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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Steve Carp Page 1 of 15

Carp: Farewell

As many of you may have heard, I have accepted a position with Vegas Hockey Now to cover the Golden Knights. One of the stipulations was I could not write for a compelling entity. Thus, my tenure at SinBin.vegas has come to an end.

When Ken approached me three years ago about writing a weekly column, I saw it as an opportunity to remain connected to the team and its fan base. But it ultimately became much more than that. I got to become good friends with Ken and Jason, who have put so much effort to launch and grow SinBin.vegas. I had a wonderful sponsor in Las Vegas attorney Jim Jimmerson. And I got to interact with a group of readers who are truly passionate about hockey in general and the Golden Knights in particular.

Yes, we may have disagreed from time to time, but I always appreciated the respect shown to me on this site as I wrote every Sunday. That meant a lot and was the main reason I continued to write for SinBin.

So while this may mean farewell, it does not mean goodbye. I will remain in Las Vegas. I will continue to write about the Golden Knights, only on a different platform. I invite all of you to check out my work at vegashockeynow.com and if you like what you see, we’d love to have you come on board as a subscriber.

Yes, vegashockeynow.com and SinBin.Vegas are technically competitors. But we are also friends and will remain friends. I believe it’s healthy to have different points of view and it helps the reader get more information.

So as I leave this space, allow me to say thank you. First, to Ken and Jason for having me as a colleague the last three years. You guys are awesome. My one regret was not appearing on more SinBin podcasts where Ken just lets ‘er rip and doesn’t hold back any punches.

Second, my thanks to attorney Jim Jimmerson for his sponsorship of my column. He is a good man, an excellent lawyer, and someone I consider a friend. Without his financial backing, there would not have been a column.

Finally, my biggest thanks goes to the readers. You folks are awesome. I admire your passion and dedication to hockey and the Golden Knights and you are the reason the NHL is working in Las Vegas. Your unwavering support of sites such as SinBin shows the world that this is indeed a great hockey town. Thank you again for your support of my work and your kind comments every week. I will always remember your appreciation that made this a great experience.

Enjoy the upcoming hockey season and I hope to hear from many of you in the days and weeks ahead in my new venture.

**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**

Carp: Adversity Greets Golden Knights In Canada

**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.**

By and large, a trip to Canada is a pleasant experience. But there was nothing pleasant about the start to the Golden Knights’ visit to Montreal.

With a lot of issues for both the Knights, who are playing without Chandler Stephenson, their top center, and the Canadiens, who had to play without their head coach after Dominique Ducharme found himself testing positive for COVID-19, it came down to who handled their adversity better in Game 3. Ultimately, it was Montreal that was able to get the better of things Friday, winning 3-2 in overtime and taking a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup semifinals.

We all know what happened so there’s no point in rehashing Marc-Andre Fleury’s gaffe playing the puck that allowed the Canadiens to tie it late in regulation. Or all the missed opportunities to get more than a couple past Carey Price in the Habs’ net.

The question is: How does Vegas respond today in Game 4?

Does the Knights’ power play, which has been woefully anemic, suddenly find new life? Do Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty rediscover their offense, even without Stephenson?

That’s a lot to digest and not much time to do so. Because even if the Knights find all the right answers today, all it does is get them back to square one with the Canadiens. It becomes a best-of-three series with two of the three in the Fortress, where the Habs took Game 2 Wednesday to tie the series.

And if Montreal prevails today? Does this team have the wherewithal to win three straight?

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the adjustments and improvements which need to be made.

First, it appears there will be a change in goal. Robin Lehner was first off the ice at the morning skate and was practicing in the “starter’s net” so that’s obviously huge.

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Carp: Underdogs No More

**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.**

What on earth is Peter DeBoer going to do?

He will not be able to play the “Us Against The World Underdog Card” as his Golden Knights are a prohibitive 5-to-1 favorite to win their Stanley Cup semifinal series against Montreal, which begins Monday night at the Fortress. I’m guessing he makes a 180-degree turn and tells anyone who’ll listen just how dangerous the Canadiens are, how the Golden Knights are going to have to raise their game another notch or two, how they’re only halfway to their ultimate objective and yada, yada, yada.

Please. Spare me.

DeBoer happens to be coaching a really, really good hockey team, one that’s been built for this very moment. The $8.8 million defenseman is earning his pay (finally!). The future Hall of Fame goaltender is on top of his game. All four lines are scoring. The defensemen are blocking shots, contributing offensively, and doing their jobs.

So let Dominique Ducharme do the talking and embrace the underdog role. He has earned it. PDB just needs to coach his team and get to the Cup Final and be ready to match wits with one of two excellent coaches — either the Lightning’s Jon Cooper or the Islanders’ Barry Trotz, the latter who knows how to beat the Knights when the big money is on the line.

There. I’ve vented.

Now, on to the semis and how the Knights will get this done.

If you thought the Colorado series would come down to goaltending (it ultimately did), the Habs-Knights matchup is all about the goalies. Carey Price has rediscovered his game and he is capable of singlehandedly winning this series. But Marc-Andre Fleury has been every bit as good, perhaps better. He will be highly motivated to beat the team he grew up rooting for as a kid.

Fleury hinted his legs were feeling it after the Knights eliminated the Avalanche Thursday. Game 1 isn’t until Monday. He’ll have enough time to rest, recover and prepare. I just don’t see Robin Lehner in the Vegas net unless Fleury is hurt.

Speaking of injuries, are you paying attention to the roster? The Knights are nearly at full strength. Peyton Krebs, who suffered a broken jaw late in the regular season, began skating last week and he might be available during this series if needed. Tomas Nosek’s availability is a bit more sketchy but GM Kelly McCrimmon said Friday Nosek is making good progress and may be ready to come back soon.

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Carp: Golden Knights Still Have Work To Do

**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.**

I’m guessing if you were one of the 17,504 who were inside the Fortress Friday, you didn’t walk out of the building. More than likely, you floated your way out the doors and into the hot Las Vegas night.

You had the right to feel euphoric. You had just witnessed a great hockey game, one that may ultimately have saved your team’s season. It was played amid a loud, frenetic atmosphere, fiercely contested from both sides and exhilarating in the outcome.

But by winning Game 3, 3-2, the Golden Knights merely closed the gap between themselves and the Colorado Avalanche. They’re not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. However, there’s reason for optimism heading into today’s Game 4 as the Knights look to even the series and turn it into a best-of-three event.

The biggest cause for optimism? The team’s best players are finally showing up. Max Pacioretty, the team’s leading goal scorer during the regular season, appears to be getting comfortable again as he redirected the game-winner past Philipp Grubauer, who finally showed a human side to himself after being nearly impenetrable the first two games.

Jonathan Marchessault, another would-be goal scorer who has shown a flair for getting big goals, got the game tied with a little bit of puck luck after banking one off Grubauer and in to tie the game.

Then, there’s Marc-Andre Fleury, who once again is proving to be money in the postseason. He closed the door on the Avs down the stretch and made sure there’s going to be a Game 5 in Denver come Tuesday. It’s his net and there will be no controversy going forward.

I have no idea what’s going on with Robin Lehner. But his lack of availability is concerning, even if he never gets back in goal. The $12 million experiment was predicated on having two No. 1 goalies. That experiment appears to have run its course and Fleury will be tasked with taking his team as far as he can.

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Carp: The Series Everyone Wanted Is Here, Here’s Why VGK Will Win It

**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.**

You know the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for?” Normally, there would be a lot of concern with the Golden Knights facing the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s hockey’s “Clash of the Titans” and someone is going to be bitterly disappointed when all is said and done.

But if you’re a true hockey fan, this is the matchup you want to see. Two of the NHL’s best, going head-to-head, with the winner moving on to the semifinals and a big hurdle in the quest for the Cup having been cleared.

I know I’m looking forward to Knights-Avs. The eight games they played during the regular season were fun to watch. And even though Colorado won the season series (4-3-1) it doesn’t mean the Knights are at a distinct disadvantage. Yes, they are the betting underdog in this series for only the second time in their brief four-year history (they were underdogs to Winnipeg in the 2018 Western Conference Finals), but that is something the players and coach Peter DeBoer will no doubt embrace, if for no other reason but to take some of the pressure off themselves.

They can do whatever psychological gymnastics they want. But they are good enough to win this series and move on. Here’s why:

Max is back

The return of Max Pacioretty to the lineup in Friday’s Game 7 vs. the Wild gave the entire team an emotional lift. He hadn’t played since May 1st and he admitted he had encountered some setbacks along the way in trying to get back on the ice.

But he made it back. He also scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal to clinch the opening round over the Wild and it was a Willis Reed moment for the franchise.

Who’s Willis Reed you ask? He was the captain of the New York Knicks who injured his hip in Game 5 of the 1970 NBA Finals vs. the Lakers. He missed Game 6, which the Knicks lost, but limped out onto the court just prior to Game 7. He hit his first two shots, the Knicks rode an emotional wave to crush the Lakers and win the NBA title.

Having Pacioretty back does a couple of things. First, it restores order to the lines. With him back skating with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson, it allows Alex Tuch to return to play with Nicolas Roy and Mattias Janmark, making the third line much stronger.

Second, it gives DeBoer a powerful line of his own to match Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen. It also forces Avs coach Jared Bednar to match up against the Stephenson line.

In the eight games vs. Colorado, Vegas scored a total of 18 goals. Of those 18, Pacioretty had six of them plus two assists while playing in seven of the eight meetings. So yeah, he’s kinda important in a series with the Avalanche.

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Carp: Stick Tap To The Coach (And His Staff)

**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.**

I’m not sure how much Peter DeBoer is liked by the Golden Knights’ fan base. Maybe he’s revered. Perhaps he’s reviled.

I don’t know if his players love playing for him, hate him, or a little bit of both.

Here’s what I do know: The Golden Knights would not be winning their opening-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against Minnesota if he were not on the bench.

It appears virtually every button DeBoer has pushed has been the right one. And even when he miscalculates, as he did putting Tomas Nosek on the first line in Game 1, he quickly adjusted, moving Nosek down and playing Alex Tuch with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson.

Think about what has transpired over the first four games and the coach whose team owns a 3-1 lead and can close out the series Monday at the Fortress.

DeBoer’s biggest decision was who to play in goal vs. the Wild. Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury seemed like a no-brainer given how well he had been playing. But the rotation with Robin Lehner was working and while DeBoer might have been criticized had he decided to go with Lehner in Game 1, he opted for Fleury. The 36-year-old veteran, who owns three Cup rings, justified his coach’s faith by playing some outstanding hockey. It’s his net and at this point, it’s going to take an injury to Fleury for Lehner to see the ice.

Then there were the challenges in Games 3 and 4. DeBoer could have ignored video coach Dave Rogowski and Mike Rosati, the goaltending coach, who DeBoer said team up to tell him whether or not to challenge. But he listened to them both times and he is 2-for-2.

In Game 3, the Knights were already trailing 2-0 and had the goal stood, chasing a 3-0 game is vastly different. Maybe DeBoer opts to yank Fleury. Instead, the goal is disallowed, Mark Stone scores huge goal in the 2nd period, the Wild unravel at the seams and the Knights score five unanswered and win Game 3, 5-2.

Saturday, Marcus Foligno appeared to encroach Fleury’s space in the crease. But you never know how they’ll rule up in Toronto when the challenges are reviewed. But DeBoer challenged, the goal was disallowed, the Knights’ 1-0 lead stood and Minnesota really never got back in it.

DeBoer also made some key personnel decisions. He opted to sit Nic Hague in Game 3 and use veteran Nick Holden. Holden was strong defensively and had a pair of assists. Saturday, Brayden McNabb was unavailable, so Hague was back in and Holden skated with Shea Theodore, knowing his principal assignment was to make sure Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota’s sensation rookie, didn’t get untracked. In four games so far, Kaprizov has just one assist.

Holden helped keep Kaprizov off the scoresheet in Game 4 and Hague, reunited with Zach Whitecloud, had a strong game.

With Nosek injured, DeBoer could have played Cody Glass or Dylan Sikura. Instead, he put Patrick Brown, who had missed eight weeks with a torn hamstring, in the lineup. Brown, playing with Ryan Reaves and William Carrier, scored a goal, won faceoffs, played responsibly in his own end, and forechecked effectively.

Notice a pattern?

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Carp: Knights’ Biggest Hill May Be The First

**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.**

There’s no sense in reliving the past. What’s done is done. The $12 million goaltender experiment worked in the regular season. The salary cap gymnastics? Not so much.

Thus, the Golden Knights have a tough first-round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Minnesota Wild the opponent. We all know the Wild’s success over Vegas, going back to Year One, particularly in Saint Paul. But playoff hockey is different and the Golden Knights are the better team. It’s now up to them to prove it.

But this will be a challenge, especially if two of Vegas’ key pieces — Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez — are missing. Both will be needed to help defeat Minnesota and if they are out for any additional length of time, it’s going to make the task that much tougher.

Concerns? Yeah, I’ve got a few.

Who’s in net?

Pete DeBoer still hasn’t said who starts Game 1 Sunday. He also hasn’t said if he plans to maintain the regular-season rotation though he hinted at doing just that.

We’ve been through this discussion several times. My guess is Marc-Andre Fleury has earned the right to start Sunday. If he plays well and the Knights win, perhaps he remains in goal for Game 2 Tuesday. If he’s so-so or terrible, in goes Robin Lehner.

The Knights beat the Wild the last time they played and Fleury was the goalie in the 3-2 overtime win in Saint Paul on May 5. Lehner played in two of the eight games vs. Minnesota and was 0-1-1.

I can tell you this. We don’t win the Jennings Trophy, we don’t have the record we have without having the best tandem in the league. What rolls out to in the playoffs, I’m not going to tip my hand. And to be honest with you, I’m not even sure I know. -Pete DeBoer

Perhaps DeBoer maintains the rotation, which means Lehner starts Game 1. But right now, it remains a guessing game. We do know who is in the Minnesota net. That would be Cam Talbot, who has a 2.46 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in starting 23 career playoff games. It’ll be up to the Knights to make him work to beat them.

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