Recap: The Golden Knights opened the preseason in San Jose in front of a raucous crowd (lol). San Jose opened the scoring quickly potting the first of the game just 24 seconds in. The Sharks ran out to a 3-0 lead before the Golden Knights got on the board for the first time. Pavel Dorofeyev made an excellent pass to Ivan Barbashev who continued his goal scoring ways.
The score got worse in the 2nd as the Sharks took a 5-1 lead before Vegas finally tallied again with a Brett Howden goal.
The teams basically skated in circles in the 3rd period. There were a bunch of penalties.
The Golden Knights drop their first preseason game 5-2 and fall to 0-1-0. VGK are right back at it tomorrow night in Colorado with what’s expected to be a completely different roster. The game is scheduled for 6 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: Imagine playing Stanley Cup Final Game 5, and then the next game you play is a preseason game in San Jose in front of 150 people. Would you care? Didn’t think so. (Recap by Ken)
Rest. It’s a growing trend around the landscape of sports. From “load management” in the NBA to “squad rotation” in soccer, even golf had to put in new rules to keep players from skipping too many tournaments in a season. Cautious approaches make sense, but they are also frustrating for the people paying to watch the games.
In the NHL, rest has not really become part of the vernacular for head coaches, and certainly not for players.
We haven’t done it other than maybe late in the year. Would I do it in the middle of January? Probably not. First of all, players don’t want to come out of the lineup even when they’re hurt, so there’s dealing with that part of it. -Bruce Cassidy
Last year, down the stretch the Golden Knights continued plugging along with their full roster as they chased down the top spot in the Pacific and Western Conference.
They were, however, missing the captain, who sat out the latter portion of the regular season recovering from his second back surgery in nine months. Mark Stone found his way right back into the lineup for the first game of the playoffs and proceeded to play 22 straight en route to being the first Golden Knight to lift the Stanley Cup.
His health is paramount to the team’s hopes to repeat and everyone knows it. That being said, there’s no expectation of scheduled days off for the 31-year-old.
We don’t have a distinct plan saying ‘he’s going to get next Wednesday off or next this and that.’ It’s kind of a fluid situation and he has to be honest with the trainers and they’ll be honest with me and we’ll judge accordingly. We’re not going to overtax him in preseason that’s for sure but if he’s healthy he needs to play and get his timing. -Cassidy
Stone played three preseason games last year including the final two on the schedule. He then played in 43 straight to open the year before missing the final 39.
Two years ago, Max Comtois led the Anaheim Ducks in scoring across the 56-game 2020-21 season. It was his first full season in the NHL and it appeared his career was taking off. His 16 goals were four clear of his closest teammate and his 33 points outscored veterans Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and fellow youngster Trevor Zegras.
That offseason, the Ducks rewarded Comtois with a contract just north of $4 million for two seasons. That meant upon expiry, the Ducks would be required to extend Comtois an offer of about $2.5 million this summer.
His 16 points in 52 games and 19 points in 64 games did not warrant that type of offer from Anaheim, and thus, the 24-year-old former 2nd round pick became available on the open market.
Comtois and his agent were patient though. They knew to get his career back on the right track, Max shouldn’t be chasing money, but instead looking for the perfect fit. He was not short of suitors, but ultimately felt Vegas was the one.
It just seemed right from the beginning to come here. I had some other options but to me (the Golden Knights) had the best play style that fit with me. -Max Comtois
Aside from being the reigning Stanley Cup champions and having a clear hole in the starting lineup with the departure of Reilly Smith, the Bruce Cassidy style of play was attractive to Comtois.
On the night of May 15th, 2023, after the Golden Knights eliminated the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the 2023 NHL playoffs Jack Eichel and Leon Draisaitl walked into two very different locker rooms. Eichel was promptly drenched with celebratory champagne and puffed on Ashton Aged Maduro’s with his jubilant teammates. Draisaitl stepped into a locker room that was emotional, furious, and unsatisfied with how their season abruptly ended. In fact, it was in that moment Oilers captain Connor McDavid sternly stated that he and his teammates were on notice.
We’ve heard the story now from a few places, that he cleared all but the closest team staff out of the room and laid down the parameters for his franchise going forward. That the window for learning how to win was slamming shut, and the time for applying those lessons — and winning Stanley Cups — has officially begun. – Mark Spector on Sportsnet.ca
Now, both Pacific Division contenders are preparing for a new 82-game regular season with a mutual agreement on how that six-game series ended in mid-May. In Elliotte Friedman’s latest 32 Thoughts blog, Draisaitl noticed the difference of quality bench players on VGK’s side.
At the NHL/NHLPA media tour in Las Vegas, Jack Eichel said the difference between Edmonton and Vegas in that second-round series was depth. Leon Draisaitl conceded that, but added, “We couldn’t get to our top game…They didn’t make those little mistakes we made and that was the difference.” –Elliotte Friedman in 32 Thoughts
Prior to every season, the NHL publishes a list of all the players approaching milestone achievements in their careers. A special award is given to any player that eclipses 1,000 games (500 for goalies), 400 goals, 600 assists, 1,000 points, or 40 shutouts. This year, just one member of the Stanley Cup champions is on the list.
Alex Pietrangelo is 48 games away from reaching 1,000 games in his NHL career. The two-time Cup-winning defenseman played 758 games with the St. Louis Blues before joining the Golden Knights in October 2020. If the league counted playoff games, Pietrangelo would have already eclipsed the mark, but his 132 games do not qualify for the 1,000-game award.
There are a few Golden Knights who can reach impressive plateaus this season.
It was a weekend to forget from a team perspective for the Golden Knights at the 2023 Rookie Faceoff hosted here in Las Vegas. VGK rookies lost all three games to the Ducks, Sharks, and Avalanche, and struggled on both ends in all three games.
That being said, it wasn’t all bad individually for many prospects. Here are four that stood out positively for me.
Ahac did his best Alex Martinez impression in the two games he played this weekend, blocking shots, dominating on the penalty kill, and being one of the most consistent defensemen on the roster in making the first pass in the defensive zone. In a pair of games where the Golden Knights were consistently under pressure, he looked calm in his own end and his decision-making stood out among a group that had a hard time breaking the puck out. He’ll still need to show a lot at the AHL level to get a shot in the NHL, but he’s trending in a positive direction.
It’s been no secret that over the past six seasons, the Pacific Division was regarded as one of the leagues least competitive. Let’s face it, for basically the entirety of the Golden Knights’ existence three or four teams were annually counted out of contention before the puck hit opening night ice. Vegas is the only team to reach the Stanley Cup Final in that span and the Golden Knights became the first Pacific division team to win the Cup since 2014.
Heading into the 2023-24 season, the division looks to play out the same way it did last year. Of course, it’s foolish to eliminate teams before the season begins but would anyone be surprised if Anaheim, San Jose, or Vancouver missed the 2024 playoffs? According to Sportsnet, they wouldn’t be.
Whether it’s a repeat from Vegas, a breakthrough for Edmonton, or something of a Cinderella story from Los Angeles or Seattle, might the 2024 Stanley Cup champion come out of the Pacific Division again? Might this division also house the team that “wins” the first-overall selection? –Sportsnet.ca
According to William Hill, the Pacific Division is expected to be conquered by the Edmonton Oilers (+180), the reigning champions (+210) or the LA Kings (+440) in 2024. The divisional odds are not much different from last season’s expected winners. Vegas came away with division with Edmonton and LA filling out the top three Pacific clubs. As you go further down the list, the prices drastically get larger, suggesting that it would be a major surprise if any team outside of the top three took the division.
For the first time since Vegas hoisted the Stanley Cup on June 13, Golden Knights players will step on the ice to play a hockey game against players from another team.
Yeah, that’s a stretch, but hey, real hockey is so close, just let me get away with this one.
Tonight is the first of three games for the Golden Knights at this year’s Rookie Faceoff taking place in Vegas and Henderson. VGK’s rookies will take on the Anaheim Ducks tonight and the San Jose Sharks tomorrow at the Dollar Loan Center, and the Colorado Avalanche on Monday at City National Arena.
Vegas’ roster includes 17 draft picks including 1st rounder Brendan Brisson and 2nd round picks Matyas Sapovaliv and Daniil Chayka. Here’s what I’m hoping to see from the team this weekend.
Time for the Jakubs to really make a name for themselves
In the 2021 Draft the Golden Knights used back to back selections in the 4th round on players with the first name Jakub. The first Jakub picked was Jakub Brabenec from Czechia. He showed out well in his first few camps with the Golden Knights but was a bit underwhelming in Development Camp this summer. The other Jakub, Jakub Demek has not had a ton of time on the ice in Las Vegas. He has missed several camps with injury including this summer’s Dev Camp. However, when he has been on the ice either in the WHL or for Team Slovakia, he’s been excellent. The powerful forward should finally get a real chance to assert himself in a VGK jersey and it could catapult him up the prospect list. A point-per-game is the minimum expectation for both Jakubs in these three games.
For Brendan Brisson, 2023 offers opportunities. First, to wear the jersey number he’s waited a few years for, and second, to wear that jersey in the game he’s waited his entire life for.
Reilly Smith’s departure from the Golden Knights left both the #19 available and a winger position open in the Golden Knights lineup. Brisson wasted no time snapping up the first.
I have all the respect for Reilly Smith. Since the first day he got here, he’s been so meaningful not only to the organization but the city of Vegas. I’ve worn 19 my whole life, so I reached out to some of the older guys on the team just to make sure it was all good. I reached out to Reilly as well and told him if there’s a problem I won’t switch. He said, ‘Just make sure you take care of her.’ -Brendan Brisson
Brisson understands the gravity of the change, and he’s planning on using it in a positive way.
On June 10th, 2021, the Golden Knights dispatched the Colorado Avalanche in a thrilling 6-3 victory that sent Vegas on to the Western Conference Final for the third time in four years. One of the 18,149 people at T-Mobile Arena that night was Michael Bronowitz, a devoted Golden Knights fan who celebrated his 51st birthday at one of his favorite places on the planet.
Michael, who moved to Las Vegas in 2011, grew up a New York Rangers fan and promised he’d bleed blue forever. His first Golden Knights jersey was #24, Oscar Lindberg, the expansion draft pick from the Rangers, because he wanted to represent both teams.
But like many, the Golden Knights sucked him in and wouldn’t let him go. The magic of the inaugural season captivated Michael like it did most of Las Vegas and he became as ardent a supporter of the team as you could find. Michael was a mainstay in Section 18 of T-Mobile Arena, constantly chatting up anyone he could to talk about their shared love for the Golden Knights.
Three days after he watched his favorite team advance, Bronowitz tested positive for COVID-19. He passed away a few days later.
One of the final things Michael said to his wife Connie was “If anything should happen to me, and the Golden Knights win the Cup, you have to bring it to my grave.” Like any loving spouse, Connie took that to heart, and when the Golden Knights hoisted Lord Stanley almost two years to the date later, she knew it was her time to fulfill one of Michael’s final wishes.
That’s not exactly the easiest task to complete though. The 130-year-old trophy is one of the most in-demand items on the face of the planet. To make it happen, someone would have to take away a chunk of their precious little time with the Cup to bring it to Bunker Memorial Gardens Cemetary in the northern part of Las Vegas.
Enter Vegas Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz. On September 8th, as part of his day with the Cup that included a trip to UMC Hospital and the Henderson Police Department, Bubolz personally delivered the Cup to Michael’s grave.
The Golden Knights’ iconic John Wick Mode entry music blared from a speaker as Bubolz carried the Cup through the cemetery. He set it down at the head of Michael’s grave and a photo of Michael in his favorite Golden Knights hat was placed inside the bowl of the Cup.
Because of the restrictions at the hospital, I was unable to see Michael in his final days. Those were some of the last words he ever spoke to me. I took them very seriously, and to be able to grant him this wish is one of the proudest moments of my life. -Connie Bronowitz
Michael’s was not the only grave the Cup visited on Bubolz’s day either. He also brought it to that of legendary Las Vegas figure and Golden Knights superfan Kenny Lee who passed in a car crash in November 2022.
This is what sports are all about. The bond that has been created between the Golden Knights and the city of Las Vegas is undeniable.
Michael Bronowitz and Kenny Lee are now champions.