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Commanding Win In Calgary Only Matters If It Continues On In Edmonton

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night in Alberta the Golden Knights were dominant. Despite falling behind 1-0 on a power play goal, Vegas slowly but surely dismantled one of the best teams in the league, the Calgary Flames.

They did it by playing the way that has made them successful each of the past few seasons. Even though they tallied six goals in the game, it was the defensive game that led the charge. Starting with the coverage in the defensive zone, extending to the gap control at the blue line, and finishing with consistent responsible play through the neutral zone and in the offensive zone, the Golden Knights made life difficult on the Flames all over the ice.

No matter the roster, the best versions of the Golden Knights since Pete DeBoer took over have been defensive stalwarts. They snuff out chances before they ever happen and in doing so it feeds a transition game that is one of the most deadly in the NHL. Far too often this year, mistakes have led to breakdowns all over the ice which leads to goals against and struggling offensive consistency. Last night, while not quite mistake-free, was as close to a perfect effort as you’ll find in a road game against a division-leading opponent.

By playing that way, Vegas was able to draw multiple penalties which led to a pair of goals on or right after the ensuing power play, and it caused a usually under control Flames team to press for offense, leading to loads of turnovers and excellent chances going the other way.

But it’s just one game, and at this point, it remains an outlier among a 75-game season that has been marred by inconsistency. Vegas has played excellent defensive games in the past, including recently against Nashville, a March game against Los Angeles, and probably the best defensive output of the year a game at Washington in January. Unfortunately, Vegas backed each and every one of those games up with a letdown the following time out.

After the Washington game, they allowed four to the high-flying Hurricanes in what was a rapid wide-open Carolina style game before getting smacked around in Florida. After LA, they got shut out by the Wild and Jets in consecutive games while allowing seven. And following the Nashville game, Vegas needed a ferocious three-goal 3rd period comeback to defeat the 27th-ranked Chicago Blackhawks.

The Golden Knights have to back this brilliant performance in Calgary up, and they know it.

It’s important that we get on a little roll here. We put ourselves in a position that now we’ve got to win probably five of our last seven games here to get in. -Pete DeBoer

It’s only one win, we have a lot more to do here. -Jonathan Marchessault

That’s what we need moving forward. We need to be gritty. Really just play playoff hockey. That’s what we have to continue doing. -William Karlsson

Each and every player who spoke after the win in Calgary mentioned the importance of continuing the success on Saturday and beyond. While the playoff picture is looking much brighter today than it did last week, it can turn dark just as quickly if the Golden Knights don’t keep playing the way they did last night.

The schedule is not in Vegas’ favor as the Golden Knights still have four playoff-bound teams on the schedule while the team they chase doesn’t have any.

Simply put, the dominant performance at the Saddledome will only have meaning if they can do it again tomorrow and then Monday, and then Wednesday.

Everyone seems to understand it, now they need to prove it.

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42 Comments

  1. I think DeBoer has found the right mix for lines. It is rather frustrating to see the Stone, Stephenson, Patches line get shut out two games in a row.

    The Edmonton game isn’t an elimination game, but I can think of no better time than this game to make a statement. A win places a lot of pressure on the Queens, Stars and Predators. It sends a message to the rest of the league that the Golden Knights are going to be a force in the playoffs.

  2. Sandy Stein

    Smack around in Florida ? They beat the Panthers with LT in net !!

    • THE hockey GOD

      welcome to the jungle, Sandy !

    • Rob T

      The Panthers beat VGK 4-1 in Florida on one of their east coast swings, as Ken said. The game with LT in net was March 17.

  3. Eric P.

    Sandy, Ken is talking about the road game where we lost.

  4. Pistol Pete

    If the Knights make the postseason they will be the first in history to do so with 500+ injury days. That they are even in the hunt is a testament to how well managed this team is.

  5. Galdom

    Pistol Pete, but it’s so much easier to call them bad names like McCriminal, McIdiot, Deboering. Are you trying to say that they should not have easily made it to the finals in their first year and played the second most playoff games in the league since they entered the league???

    #Sarcasm

    I think I read at least a couple of posts in the past couple of weeks that actually thought Seattle was doing it better than we were.

    ROTFL ROTFL ROTFL

    It’s not like they’ve made zero mistakes and I think they are a little too aggressive at times, but not only have these four years gone far better than anyone expected about perhaps they are the greatest expansion team in the history of professional sports.

    A lot of people are very negative. I’m not confusing negative with being realist either. Not saying this franchise has not made any mistakes along the way. It just seems so much easier complaining and being unhappy. If they win there will be about 50 to 70 comments and if they lose there will be about 150 comments with some of them in capital letters. Hahaha

    Pistol Pete, I could see by your optimism and upbeat attitude that you are very proud of this franchise and you should be.

    • Daryl

      I think it’s a little early to decide who did it better…. What VGK has accomplished is amazing but the goal, obviously, is to win the Cup. They’ve made deal after deal and have gone backwards. Seattle is in their first season. Who knows what they will look like in 5 years

  6. Pistol Pete

    Galdom, as you know I have trouble with the fans who post negative and you’re right negativism can be realism because we all know the organization has made mistakes and will continue to from time to time. Thanks for reminding us once again about how well this team launched because that is our greatest argument against the bearing of those posters who seem to be realistic critics first and loyal fans second—actually I am not saying most/all of them are not loyal fans but if they did not remind you they are you’d never know it lol.

    Thank you very much for supporting my optimism and the Knights in general. It makes my day, it really does.

  7. PP –

    Let me start off my rebuttal by saying that those of us who are realists look at your eternal and never ending praise of the front office and coach in the same way that you look at our realism, our negativity and our criticism. Fair?

    With that said, one great game, and it was a great one does not erase the numerous flubs and mistakes made. If we’re spoiled rotten fans from year 1, then okay I will wear that with pride. A season ticket holder since year 1, we got hooked on the drug of winning with Gallant and the Misfits. Am I a critic first and loyal fan second? No. That’s nonsense.

    When players that I criticize on put into the lineup I cheer for the entire team on the ice, period. When they play well, I give them credit. When they play poorly, I point that out. When I state my opinion about them being a fit for the team, that’s my opinion.

    As far as the front office is concerned, I do think that they made too many changes and way too fast. I don’t think McCrimmon is a good GM. I think he’s lucky to have been able to ride the wave of success from year 1. That opinion is even more pertinent to DeBoer who takes solid teams and ruins them in the long run.

    As far as Robin Lehner goes, I think it was a good idea at the time to bring him in as the 1B or 2A goaltender. I thought it was a huge mistake to give him a long term contract at $5 million/year. That opinion only become more clear to me by mid-January, which is the time frame I gave Lehner to prove my concerns wrong. He did just the opposite.

    As far as Jack Eichel goes, I still think the risk was too high at the time to bring him to Vegas. Well, guess what? He’s changed my mind. He’s 100% legit and as long as he doesn’t have a recurring injury to his spinal cord then this was a great move.

    I support your optimism PP. I respect the OPINIONS of everyone until they start throwing disrespectful shade, hatred and vitriol. I am not that person.

    I am a loyal fan, a season ticket holder, and I want to see them make the playoffs as much as anyone. Even though I gave up on Panda long ago, when he is net he’s a Golden Knight and I am rooting for him to that brick wall and to win games.

    McCrimmon and DeBoer win a Stanley Cup? All this criticism and the monikers of McIdiot and DeBoering goes away. Fix the PP/PK and get some consistency and chemistry and that will be a good step in the right direction. DeBoer has been talking about the PP being the number 1 issue for a year now.

    With that said, I hope to see the same line pairings tonight that was on the ice Thursday! Even Karlsson responded to that line up. Lastly, I said long ago that I would trust Logan Thompson as the 2A and I got major push back from just about everyone. I think he’s got a great future in the NHL. He doesn’t have the obvious flaws in his game that Lehner has. He only needs experience, and yes I do understand why the FO and HC might be leery of putting a rookie out there. I am willing to be that we are all now in agreement that trusting Logan appears to be working out for us.

    Injuries have definitely impacted this team and it is a credit to the depth of this team that they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. The credit for that depth has to go to management, so I will give it and not begrudgingly.

    Is that fair?

    • Pistol Pete

      R-R, would not have said you are a critic first and loyal fan second. I was not singling you out in particular and probably should not have worded that way in the first place. Loyal fans are loyal fans first and foremost and optimistic, realist or a combination of the two second. What you say is fair and I read all posts word for word and sometimes more than once. I value what you bring to this forum.

      • Pistol Pete

        all YOUR posts I read word for word is what I
        meant. This board needs an edit feature!

      • Pistol Pete

        R-R btw when I said what you say is fair I was referring to your “rebuttal” that I responded to.

  8. One more point. The injuries have definitely impacted this team. But, really folks, how much of that was factored in to the CAP problems? I am not saying that they used the LTIR as a strategy, but it sure does appear that way. Many of the injuries were really legit.

    Up until this year, the VGK has been talked about as being one of the top 3 or 5 teams in the league. “Top Tier”. This is despite the fact that until we got Jack Eichel we didn’t have a legit 1st line forward. That’s right, I said it. You look at the stats and there wasn’t a single Golden Knight that could be considered in the same conversation as the top liners on the Avs, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina. All of them 2nd liners at best. The real reason why we’ve been so successful the past few years is because we were in the weakest division of the NHL.

    That’s changed this year as CGY, EDM, LAK, and VAN are all greatly improved.

    Where I think we are dangerous is if we can get the top 3 lines producing. Face it, the 4th line is pretty much shit right now with rookies Rondjberg and Lechyshyn (Silver Knights) on it. They are not bad players, they just need more experience. There are several players in Henderson that could do just as well, if not better on that 4th line.

    By the way, great victory last night over the Stockton Heat. Another good goalie in net in Henderson as well (Patera) who we will see backing up Logan tonight.

    • Galdom

      My criticism of this team this year and I mentioned it in a recent post is arrogance and overconfidence. There is a little bit of a lack of urgency. When their backs are up against the wall they come up with their greatest game of the season against Calgary. So we know it’s in them. I think the reason why they have it in them is that they are playoff and adversity tested.

      • I think you are right on the points. I am not sure if it is arrogance or overconfidence, but it definitely could be the players trying to implement the DeBoer strategy. Hockey is a game that flows from instinct, experience and player chemistry. That chemistry has definitely been off for a lot of reasons. It’s true, this team appears to play a full 60 minutes when they absolutely have to.

        That has to change.

  9. Tim

    Our 5 million dollar headache is now back in Las Vegas. Is it a coincidence that yesterday he canceled his twitter account because of fans were giving him a hard time and today he’s back in Vegas with family issues. I’ve tried to stay positive with Lehner but I’m sorry I think he’s just looney tunes and were stuck with him. The question will always be Fleury the face of the franchise at 7 million and athletic versus Lehner at 5 million and damaged goods. I think the 2 million more would have been well worth it to keep Fleury for numerous reasons. While I’m on the subject the way they let him go and to find out you’ve been traded on twitter was sinful. This management group will never live that blunder down no matter how they spin it.

    • Galdom

      He’s gone home because of the health of a family member. Have some respect you fucking piece of shit! You fucking piece of human garbage if you were in front of me right now I’d give you a fucking slap like Will Smith.

      What if he has a sick parent or God forbid something with one of his children. Of course it’s none of our business as it is a private family matter.

  10. Galdom

    I wasn’t looking for a rebuttal or criticizing anybody I just think it’s insane at how much criticism the team and front office get. That’s all. Five years ago if someone told you that Vegas would have played the second most playoff games in the league I think everybody would have taken that. At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think VGK fans are spoiled and don’t realize how good they have had it. I live in Toronto and they haven’t won one single playoff round in nearly 20 years. i’m wondering where VGK fans will go when things aren’t so good for this team. They’re not going to make the playoffs every single year of their existence, I wonder if people even know that.

  11. Galdom

    I admire that pistol Pete is a huge fan and proud of this franchise. Couldn’t it have just been left at that? Does my opinion of that really have to be challenged with a rebuttal?

    Any word on Edmonton’s starting goaltender. I’m hoping it’s not Mike Smith.

  12. Galdom

    Again, it’s OK to have different opinions but I don’t like hearing that they are in a weak division excuse. It’s not baseball where you have a very unbalanced schedule. They play everyone in the league. And when they are at their best they can beat anyone in the league so they are legitimately good. Should we be taking away the Colorado Avalanche President’s Trophy because Covid made them play an easier schedule last year.

    Hey Marc Andre Fluery fans, do you feel like his Vezina trophy is less meaningful because of his schedule last year. I’ve definitely never heard that discussion. I’ve heard Marc Andre Fleury and Vezina trophy mentioned in the same sentence hundreds of times but never with an asterisk and I don’t believe it should be. I think it was legit.

    Maybe I am right. Maybe fans really are negative. You’re basically trying very hard to discount their success by using the weak division excuse. I stand by my opinion that they have had an extraordinary start to their existence. Quite possibly the greatest expansion team in the history of sports.

    • Definitely the greatest expansion team in all of sports history. But, if you are going to try and argue that the Pacific is not the weakest division then that’s something you’ll have to back up. I am not talking about individual stats or awards. I am simply talking about overall toughness of schedule and results, all of which can be found through research. That research says the Pacific is the weakest in all of the NHL. It’s a fact that cannot be argued.

      It’s also a fact that only Eichel is a true legit 1st line forward. Marchy, Stone and Patches are close but in my opinion are solid 2nd liners.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t think we have a chance. If their all on their game the VGK can win the Cup. That’s the ultimate goal. But they’re currently not in the top 5 right now. That’s not being negative, it’s just fact.

    • Sure, we can drill down into player stats, goalie stats and compare players in different divisions to look at the overall toughness of schedule, but that’s an exercise in futility in my opinion. If you want to make the point that Fleury didn’t deserve the Vezina, I am not going to argue that with you because you are most likely right.

      But, in the same breath, you put the Golden Knights in the METRO in year 1 and they don’t go to the cup and possibly don’t make the playoffs. You can work this exercise in many ways.

      • Galdom

        I have no problem with Marc Andre Fleury winning the Vezina trophy because he can’t control which teams he plays against. How can I hold that against him. If we are going to do that then they might as well have made an announcement at the beginning of the year that nobody from that division was eligible for an award. I kind of thought that Andrei Vasilevskiy should have won it anyways but absolutely no issue with Fleury winning the award.

    • Pistol Pete

      Galdom, if the belief is that the VGK owes all of their success to being in a weak division, we can’t change that view. I don’t really understand how fans can continually degrade the success of their team over such a consideration especially when it’s completely hypothetical how they would actually perform in a different division. If they think we need to “brought down to earth” so be it. I say run with the success and don’t worry about it.

      • Daryl

        It might be a hypothetical how they would do in another division, it is a fact that the Pacific is the weakest division. I have not heard a single “expert” say otherwise. You play 26 games within your own division (3 games against each team) and 24 non-divisional games (same conference). The remaining 32 games are played against the rest of the teams. For the past several years, the bottom half of the division has been horrible. For the most part, ANA, SJS, LAK, and ARI have been some of the worst teams in the league. Then add in CGY, VAN, and EDM being bad at different times, it’s made it a little easier for VGK to win as many games as they have.

        I’m not trying to take anything away from VGK b/c they still had to come out and win these games. They are still playing NHL calibre teams. I’m just saying it’s been a little easier for them compared to most other teams

    • Pistol Pete

      Galdom, there definitely is a lot of negative sentiment here, much of it criticism worth considering however. The FO criticism can border on the absurd because of the immense success they created. The derogatory nicknames is what I find most offensive and in bad taste.

      • STEPHANIE

        Ex sth .and I guess youre one of the few lucky sth that didnt get screwed over or lied to .get out of that cocoon youre in .Its a constant throughout the NHL how much the FO is not liked .That doesnt help us .Tough to be loyal to people that could give a crap to anyone .And i didnt feel like that in the beginning .They handled everything amazing in the beginning.But Im sorry .greed and success took over and people in too many ears changing things was when the downward spiral of mismanagement happened .Its truly heartbreaking to me that theyre not remotely close to what the FO was .Its plain as day obvious if you open your eyes .Players gone , media gone .Hell if youre not a stepford vgk person youre out .I guess lucky you .But for me its been heartbreaking to see and watch and hear this stuff about a franchise i was so excited and proud of .And please dont @ me for my facts and truths ive witnessed .

      • D

        I agree on the derogatory name calling… but that goes both ways. Look at some of the names MAF has been called? There are other players who have also been called names besides RL and FO personnel. But I think that is part of every fan base. Look at how many names Crosby has been called. Sometimes the name calling can go a little overboard, but it’s never going to go away

    • Daryl

      Using the excuse that VGK plays in the weakest division is legit. And YES, I do not think MAF wins that trophy if he is playing in any other division, especially that year when you only played within your division. And this is the NHL so yeah any team can beat any team, we all know that. But what separates teams is the ability to beat other teams in back to back series. I know there are some better teams that lose to weaker teams, but at the same time, some teams just have the others number.

      I do agree that VGK has been amazing and what they have accomplished is unbelievable. I’m not so sure they are the best expansion team ever as another expansion team won the Cup before VGK will. And not to take away credit from the FO, but I put most of the success on the players. The FO put together a good group of players, but it was the players who decided they had something to prove. They played together and supported each other. You also had a coach who put players in position to win games. I’m not debating whether Gallant should have gone or that PDB was a good hire, but it does seem as though they have been on a decline.

  13. Galdom

    You make a very valid point. I can’t make the argument that the Pacific is not the weakest division. But all you can do is take what’s thrown at you. We don’t make the schedule.
    This team has made the final four whether it has had good teams thrown at them like Minnesota and Colorado or shit teams thrown at them like Chicago or Vancouver.

    Richie-Rich I know you are a passionate fan

    • For sure. We can all agree to agree or agree to disagree respectfully. I’ve come around on the Jack Eichel trade. He changed my mind. The guy is absolutely electric out there on the ice. I miss Tuch, but Eichel is a much better player right now.

  14. I don’t think the Oilers can beat the roster that was on the ice Thursday, especially if Stone, Stephenson and Pacioretty start producing as well. If all three lines are producing Edmonton is going to have a tough time of it. You’re right, Smith is going to have to have a hall of fame performance if all 3 VGK lines are hot today.

  15. Galdom

    In year one, Vegas definitely would have made the playoffs if they were in the metro division. That team was tremendous. One of my great memories was on December 14, 2017 when the metro division Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby came to town and after the game Crosby in an interview legitimized the VGK calling them a great team and saying they were legit.

    I can’t believe you think they may not have made the playoffs if they were in the metro division. Anyways, 3 hours 20 minutes to game time. Let’s go VGK!!!

  16. knights fan in minny

    drop the puck cant wait hope logan has a strong game

  17. VGK -190 to make the playoffs at William Hill! Thats a pretty strong favorite considering moneypuck.com has them at 55.8% chance of making playoffs!

  18. D

    It didn’t continue

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