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VGK Must Learn To “Get Out Of A Bad Stretch Quicker”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the hallmarks of the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup was resiliency. From bouncing back from losses to correcting mistakes to keeping games within touching distance nothing was able to throw the team off the road of achieving their goal.

That continued this year to start the season as the first 12 games of the season were a clinic in keeping games close and grinding out victories. No opponent could string together goals which kept every game close and eventually Vegas’ talent won out.

Recently though, the same cannot be said about the Golden Knights. There’s no better example of it than the previous game in Boston. Vegas arguably were the better team for 40 minutes in a game on the road against an excellent opponent, but a dismal 20 minutes that saw the score snowball was too much to overcome.

We’ve got to get out of a bad stretch quicker. We give up a goal, we’ve got to get back to work. Can the coach call a timeout every time that happens? Yes, but is your team going to grow if you do that? I don’t know. So there’s a little bit of that that’s incumbent on the players. If something bad happens, park it, and let’s go. -Bruce Cassidy

It wasn’t just in Boston either. The Golden Knights have given up consecutive goals 14 times in the last eight games. It’s no surprise the record over that stretch for Vegas is a concerning 2-5-1.

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Recap: The Golden Knights fought off the Boston Bruins for the better part of the opening period, but the scoring picked up with five minutes remaining. The Bruins scored three quick goals in a three-minute span to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.

The tables completely turned in the middle frame and the Golden Knights came firing back. Paul Cotter opened the scoring for Vegas and minutes later Alex Pietrangelo recorded his 600th career point, getting his team within one. The Bruins regained their two-goal advantage at the 16:32 mark of the period but Michael Amadio recorded his 11th goal of 2023-24 a minute later. After two periods of action, the home team held a 4-3 edge.

Early in the final frame, the Golden Knights tied the game 4-4 after Chandler Stephenson answered with a shorthanded breakaway. Boston was awarded a late-game power play and with under five minutes remaining the home team regained their lead.

The Golden Knights record drops to 33-20-7 falling to the Bruins 5-4 in Boston. Vegas will continue their five-game road trip on Saturday evening in Buffalo. Puck drop against the Sabres is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A disaster in the 1st period put the Golden Knights in a hole that was ultimately too deep. They could not keep the Bruins away from the slot in the 1st and it meant three goals. Then, Vegas flipped the script in the 2nd and they were the ones throwing the kitchen sink at Boston. A shorty in the 3rd nearly rescued it but going down that much to a good team is a bad recipe. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

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Recap: The Golden Knights were looking to get back on track with a victory over the visiting Boston Bruins. Vegas had several quality chances on net in the period but kept coming up short in the offensive zone. Late in the period, Ivan Barbashev drew a penalty giving the home team the first power play of the game. The reigning champions had some chances but ultimately skated into the break tied 0-0.

Both teams played strong defensively in the middle frame. Vegas’s Jack Eichel and Mark Stone left the ice for a period of time with an apparent injury, but both returned later in the game. After 40 minutes the game was locked in a scoreless tie.

Vegas finally broke through in the final period on their 5th power play. Jonathan Marchessault found Eichel in front of the net giving the reigning champions a 1-0 advantage. Five minutes later the Bruins evened the score, forcing overtime.

In extra time Stone broke out and assisted Alex Pietrangelo for the game-winning score.

The Golden Knights record improves to 24-13-5 defeating the Bruins 2-1 in overtime. Vegas will continue their five-game homestand with a matchup on Saturday vs. the Calgary Flames. Puck drop against the Flames is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For a lot of this skid the Golden Knights have not played well enough to deserve to win. This was absolutely not one of those games. They played very well defensively for most of the night and won the special teams battle. In OT, the Golden Knights controlled the puck for the entirety of the frame and eventually found the game-winning. A much needed win for a reeling team. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Boston Bruins at T-Mobile Arena.

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Golden Knights To Face Incredibly Difficult Back-To-Back

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tonight and tomorrow may be the biggest two-game challenge the Golden Knights will face this entire regular season. Mired by injuries to multiple key starters, Vegas travels to Colorado tonight before heading home to face a Boston team already waiting for them at T-Mobile Arena.

The Golden Knights fared well in their first matchup with the Avalanche, torching Colorado 7-0 back in early November. However, the two teams come into this game in much different forms.

Colorado ripped off six straight wins to start the season, but then went back-to-back games without scoring a goal losing 4-0 to both Pittsburgh and Buffalo. They beat St. Louis right before playing the Golden Knights, but the loss in Vegas marked their third time being shutout in four games. Their offense is in a much different place right now.

The Avs have won seven of their last nine games amassing 37 goals, or more than four per game. They’ve scored at least four goals in 10 of their last 14 and have posted at least five in six of them. Their power play is clicking at 36% since mid-December and they are outshooting teams by a wide margin nightly.

Colorado’s last win was a shootout victory against VGK’s next opponent, the Bruins. Boston is currently on a two-game losing streak but they’ve recorded points in seven of their last eight and rattled off a four-game winning streak as the calendar turned to 2024.

They too have been scoring goals at a rapid pace. Boston has tallied 36 times in their last eight games, 4.5 per game. They’ve scored at least three in every game they’ve played since Christmas, and have posted five or more in four of the last eight.

Vegas enters tonight’s contest in Colorado as +122 underdogs at William Hill. This will be the 9th time the Golden Knights will play a game as underdogs. They are 3-5 in the first eight but have lost each of the last four by a combined score of 21-11. VGK have allowed at least four goals in all four of those games and were only within one goal once.

This is 10th consecutive time the Golden Knights are underdogs when visiting Colorado. Vegas has fared fairly well in the last nine though, winning five. Things have not gone as well against Boston, especially at home. The Golden Knights have lost four straight home games against the Bruins including a 3-1 loss as underdogs in December of last season.

Adin Hill appears to be making his return tonight, but if the Golden Knights want to start stacking some wins together, they’ll have to slow down some red-hot offenses as underdogs in a back-to-back with travel. No one is saying Vegas can’t do it, but unlike most situations this season, they aren’t expected to.

Vegas The Talk Of Original Six Hockey Fans

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

If you plan on traveling over the next few weeks, be prepared to chit-chat about the 2023 Stanley Cup champions. From the West Coast, Midwest, and Northeast, the Golden Knights Cup run has become a common conversation among sports fans.

I just don’t understand how a team can be so competitive and capture a Stanley Cup in six seasons. It’s mind-boggling to me that my team hasn’t been able to put together something so impressive like Vegas has. Maybe, we needed that coach behind our bench. -Dennis McCaul, Connecticut native & NY Rangers fan

At this moment Vegas fans cannot understand what it’s like to go through decade-long droughts like Islanders, Rangers, or Canadiens fans have gone through since before the turn of the century. Albeit all three clubs are massively popular with their fanbase, but to them it’s still a failure of a season if their team wasn’t the last one standing.

Local fans were introduced to a winning culture from the first puck drop of their 2017-18 inaugural season (“We played Arizona, and we beat the shit out of them”), but the Golden Knights didn’t take center stage in the sports world like they have now. Winning a championship brings more attention, more out-of-town observers, and more jealousy. While Ranger fans are frustrated with their team’s disappointing season, they were entertained and impressed with Vegas’ five-game Stanley Cup accomplishment.

I’m not sure why I cared. I was so pissed off by the Bruins performance I stopped watching the playoffs. Towards the middle of the conference finals I started paying attention again and the Golden Knights were the team I was rooting for. Obviously, Cassidy was a big reason for that but I also enjoyed watching the players on the team. They played like a team. Really, what I expected from the Bruins. Don’t even get me started, but overall I was glad to see Vegas win. -Jim Selvitella, Massachusetts native and Bruins fan

Specifically, Boston fans felt a connection to the Golden Knights because of their respect for former Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. Many B’s fans have convinced themselves that if Cassidy hadn’t been let go in Boston, their team would’ve lifted their first Stanley Cup since 2011. Others were happy the coach won before their favorite team. That’s typical behavior from a fanbase with so much disdain for the Bruins brass. In their opinion, the wrong people were let go and Cassidy ended up being the scapegoat.

Overall, it’s been a mixed bag of emotions from mostly Eastern Conference hockey fans. You’ll notice more anger, frustration, and sourness from Western Conference and specifically Pacific Division fanbases. Outside of Miami-Dade County, East Coast fans are largely happy the Golden Knights became this season’s champions. The players, the coach, the theatrics. Vegas stole fans away from eliminated teams along their 2023 Stanley Cup chase. The bandwagon will likely end on opening night in October.

VGK Earns High Respect In Latest NHL Power Rankings

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In exactly one month from yesterday the NHL playoffs will begin. Barring any major collapses, the Golden Knights will be one of the Western Conference’s most dangerous participants. However, some continue to doubt Vegas as a serious Stanley Cup contender. For example, MoneyPuck’s Power Rankings list the Golden Knights as the league’s 16th best team.

Over the years the Golden Knights front office built a team well-suited for the postseason. Six players have customized championship rings, and 12 others have playoff experience. Experience makes a different in the NHL’s second season. While MoneyPuck’s computer model doubts Vegas’ chances, several other Power Rankings are much more favorable to the 31st franchise. Here are the latest rankings from hockey outlets across the league.

Sportsnet – VGK #2 

As you’d expect with a team dubbed the ‘Golden Misfits’ in their early expansion days, there is no shortage of guys who beat the odds in Vegas. All three members of the original ‘Misfit Line’ — William Karlsson between Reilly Smith and undrafted Jonathan Marchessault — are still there and have been joined by a captain, in Mark Stone, who was a sixth-round selection with questionable skating; Chandler Stephenson, a third-rounder who immediately became a top-six centre after Vegas fleeced Washington for his services; and undrafted goalie Logan Thompson, who was in the thick of the Calder Trophy race before getting hurt this season.- Ryan Dixon, Sportsnet

The Canadian avenue clearly respects the Golden Knights lineup enough to have them one spot below the high-powered Boston Bruins and higher than two teams with better records. It’s possible Sportsnet sees an easier postseason path for Vegas, or that their newly formed lineup is deep enough for a Cup run. Would Sportsnet rank Vegas higher than Boston if Mark Stone were healthy in time for the playoffs? That’s a bit of a stretch.

The Hockey News – VGK #3

The Knights are on a tear with four straight wins and seven of their past eight. They still haven’t really missed a beat despite being on their fourth starter in Jonathan Quick, who’s 4-0-0 with the Knights. As it stands, the Knights and Kings will face each other in the second round of the playoffs if they advance.- Jason Chen, THN

THN posted their latest Power Rankings before the Golden Knights last contest, but it would be difficult to drop Vegas more than two or three spots. Jonathan Quick’s success with Vegas has given the Pacific Division leader more security in net after injuries to virtually every Golden Knights goaltender.

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Season Arc Following Familiar Pattern For Bruce Cassidy Teams

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

15 games into the season the Golden Knights were rolling. They’d won 13 of their first 15 games, became the first team in the Western Conference to 10 wins, and were as healthy as any team in the league. It was the perfect start to Bruce Cassidy’s reign in Vegas.

Then, the injuries started to pile up, the performances started to dip, and suddenly the coach has begun to come under some scrutiny for his brash honesty following games.

There’s a concern that after five years of almost no outright accountability in the media by the Golden Knights’ head coach, Cassidy’s style could have more of a negative effect on the players than the desired positive one.

However, the season has actually gone fairly similarly to many Cassidy has coached before. Before the year we pointed out how often Cassidy-led teams get out to hot starts. What we didn’t highlight was what tends to happen next to those teams.

Bear in mind, I’m doing a lot of cherry-picking to find the best and worst stretches in from the beginning, middle, and end of each season, but there’s no question Boston teams started well, faded, and then finished strong.

Here are the starts for each of the last four Bruins’ seasons.

21-22: 22-11-2 (.657)
20-21: 10-1-2 (.846)
19-20: 11-1-2 (.857)
18-19: 10-5-2 (.647)

Then, look at what happened through the middle of the year.

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