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Author: Jason Pothier Page 2 of 51

Fleury’s Agent Echoes His Client’s Desire To Stay Put; Even Though Both Know He’s Probably Not

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t new to the business side of the NHL. He knows what went down between the trade deadline and the end of the Golden Knights playoff run, he understands the Golden Knights salary cap situation, and he sees the writing on the wall. No matter what he says or does now, nothing is going to change what will happen in the coming weeks (or maybe months).

So, when placed in that situation, might as well say the right thing before the inevitable happens.

Marc said that he wants to stay in Vegas, and he’s not looking for or seeking a trade anywhere else. He’s perfectly happy to co-exist with Robin Lehner, if that’s what ultimately happens. To some extent the decision making is out of his hands. But he wanted everyone to know where he stands and that he loves Vegas. –Alan Walsh on TSN 690

Walsh, Fleury’s agent, backed up what his client said to The Athletic’s Jesse Granger last week. You should read that interview if you haven’t yet, but to sum it up, Fleury hasn’t and won’t asked to be traded, he hopes to retire in Vegas, and he’d be perfectly happy to share the goal with Robin Lehner in 2020.

It’s all true, but there’s a motive behind the message Fleury was trying to get out. Speaking optimistically about the uncertainty of his future was a tactic and a smart one at that.

By stating he isn’t asking for a trade, Fleury is wisely playing both sides of the fence. He’s showing his appreciation and fondness for the fan base and the city of Las Vegas, but the 35-year-old goaltender was also signaling if and probably when a trade happens, it’s on the organization, not him.

He has great connection to the community. He loves his teammates and he came on board as literally player number one and wants to finish the journey that he set out on when he went to Vegas. Ending with a winning cup. He’s not looking for a change or anything else. –Walsh on TSN 690

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Familiar Alternatives To Free Agent Big Game Hunting

The Golden Knights offseason plans are underway and time for the front office to try and improve the club for next season.

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is the big fish in free agency and as we’ve seen before, the Golden Knights aren’t afraid to hand out a massive contract. At 30-years-old, management might be cautious before handing out an expensive seven-year contract. The right-handed Pietrangelo will come at a premium, so Vegas will have to be creative matching the asking price or find other alternatives.

Another notable UFA is Boston defenseman, Torey Krug. The expected price on Krug is around $7.5-$8M per season. He’s a year younger but unlike Pietrangelo, he’s a left-handed shot, and we’ve seen Vegas target right-handed defenseman in the past. Krug’s offensive production is worth the expense, but Vegas may lean to the much taller and right-handed Pietrangelo.

There are plenty of alternative defenseman in the market this offseason, some are less-skilled but cheaper and younger. If Vegas can find the defenseman that fixes their exact deficiency they won’t need to break the bank. However, that takes great awareness and pro scouting finding that right fit. That’s when the familiarity factor comes in handy.

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Rattled By Thatcher Demko?

Following their Western Conference Final loss, Pete DeBoer made a puzzling comment about his team’s mentality.

There’s no doubt that the last couple of games in the Vancouver series against Demko probably rattled our confidence a little bit. -DeBoer

DeBoer casually revealed one of the reasons Vegas struggled to score on Dallas was a rookie backup goaltender from a previous series living inside of his players’ heads.

We’ve heard coaches reference past series to account for injuries or even style of play differences, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one admit his team was psychologically fractured by an individual performance in a prior round. We applaud the honesty, but what is he saying about his team… or maybe even his own coaching job?

Another learning lesson for our guys at this time of year; fighting through, persevering, finding a way to get yourself out of a slump. Getting your confidence back quicker. -DeBoer

What happened to the mentality this team had?(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

These are all things the Golden Knights clearly did not do well inside of the bubble, that they must improve upon if they are to hoist the Cup in the future. But one has to wonder about the fragility of the locker room if they did indeed allow the ghost of Thatcher Demko to ruin their chances to win a completely new series.

What happened to “one game at a time?” To “I’m not worried about the offense?” To “the worst thing we can do is change?”

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Vegas Faces Tough But Attainable Challenge After Losing Game’s 1 & 3

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

If you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it a thousand times on the SinBin podcast. Teams need to win odd-numbered games to clinch a series. So far, the Golden Knights haven’t done that in the Western Conference Final. While losing the first and third contests of a seven-game series isn’t ideal, plenty of teams have actually advanced in that position.

Since the 1999-2000 season, eight teams have gone on to win a conference final or Stanley Cup final after losing Games 1 and 3 of the series. Over the past 20 years it’s been accomplished four times in the Western Conference finals, three in the Eastern Conference finals, and twice in the Stanley Cup finals. Including last season’s Cup winner the St. Louis Blues, who did it twice in their championship run. Vegas is hoping to be the ninth team, starting by winning Game 4 (something all nine teams did).

Teams That Won WCF Losing Game 1 & 3
2000: Dallas Stars- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
2007: Anaheim Ducks- won in six (won 4, 5, 6)
2015: Chicago Blackhawks- won in seven (won 4, 6, 7)
2019: St. Louis Blues- won in seven (won 4, 5, 6)

Pete DeBoer is no stranger to the situation his current team is in. In 2012, DeBoer’s New Jersey Devils lost the first and third games of the Eastern Conference finals and stormed back to win the series in six. Seven years later he was on the other end as the coach of the San Jose Sharks. In last year’s Western Conference final, the Blues overcame defeats in game one and three to outlast the Sharks in seven.

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Stars Fans Watch Western Conference Finals In Unique Fashion

Tonight will mark the second time Dallas Stars fans will be able to sit in an arena seat and cheer on their favorite hockey club since March 10th. What began Tuesday for Game 2 has now turned into a unique event for the rest of the Western Conference Finals. Something, I’m sure would be a huge hit with Vegas fans… if the government would allow it.

American Airlines Center has opened its doors for a reduced capacity watch party for 3500-4000 Stars fans. It’s free to the public but fans have to be lucky enough to reserve one of the socially spaced-out tickets.

https://twitter.com/dallasstars/status/1303770151397982209

Regulations are looser in Texas compared to different COVID-19 restrictions that are in place in Nevada. However, in Dallas, the reported new cases were triple to what Las Vegas has seen in recent days. I’m not suggesting that local and state governments are overprotecting Nevadans, but a socially-distanced playoff watch party at T-Mobile Arena would be an enormous event. And not just for the 3500+ in attendance.

Stars fans will line up outside the arena tonight six-feet apart and wearing masks, rushing in to find their limited seat. They’ll go through security, be able to grab a snack and a soda at the concession stand and watch the Western Conference Finals from an NHL arena seat. Pretty cool right?

There are numerous detractors urging fans to voice their concerns with the Stars. So far, the complaints haven’t been loud enough for the team to cancel their coveted arena watch parties.

Is it possible Dallas is starting a trend Vegas could follow for the next and final round? If the Golden Knights keep their eyes on how safe and secure the Stars make their watch parties, I’m sure there will be future conversations. Of course, Vegas has to get there first.

The biggest problem, there’s only enough socially-distanced space at T-Mobile Arena for 3600 lucky fans. Let’s worry about that after the Golden Knights take care of business.

Vegas Not The Only Bullies On The Ice This Round

In the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Golden Knights were known as the schoolyard bully. Whether it was a big hit by Ryan Reaves, Max Pacioretty slashing Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat late in a game, or Vegas’ bench calling Quinn Hughes a towel boy? The fear tactics worked against those teams, but it won’t make the Dallas Stars flinch.

Vegas may call it playing heavy and physical, but Dallas calls it Stars hockey. They openly invite Vegas to try and bully them around. And by the way, this isn’t a secret to the Golden Knights.

Now that Vegas trails the series 1-0 their approach needs to be clearly focused on hockey. With a slumping offense, finishing hits and behind the play antics shouldn’t be a concern. Of course, there will be after the whistle moments but it’s only worth engaging if the Golden Knights are scoring. With Reaves back in the lineup he’ll add some energy and grit but his big physical force won’t impact the outcome against Dallas. Plus, I’m not sure that’s a road Vegas wants to go down. There are no Antoine Roussel’s on the ice out to take frustrations out on. Sure, Corey Perry is a pest but he’s also 6’3″.

The main reason why the Golden Knights should lighten up with the cheapies and chirps is the Stars discipline, or lack thereof. Among the teams remaining in the postseason, Dallas leads in penalty minutes and penalty minutes per game. They’ve spent 183 minutes in the box, and average 10:45 PIMs per game. Sure, Vegas’ PP is struggling but multiple man-advantages a game allows opportunities to break out of their slump and wear down Dallas’ lineup. It’ll pay off eventually if the Stars begin to unravel.

Both Chicago and Vancouver were comprised of smaller, inexperienced players that were admittedly scared of Vegas’ heavy hitters and shocked by their level of chattiness. As the series went on, the Canucks ignored the after school playground crap and went out and won three games. None of that will exist against the Stars. If it does, it could be the other way around.

There’s no doubting Dallas is a tough team, and tonight Vegas will have to play smart to even up the series. By no means was the physical element the reason why the Golden Knights lost Game 1, it was their offense. Fixing that will change the entire series. Staying composed and taking advantage of Dallas’ undisciplined play will help Vegas get points on the board.

But I’d advise Nick Cousins not to yell a Findlay Chevy “Woooo” the next time he drops Dallas captain Jamie Benn to the ice.

Benn doesn’t seem like the type of guy that would forget.

Vegas Holds The Edge No Matter Who Vancouver Starts In Net

The Golden Knights were expected to smell blood on Tuesday night after the Canucks announced backup goaltender Thatcher Demko as the starter for Game 5. If anything, the reverse happened. Demko became the shark and snacked on a quantity of Vegas shots.

We are aware this photo has nothing to do with this article. But it’s great, so here it is. *Sorry Zach* (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

Since his performance was so strong and starter Jacob Markstrom was designated as “unfit to play”, Vancouver may select Demko to start tonight’s Game 6. So, who benefits more if they do?

First postseason start or not, Demko’s performance was superb and may be tough to match. In his young career, he’s limited opponents to one goal six times. That’s over a span of 36 starts. He’s a fine goaltender that could frustrate the Golden Knights again, but odds say he’ll allow more than one goal tonight. Which might be all Vegas needs to clinch the seven-game series.

Especially if this is the Golden Knights mindset coming into Game 6.

We’re going to come into tomorrow’s game just to try to step on their necks and end this. -Reilly Smith

Smith also mentioned that Vegas needed to stick with their gameplan no matter what the outcome was after Game 5. The Golden Knights play best when they attack with numbers, using all three forwards to force their way into the Canucks’ zone by using their patented aggressive forecheck. If they play like that, it wouldn’t matter who is tending Vancouver’s net. The top seed in the West hasn’t lost its confidence after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, they believe they were merely unfortunate. Vegas knows they’re the better club, and if they were to take 43 shots like they did in Game 5, they will go on to advance to the conference finals.

Plus, Vegas got tipped off how Vancouver successfully outlasted them in Game 5.

We’re just trying to play fast and get the puck in their zone. They clog the middle pretty well so we can’t really skate through it. The longer we wait to pass then their forwards are stuck at the far blue line. So if we pass it to them then they have no speed. For us we were just trying to get it out of our hands quickly so they can get on the forecheck with speed. It’s the defenseman’s responsibility to get up and gap up and try and support the forecheck. -Quinn Hughes, VAN defenseman

Leaked strategy or not, it shouldn’t matter for a good team like Vegas. Coach Pete DeBoer and his players will/should adapt from last game’s miscues.

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Can Vegas Avoid Vancouver’s Shot Blocking Defense In Game 3?

It’s no secret the Golden Knights like to shoot, a lot. In Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks, Vegas took 40 shots on net. Not only were the Golden Knights peppering shots on opposing goaltender Jacob Markstrom, but also the ankles, arms, and legs of the Canucks skaters. At the conclusion of their 5-2 loss on Tuesday, Vegas attempted 93 shots; 2 goals, 13 missed the net, 38 saved by Markstrom, and a whopping 40 blocked by 16 Canucks players.

That shows how unselfish we are. Everyone sticking together and doing the dirty work. I know it’s not fun and you see the ice packs after games. As a goalie I appreciate that. -Jacob Markstrom, VAN goaltender

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

The Canucks set a franchise playoff record with their 40 blocked shots in Game 2. Vancouver’s desperation mode kicked in and players paid a physical price in tying up their seven-game series 1-1 with Vegas. The Canucks were fearlessly getting in the way of shots, frustrating some of Vegas’ most lethal shooters like Max Pacioretty and Shea Theodore. Both had points in Game 2 but were victimized by Vancouver’s wall of defense.

Game 2: Shea Theodore
14 Shot Attempts
8 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Max Pacioretty
15 Shot attempts
5 Shots on Net
7 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Alec Martinez
8 Shot Attempts
0 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots
2 Missed Shots

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Game 1 Allowed DeBoer To Balance Time On Ice, Setting VGK Up For The Future

When a team is in complete control of a game like the Golden Knights were Sunday, it allows a coach to balance his players’ minutes a bit more evenly.

It was a luxury coach Pete DeBoer was given when his team held a multiple-goal lead for most of Game 1. He wasn’t forced to utilize Theodore for 28 minutes like he had in the past with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. DeBoer also balanced his forwards, using player’s like Ryan Reaves and William Carrier more than their season average. In fact, Reaves played the third-most minutes he had all season and hit the ice more than Max Pacioretty in Game 1.

Take a look at how DeBoer was able to roll his guys out in a dominant Game 1 compared to the rest of the playoffs and regular season.

Shea Theodore
Game 1: 19:40 TOI
Season Average: 22:14 TOI
Postseason Average: 22:57 TOI

Mark Stone
Game 1: 16:00 TOI
Season Average: 19:25 TOI
Postseason Average: 18:44 TOI

William Karlsson
Game 1: 16:21 TOI
Season Average: 18:52 TOI
Postseason Average: 19:13 TOI

Max Pacioretty
Game 1: 14:38 TOI
Season Average: 17:55 TOI
Postseason Average: 16:42 TOI

Ryan Reaves
Game 1: 14:50 TOI
Season Average: 10:09 TOI
Postseason Average: 10:04 TOI

Thanks to Antoine Roussel, Reaves was needed more than normal but it wasn’t just “to keep the flies off the honey.” Extra minutes for Reaves and Carrier equates to less postseason wear and tear on the top-six. Being that it was Game 1, DeBoer should have some well-rested stars for tonight’s matchup.

Going forward, if the Golden Knights and Canucks go deep in their second round series, or games go into overtime, DeBoer should have a bench full of fresh legs. Hopefully, the Golden Knights won’t be forced into a four or five overtime period game, but if they do, the advantage goes to the team that spread their minutes out in earlier games.

If the Golden Knights are able to perform as they did in Game 1, I’d expect DeBoer to deploy the same strategy again tonight. Any situation that has Vegas up by multiple goals, the bottom six, and the fourth line specifically, should see more ice time. But chances are the Canucks will permit that by sending Roussel on the ice to create his typical havoc.

Remember, Reilly Smith said this about Roussel and his antics.

So, I’m assuming if Roussel is out there mucking it up, DeBoer will be able to rest his stars again. If only Vancouver’s pest knew how to keep flies off the honey.

“Heavy” Becoming Vegas’ New Label

Throughout their series, the Blackhawks used the word ‘heavy’ 31 times to describe the Golden Knights in press conferences.

Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews uses “heavy” to describe two things. Vegas’ size, and their ability to hold the puck once they possess it. It’s no secret, the Golden Knights are big and most of their players are hard to bump off the puck. Which was apparent right from the start of the series.

Mark Stone is 6’4″, 219 pounds but also has the puck super glued on his stick. Alex Tuch is 6’4″ as well, and his skill, speed, and size make it difficult for a defender to strip the puck. Max Pacioretty is 6’2, with the lethal combination of power and a rocket shot. These are examples of being a heavy team, and playing like one.

They play a different game then the Oilers. They’re a very structured, simple team. They play a heavy game. You got to tip your hat sometimes, they play well as a squad. -Calvin de Haan, CHI Defenseman

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan used the word to describe differences between the Golden Knights and a faster, skill-based team like the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton has Connor McDavid, but what they didn’t have was the team structure and physicality Vegas has. The Golden Knights get scoring from multiple players, not just two, they defend, and rarely veer from their gameplan.

We know they’re an excellent team. They’re a heavy team, they get on the forcheck and try and hold you down… We gave them some easy ones, easy chances. They score 3-1 and during that stretch we just weren’t very good.-Jeremy Colliton, CHI coach

Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton called the Golden Knights a heavy team after three of the five games. Again, it wasn’t just their size, it was Vegas’ forecheck. When the Golden Knights push the puck with pressure they make teams feel like they’re being weighed down. All twelve forwards have that ability allowing Vegas the fortune to use all four lines.

Then there’s the natural use of the word.

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