge the very next night against the same opponent, the Golden Knights’ response was tremendous.

As a group on the back end I thought we got back a lot quicker. We made a conscious effort to kind of help each other and move the puck quicker. -Alex Pietrangelo

This season the Golden Knights have won so often in the first of the two games between teams that usually the response has had to come from the other side. Even though they did end up beating the Blues on Friday, they felt they had more to give on Saturday and that showed up.

The key to it was recognizing where the opponent challenged Vegas and adjusting to eliminate it the following game. This is exactly what it takes to win a playoff series and the Golden Knights passed the dress rehearsal with flying colors.

They have really good structure so you’ve got to try and get through that as quickly as you can and when it’s not there you have to be willing to make the simple play and play in the neutral zone. I thought we made good decisions with the puck tonight. It’s just a matter of sticking to that plan. -Pietrangelo

After a game in which that structure made life difficult on the Vegas defense, they were able to quickly adapt to the speed of the Blues forecheck and neutralize it on Saturday.

The Golden Knights are a team that truly can play any way their opponent forces them to. In the Blues case, they’re going to force Vegas to be clean with the puck breaking out of the defensive zone. On Friday, they weren’t, on Saturday, they were.

With a playoff matchup seemingly on the horizon, that’s a lesson the Golden Knights are going to need to remember. Not only how they dealt with the heavy forecheck, but how quickly and efficiently they were able to do it between Game 1 and Game 2 (and really between periods 2 and 3).

Last year, the Golden Knights struggled to change their approach when they ran into a Dallas team that gave them trouble. This year, they have a lot more practice with it in a season jammed with common opponents. The saying goes, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Last year, luck was tough to come by, hopefully, the extra preparation helps this time around.

Carp: Don’t Overthink It, Continue The Rotation

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are expected to start next weekend and it’s time for Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer to make what will be the biggest decision of his tenure with Vegas.

Who starts in goal for Game 1?

DeBoer has three options. One, he can go with Marc-Andre Fleury, who has three championship rings. Two, he can play Robin Lehner, who has played well in the past during the postseason but whose name doesn’t appear on the Cup. Option Three is to keep the status quo and maintain the $12 million experiment and rotate Fleury and Lehner.

If he keeps the rotation going, DeBoer breaks with conventional wisdom which is you play one guy and you ride him as far as you can. But this year has been anything but conventional and should DeBoer continue to rotate his goalies in the playoffs, would it shock you if it worked?

Both have done the job and are capable of getting hot. Lehner has played well since returning from a concussion he suffered in February. At times, he has been spectacular, as was the case in overtime in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Blues. He even assisted on Jonathan Marchessault’s game-winner. But from an overall perspective, he is certainly worthy of consideration should DeBoer opt for one goalie.

Fleury has had an outstanding season. He has been dialed in since training camp and he came prepared to win the starter’s job. When Lehner went down with a concussion and missed 18 games, Fleury took on the added workload and delivered. He last lost back on April 7 and is riding an eight-game win streak.

To both goalies’ credit, they handled the rotation plan well. They appear to be supportive of each other and they are looking at winning the Jennings Trophy, which goes to the top goaltending tandem that allows the fewest goals.

Their styles are different. They have their strengths and weaknesses like any player. Both are extremely competitive, which is what you want from those who play the position.

So what should DeBoer do? Or more important, what will he likely do?

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