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MONTREAL CANADIENS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (MTL 2-1) – OT

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Recap: The Golden Knights came out attacking the Canadiens in Game 3. Vegas unloaded 17 shots on Montreal’s goaltender Carey Price but couldn’t hit the back of the net. The game was scoreless after the opening 20 minutes. 

Nic Roy gave Vegas the first lead of Game 3 with his third goal of the postseason 3:16 in the middle period. The Canadiens responded immediately scoring the tying goal 38 seconds later. The period would stay locked in a 1-1 tie. 

The Golden Knights regained their lead early in the final frame off a wrist shot by Alex Pietrangelo. The defenseman scored his fourth of the postseason and third of the series. With time winding down in the game Marc-Andre Fleury had a miscue trying to retrieve the puck and the Canadiens took advantage and tied the game 2-2. Montreal ended the game in overtime completing a late comeback victory. 

After losing 3-2 in overtime the Golden Knights now trail the seven game series 2-1. The series continues on Sunday evening in Montreal. Game 4 is scheduled for Friday evening at 5:00 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights had the game won. It really is as simple as that. Their d-zone coverage was brilliant all night. They had the neutral zone locked up for 99% of the game. They thwarted the Habs forecheck at every pass. But it comes down to the worst goal allowed by any goalie in the four-year history of the franchise. Sure, Vegas had a chance to win it after that, but they couldn’t pull it off and that error looms incredibly large heading into Game 4. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 3 at Bell Centre

  • Carp’s Sunday column

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Alex Tuch
** Nic Roy
* Alex Pietrangelo

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Will Vegas Solve Montreal’s Stingy Defense

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s possible in Game 1 the Golden Knights defeated a Canadiens team that didn’t play to their full identity. Clearly, Vegas executed theirs by pressuring Montreal resulting in four goals scored against goaltender Carey Price. However, things were different in Game 2 and likely for the remainder of the Semifinals series.

Everybody who was supposed to be who they are identity wise for the Montreal Canadiens played to their role. And it got Vegas uncomfortable. Where Vegas hasn’t been uncomfortable before. -Aaron Ward, Former defenseman and TSN analyst

Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry was absent for Game 1 but his presence on Wednesday allowed the Original Six franchise to clean up their endzone coverage and move the puck effectively. In their second matchup, the Canadiens pushed Vegas shooters wider than they had in Game 1. The Golden Knights had only eight low-quality attempts on net as opposed to 11 in Game 2.

This postseason with Petry in the lineup the Canadiens allow 2.20 goals per game and given up 3.00 without him.

My best asset is my legs my skating ability. Just focusing on that and closing quickly. -Jeff Petry, MTL defenseman

Tonight, Vegas will need to find ways to utilize the traffic in front of Montreal’s net. 13 of the 32 goals the Canadiens have allowed in the playoffs were from defenseman, including five in six periods from Golden Knights blueliners. Alex Pietrangelo’s goal in Game 2 was a great example how to get around Montreal’s stingy defense. The former Cup winner patiently waited for a screen to develop and slipped a shot through Petry’s legs and past Price. There’s not much an elite goaltender can do when he can’t see the puck.

The Golden Knights have scored on mobile defenseman this postseason but neither of their prior opponents were as big as the Canadiens defensive unit. To combat that, Vegas can match with their own size to jam, screen, and stuff in front of the goaltender. And of course taking advantage of rebounds, loose pucks, and all the grease that occurs in the playoffs.

Since their Game 6 loss against Minnesota, Vegas has responded well after a playoff loss. There’s no reason to believe they won’t tonight for Game 3 in Montreal. Sure, with a full deck the Canadiens will be more difficult to break through but Vegas has the creativity, size, and skill to neutralize any club’s defense. Price can’t bail his teammates out the entire series.

Twitter Space Pre Game 3 VGK vs MTL – June 17th, 2021

In this Twitter Space episode, we are looking at Game 3 in Montreal. What the Habs did to turn things around and how the Golden Knights can adapt to get a win or two in Montreal. Plus, we talk about the center depth, future goalie situations, and so much more.

Marc-Andre Fleury Lone Golden Knights On NHLPA Players Poll

Once a year, since 2017, the NHL Players’ Association puts out a poll of questions answered by about 500 current players. Historically, the Golden Knights, Vegas, and T-Mobile Arena have been all over these polls, but this year, there was just one mention of VGK.

That honor went to Marc-Andre Fleury for the prestigious category of “Who is the best goalie?

Fleury actually garnered fewer percentage of votes this year than he did a year ago but he passed Carey Price for the first time in poll history and rose to #2 on the list, the highest he’s ever been.

Fleury voting by year
2020-21 – 8.88% (2nd)
2019-20 – 8.93% (3rd)
2018-19 – 6.53% (4th)
2017-18 – Unranked

Last year, the Golden Knights were on the board seven different times including four player mentions. This year, Fleury is the lone Golden Knight listed, albeit on a much shorter list of questions.

Former Golden Knight Nikita Gusev cracked the list coming in 3rd place for the “most unique tape job.” Meanwhile, the Reverse Retro jersey that everyone seems to love despite it looking like a leotard was NOT listed among the top seven Reverse Retro unis.

Finally, and maybe the most interesting piece of the poll, was the fact that 292 players said they prefer the “series style” schedule the NHL used this season. About the same amount were also in favor of returning to the normal divisions, which is happening next season.

Player opinions will always be outweighed by financial ones, but the positivity towards the series-style schedule certainly may lead to it making a return in the near future. It’s unlikely we’ll see it next year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s back at least in some fashion in 2022-23.

**You can read the whole NHLPA Players Poll here.**

MONTREAL CANADIENS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (1-1)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: Montreal came out firing and took an early lead in Game 2. The Canadiens would add another in the period to take a 2-0 edge into the first intermission. 

Trailing by two the Golden Knights had much more energy and shot the puck early in the 2nd period. The Canadiens took a 3-0 lead but Alex Pietrangelo would respond 61 seconds later. Down 3-1, Vegas showed signs of life with twenty minutes remaining.

Pietrangelo scored again to close the gap to 3-2 in the final period. The Golden Knights made several late pushes but couldn’t capitalize. 

After losing 3-2 to the Canadiens the seven-game series is even after two games. The series shifts to Montreal for the next two games. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday evening at 5 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights allowed the Canadiens to skate around them in the 1st period once again in Game 2. This time the Habs made them pay capitalizing on multiple chances and giving them a lead. We saw a different Montreal team protecting a lead. VGK created a few dangerous chances but just weren’t opportunistic enough to get that third one past Price. Now, VGK have to head on the road where they need to get to their game a little earlier. Plus, they could really use some offensive contributions from forwards. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena

  • Diving into some adjustments

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Mark Stone
** Keegan Kolesar
* Alex Pietrangelo

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One Shift Illustrated How The Golden Knights Won Game 1 And How The Can Keep Winning

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It happened early in the 2nd period, a shift from the Misfit Line of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault matched up with Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez. Playing against the strongest defensive pair and the best shutdown line Montreal can offer, the Golden Knights put together 46 seconds of dominance that encapsulated how Vegas stormed out to a 1-0 series lead and stands as a shining example of exactly what must continue to happen for the Golden Knights to punch their second ticket to the Stanley Cup Final in four years.

After the Golden Knights struggled their way through the 1st, despite getting out to a two-goal lead, they finally started doing what they set out to do in beating the Montreal Canadiens.

In this one shift, the Golden Knights demonstrated a ferocious forecheck, multiple perfect pinches by defensemen, excellent puck support by all five skaters, strength along the boards, and an offensive mindset that put Montreal under so much pressure they were forced to take a penalty.

Here it is. Watch it and focus on how often there are moments where the puck is out of VGK’s possession and how they go about getting it back in several different ways.

It starts with a dump in from the red line by Martinez. While Karlsson wins the race to the puck, he’s hounded by two Canadiens. Karlsson recognizes he’s outnumbered and quickly jabs the puck forward to the open space and a waiting unmarked (for now) Reilly Smith.

When Smith gets it, he sees the defensemen rushing towards him and moves it around the wall. It’s hard to tell if the pass is directed towards Marchessault under the goal or all the way around to Martinez, but there’s no doubt Smith knows where the defense is lightest and moves the puck that way.

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Vegas’ Unheralded Unit Comes Through Again

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s fair to say the Golden Knights’ defensive unit have outperformed their opponents all postseason. Vegas’ defense have allowed the second least goals per game, and consistently cause star snipers to shake their heads and shrug their shoulders on the bench. However, last night was evidence of how the Golden Knights’ blue line can change the outcome differently when they’re pitching in offensively.

They got some solid d-men over there. They were finding lanes, getting pucks through and jumping in to the rush. That’s what good D does. I’ll have to find a way to mitigate that. -Carey Price, MTL goaltender

In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals, three Golden Knights defensemen scored and five registered a point. Vegas’ blue line produced more points than Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch, and Mattias Janmark combined. Yet it didn’t matter for Vegas.

Not only were the Golden Knights’ defensive core one of the highest-scoring in the regular season but they’ve nearly matched it in the playoffs. In the regular season, Vegas’ blueline combined for 142 points, adding 0.39 of offense per game. In the postseason it’s been equally as impressive.

VGK’s Offense From Defensemen

Regular Season: 142 Points (36 Goals, 139 Assists), 0.39 Points Per Game
Postseason: 37 Points (9 Goals, 28 Assists), 0.38 Points Per Game

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 MONTREAL CANADIENS 1 (VGK 1-0)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap:  For the first time in team history the Golden Knights hosted a Semi-Final Game 1. The local team took on original six franchise Montreal Canadiens for the right to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. Shea Theodore was held without a goal for the first two series but his timing couldn’t have come at a better time. Vegas’ top defenseman opened the scoring with his first goal of the playoffs 9:51 into the series. Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in net holding his team’s 1-0 lead.

Vegas began the 2nd period with extended power play time which they took advantage of. Moments after the man advantage expired Theodore found Alec Martinez to double the Golden Knights lead 2-0. Montreal would get on the board with a power play goal but Vegas answered back :53 seconds later. After 40 minutes of action, the Golden Knights held a 3-1 advantage.

Vegas continued to heavily pressure Montreal in the final 20 minutes. The Canadiens couldn’t sustain any offensive zone time throughout the entire game and it held that way. Defenseman Nick Holden gave Vegas a three-goal lead with his second goal of the postseason. Fleury finished off his dominant performance in the third period only giving up one goal in 29 shots on net.

With their 4-1 victory, the Golden Knights take Game 1 and a series lead. Vegas and Montreal take the ice again on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Game 2 is scheduled for 6:00 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It took 20 minutes for the Golden Knights to settle in, but once they did they turned up the heat on the Canadiens just like was to be expected. They lived in the MTL offensive zone and thwarted any offense before the Habs could even get through the neutral zone. 1 down, 3 to go, just like period two and on. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena

  • Film study of VGK shredding the MTL D with the forecheck

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Alex Tuch
* Shea Theodore

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Blueprint To The Golden Knights Beating The Montreal Canadiens

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Eight wins down, eight to go. The next four need to come against a feisty team from north of the border that are on an impressive seven-game winning streak while not trailing at any point in any game.

But the Golden Knights enter the series as the better team both on paper as well as in results thus far this season.

I laid out the blueprint to beat the Wild and the Golden Knights followed it. Then I did the same for the Avalanche, and VGK did even more than was expected. Now, it’s time for the blueprint to beat the Canadiens, once again broken down into four segments with the most important up first.

Beat Montreal’s skaters to score on Carey Price

As I wrote about Saturday, scoring on Carey Price is never easy. However, scoring on the Canadiens is far from impossible. As good as Price can be, and he’s more than capable of making Thatcher Demko and Anton Khudobin’s performances look average, the Golden Knights can make him a non-factor if they generate the right type of looks.

What I mean by that is Vegas need to work incredibly hard every single time they get the puck in the offensive zone to obstruct Price’s vision of the puck. Then, they’ll be able to shoot pucks through traffic as well as tip pucks and create chances even the best goalie in the world cannot stop.

In addition, Vegas have to be clinical with their offensive opportunities. They can’t be relying on bank shots off the goalie’s back or goals where the goaltender is literally looking in the stands for the puck. Instead, they’ll have to execute at a high level when they create their most dangerous chances. Breakaways need to be finished. Odd-man rushes need to result in shots on net, and one-timers must be blasted on net rather than fired wide or scuffed off the stick.

The Golden Knights are good enough to create chances Price, or any goalie, can’t stop. They need to keep doing it.

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Carp: Underdogs No More

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

What on earth is Peter DeBoer going to do?

He will not be able to play the “Us Against The World Underdog Card” as his Golden Knights are a prohibitive 5-to-1 favorite to win their Stanley Cup semifinal series against Montreal, which begins Monday night at the Fortress. I’m guessing he makes a 180-degree turn and tells anyone who’ll listen just how dangerous the Canadiens are, how the Golden Knights are going to have to raise their game another notch or two, how they’re only halfway to their ultimate objective and yada, yada, yada.

Please. Spare me.

DeBoer happens to be coaching a really, really good hockey team, one that’s been built for this very moment. The $8.8 million defenseman is earning his pay (finally!). The future Hall of Fame goaltender is on top of his game. All four lines are scoring. The defensemen are blocking shots, contributing offensively, and doing their jobs.

So let Dominique Ducharme do the talking and embrace the underdog role. He has earned it. PDB just needs to coach his team and get to the Cup Final and be ready to match wits with one of two excellent coaches — either the Lightning’s Jon Cooper or the Islanders’ Barry Trotz, the latter who knows how to beat the Knights when the big money is on the line.

There. I’ve vented.

Now, on to the semis and how the Knights will get this done.

If you thought the Colorado series would come down to goaltending (it ultimately did), the Habs-Knights matchup is all about the goalies. Carey Price has rediscovered his game and he is capable of singlehandedly winning this series. But Marc-Andre Fleury has been every bit as good, perhaps better. He will be highly motivated to beat the team he grew up rooting for as a kid.

Fleury hinted his legs were feeling it after the Knights eliminated the Avalanche Thursday. Game 1 isn’t until Monday. He’ll have enough time to rest, recover and prepare. I just don’t see Robin Lehner in the Vegas net unless Fleury is hurt.

Speaking of injuries, are you paying attention to the roster? The Knights are nearly at full strength. Peyton Krebs, who suffered a broken jaw late in the regular season, began skating last week and he might be available during this series if needed. Tomas Nosek’s availability is a bit more sketchy but GM Kelly McCrimmon said Friday Nosek is making good progress and may be ready to come back soon.

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