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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 ANAHEIM DUCKS 1 (22-12-0 44 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights took control early in the game scoring twice on the Ducks in the 1st period. Nic Roy opened the scoring and Adam Brooks doubled Vegas’ lead.

Mattias Janmark scored the only goal of a messy 2nd period. Both teams were handed a dozen penalties in the middle frame for roughing and fighting.

The game settled down in the 3rd but Anaheim spoiled Vegas’ shutout scoring in the waning seconds of the contest.

The Golden Knights record improves to 22-12-0 defeating the Ducks 3-1. Vegas will face off after the New Year on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drop is set for 1P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights whipped the Ducks all over the ice from the moment they dropped the puck to the second the game ended. Complete and utter domination to ring in the New Year. (Recap by Ken)


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VGK’s Head-To-Head Dominance Over Pacific Division Slipping

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the Golden Knights entered the NHL they’ve done nothing but dominate the Pacific Division.

Not just in the overall standings, in which the Golden Knights have won the division two of the three years they’ve competed in it, but also in the postseason where Vegas has been the last team standing three of the four playoff seasons.

One of the main reasons for this dominance has been the head-to-head play between the teams. Of the six teams still in the division (Arizona left for the Central), the Golden Knights had a combined record of 68-21-8 record coming into this season. That’s 144 points in just 97 games or a points percentage of .742. Against all other teams, VGK have earned 226 points in 194 games for a points percentage of .583.

Literally almost 40% of the points the Golden Knights have earned in franchise history have come on the backs of just six teams. But this year it hasn’t gone as well.

Record against ANA, CGY, EDM, LAK, SJS, and VAN
21-22: 2-4-0 (.333)
20-21: 21-3-0 (.875)
19-20: 13-5-2  (.700)
18-19: 18-8-3 (.672)
17-18: 16-5-3 (.729)

The Golden Knights have won just two games against Pacific Division opponents not named Seattle while dropping four. They’ve lost both division games they’ve played on the road (at LAK, at ANA) and have allowed their opponent to grab at least a point in every game but one, a game they trailed 2-0 six minutes in (vs VAN).

Winning in the division has been a staple for the Golden Knights’ success and one has to wonder what their overall record will look like if they are not amassing huge point totals against the Pacific Division.

Obviously, Seattle has helped as Vegas has beaten them twice in two tries, both in regulation. However, those games were both at T-Mobile Arena and the Kraken appear to be improving as the season progresses. The next two matchups in late March and early April may not be as easy.

There are still 18 games left against division opponents. Including Seattle, the Golden Knights have recorded eight points in the first eight games. To reach their normal pace against the division (.742), they’d need to go 15-2-1.

Making that even trickier, 10 of the 18 games are on the road, including a pair in Edmonton and Calgary who are in 1st and 2nd in the division.

Adding this all up, the fact of the matter is, the Golden Knights are going to need to play much better out of division than they ever have before to reach the playoffs.

There’s no better time than now to start that as nine of the next 10 games are out of the division.

ANAHEIM DUCKS 6 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 (12-10-0 24 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights got off to a slow start in Anaheim, recording their first shot 5:43 into the opening period. The two teams traded penalties but neither converted on the man advantage. After the opening 20 minutes the game was locked in a scoreless tie. 

Anaheim took the first lead of the game 4:21 in the middle frame, only to double it two minutes later. William Carrier cut the lead in half with his third goal of the season. The Ducks however, widened their lead adding two more but Zach Whitecloud got Vegas back in the game with a shorthanded goal with :12 left in the period. After 40 minutes expired the Golden Knights trailed 4-2. 

Mattias Janmark scored Vegas’ second shorthanded goal of the evening to close Anaheim’s gap. The Ducks regained their two goal lead but the Golden Knights wouldn’t go a way. On Vegas’ third power play opportunity Max Pacioretty kept the visiting team alive scoring his third of the season. The Golden Knights gave up a shorthanded empty net goal, but scored another power play to make it a 6-5 game. Anaheim survived a wild third period beating Vegas by one. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 12-10-0 falling 6-5 to the Ducks in Anaheim. Vegas wraps up their short two-game trip with a stop in Arizona on Friday night. Puck drop against the Coyotes is scheduled for 6:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: After starting to look a little more like themselves the last week or so, the Golden Knights lacked an attention to details. Major issues in the neutral zone, inability to breakout, unwillingness to cover for active d-men. VGK fought their butts off to come back into the game but they couldn’t get over the hump. A winnable game playing the Ducks on a back-to-back, the Golden Knights couldn’t get it. (Recap by Ken)


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Surprising Ducks Not Cup Ready Like Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are loaded with high-ticket talent and proven leaders. When Jack Eichel makes his Vegas debut the 31st franchise will be one of the league’s most dangerous teams. Tonight’s opponent, the Anaheim Ducks are skilled but built much differently. Through the draft the Ducks became younger, cheaper and much more competitive than they had over the last few seasons. For instance, Anaheim had an eight game win streak, one of their players string together a sixteen game point streak, and currently sit one point above the Golden Knights in the standings. It’s a bit of a shock to fans of teams in the Pacific Division.

Since their arrival, Vegas is 18-3-0 all-time against Anaheim. The Golden Knights have outscored the Ducks 79-41 and allow only 1.95 goals per game. It’s been a one-sided series to say the least. This season the two teams met in late October and as usual the Vegas won 5-4. However, the box score won’t tell you Vegas blew a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period, or Anaheim scored three unanswered goals in a five minute span, or the game was decided in shootout.

If it wasn’t clear before, trading for Eichel was clear sign the Golden Knights are in a full win-now mode. Whereas the Ducks are playing without any organizational pressure. It’s all about building chemistry, experience, and making an unsuspected run towards the playoffs. Of course, every team desires deep playoff runs but few are constructed well enough to win a Stanley Cup. Vegas is one of them. Anaheim is showing early signs they could be in the future.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 ANAHEIM DUCKS 4 (4-4-0 8 PTS) – SO (2-1)

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Anaheim Ducks on Nevada Day searching their third win in a row. Reilly Smith made it a quick 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season. Robin Lehner stopped all 8 shots from Anaheim in the opening twenty minutes. 

Defenseman Nic Hague doubled Vegas’ lead 2-0 with his second of the season. The Ducks took advantage of a Golden Knights defensive breakdown to got within one late in the period. After 40 minutes Vegas held a 2-1 advantage. 

The home team widened their lead with two goals in the first six minutes of the final period. Chandler Stephenson added his fourth of the season and William Carrier scored his first. The Ducks fought back and tied the game 4-4 forcing overtime. Evgenii Dadonov extended Vegas’ winning streak to three games with a successful shootout strike.

The Golden Knights record improves to 4-4-0 after their 5-4 SO victory against the Ducks. Vegas hits the road for a four game road trip starting off in Toronto on Tuesday. Puck drop against the Maple Leafs is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: After the game Pete DeBoer said this game felt like it was five games wrapped up in one. If that’s true, the Golden Knights were the better team in four of the five, but that one they weren’t almost erased all of it. This one would have stung badly even if they had dropped it in overtime or shootout. Instead, they get the two points and you can chalk about the blown lead as not a huge deal. (Recap by Ken)


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Will The Pacific Division Be More Challenging For Vegas in 2021-22?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After four NHL seasons the Golden Knights have benefited by playing in the Pacific Division. Since 2017, Vegas has played 113 games against their divisional “rivals” and tallied a total of 168 out of a possible 226 points. That’s an astonishing .743 Points % against the Pacific Division in four seasons.

Hockey’s been a little bit tough with our team not being very good the last few years and not getting back to the playoffs… Things are looking up for us now. We got some new players and some young guys coming up. I’m excited for this season to start.- Drew Doughty, LAK defenseman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Let’s be honest, it’s been easy street for the Golden Knights since they entered the league.

VGK All-Time Record vs. Pacific Division

vs. Anaheim: 20 Games (17-3-0) 34 Pts, .850 Pts %, 74 Goals For, 37 Goals Allowed, +37 Goal Differential

vs. Arizona: 20 Games (14-6-0) 28 Pts, .700 Pts %, 57 Goals For, 46 Goals Allowed, + 11 Goal Differential

vs. Calgary: 11 Games (8-3-0) 16 Pts, .727 Pts %, 42 Goals For, 31 Goals Allowed, + 11 Goal Differential

vs. Edmonton: 11 Games (6-4-1) 13 Pts, .591 Pts %, 35 Goals For, 31 Goals Allowed, +4 Goal Differential

vs. LA: 21 Games (11-8-2) 24 Pts, .571 Pts %, 63 Goals For, 60 Goals Allowed, +3 Goal Differential

vs. San Jose: 20 Games (16-1-3) 35 Pts, .875 Pts %, 78 Goals For, 40 Goals Allowed, +38 Goal Differential

vs. Vancouver: 10 Games (8-0-2) 18 Pts, .900 Pts %, 45 Goals For, 26 Goals Allowed, +19 Goal Differential

Since their existence the Golden Knights have proven to be the team to beat in the Pacific. Vegas has a positive goal differential against every team in the division and holds an overall goal differential of +123, talk about dominance. All indications show it should be the same in 2021-22.

Only a few west coast teams have kept their games with Vegas competitive but still not enough to threaten their path to the playoffs. Sure, San Jose won their seven game series in 2019 but in the regular season it’s been embarrassingly lopsided. Since that series three postseasons ago, the Sharks have been a non-factor in the Pacific, same goes for Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver. However, two clubs that will make things more difficult for Vegas this season are the Kings and Oilers. Each team has challenged Vegas in the regular season being edged out by one game in their series history with the 31st franchise.

While it’s hard to make judgements based off two exhibition games but it’s safe to say that Los Angeles is an improved club. Even with a lack of talent in their lineup the King’s have competed in most matchups. Coming into 2021-22, LA and Knight killer Philip Danault will continue to frustrate VGK’s offensive threats. Coveted prospects are performing at a high level and LA’s star veterans could create further problems for Vegas and the rest of the Pacific Division.

There’s not much to say about Edmonton. As long as they dress Connor McDavid every game is up in the air. Same can be said for the newest team in hockey. Seattle is the biggest wildcard in the division. Based on what the Golden Knights did in their inaugural season you’d be a fool to count out the Kraken. Calgary, San Jose and Vancouver are expected to finish below Vegas but one of those three teams could make a surprising push for the postseason.

All in all, the Pacific Division is still considered relatively weak but has improved. Vegas is the only team that isn’t being doubted by analysts across the league. The other seven teams have questions to answer and it should be a tight battle for two of three divisional playoff spots. Although the Pacific may have gotten better and could make it more difficult for Vegas to run away with the division but it’s still the Golden Knights to lose.

Offseason Additions And Subtractions In The Pacific Division

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are back at home in the Pacific Division where they have dominated the competition over the past four seasons. A lot has changed since 2019 though. The NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, are now in the Pacific, Arizona has left for the Central, the Canadian teams all look much different now, and the trio of California teams each ready to see if their rebuilds can start taking shape.

Everyone here already knows all about the Golden Knights and the Kraken are a complete wild card heading into this year, so let’s take a look at the key additions and subtractions from each of the other six teams in the Pacific.

Anaheim Ducks

Add: Greg Pateryn, Danny O’Regan
Subtract: Haydn Fleury, Danton Heinen, Andy Welinski

For a team that is supposed to be in the middle of a rebuild, this was a shockingly boring offseason for the Ducks. They still have a bevy of prospects that could break through at any moment, but looking at what we saw last year coupled with the mild offseason, Anaheim is probably the worst team not only in the Pacific but in the entire NHL.

Calgary Flames

Add: Blake Coleman, Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Pitlick, Trevor Lewis, Andy Welinski
Subtract: Mark Giordano, Josh Leivo, Derek Ryan, Dominik Simon

Losing Giordano hurts, a lot, but they did well to bring in usable players to replace what went out this offseason. Coleman will likely be an excellent option to play somewhere in their strong top-six and it will allow for a bit more depth through what has been a fairly weak 12-man forward group the last few years. One of these times Zadorov is going to find the right fit and become the player most believe he can become, and this certainly might be it. The rest of it is somewhat of a depth reshuffle which is always good for a team that struggled the year before. Calgary likely won’t challenge Vegas atop the division, but they could be a sneaky tough team and they are always a pain in the butt to play against.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 ANAHEIM DUCKS 1 (34-11-2 70 PTS)

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Recap: It took :28 seconds for the Golden Knights to take control of the game in Anaheim. Chandler Stephenson scored on Vegas’ first shot and added another later in the period. The Golden Knights took a comfortable 2-0 lead into the first intermission. 

William Carrier stretched Vegas’ lead to 3-0 early in the middle period. Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner kept the Ducks scoreless through 40 minutes. 

Anaheim would eventually score to get within two but Vegas swiftly responded. William Karlsson regained the three-goal advantage with his 12th and Shea Theodore scored his 7th of the season. 

Vegas’ record improves to 34-11-2 after their 5-1 victory in Anaheim. The Golden Knights get a few days off and prepare for the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. The game against Colorado is scheduled for 6:30 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights didn’t play well, and they still were not even on the same planet as the Ducks. Anaheim is horrible, Vegas is very good. Now, the real game, Wednesday against Colorado. (Analysis by Ken)


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Vegas Reveals Successful Template In Anaheim

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As we watched over the weekend, the Golden Knights easily dominated the basement-dwelling Anaheim Ducks in two straight games. It’s clear Vegas is the much, much better team. This season the Golden Knights are 6-1-0 against the Ducks and have dictated the season series except for an earlier 1-0 defeat.

They’ve done the same against pretty much every other inferior team in the division as well. It’s been that type of campaign for the Golden Knights. They mop up on inferior opponents, winning games by an average of 1.5 goals per game.

VGK vs. ANA, ARI, LA, SJ, STL (Combined record: 87-104-28)
119 Goals Scored
69 Goals Allowed
3.71 Goals For Per 60
2.15 Goals Allowed Per 60
48 Goal Differential
53 out of 64 Points (26-5-1, .828)

It’s no secret the Golden Knights have had an easy path to a postseason berth. Same goes for the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. All three have built strong records by defeating the teams they should. So, it’s unfair to solely mock the Golden Knights for their weak schedule.

Points Percentage vs West Division Teams
Colorado .744 PTS%
Vegas .727 PTS%
Minnesota .663 PTS%

Realistically, that’s what contending teams need to do. Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota were all handed a light schedule before the season began and have done their job gathering as many points as possible. It shouldn’t matter what level of competition they face. There’s no secret formula for beating and taking advantage of lesser opponents. However, that’ll end in early May when the regular season concludes and they have to exclusively play each other.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 ANAHEIM DUCKS 2 (31-11-2 64 PTS)

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Recap: The Golden Knights took control of the game early on when Max Pacioretty deflected in his 22nd goal of the season. Anaheim tied the game 1-1 but Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo regained the lead for Vegas later in the period.

Nic Roy stretched Vegas’ lead to 3-1 with his seventh goal of the year. The Ducks added a second goal to get within one but captain Mark Stone scored a power play goal taking a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.

Alex Tuch sealed the game late with an empty-net goal. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury held the two-goal edge winning his 486th career win.

Vegas’ record improves to 31-11-2 after their 5-2 victory in Anaheim. The Golden Knights head home for the next two games hosting the San Jose Sharks. Tomorrow’s game against San Jose is scheduled for 7 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights are still a lot better than the Ducks. (Analysis by Ken)


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