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Hutton, Pachal, Or Korczak: A Look Into VGK’s Decision Making Process On Who To Choose Each Night

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Options are good and the Golden Knights have options.

When Zach Whitecloud went down with an injury in a preseason game on September 25th, the Golden Knights were in need of a replacement in the six-man defensive unit that led them to the Stanley Cup.

All of last season, the first man up was Ben Hutton. The loveable seventh defenseman stepped in time and time again when called upon including in the first round of the playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets.

This year though there are a few other younger options pushing for those minutes. Brayden Pachal, who also played in the same postseason game as Hutton, had a strong preseason and appears to have taken the step from AHL captain to NHL-ready defenseman. Also, Kaedan Korczak has shown plenty of glimpses of the skill that made him a 2nd round pick back in 2019.

We’re trying to find the right guy for the spot and we have three to choose from. The problem with Hutton in that spot is he’s a left-shot and now someone has to go to the right and we tried that as well. So we’re still kind of experimenting. -Bruce Cassidy

On Opening Night the Golden Knights were without both Whitecloud and Alec Martinez. Cassidy opted to go with Hutton and Pachal. By the third game of the year, Pietrangelo was out of the lineup as well which saw Korczak get his first opportunity. But, as Martinez and Pietrangelo worked their way back to full health the decision of which one of the three had to be made.

Against Chicago it was Korczak. One night later in LA it was Pachal. Tonight, it’ll be back to Korczak.

Hutton is better to go in for an injured guy on the left. Until someone grabs the spot we’ll keep looking at both (Korczak and Pachal). I wouldn’t say it’s matchup-based, it does factor into it, but not a lot. It’s more who is going the best, who do we see building their game every night, and then making a call. -Cassidy

Cassidy’s eyes are not just on each individual game though. If they were, it might be Hutton every night. Instead, the coach and the organization have the future in mind as well.

We have Korczak and Pachal who are good young players too and we’re trying to identify them as an organization. Are they ready to play every night? We’re trying to stay in the moment but look at the big picture as well. -Cassidy

Whitecloud is expected to be out for at least another week which means there are plenty of games on the schedule to experiment with. Korczak gets the next chance tonight, but don’t be surprised if Pachal is given another chance in the near future.

Golden Knights Unaffected By Inconsistent Start Times

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This season the Golden Knights are embarking on a historic run defending their championship. The wins, points, comebacks, and chemistry are all there to push VGK towards another deep playoff run. It’s not without adversity too. Vegas has played three 2023 playoff teams, three road games, and six Western Conference clubs. Despite all of the little challenges, the Champs are 7-0-0 to start the season.

Currently, the Stanley Cup champions are wrapping up a unique test they’ve never faced over their first seven years. The Golden Knights are about to dress for their 6th different start time in eight games with no two consecutive games starting at the same time.

  • Tuesday, October 10th: 8:16 PM
  • Thursday, October 12th: 7:39 PM
  • Saturday, October 14th: 7:08 PM
  • Tuesday, October 17th: 7:38 PM
  • Thursday, October 19th: 5:08 PM
  • Saturday, October 21st: 5:16 PM
  • Tuesday, October 24th: 8:17 PM
  • Friday, October 27th: **Scheduled for 3:07 PM**

Clearly, the league is trying to showcase their latest Cup winner to start the 2023-24 season. Why wouldn’t they? The Golden Knights are proof positive of the NHL’s latest successful expansion era and the team so happens to reside in Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

Also, the schedule makers happened to slide in two early meetings between Vegas and the Chicago Blackhawks that were/are scheduled for prime time. It’s not a bad way to spotlight the league’s best team with the latest number-one pick overall. The results favored the Golden Knights, but the NHL wasn’t concerned with the outcome. As long as Bedard and Vegas were the focus, the score was secondary. For all of those marketing reasons, Vegas is forced to participate in adjusted start times.

Beginning on October 30th, the Golden Knights will play five out of six games at their normal start time of 7:07 PM. However, the Cup champs will have another stretch of eight inconsistent scheduled puck drops in mid-November and a six-game batch in February.

There are a dozen more nationally televised games mixed into Vegas’ regular season, but the reigning champs have proven they’ll succeed whatever time the league decides to drop the damn puck.

Quick Starts Continue Under Bruce Cassidy

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Two seasons ago the Golden Knights got off to their worst start in team history. VGK’s poor October and November ultimately cost them a spot in the postseason. Since Bruce Cassidy took the helm, the Stanley Cup champions are on top of the list of early performers.

Last year we noted Cassidy’s success in the early months of an 82-game regular season. While other coaches are forced to deal with an autumn stumble, the Stanley Cup-winning manager is annually daydreaming about home-ice advantage.

With Boston, Cassidy’s teams had a tendency to succeed early… In contrast, Pete DeBoer’s beaten up Vegas team had a .545 points percentage after their opening two months. If Cassidy’s hot start trend continues it could be the difference between the Golden Knights watching or fighting for a Stanley Cup. -SinBin.Vegas, July 2022

For the record, we were going to hold off on this article until the Golden Knights reached the desired sample size of games. We said screw it, the reigning Stanley Cup champs are undefeated through their first six games of 2023-24. That’s enough evidence for us.

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Why The Golden Knights Have Selected A Starting Goalie Instead Of Going 50/50

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights entered Training Camp most viewed it as a 1A/1B situation in the goal. Adin Hill returned with a new $10 million contract after posting a Conn Smythe-worthy performance in his 13 playoff games while Logan Thompson was back healthy for the first time since January looking to build off his All Star start to last season.

Both goalies have shown to be more than capable and the expectation was they’d work as a tandem at something close to a 50/50 split.

That’s not how it has played out through four games as both the words and actions of the coaching staff have declared Hill the starter and Thompson the backup.

You go into a new year and you are starting fresh but you can’t forget what happened. So there’s a little bit of tilt towards Hill if he came out of training camp the way he was playing and he has. We still want to give Logan his starts, and he’ll get them, just not as many as Adin right now. -Cassidy

Hill was given the start on Opening Night and then followed it up by playing the third and fourth games of the season. Thompson started the lone game in between and is likely to step back in tonight in Winnipeg. Hill would then be expected to take the reins on Saturday in Chicago and then there’s just one game before next weekend’s back-to-back.

If Hill gets the game on Tuesday the 24th, which he likely will, that would mean seven starts out of the first 10 games for Hill while Thompson gets just three.

Some of it is Hill has played a lot more recently even though it’s been months. Logan hasn’t played since the end of January. We want to make sure Hill gets his starts because he earned it at the end of last year. -Cassidy

The Golden Knights used a similar rotation last year to open the season, just vice versa with the man getting the bulk of the starts. Thompson started eight of the first 12 games and eventually saw the net in 35 of the first 51 games prior to the All Star break.

Health and performance will obviously dictate what happens over the course of the entire season, but as it stands right now, the Golden Knights have a preferred starter, and his name is Adin Hill.

Cup Champs Finally Face A Challenging Opponent

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

Normally, after a team wins a championship the opposition tends to be heavily motivated the following season. Through three games, the Stanley Cups champions have been underwhelmed with their early season competition. That changed last night against the Dallas Stars.

That was an intense game, it was a fun game. It felt just like a playoff game again. You’re fighting for every inch. That’s why we play until the very last second. We know what to expect. We have a target on our back. -Keegan Kolesar

Opponents have struggled to get off quality shots and create scoring chances. Which has led to an abundance of offensive zone time for Jack Eichel and others. With the exception of Dallas, Vegas has been living in the opposition’s defensive zone.

The lineup is defending, scoring, and stopping like it’s the Stanley Cup Finals. So, of course they’re spending most of their time in the lead. Last night was the only outlier, but Vegas still managed to earn more points in the waning minutes.

2023-24 VGK vs Opponents

  • VGK: 3.75 Goals Per Game
  • Opponents: 1.50 GPG
  • VGK: 33 Shots Per Game
  • Opponents: 26.1 SPG
  • VGK: 21.79 Hits Per Game
  • Opponents: 16.71 Hits Per Game
  • VGK: 15.67 Shots Blocked Per Game
  • Opponents: 19.71 SB Per Game
  • VGK: 13.3% Power Play Percentage
  • Opponents: 0% PP Percentage vs. VGK

Expectedly, the physicality so far has had a sniff of playoff intensity. There have been several fights, including two last night, a two-game suspension, and dozens of post-whistle scrums. Unsurprisingly, the Golden Knights are in the top ten in hits per game, penalties drawn per game, and have been sent to the box for fighting 4 times in 4 games. Even the youngsters in Anaheim took shots Vegas’ veterans.

After their shootout victory against Dallas, the Golden Knights will be facing another team with past emotions and motivation. Dallas pushed Vegas until the bitter end, Winnipeg on Thursday, and LA later this month should bring the same intensity. All three have reasons for revenge. Realistically, those are the toughest two matchups left in October. It won’t be until November that Vegas will get a chance to flash their championship jewelry to Calgary, Vancouver, and the embittered Edmonton Oilers.

They were locking up on defense pretty good in their own end. It was a great tip from Karlsson. Just a big play at big time. We know as a group we’re never out of a game. -Adin Hill

Unlike their other three opponents, the Stars came out hard, physical, and left T-Mobile Arena with a point. At this early stage in the NHL, only a handful of teams will travel to Las Vegas and perform that way. The way the Stanley Cup champions are built, there won’t be many times they’re out of a game.

The formula to the playoffs is already a pace ahead for the Golden Knights. They’ve collected their first eight points and it wasn’t all that hard. Vegas took care of their preliminary soft schedule and battled it out with Dallas in OT/SO. They’ll look to do it again to another playoff casualty on Thursday.

Added Emphasis On Penalty Kill Paying Off Early

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have picked up right where they left off in many areas as they start their title defense, none more though than on the penalty kill.

After finishing the season with a perfect penalty kill series against the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights have killed nine straight penalties to open the 2023-24 season including a five-minute major in the opener against Seattle.

Vegas has now killed 25 straight penalties and haven’t allowed a power play goal since May 25th in Game 4 against the Stars.

It’s not a coincidence either.

We have put more emphasis on the PK this year. It’s not so much on the ice work, it’s reminders and maybe separate meetings and more time devoted to that as opposed to 5-on-5. -Bruce Cassidy

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50 Predictions For The Golden Knights 2023-24 Season

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Everyone loves a good prediction. So, how about 50 of them?

Let’s go!

  • Jack Eichel will score more than one point per game
  • Mark Stone will play at least 60 games
  • Marchessault will score more than 30 goals
  • VGK will sweep at least three Pacific Division teams
  • VGK will not win the division but will advance further in the playoffs than the team that does
  • Mark Stone will score more than 20 goals but never record a hat trick
  • VGK will win 7 of their first 10 games
  • Ivan Barbashev will score fewer than 40 points
  • The projected starting six defensemen will player fewer than 20 games together the entire regular

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Golden Knights Receive Stanley Cup Champions Rings

The 2023 Stanley Cup champions gathered tonight for a special dinner to receive a piece of jewelry they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.

Every Golden Knights player received his personalized Stanley Cup champion ring at a get-together at the Wynn Hotel.

Here they are in all of their wonderful glory.

Fans will have the opportunity to buy their keepsakes soon too.

One day after the VGK players receive their rings, about 50 top-tier rings will be available to the public at a cost of $75,000 each on Monday, said Eric Tosi, chief marketing officer for the Golden Knights. Fans will be able to buy several tiers of rings for a minimum price of about $1,000. –Alan Snel on

The Golden Knights will drop their championship banner at the home opener on Tuesday. All fans in attendance will receive a large replica banner as they exit the game.

Best Bets On The New William Hill App For Opening Night

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For those of you not paying attention, the new William Hill mobile sports app has been released and it is essentially the Willie Wonka of sports betting. You name it, you can bet on it using the updated app, and of course, that includes the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights.

For the first game alone, there are over 100 different ways to bet the game. They range from something as simple as who will win to the much more in depth options such as the exact score of the 2nd period.

Let’s try and make you some money and highlight some of my best bets for the season opening game against the Seattle Kraken.

60 minute moneyline
Best Bet: VGK -121

This is a simple one, just take the Golden Knights to win the game in regulation. They are 7-1-0 all time against the Kraken and the atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena will be electric. Yeah, we are giving up on overtime (which would have VGK at -170), but it’s worth it.

VGK total goals
Best Bet: Over 3.5 -129

If the playoffs taught us anything, when the stakes are high, the Golden Knights score goals. I expect Vegas to score early and often getting to at least four well before the Kraken’s net is empty.

Will there be OT?
Best Bet: No -479

If you want a real safe one, this is the way to go. No VGK vs SEA game has ever gone to overtime and only one of the eight has even been a one-goal game.

Goal in first 10 minutes
Best Bet: Yes -190

Think back to the playoffs, there was a goal in the first 10 minutes of just about every game, it should happen again in this one.

Goals in each period
Best Bet: No +172

Eventually, the game should settle in and the way VGK defend, I’d expect either the 2nd or 3rd period to be scoreless.

Winning Margin
Best Bet: VGK by 3 goals +525

Five of the eight games between these two teams have seen the Golden Knights win by exactly three goals. At more than 5:1, why not try for a sixth.

Race to 4 goals
Best Bet: VGK +130

If someone’s getting to four, it’ll be the Golden Knights. For plus money, it’s worth a look.

VGK will win or draw all periods
Best Bet: Yes +152

Earlier I said there’s going to be a period without a goal, which knocks off one of the three. I also like VGK to score early, so that should get them through the 1st. +152 to try and win the other one, I like the chances.

Good luck!

Again Vegas Paves Way For NHL’s Future

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

After forced relocations and failed attempts at expansion, the NHL held off on adding franchises for 16 years. Eventually, The Creator enticed Gary Bettman enough to award him an overnight success in 2016. Not only did the landscape of the league change but the business side of hockey morphed as well. The average value of an NHL franchise went up roughly 330% when Foley paid his $500 million membership fee.

With Vegas’ instant success, the league aggressively pursued Seattle for the 2021-22 season. Now, the NHL is looking to continue restructuring the Western Conference.

We’re not in a mode where I’m saying, ‘OK, if you’re interested in expansion, submit your applications. If somebody wants to talk to us, we talk to them. If somebody came in and said, ‘OK, we have a building, this is our market, this is our ownership group, we’d really like to go.’ Then we’ll take a look at it and decide whether we’re inclined to expand at this point in time. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner at NHL Board of Governors meeting

Bettman suggested that adding another expansion team or relocating a franchise is not out of the question. Based on past league history, expansion conversations would have been out of the question had the Golden Knights flopped.

The interesting element to potential expansion or relocation is Vegas’ franchise will likely be impacted. In this week’s 32 Thoughts column on, Elliotte Friedman suggested a team could soon land in the current VGK territory.

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