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Alex Pietrangelo Speaks About Suspension, Watching Game 5 From Sidelines

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Late in Game 4 the emotion of the series finally caught up with Alex Pietrangelo. After a missed empty net bid by Leon Draisaitl, Pietrangelo rose his stick above his head and chopped down on Draisaitl’s wrists in a vicious manner. He was assessed a five minute major ending his night and then subsequently was suspended by the Department of Player Safety for Game 5.

It is what it is, I’m not going to sit here and dwell on it. The league took care of it, so we’ll move on and use it as a day to get some rest and get ready for tomorrow. There have been a lot of shots both ways, I’ll just say that. -Pietrangelo

The former Stanley Cup winning captain stood behind a podium today to speak to local media about the incident and he came with a fairly clear message.

It’s pretty obvious what’s going on, there’s some premeditated stuff coming at me but (the Department of Player Safety) didn’t really seem to care in the meeting. I’ll get up and take it. I’m not going to lay on the ice like we’ve been seeing. I’ll get up and play the game the way it needs to be played. At the end of the day, we’ve got a job to do, they’ve got a job to do, and we need to close it out tomorrow. -Pietrangelo

He says he absolutely has extra motivation when he makes his return to the lineup for Game 6.

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Vegas Defense Set Early Tone For Game 4 Dud

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the better part of eight games, the Golden Knights defense have carried their team to success in the postseason. That was until last night’s Game 4 in Edmonton. Not only did Vegas’ blueliners jump start the Oilers offense in the opening period but they potentially put their team at a disadvantage for Friday’s Game 5 too.

Before the game clock hit the eight-minute mark Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore committed two slashing penalties and committed an egregious turnover. Unfortunately, the bad luck didn’t end for the 27-year-old blueliner. Edmonton cashed in on Theodore’s second slash and things began to unravel for the Golden Knights 7:38 into Game 4. Almost six minutes later, the Oilers took a three-goal edge, all with Theodore on the ice.

Opening 13:30 of Game 4

  • Score: 3-0 EDM (2 EV, 1 PP)
  • Shots on Goal: EDM – 8, VGK – 2
  • Penalties: VGK (Theodore – 2 x Slashing), EDM (McLeod – Tripping)
  • Faceoff Wins: EDM – 6, VGK – 4
  • Hits: EDM – 14, VGK – 11

It’s been stressed a dozen times over the past week; do not give the Oilers power play opportunities. Although Edmonton scored just once on the man-advantage in Game 4, it came seven minutes into the game, doubled their lead and completely shell-shocked the Golden Knights. Theodore’s inability to cleanly defend opened the door for an Oilers rout. Of course, it wasn’t just the penalties taken because Edmonton was the first team to hit the box. It was a combination of over-committing, poor positioning and problems tracking the puck. It was uncharacteristic for an overall reliable defenseman.

Going back to the last series with the Winnipeg Jets, Vegas’ blueline has been the team’s most consistent unit. Last night, the shaky defense hurt VGK’s attempt at taking a two-game series lead back home for Friday’s Game 5. It’s easy to compliment the opponent’s attack but even coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t hold back after last night’s 4-1 defeat.

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“In The Long Run It Might Be A Better Way To Win”

(Photo Credit: @GoldenKnights on Twitter)

After two periods in Winnipeg, the Golden Knights were in complete control. It appeared as though the Western Conference’s #1 seed was ready to lock it down and coast to the finish line in Game 3, securing their first series lead along the way. That is not what happened.

From the number of screenshots of heart rate warnings on Apple Watches I’ve been sent since the game ended, I know the final 44 minutes of that game were excruciating for Golden Knights fans. Despite the positive outcome, I’d imagine most would have preferred a less exciting 3rd period as the team headed down an all too familiar path.

The head coach disagrees though.

In the long run it might be a better way to win to be honest with you. We’ll see about that but yeah we found a way. -Bruce Cassidy

It’s not just a gut feeling either, he has his reasons.

More minutes on them and it’s a little bit demoralizing when you come back that far and then you don’t get it done. They’re already down a D-man and there’s a lot of stress on their D whereas we’re a little more balanced in our minutes. -Cassidy

Looking at the scoresheet, it’s clear to see he has a point. Five Jets skaters topped the 30-minute mark including three defensemen. After losing their superstar Josh Morrissey early in the 1st period, the Jets were forced to rotate through just five D-men the rest of the way. Neal Pionk, who averages 22 minutes a game and has not hit that mark in either of the first two games of the series, spent nearly half of the 84-minute game on the ice, logging a career-high 41:08. Meanwhile, on the Vegas bench, just one player topped 30 minutes, Pietrangelo at 34:30.

Maybe it builds something in us where we’re like ‘hey, even though we didn’t have our best, we found a way to win.’ For us, if we get in this situation again the guys will know they’re never out of it. -Cassidy

The Golden Knights have been through this before. Early in the season, Vegas blew leads in eight of their first 19 games. They came back to win five of those eight. Then, later in the year, VGK had a tough time closing games out as they allowed seven goals against the empty net in a span of fewer than 30 games.

You live and you learn, right? Sometimes things happen and maybe you’ve had success in those situations and then you take a step back and kind of look at what you can do better to shut opponents down. -Alex Pietrangelo

Tough on the fans or not, Game 3 in Winnipeg could easily go down as one of the most important games of the playoffs for the Golden Knights. While getting the preferred outcome, they were delivered a healthy reminder of just how crazy games in the postseason can be.

Hopefully they’re right. We don’t need people being on the verge of heart attacks for nothing.

Year After Year Pietrangelo Among The Most Dependable And Durable

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Consumer Reports consider Honda as one of the most reliable brands of vehicles on the market. In fact, the popular publication estimates the average life of a Honda is around 200,000 miles. Not bad right? Chances are Consumer Reports would likely say the same thing about Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Both engines run effectively and efficiently for years. It’s no wonder the two partnered up in 2021.

Since his arrival in Las Vegas, Pietrangelo has been heavily relied on by two coaches. Under Pete DeBoer, the veteran defenseman averaged 24:34 of ice time per game. Current coach Bruce Cassidy relies on Pietrangelo for roughly the same amount. In three seasons with Vegas, the Golden Knights’ alternate captain has led all skaters in average ice time per game. No surprise for a player that’s recorded a lifetime ATOI of 24:37.

Pietrangelo’s Time On Ice Since 2017-18

  • Total TOI – 9195:14 (12th)
  • Average TOI – 24:39 (7th)

When the Golden Knights introduced themselves to the NHL in October of 2017, Pietrangelo was leading the St. Louis Blues. Starting with that inaugural 2017-18 season, the three-time All-Star has been in the Top 25 for ice time, shifts, and situational usage. Compared with other defensemen, Pietrangelo’s engine revs now as well as it did six years ago.

Pietrangelo TOI/Shift Breakdown Since 2017-18

  • 7336:38 EV TOI (17th)
  • 19:40 EV Time Per Game (16th)
  • 1031:10 PP TOI (14th)
  • 2:47 PP Time Per Game (22nd)
  • 122:24 OT TOI (12th)
  • 10,406 Shifts (18th)
  • 27.9 Shifts Per Game (14th)

Should there be a slight concern that everyday wear and tear will catch up to the right-handed defenseman? Of course, especially with the soon-to-be 33-year-old continues playing his ATOI per night. It’ll be interesting to watch how Cassidy handles Pietrangelo’s minutes down the stretch. With a likely playoff bid ahead, will the coach hold back his workhorse to freshen up for the postseason? Based on where they are in the standings by April, Cassidy could elect to use Pietrangelo and Mark Stone less frequently. It could make a difference if Vegas gets caught up in a long series.

Some of Pietrangelo’s teammates also deserve mentions for their sturdiness over this period as well. Since 2017-18, William Karlsson is ranked 23rd among centers in total ice time (7287:22) and time on ice (0:51) per shift. Defenseman Brayden McNabb has racked up the 7th most shorthanded minutes (1039:17) and is 22nd in shorthanded minutes (2:44) per contest. Lastly, and it’s no surprise, Jack Eichel averages the 18th most power play minutes (3:32) per game and the 7th most overtime minutes (1:45) per occasion.

Now to be more accurate, Pietrangelo is paid more like an Aston Martin but represents the dependability and durability of a Honda. Like his Honda Odyssey, there are a lot of miles on both but experts rarely question their reliability.

Perfectly Timed Goalie Pull Helped VGK Beat St. Louis

The decision on when to pull the goalie is always a balancing act. Pull him too early and the other team could shoot one into the empty net and kill off the game. Pull him too late and you don’t give your team enough time to operate with the extra skater on the ice.

Against the Blues, the Golden Knights got exactly right, with the sixth skater recording the secondary assist on the game-tying goal within seconds of hopping over the boards.

Sometimes those work out, sometimes they don’t. Tonight, it did. -Bruce Cassidy

William Karlsson drew a penalty with 2:38 left in regulation and the Golden Knights trailing by a goal. Heading to the power play Cassidy could have opted to go directly to goalie pull to give his power play a full two minutes of 6-on-4 action. However, he chose not to.

We were not going to pull him immediately. You want to give your power play a chance. St. Louis’ PK has been just average this year so let’s give them a look early on. They’re also allowed to ice it without any repercussions so you want to be careful there. -Cassidy

Instead, after a discussion with the top players on the team, Cassidy said the decision was made to wait until about 45 seconds into the power play. It was communicated to Logan Thompson and he was ready to come out the moment the time was right.

That time was just short of a minute into the power play. Karlsson skated into the zone, received a pass, and quickly moved it to Alex Pietrangelo for a one-timer. The shot was wide but caromed perfectly to an unmarked Chandler Stephenson on the other side of the goal. Stephenson calmly tucked it into the empty net and the game was tied.

In this particular situation, the extra skater exposed the Blues’ penalty kill system which operates a bit differently than most in the NHL. Most teams utilize a 2-2 system that forms a box around the center of the ice. The Blues use a 1-2-1 in the shape of a diamond around the same area. Here’s how that looks.

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Josh Anderson Says Alex Pietrangelo “Sucker-Punched” Him After Suspension-Worthy Hit

Late in the game last week between the Golden Knights and Canadiens forward Josh Anderson delivered a dirty hit on Alex Pietrangelo. The play resulted in a scuffle that saw Anderson ejected from the game and earning a five-minute major while multiple Golden Knights went to the box for roughing.

The next day, the NHL Department of Player Safety slapped Anderson with a two game suspension.

Pietrangelo bobbles the puck momentarily and slows, turning towards the boards. After he does so, and with numbers facing him, Anderson adjusts his course, readies, and hits forcibly through Pietrangelo’s back left side, driving him dangerously into the wall. -NHL Department of Player Safety video on the hit

Here’s a look at the play from two different angles.


Anderson served his suspension over the last few days and spoke with the media for the first time today.

It looks like he had two options. One he’s gonna chip it in or two it looked like he was going to turn back and make a play to the D. I tried to hit him as much as I could on the shoulder but he put himself in a tough position and things happen fast. Obviously, I’m glad he’s ok. He was on the power play the next shift. -Josh Anderson

He was not thrilled with the Golden Knights’ reaction after the play.

He went in hard but I didn’t think much of it because he got right back up and sucker-punched me. I thought he was okay there. I guess it’s okay to knock out your two front teeth and not get anything from it. That’s just the way it is. -Anderson

The Habs and Golden Knights do not meet again until March 5th at T-Mobile Arena, but despite the four-month gap between games, everyone involved will surely remember that play, and emotions during that game will be high.

Just One Game, But Golden Knights Are On The Road To Establishing Consistent Style Of Play

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year, due to a combination of inconsistent play and players in the lineup, the Golden Knights struggled to find and maintain an identity in the way they play.

One game into the 2022-23 season, there’s already one emerging.

I thought we had really good sticks. We were knocking down a lot of pucks. That’s been an identity. We’re such a long team. If we can close in little sections, that’s when we’re able to bat down pucks and go the other way. Overall it just felt like we were in sync. -Mark Stone

Where it was most noticeable in the season opener in Los Angeles was in the neutral zone as the Kings attempted their breakouts. The Golden Knights hounded LA, constantly breaking up passes or forcing them to turn back and start over. A perfect example is the game-winning goal.

With our size on the forecheck and they don’t have a huge group of defensemen, and we can skate, when we get in there it’s always going to be a battle and when we are winning those battles it’s tough to get the puck back for the defense. I know playing against big forwards that can skate it’s hard. -Alex Pietrangelo

But it extends to the other two zones as well. In the O-zone while forechecking, VGK’s length makes life difficult on the opposition by limiting passing lanes. Vegas’ active sticks disrupted multiple exit chances for the Kings and led to quick-strike offense.

In the D-zone, the Golden Knights used their new zone defense structure to eliminate passes through the center of the ice. Their size and skating skill help keep the puck to the outside and there is almost always at least one VGK body between the puck and the goal.

A key to maintaining this identity is patience, something the Golden Knights excelled at in the opener. Rather than forcing the Kings into making mistakes by creating numbers advantages in puck battles, Vegas did it with positioning and size and allowed the mistakes to come to them. For the Kings, it had to feel like there were opposing sticks and players all over the ice. This helped feed what the Golden Knights do best offensively.

The strength of our team will be transition but you have to play the game in front of you too and I thought we did a good job of that. -Bruce Cassidy

The last piece of the puzzle is another area in which Vegas experienced challenges a year ago, puck management. A big part of what made the Golden Knights tough to play against in Los Angeles was their structure. The only way to properly set up in the neutral zone, check in the offensive zone, or defend for extended periods of time in the defensive zone is with proper structure. Step one in maintaining that is not being caught out of position when the puck is turned over. Sloppy play through the neutral zone or unforced turnovers in the offensive zone leads to rushes the other way. The Golden Knights managed the puck much better than their opponent and it bled into every other part of the game.

We bought into puck management. They play a 1-3-1 in the neutral zone so if you try to get through there and try to make pretty plays that’s where LA is very effective. So I thought tonight that we managed the puck and tried to play in behind them and take what they gave us. It really worked well. -Cassidy

It’s just one game, so we’re a long way from being able to confidently say what we saw at Arena is what we’ll see consistently over the course of the season from the Golden Knights. But the groundwork is there for it to become a staple of Vegas’ game this year.

Length, size, skating, and active sticks make the game hard on every team in the league no matter their talent or system. The Golden Knights achieved it and played with a clear identity in Game 1 of the season.

Next step: Repeat.

Inside Look At The Crazy Final Play Leading To Mark Stone’s Game-Winning Goal

With a little over a minute remaining in regulation of a tie game, the Kings found themselves with clean possession of the puck as the Golden Knights made their final line change of the game behind the play. Defenseman Matt Roy left the puck for his partner Sean Durzi who carried it behind the LA goal where he was poised to begin a breakout.

But, instead, Durzi waited, and waited, and waited.

I honestly didn’t know he was coming out. If he would have taken it to OT, I would have stood there and waited. There’s no sense in letting him bait me. -Mark Stone

We just assumed he was going to kill the clock and take the point. -Alex Pietrangelo

Durzi had other ideas.

I was hoping he’d come out. We want to play hockey. No one wants to stand there and watch that. We didn’t want to give ourselves up and flush him out though, that’s a sucker’s race. -Bruce Cassidy

After holding the puck for exactly 22 seconds behind the goal with the crowd urging the King to get the puck forward and attempt to win the game, he did just that. Durzi skated out to his left and fired a pass 100 feet along the ice to the red line.

Here’s what he saw as he went to make the pass.

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Golden Knights Have What Darryl Sutter Says You Need To Win

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter has been around the NHL for a long time. He’s heading into his 22nd season as a head coach, has won multiple Stanley Cups, led four different teams to the playoffs, and posted a winning record with every franchise he’s been with.

The change he’s had on the Flames has been impressive seeing them go from missing the playoffs to posting 111 points last season before being dispatched in the second round by the Edmonton Oilers.

Sutter is an old-school head coach. He believes in many of the long-standing traditions in the game of hockey and his no-nonsense yet almost aloof-sounding attitude makes him one of a kind. There’s no questioning his knowledge of the sport and what it takes to win in today’s game though.

Lucky for us, he’s willing to share exactly what he thinks it takes. In an extended sit-down with Sportsnet’s “The Big Show” Sutter was asked a myriad of questions about the team he currently coaches. Many of them were about his new players and the wild offseason his team just went through, but along the way he mentioned three different aspects of the game he believes a team must have to win the Cup.

Bottom line is we were not good enough at center ice. It showed up in the playoffs. The top teams in this division are three centermen deep and it really exposed us. –Darryl Sutter to Sportsnet’s The Big Show

Sutter was speaking about the importance of his team adding Nazem Kadri to go along with Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund.

Since the addition of Jack Eichel, the Golden Knights are strong down the middle. William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson will likely begin the season as the next two centers, but the option to use Nic Roy or Brett Howden gives the team even more flexibility.

Historically, center has been a bit of a weak spot for Vegas with Karlsson clearly filling the role as the team’s best. With him slotting down to 2nd or even 3rd best, VGK can go toe to toe with just about anyone. Also, the Golden Knights have a nice mix of players including an insanely talented scorer, a lockdown defender, and a speedster.

Next, Sutter pointed to the blue line.

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Can VGK Repeat Blue Line Success From The 2020-21 Season?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you look back to the 2020-21 NHL season you’ll recollect just how dangerous the Golden Knights were. They outscored their opponents by 1.21 goals per game and ended the season with a remarkable +63 in scoring differential. Vegas was a legitimate Cup favorite and was destined to face the Colorado Avalanche for Western conference supremacy. One reason why the Golden Knights had so much success throughout the shortened 56-game season was the support they received from the blue line.

With the addition of Alex Pietrangelo, VGK’s defense in 2021 was among the top scoring clubs in the NHL for points from the men who man the points. Between the group, Vegas’ d-men posted 142 points. Lead by Shea Theodore (8 Goals, 34 Assists), several Golden Knights defenders had career highs in points per game.

So, is it possible to duplicate their blue line scoring in the upcoming 2022-23 season?

We’ve broken down how new coach Bruce Cassidy has a slightly different mindset than previous coach Pete DeBoer when it comes to defensive involvement. Of course in Cassidy’s system blue liners will have the opportunity to score but not as much as they did in the past.

2020-21 VGK Defensemen Points
Shea Theodore: 8 Goals, 34 Assists
Alec Martinez: 9 Goals, 23 Assists
Alex Pietrangelo: 7 Goals, 16 Assists
Nic Hague: 5 Goals, 12 Assists
Zach Whitecloud: 2 Goals, 10 Assists
Brayden McNabb: 2 Goals, 6 Assists

14-year veteran Alec Martinez not only registered his highest points per game average (0.60) but was also a dangerous power play weapon. The two-time Stanley Cup winner scored 3 PP goals in 2021, the most he scored in seven previous seasons. Martinez even lead the Golden Knights struggling man-advantage with two PP goals in the 2021 postseason.

Most fans expect Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore to actively help out offensively but can the rest of the defensive unit step up like they did in 2021? With the lack of natural scoring forwards, even under Cassidy, Golden Knights’ defensemen should have ample opportunities to pitch in. To qualify for the postseason VGK may be forced to rely on crucial points from the point.

What’s the saying? Oh right, it takes a village to win a Cup.

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