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Optimistic Vs. Pessimistic Looks At Series Tying Game 2

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

You ever read one of those “choose your own adventure” books? Well, I’m not smart enough to write one of those, but this article is a lot like it. There’s an optimistic route and a pessimistic route and at this moment neither is right nor wrong. So, I’m going to present both and let you choose the narrative you want to believe. Ready? Here we go.

We start with the main concept. Despite winning an absolutely crucial game, the Golden Knights have a lot more to give than they put forth in Game 2.

The Optimist: In a game they had to have, the Golden Knights didn’t even play their best, and still won 3-0. There was a marked improvement from Games 1 to 2 which means they will continue to find their way into the series. Once they get to truly playing their best, Dallas won’t be able to handle it.

The Pessimist: We’re two games in and thus far the Stars have proven they can stymie the Golden Knights. If Vegas doesn’t ramp up its game and they all look like versions of Game 1 or 2, the Golden Knights are in trouble.

The main takeaway from Game 2 will likely be Vegas breaking through and finally putting some offense on the board. When re-watching the game, and truly examining the chances both teams had, it was fairly close to even. The 1st period was a wash with each side having a few good chances. Then in the 2nd, Vegas struck on an excellent transition play. They scored again on a power play goal, then put together one of the niftiest 3-on-1 breaks we’ve seen in franchise history. In the 3rd, Dallas started to create a few more chances but couldn’t stick one in.

The Optimist: The drought needed to end, and it ended with two beautiful team goals followed by one on the power play. The normal VGK style of offense wasn’t even fully on display and Vegas was still able to score three. Now that the dam is broken, when the gritty, playoff-style goals return, the offensive problem will be completely considered a thing of the past. If Vegas is scoring, Dallas is hopeless.

The Pessimist: On the first goal a Dallas Stars defenseman fell down allowing Pacioretty an inordinate amount of time and space to pick out the play. On the second goal, Anton Khudobin seemed to forget how to play goalie and turned a shot that should have hit him in the chest into a goal. And on the final goal the Stars cheated in the offensive zone and gifted Vegas a 3-on-1 rush. The 1st period was more of the same that we had been seeing from the past four games. The power play scored just once and it was handed to them, and the rush chance is not likely replicable as Tyler Seguin shouldn’t be expected to make a boneheaded play more than once a series. Sure, there are three on the board, but only one was truly born out of excellent play by the Golden Knights and even on that one a Stars player ate s**t.

The Golden Knights also scored a goal that was waved off from a goalie interference challenge and they rang the post twice.

The Optimist: So you’re telling me they got three that counted, another that got taken away, and had two more that very easily could have gone!?! That’s six goals for a team that won a playoff round without a goal from a forward in three straight games. If offense is the problem, and they had a real chance to score six goals in a game they didn’t even play their best, this series is about to be a rout.

The Pessimist: The three near misses make a lot more sense than the three that actually went in based on the last few games. Imagine if Vegas’ only goal was the one they truly created on their own and we are sitting here saying, they got one but had four or five others that could have gone. Heck, people may even be calling the goalie “hot.” Don’t get me started with that again.

One of the oddest parts of the game was the rush chances each way. Over the course of the past month, the Golden Knights have barely allowed a single odd-man rush headed towards their net. In fact, you can go all the way back to Phase 3 Training Camp and I even pointed out that odd-man rushes were incredibly rare even in scrimmages. Then, last night, the Golden Knights gave up three of them, including two born out of misplays by defensemen (one on Schmidt/Theodore, one on Whitecloud).

The Optimist: And they still didn’t score! It won’t happen again. Three in one game is ridiculous for the way the Golden Knights have played defense the past month. Correct that issue, which is probably more of an anomaly than an issue, and Dallas will have a very hard time scoring the rest of the series. Oh, and by the way, the goalies are playing pretty well even if those chances do come.

The Pessimist: Dallas made three mistakes and Vegas scored on all three. Vegas made three mistakes and Dallas failed to convert on any of them. In Game 1 it was all Dallas until the 3rd, and in Game 2, even in a win, Vegas handed them opportunities on a silver platter. The Stars have proven they can create challenges for the Golden Knights. Inopportunistic finishing covered it up last night, I’m not so sure it will moving forward.

Then there’s the special teams and with it, Dallas’ undisciplined play. Vegas drew six penalties on the Stars and converted on one of the six power plays. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights went shorthanded twice and fairly easily killed both of those.

The Optimist: The penalty kill is clicking at unprecedented levels, so as long as they keep the penalty troubles under control, they’ll keep Dallas out. Two penalties in Game 1, two in Game 2, that’ll work. Also, Vegas’ power play is much better than the 1 for 10 they’ve started this series with. It’s part of the Stars M.O. to fall apart and take a bunch of penalties. When the VGK PP starts hitting at even a little below the average clip, the goals will come in bunches.

The Pessimist: So the offensive woes are solved but they went 1 for 6 on the power play and the only goal was a shot that should have hit the goalie in the chest? Yeah, nah.

Finally, the Golden Knights made some changes with their lines which had varying success. The former top line of Smith, Karlsson, and Marchessault looked like their old selves creating chances consistently. Plus, the newly formed Pacioretty, Roy, Stastny line created a goal and a number of other dangerous opportunities. However, Mark Stone and Alex Tuch are key pieces to the Vegas offense and their droughts continue. Those two, with Stephenson, created one real scoring chance in nearly eight minutes of time together.

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

The Optimist: The old first line is clicking, the new Pacioretty line looked like they found instant chemistry, and Mark Stone is way too good to be held down for an entire series. The more they mix the lines, the more potential combos we’re finding that have the ability to have success. There are now about eight different options DeBoer can turn to, they’ve all shown they can work and won’t cause problems the other way. If things dry up again for these new lines, the options are on how to switch them are becoming endless.

The Pessimist: Tuch still hasn’t shown he can have success on the left side. Stone has basically disappeared for the biggest games for the last two seasons now. And as good as Nic Roy looked on the goal, there were some major issues in his game last night as well. Every line combo they come up with seems to be able to create chances, but how many of them are actually scoring. They got one that was created by line chemistry last night, and it was a beaut, but most of the penalties that were drawn were unforced, the chances for the old 1st line still didn’t end up in the net, and it took a 3-on-1 from Nosek, Stephenson, and Roy (which isn’t even a real line) to score the prettiest goal.

All in all, Game 2 is going to go down in the books for now as the moment in which the Golden Knights pushed back and evened the series. How it’s remembered today may not be how it’s remembered when this series is over. It was undoubtedly better than Game 1 but it was definitely not the type of game that will win Vegas the Stanley Cup.

The optimist says that game is coming. The pessimist isn’t so sure.

One of them will be right, the other will be wrong.

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28 Comments

  1. Tim O

    The third period was just a lockdown. I rewatched the game this morning and we took just enough off the gas to secure victory.

    Dallas was completely flummoxed in the third after letting their tempers get to them.

    I understand you are delusional about Reaves, but he did matter. If nothing else his presence was there like a predator waiting to pounce.

    Sometimes a placebo is better than the drug.

    • The 3rd period was fine for Vegas. To me though, the path to getting the lead is going to be way more important than the path to holding it in this series. The first two periods in both games are much more telling of the future of this series than the 3rds IMO.

      As for Reaves, delusional is a great word.

      • Ken – good article – both sides – interesting comments for and against. That said one thing is certain if they jack around trying to protect the lead they are looking to fail. They succeeded last night but all to often that is not the case. They win when they play 60 minutes of Vegas style hockey – protecting a lead is not one of their strong suits in my opinion . If your good at it fine but otherwise play the game that got you the lead and in all probability you will come out the winner.

    • A Fan

      Tim O, good luck trying to explain to Ken what several people on NBCsn and the NHL Network said last night and today about what Reaves brings to the Knights. If it’s not in a stat, Ken just can’t grasp it. And whatever you do, don’t say well if you had played hockey you would understand what most of these hockey commentators (who played hockey) were saying. Again, don’t say anything like that or he will blow up like a nuke bomb, or come back with his usual ‘witty’ response. But he’ll never get it. Or maybe, just maybe he does understand but feels he needs to have something to stir the pot, you know, like cable news. Media has to sell the sponsors with those ratings. Save your breath Tim O.

      • THE hockey GOD

        “people on NBCsn and the NHL Network said last night ” they are in the tank BLMers, in other words “fake news” succumbing to “mob rule” BS.

        Reeves did nothing in the game to matter either way, even his jibber -jabber at the other team’s bench is getting laughable. He doesn’t play when team is down 1 or 2 goals, and he doesn’t play when they are up 1 or 2 goals. He is a goon, a ghost.

  2. DOC aPositiveFan

    We don’t have to guess which side of the Optimistic vs PESSIMISTIC side you are on Ken. GO KNIGHTS GO !!!

    • DOC get rid of that Archie Bunker picture unless of course toy are Archie – you have to be smiling today. Here’s to another win Thursday night – how’s that for positive thinking???? Go Knights Go

      • DOC aPositiveFan

        Sorry …. Picture stays. I’m lighting up my favorite stogie, having drinks, in CABO (2011). Hard to smile with cigar in your mouth.

        • Sorry – DOC Good point just trying to brighten your day – have a drink or two for me – no stogie however. Keep that sense of humor – laughter is great medicine. Hope all is well.

          • DOC aPositiveFan

            Yea HD, sense of humor is fine. One of the few coping tools I have. Hey, what do you think about the Lehner signing … and … why is no one talking about THAT?

      • THE hockey GOD

        that’s not Archie Bunker, that’s Don Cherry !! ROFLMAO

        • Lehner signing fine l guess l am a team guy so not sure when they show up with proper attitude whoever is in goal makes much of difference. When they play 60 minutes of vegas style hockey that’s what impresses me. I didn’t see when they signed Lehner apart from your prediction . Like l have said and asked repeatedly if he is the be all to end all why did other teams he has been associated with let him go. I have nothing against him so don’t get excited that l don’t share your joy – to me he’s just another body on the team. If he stops the puck when called upon that’s all that matters.

  3. jeff

    Looked like Roy whiffed on a couple of wide open net point blank chances because the puck was passed to him so expertly that he couldn’t believe it was there…split second of disbelief/opportunity gone.

    • THE hockey GOD

      Roy is certainly erasing the name of HALLAHHHHHHHHHH !! in these playoffs !!

      you can bet your life on it

  4. knights fan in minny

    now thats the team i know cousins can ride the pine nosek brings more size and grit and chips in goals now and then

  5. DOC aPositiveFan

    Something I said weeks and weeks ago is coming true I hear. I said we would sign Panda and MAF would be gone. Ken disagreed with me completely. Guess old Docs common sense observations proved right again!!!!

    • THE hockey GOD

      and that will be the curve of Babe Ruth, history repeating itself, for this franchise

      • EK

        Not a relevant comparison. If the VGK do trade MAF or somehow let him walk after this season he is at the end of his career and past his prime. Boston sold Ruth to the NYY when he was just reaching his prime, he was 25 years old, he played 14 season for the Yankees.

  6. Jason

    You can break down everything you want. The question is are they good enough. I don’t think so. They are close but still missing something. You never know though. Being optimistic is so much better on the soul. But I understand both sides.

    • THE hockey GOD

      good enough for what ? They are better than Stars, but NYI and TBL are light years ahead of this team , now.

      They would give the Isles a run for their money, but Barry , got the, Trotz has their number. And Tampa Bay is in league by themselves.

      The have motive, and they have talent, no weaknesses.

  7. Frank

    Optimistic! The knights pretty well dominated Dallas last night. They were fast on the forecheck, defensive zone breakouts were much better, passing was crisp, power-play looked to be much more dangerous and penalty kill was outstanding. Could have been 5 or 6 to 0 in favor of the knights. Dallas looked the flat team last night. We need to keep the pressure on. Khoudobin and the Stars are very beatable.

  8. The Noodle King

    Serious question here:

    What is the over/under on how many “that being said” after tomorrow’s game??!!

    GO KNIGHTS GO !!!
    #CUPin3

  9. EK

    I’d hang out with the guy who wrote the optimistic side of the story. Want nothing to do with Debbie Downer who wrote the other side. I think the biggest factor is going to be For VGK to keep making big, clean hits on Dallas and let them lose their cool. I think Jason wrote a piece about this and he was spot on……..It’s so obvious that they will take stupid penalties if they keep getting hit, especially if they are behind on the scoreboard, and give the Knights power plays and the optimistic side of Ken’s story will shine through and VGK will start converting those chances and win the series in 5 or 6.

  10. An Actual Athlete

    This article should have been called the Realist and Someone Who Does Understand Sports. The Pessimist’s general premise is that Dallas was equally responsible for Knights scoring due to mistakes. When in reality that is every event in sports:

    – Home runs are a mistakes by the pitcher
    – Completed passes/successful runs/Touchdowns are mistakes by the defense
    – Made baskets are mistakes by the defense

    All of which are created by a team executing , maybe not directly in that play but over the course of time. Goal 1 defender falls clearly because he is too far from Patches and feels the need to make up the ground quickly and create as much blocking chance as possible. Its because of good spacing, and pace that caused a bad change…Knights purely responsible.

    Goal 2…every shot the knights have put on net over the course of game 1 and period 1 is another penny in the mental cash register of Khudobin. As the Knights try to score and pick corners, he knows to look for rising pucks and tough angles. Not to mention Karlsson shoots through a screen, and Khudobin lifts his leg. Again Knights responsible.

    Goal 3 is probably the most easily conceded that the 2 goal lead and pressure to score was in the mindset of the Stars and the defender made a conscious effort to pinch. I wonder who put the Stars in that predicament, ah yes, the Knights.

    If sports did not have mistakes, points, goals, baskets, and any other form of scoring would not happen. Your goal in sports is to put your opponent in positions of disadvantage and capitalize on those mistakes, in both the short term and the long term.

    The Pessimist has 0 ground to stand on, the Knights played better/their game which CAUSED Dallas to make mistakes and they capitalized. The Knights continual issue is capitalization, and when the Knights play like they did last Knight more mistakes are created and less efficiency is needed.

    • THE hockey GOD

      “– Home runs are a mistakes by the pitcher<<>>>not 100% of time.
      – Completed passes/successful runs/Touchdowns are mistakes by the defense>>>nope, not 100% of time
      – Made baskets are mistakes by the defense”???Backetball is not a real sport. Dominated by thugs, mutants, DNA challenged humans, and vertically challenged skeletors.

      sez’ me.

  11. A VGK Fan

    this article should be renamed “Jason v. Ken: Dueling views of Game 2 (Jason is right)”

  12. Always appreciate you’re realistic point of view and calling out the people who are looking through Golden Glasses. But Vegas’ game 1 and 2 aren’t in the same category. Game 1 they could never hang with a team like Dallas over a 7 game series. Game 2 They weren’t flawless but played a WCF level game against a WCF caliber team. Always room for improvement but game 2 is a sustainable VGK type-game.

  13. DOC aPositiveFan

    What beautiful day in the neighborhood. ** Temp well under triple digits ** *** NFL kicks off tonight *** **** Most important, Knights play tonight **** Playing our style, with fresher legs, we dominated game 2. Now we are ready to bring even more in game 3. There will be a better effort from Stars no doubt. But we ARE the better TEAM and with our #1 goalie being the hottest in the playoffs, we will prevail! GO KNIGHTS GO !!! 🙂

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