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Cup Champs Finally Face A Challenging Opponent

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

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.

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13 Comments

  1. Henderson Knights

    What Stanley Cup hangover? Golden Knights off to best start for a defending champ in 25 years !

  2. Jailbird

    This team is so tight with each other. They will do whatever it takes to protect and play with each other!

  3. THE hockey GOD

    won the match, lost the fights

    another fluff piece that didn’t delve into the hockey specifics. Let me add to this article. The Stars often
    sent
    at least two, and many times, three men into VGK d zone on the
    forecheck. They were on VGK d men, forcing turn overs and maintaining
    the play in VGK d zone. VGK managed to keep most of the play to perimeter.
    However, the stars kept up the pressure. When the VGK managed to
    evade the three man forecheck, they counter attacked with numbers.
    VGK needs a goon. They can’t let teams keep pushing around their
    skilled players. March got bounced pretty good, Doro got dinged
    the other night.

    BRING OUT THE FOIL BOYS!!!

    PS FJB

  4. Vic

    Playoff feel in mid-October. Good news for the VGK….With 50% of the D-men out, the replacements are doing fine as they get more NHL experience. More good news, the VGK can play whatever type of game the other team wants to try. As for the rough stuff, they may not win many of the fights, but they stand up for each other. Howden made sure he thanked Hutton in the box for his fat lip versus a tough guy.

    Interesting stat from last night…..Hits…VGK 40 Dallas 17. Nice two points.

    • TS

      That ” Hits” stat is a surprise! It hasn’t always been that way– good to see the guys stepping up, more physical.

  5. Jailbird

    No place for “goons” anymore. What we have are a team of fearless guys. Standing up for your teammates is what is important. We have a number of boys that do that. Florida tried to intimidate us, and how did that work out for them. You can’t beat us with that. Our boys are tuff, fearless and stick up for each other …AND … they play pretty friggin good hockey!!!

  6. Pistol Pete

    Did anybody notice the Ducks after losing to us returned home for their back-to-back and beat the Canes? Maybe they are not so bad after all.

  7. Pistol Pete

    Will be inteteresting to see how much longer Dorofeyev is scratched for Cotter. Being scratched gives him time to think about what he has to do, namely get a little more physical. He’s improved in that respect but needs to keep pushing. I’ll be happy to be about 20% as right with respect to my bullishness on Dorofeyev as I was on Eichel lol. I’ll leave it up to the reader to quantify that.

  8. Pistol Pete

    Looking back at the Eichel deal, McPhee, McCrimmon and yours truly all felt that $10m was a big salary but we felt it was necessary to get the player so you find room for it. Many fans thought the $10m number was untenable. Worked out just fine though did it not? In the end, McPhee, McCrimmon and those other who put faith in their judgement were correct about Jack Eichel.

    • Jailbird

      Pete, Doro will get plenty of chances to play this season. Either because of injuries or Earning his start. Right now I just think Cotter is right pick because of more experience.

      • Pistol Pete

        Jailbird, I think too that Cassidy’s view is that due to having played more games, being in the locker room, on the roster scratched from the playoffs and with his name on the Cup that Cotter is in line to start over Dorofeyev but now has to show he is up to playing over him and if he does not he’ll pretty much play below him from that point on. The only thing I see in the comp right now is that Cotter hits more, but that only goes so far in a top six role. I am seeing him bang guys into the boards and often not come away with the puck.

  9. Pistol Pete

    David Edstrom update:

    After a great start of 2 G/4 A in the first seven SHL games he’s now gone four games without a point. This reminds me of Dorofeyev going 7 G/ 2 A in ten games and going five without a point. Neither here nor there, basically too small a sample size,
    however in both cases, Dorofeyev’s especially due to the goals, a burst of point getting is encouraging.

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