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Carp: Patience Pays Off With Tuch

**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.**

To paraphrase that great military philosopher and mercenary Col. John “Hannibal” Smith, “Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?”

When the Golden Knights managed to wrangle Alex Tuch away from the Minnesota Wild for a third-round conditional draft pick, someone knew something. All the organization needed to do was show some patience.

The Wild had drafted Tuch in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at No. 18 overall. He appeared in six games with Minnesota and was scoreless. Minnesota, which was hell-bent on protecting defenseman Matt Dumba, basically give Tuch away as the Knights used the Wild’s expansion selection to take Erik Haula.

Today, Tuch is a first-line winger, kills penalties, plays on the power play, and is one of Vegas’ best players. And he’s signed through 2026 at an AAV of $4.75 million. He has earned Peter DeBoer’s trust and best of all, he’s only 24 years old.

George McPhee doesn’t get them all right. But Tuch is making him look pretty damn smart. Ditto for Kelly McCrimmon, Vaughn Karpan and the rest of the team’s pro scouting contingent.

We had input from a lot of people. Minnesota was in a position where they had some stress from a salary cap standpoint and also from the cycle of where their team was at. They had a lot of really good players and we identified Minnesota as a team where we could get a prospect. If you go back to the expansion, we had the first (amateur) draft we drafted were ’99s and late ’98s. We didn’t have access to ’97s,’96s ’95s or ’94s. So there was value in dealing with one of the teams that were strapped to get one of the players from that age group, those exempt players. Alex Tuch was one of those players, born in ’96. Minnesota was in a tough spot. if they did nothing, they would’ve lost a top defenseman of forward. So it made sense for them and it made sense for us. -Kelly McCrimmon

I don’t know who is going to be the GM of the U.S. Olympic Team for next year’s Olympics in China, but if Tuch’s not on the list of invitees, something is definitely wrong. But more on that in a bit.

Let’s focus on the present. The Knights originally were in no rush to play Tuch. If you recall, he started the inaugural 2017-18 season with the Chicago Wolves. But late in October, he and Shea Theodore were recalled to the NHL and neither ever returned to the minors.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 ANAHEIM DUCKS 2 (12-4-1 25 PTS) – OT

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

Recap: The Golden Knights traveled to Anaheim to take on the Ducks for the first game in five nights. Vegas showed some early rust and Anaheim was able to take the first lead of the game. Late in the opening period Alex Pietrangelo scored a much-needed goal to tie the game 1-1.

William Karlsson gave the Golden Knights the 2-1 2nd period lead with a highlight reel flip shot. It was Karlsson’s 4th goal of the season, and maybe his prettiest.

Anaheim tied the game on a controversial call in the 3rd. Coach Pete DeBoer challenged the goal for a missed high-stick whistle but the goal was confirmed and Vegas had to fight off a two-minute minor. After 60 minutes the game was locked at 2-2 and would need another five minutes to decide a winner. Karlsson scored the game-winner late in overtime to give his team a 3-2 victory.

With the win in overtime, the Golden Knights record improves to 12-4-1. Vegas hits the ice next on Monday night against the Minnesota Wild. Game is scheduled for 7 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights got off to a hot start early dominating the first portion of the game. But it tailed off in the 1st and they ended up tied at the intermission. A pair of incredible goals by William Karlsson was the difference in the end. Have to give Fleury a lot of credit for this one too. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center

  • Steve Carp’s Sunday column

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Possibility Vegas Could Win Their First Cup On Neutral Ice

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s still a long way away but it’s possible the Golden Knights hoist their first Stanley Cup on neutral ice. If the Canadian and American governments cannot broker a COVID-19 travel agreement by the postseason we could be looking at another Cup Final not on home ice.

As Vegas and the rest of the NHL teams gradually allow fans inside NHL arenas, the league is also keeping an eye on decreasing infection rates and percentages of vaccinated citizens. If the strict Canadian quarantine rules still exist this summer, the North Division winner will have no choice but to travel and try their luck at destiny in the US. Depending on if restrictions are lifted or not, Vegas would welcome any scenario that kept them in the States throughout the postseason.

Normally, the Canadian influencers in the league would get their way though. Last year, when the league was scouting locations for a playoff bubble they ended up settling on two Canadian locations. No surprise. However, this time around the suits in Toronto won’t have a choice. If their government continues with quarantine protocols the league will be forced to send the North Division winner down south. Remember, it’s three against one this year.

So what does this mean for Vegas? On TSN’s Insider Trading segment, Frank Seravalli ran down a scenario where a Canadian team is forced to finish their playoff run in the United States. He added that to avoid an unfair home-ice advantage, some games could be played at a neutral site. However, Seravalli didn’t confirm if the entire series would be played in one location, or split in American arenas. It’s almost certain the league would want the Golden Knights to host their home playoff games at T-Mobile Arena, but would there be fans allowed in a neutral site game “hosting” a Canadian team?

Another question that has to be asked is what time zone will the neutral location be in? If the Golden Knights get matched up with Toronto or Montreal, would the site be in the Eastern time zone? If so, that could mean a lot of unexpected travel for Vegas.

Normally, they wouldn’t travel far for the first few rounds but this postseason, the mileage could pile up. The Golden Knights could possibly play two teams already from the East. It’s realistic the path to the Cup for Vegas is Minnesota (1,650 miles), Denver (750 miles), Boston (2,700 miles), and then Toronto (2,200 miles). Moving a Canadian team down to the States could cut it down, no matter what, Vegas’ travel will end up looking more like year one when they took a trip to DC for the Cup finals.

Beyond not having to cross the border, another positive for Vegas is the possibility of hosting postseason games in their home arena with fans in the building. The player’s union assured their constituents that they would not accept another playoff bubble. This more than likely means if there will be a neutral site, it’ll only be used for the Canadian champions’ home games, and if they follow the MLB model, fans could potentially be allowed in to watch.

No matter where Vegas plays their road games in the third round or finals, we know they’ll be fans in the building screaming “Knight” during the American anthem.

Pat McAfee Commits To Donate $100,000 To Charity If Fleury Scores A Goal

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vezina frontrunner Marc-Andre Fleury joined former NFL punter turned radio superstar Pat McAfee’s radio show today in what became a must-hear interview.

Fleury chatted about pranks he’s pulled on the road, hitting guys in the balls when the refs aren’t looking, Stanley Cup celebrations, and so much more.

Near the end of the interview McAfee, while showing off his puckhandling skills, tells Fleury he’s willing to donate $100,000 to a charity of Fleury’s choice if the three-time Cup winner scores his first career goal this season.

Ah jeez, you’re going to get me trying every night now. -Fleury on Pat McAfee Show

The interview is about as good as it gets if you are a fan of Fleury and/or the Golden Knights. Give it a watch, you won’t regret it.

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SinBin.vegas Podcast #223: It’s Absurd

On a night in which the Golden Knights were supposed to be playing the Sharks, we’re in the studio due to a COVID postponement. Talking about a weird sponsorship and some interesting comments made by important people. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • NHL’s Scarlet Letter
  • VGK’s peculiar sponsorship with a tout
  • Foley spills the beans on when they knew Gallant needed to go
  • Reacting to McPhee on alternating goalies

And much more…

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

McPhee On Goalies: “I Hope We’ll Get Back To Alternating Again”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At some point, Robin Lehner will return to the Golden Knights and they’ll once again have two legitimate starting goaltending options every single night. Prior to losing Lehner, the Golden Knights had alternated goalies every game and raced out to a spectacular 8-1-1 record, eclipsing the start of the historic expansion team.

I’m sure at the start of the season we’ll look at a 50-50 split to get their games established. Then we’ll go from there and all bets are off. -Pete DeBoer on 1/9/21

Since February 11th, when Marc-Andre Fleury got the surprise start, he’s started all six games for the Golden Knights. During that time he’s posted an impressive .956 save percentage, allowing just eight goals on 181 shots, and recording two shutouts of the Colorado Avalanche.

So, when Lehner returns, what is the plan?

Appearing on the Bob McCown Podcast, Geroge McPhee stated his preference.

In talking about the Lake Tahoe game, McPhee mentioned that both teams were using their #1 goalies. The co-host, John Shannon, later recalled that comment asking if Fleury was indeed the team’s #1 goalie. McPhee nodded in agreement and then added this.

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FEBRUARY 25TH GAME VS SAN JOSE POSTPONED DUE TO COVID

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL has announced that tomorrow night’s game between the Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks has been postponed.

As a result of a San Jose Sharks Player entering the NHL’s COVID Protocols earlier today, the team’s game tomorrow night against the Vegas Golden Knights will be postponed. The decision was made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups while the League continues to analyze test results in the coming days.

As an appropriate precaution, the team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed until further notice. The League is in the process of reviewing and revising the Sharks’ regular season schedule. The Sharks’ organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state and national agencies. -NHL Public Relations

The Creator Opens Up On His Involvement In Trades, Coaching Changes, And More On A St. Louis Based Podcast

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are fortunate when it comes to ownership. Unlike many NHL cities (see Arizona), the owner in Vegas wants to win and he’ll spare no expense in a pursuit to make it happen.

He said he wanted to make the playoffs by year three and win the Stanley Cup by year six and he’s committed to making that second part happen, seemingly by any means necessary.

He’s constantly around. Watching over practices, sitting in his suite at the games, or hanging out in his office on his fancy computer scouting players on other teams.

The first couple of years I really just listened because I didn’t know the business. Now I’ve learned a little bit more so I’m a little more involved. –The Creator on Cam & Strick Podcast

Appearing on a podcast out of St. Louis, hosted by former NHLer Cam Janssen and local media guy Andy Strickland, The Creator went fairly in-depth not only on his involvement in the Golden Knights but also in his other businesses.

My office is next to Kelly, it’s one down from George. I go to almost all of the amateur scout meetings and all of the pro scout meetings. I’m there for the four or five days before the trade deadline. –The Creator on Cam & Strick Podcast

He continued explaining how his input really ramps up when it comes to trades.

They come to me with their proposals on who to trade, what to do, what we’re going to get, what we’re not going to get. But I try and let the guys in charge, they’ve been delegated the authority and the responsibility to make the decisions. It’s only on maybe trades that I start having some input and I try to be careful about it. If I particularly don’t like one of their ideas I say, ‘I don’t think I can do that, I just don’t know that works for me.’ That’s how I get involved on the hockey side. –The Creator on Cam & Strick Podcast

The Nate Schmidt trade was one he took particularly hard.

I was really worried about (how it would affect the locker room). That was a very difficult decision. Kelly and George convinced me that Petro was going to be a difference-maker for us on our team. Schmidty ended up being the odd-man-out, which really bothered me. –The Creator on Cam & Strick Podcast

Another place he said he’s involved is with the decision on coaching. When asked about the firing of Gerard Gallant, he let out a few interesting nuggets.

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS ANNOUNCE FANS TO RETURN AT 15% CAPACITY STARTING MARCH 1

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights sent an email to all season ticket holders announcing their plans to allow fans back into T-Mobile Arena at a limited capacity starting on March 1st.

We are excited to announce that starting March 1, home games at T-Mobile Arena will open with 15% capacity. Limited seating for March home games will go on-sale to Season Ticket Members tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24 at 9am PST. Season Ticket Members can purchase one seating POD for one home game during this presale opportunity. Please note, due to limited seating, we can’t guarantee specific games, locations or number of tickets. -VGK email to season ticket holders

Tickets go on sale through AXS beginning tomorrow.

Vice President of Ticketing, Todd Pollock, is expected to speak at 5:30 tonight to offer more information to the media.

Fleury Flourishes On Extended Start Streaks

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At some point, Marc-Andre Fleury will need a break. He’s in the midst of a seven-game start streak, his fifth-longest regular season consecutive game stretch as a Golden Knight. With Vegas though, Fleury tends to thrive in these situations. When the 36-year-old is given the reins for an extended amount of time he’s been extremely reliable.

Since 2017-18, Fleury has started seven-straight games or more six separate times. His combined point percentage is .666 in those 57 contests and has a losing record just once.

Seven+ Game Start Streaks

2021: 7 Straight Starts (4-3)
2019-20: 9 Straight Starts (6-3)
2018-19: 13 Straight Starts (10-2-1)
2018-19: 7 Straight Starts (3-4)
2017-18: 11 Straight Starts (7-3-1)
2017-18: 10 Straight Starts (6-4)

Combined Winning Percentage: .631%
Combined Points Percentage: .666%

Fleury’s current streak is mostly out of necessity. Going into the season, the veteran goalie was expected to split most of the games with Robin Lehner. With Lehner unavailable, Fleury has played 11 out of 16 games this season and is on pace to start 38. Much more than the coaching staff had planned.

Last night’s performance was a great example of Fleury’s capability. After playing 11 straight periods against Colorado, the 36-year-old was making acrobatic saves late in the game to preserve his third shutout of the year. Even against the same high-powered Avalanche team he faced in four consecutive games, Fleury seemed the least tired player out there.

Now that the Golden Knights have finished their four-game series against Colorado, the upcoming schedule allows some opportunities to rest Fleury. On Thursday night, Vegas will travel to San Jose, a team that struggles to keep the puck out of their own net. Maybe that’s a game coach Pete DeBoer can comfortably rest his netminder. Also, with there being two days in between games, Fleury could have four days of rest before his next start.

As the schedule creeps towards March, the heavy competition goes away for a few weeks. The next eight matchups are against the Sharks, Ducks, and Wild. The Golden Knights are significantly better than all three and the coaching staff should look to use their schedule to spell Fleury some starts, even if Lehner isn’t ready to come back. Vegas will need what we can now confidently say is their number one goaltender fresh for when they face St. Louis and Colorado later in March.

With his third shutout of the season in his pocket, we all know the 17-year veteran will want to play the bulk of the remaining games. Who can blame him? Fleury’s having an All-Star type season, wants to be in the Vezina discussion and prove to his bosses they were wrong. I say let him compete for trophies, just as long as he can take a few games off here and there. DeBoer can save Fleury’s 28 consecutive start streak for the postseason.

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