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Sportsnet Weighs In On Future Of Chandler Stephenson And Jonathan Marchessault

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’ve been very open with our feelings about getting a deal done with unrestricted free agent Jonathan Marchessault. Sure, we know the organization would prefer to keep the 2023 Conn Smythe winner but as Vegas fans have heard over and over again, ‘hockey is a business.’ Understanding that, it’ll be a challenge getting deals done for Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson and the rest of VGK’s unrestricted free agent.

[Vegas] will be hard-pressed to re-up Marchessault, centre Chandler Stephenson and rental Anthony Mantha now that [they’ve] locked up Noah Hanifin. No one would blame the late-blooming Marchessault ($29 million in career earnings) for pulling an Alex Killorn and taking the best offer available. –Luke Fox on Sportsnet.ca

In the eyes of Vegas fans, they would like to see #81 cash in but in Las Vegas and as a Golden Knight. Sure, the fans desire isn’t necessarily VGK’s front office priorities, but they are aware of the negative attention they’ll receive if they let Marchessault walk. It will infuriate a fanbase that’s been giving almost everything they could want in seven seasons. However, a year-old Stanley Cup trophy won’t satisfy the void of the franchise’s most beloved and decorated player.

The Conn Smythe–winning Marchessault is an original Misfit integral to the defending champions’ off-ice culture and on-ice success. No doubt, in a cap-free world, the sides would be content to extend their relationship beyond this season. Yet one only need to look as far as Reilly Smith, GM Kelly McCrimmon’s 2023 cap casualty, to see the line between sentiment and business. –Fox on Sportsnet.ca

To a lesser extent, Stephenson is another Golden Knight that fans would like to see return next season. However, with only a certain amount of capital, both UFA’s are tied to one another.

The demand for both centres and proven post-season performers remains sky high in the NHL. The Detroit Red Wings splashed $25.5 million at centre J.T. Compher in 2023’s free agency, and his previous best was 52 points. Bottom line: There will be a robust market for the two-way Stephenson if he remains unsigned by July. –Fox on Sportsnet.ca

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Everything That Was Said About Jonathan Marchessault At Locker Cleanup Day

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At the final media session for the year for the Golden Knights, everyone said the right things about pending UFA Jonathan Marchessault’s place within the organization. Now, it’s up to the team to take action to keep him here.

Here’s everything that was said about his situation from Marchessault himself, Bruce Cassidy, Kelly McCrimmon, and a bunch of his teammates.

I’ve done everything I can to stay here. I know I’m a big part of this organization and team and I’ve proven it along the years. I’m pretty confident. I would love to stay, it’s my home. I’ve been part of the group of guys that started this. It’s the most proud thing I’ve done in my life professionally for sure. I’m just happy to be a Golden Knight and I want to be one the rest of my life but that’s not necessarily in my control. It’s something my agent and Kelly are going to go through. I love it here, I want to stay here for sure, but we’ll see. -Jonathan Marchessault

I had a real good meeting with Marchy this morning. We talked with his representatives. Marchy is an original, he’s a core player, and he had a career year. So he’s done everything humanly possible to put himself in a good position. We really like the player and his value extends beyond what you see on the ice. He’s a really important leader and an important guy in our dressing room. There’s certainly a strong willingness from both sides to have real good discussions. That’s what we’re going to work on. With that said we’re not going to comment on the ongoing commentary of how it’s going or that type of thing, we’ll work diligently and see where we get to. -Kelly McCrimmon

I don’t know when it will happen. I talked to Kelly this morning and he wants me back, he likes me. And obviously the feeling is mutual. I love Vegas, I love my teammates, I love the organization, the coaching staff, all the staff working with us, they are family to me now. I could have had a rough season after doing everything we’ve done as a team and personally, but I had a good one still. So it just shows I left it all out there and things will happen I guess, we will see. -Marchessault

I love coaching Jonathan Marchessault. The progression we’ve made might be one of the best ones I’ve enjoyed from where we started to where we ended up. We started with how will we prepare for games, how will we practice, what do I need out of you, 200-foot player, what does he need, the back-and-forth, we’re both emotional. And then we win the Stanley Cup, he wins the Conn Smythe, he has a career year. For me, those are all rewarding things as a coach to see a player go through and you feel like you’ve done your small part as a coach when that happens. I enjoy my relationship with him talking honestly and openly. I love his energy around the room. He’s had great years as a Golden Knights. I can’t say enough good things about him. As a coach, you hope you can keep everybody together, him included. That’s between his party and Crim to try to get something done. I know the situation he’s in, we’ve got four or five of those guys. That’s my experience from day one til now. Love coaching the guy. Terrific guy for the room. When you see a relationship develop like that it’s nice. I’ve had it with other players where we become a little closer than some other guys, that you end up interacting with more for whatever reason. That’s how it went with Marchy. We’ll see how it leads. -Bruce Cassidy

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VGK’s Deadline Overhaul Impacted By Lack Of Chemistry

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been years since Golden Knights fans have felt the empty feelings of a first round exit. Excluding the dreadful missed playoff season of 2022, Vegas has only one other first round defeat. It stunk back then and stinks again this spring.

Now that the team has been eliminated, cleaned out their lockers, and begun making summer plans, it’s time to begin diagnosing the 2023-24 season. There’s an abundance of discussions but we’ll take our time addressing them. After all, we have an unexpectedly longer summer than in years past.

How much better did the Golden Knights get after the trade deadline?

Post trade deadline the Golden Knights received extremely high grades for their late season wheeling and dealing. Completing packages for Noah Hanifin, Tomas Hertl, and Anthony Mantha, the Golden Knights put the league on notice. All signs pointed to a deep run in the playoffs with Vegas’ new flashy lineup.

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Cassidy’s Neutral Zone Adjustment Helped VGK Win Game 6, And Maybe Game 7 Too

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

In most playoff series the matchup of the coaches gets overblown. Talk of adjustments, line changes, goalie decisions, motivational tactics, and so much more find their way into the ether when in reality, the better hockey team typically wins despite all of it.

When it comes to the Golden Knights and Stars first round series headed to a 7th and final game, there’s no doubt the coaching has had an impact. Bruce Cassidy’s box-and-one defending style helped Vegas grab a pair of leads and hold onto them to take control of the series. Then, Pete DeBoer’s squad adjusted their exits by using the walls more to help his defensemen get the puck out before VGK’s big bruising forecheck got into the picture.

DeBoer also deserves credit for advising his forwards to leak out of the zone even earlier than they are used to catch a Vegas defense that often overloads a side of the ice against transition chances. Dallas has hit multiple stretch passes that have sent players in on clean breakaways. (Fortunately for Vegas their goalies have shut down most of them.)

As the tide of the series shifted back from Vegas to Dallas, Cassidy had to find a way to speed his team up. The Stars were making the Golden Knights look old and stodgy by limiting their ability to carry the puck through the center of the ice. In Game 6, Cassidy presented another option to his team, it unlocked the neutral zone, and made Vegas look fast again.

They’ve done a really good job at taking away the middle of the ice. We pride ourselves in that too. So, there’s room outside. So that’s what we did. We said, ok we’ve got to get the puck outside and take the ice that’s there. You’re probably not making a lot of east-west plays in the he neutral zone and we didn’t. We took what was there for the most part. -Cassidy

Here are a couple of quick examples of exactly what he’s talking about.

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“More Effective O-Zone Time” The Key To Turning Around VGK’s 5-on-5 Troubles

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

As we head towards Game 6 and what will be a pivotal game on the Golden Knights’ championship defending season, all eyes are on Vegas’s ability to put the puck in the net at 5-on-5.

In five games, the Golden Knights have scored just seven goals at 5-on-5. Four of them came in the two games Vegas won to open the series. There’s no way around it, if the Golden Knights want their season to continue tonight, they must generate more offense.

It starts with spending more time in the offensive zone.

We need more effective O-Zone time. We need more time by winning more races and battles and getting out of those swarms quicker with appropriate support. And then we need to be better on recovering shots that do go towards the net. We need to be better at executing the next pass. -Bruce Cassidy

The first step to creating that time is getting the puck in deep and working to get it back.

We wanted to establish forecheck presence and pressure on them no matter who was in the lineup whether they were using 4, 5, or 6 guys because we feel it can be effective for us. And it limits them getting back up the ice. Like Heiskanen, Harley, and Lundkvist, if he’s in there, they are good at getting up the ice and supporting the rush. -Cassidy

Dallas using only five defensemen for most of the games this series has been something on the surface that looks like Vegas can exploit, but Cassidy doesn’t see it that way. At least not yet.

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It’s Time For Vegas’ Best Game

From ESPN broadcast

It’s time.

It’s time for Mark Stone. It’s time for Alex Pietrangelo. It’s time for Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault and Shea Theodore and William Karlsson. It’s time for the roster littered with Stanley Cup rings. It’s time for the team that went all-in at the deadline. It’s time for the lineup so stacked it’s drawn the wrath of the NHL world.

Everything is in place. Now, the players have to do it.

The front office has restocked the team to give them every chance under the sun possible to repeat. The coach has presented them with a plan that has proven to work. He subsequently pressed all the buttons at the same time to see if he could shock the system.

In this series and especially in the last three games, Vegas’ best players have not been good enough. Stone, Hertl, and Stephenson have not been on the ice for a single 5-on-5 goal. Karlsson has been out there for just one. Marchessault hasn’t come through with a clutch  late-game goal. And let’s not even get started about whatever is going on with Alex Pietrangelo.

Simply put, based on the analytics, the Golden Knights are fortunate to still have a chance to rescue their title defending season.

They can’t wait any longer and the task is as tall as it’s ever been.

They’ll face their first elimination game since 2021 and have to beat a team (and goalie) brimming with confidence. Then, they’ll have to break Pete DeBoer’s perfect 7-0 record in Game 7’s.

But if there’s anyone that can do it, it’s the Golden Knights.

We’ve seen it, literally just seven days ago the reigning champions were the favorites to win the Western Conference. They’ve shown the ability to lock down the Dallas Stars powerful offense. They’ve shown the strength to hold the puck in the offensive zone and wear down a 5-man defense unit. And they’ve been able to break one of the better goalies in the league.

It’s going to take Vegas’ best game and then an even better game after it. And it’s going to take a great performance from the captain, a controlled one from their first alternate, and a step forward by the Conn Smythe, the trade deadline acquisitions, and the rest of the depth of the team.

There’s only one way forward and it all rests on the shoulders of the players. No more excuses.

Time to rise up like the champions.

What VGK Did Wrong In Game 3 And How They Can Correct It

Photo from ProjectSaint in SinBin Discord

The Golden Knights’ performance to start Game 3 was unrecognizable compared to how they played in Dallas in the first two games of the series. They were outshot 30-10 in the first half of the game and if it weren’t for an other-worldly goaltending performance from Logan Thompson would have been trailing by five or six rather than just two.

Of course, Vegas stormed back into the game with a 4-on-4 goal followed by a shorthanded tally but never got their game going in the right direction at 5-on-5 for the entirety of the 76 minute game.

There were two main problems that plagued the Golden Knights in Game 3 and they worked hand in hand to allow the Stars to dictate a majority of the contest. First, VGK’s puck management in the neutral zone was poor. They turned the puck over on countless occasions leading directly or indirectly to transition chances the other way. This meant as the game went along they became more committed to dumping the puck into the offensive zone. That’s where problem two arose, Vegas struggled to slow down Dallas’ exits along the walls.

Combine them both, and it led to one way traffic coming at Thompson for most of the night, illustrated perfectly by a 27-4 edge in high-danger chances and 54-26 in overall scoring chances to Dallas.

They took it to us. We had no business being in that game. LT stood on his head and allowed us a chance to get back in it. We have to learn from it and have a better start in Game 4. -Brayden McNabb

The first issue is a simple one to fix. Game 3 was not the first time the Golden Knights have had puck management issues this season and typically they were able to correct it quickly. It’s the other aspect of the game that is a bit more concerning.

We have to play through their hands. There’s a lot of time we’re going up as defensemen or forwards coming back and we’re doing fly-bys. We need to close on that guy whether the D goes up and ends it and the forward reads off him and gets over the middle speed or the forward gets up and ends it because the D wasn’t able to get there in time and then the D recovers to the middle to get over their middle speed to neutralize it. -Bruce Cassidy

Here’s an example of what Cassidy is talking about.

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