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VGK Team Chemistry On Full Display In Buffalo

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was clear that last night’s 7-4 victory in Buffalo was an emotional game not just for Jack Eichel but the entire Golden Knights locker room. Realistically, the team could have been caught looking forward to their flight home, but Vegas came out like it was the biggest game on the road trip. From the comments by the players after the game, it sure seemed like it.

He’s one of the more impressive teammates I’ve ever played with, if not the best player I’ve ever played with. It’s all about support in this locker room. Everybody supporting each other and I couldn’t be happier for the guy, he deserves it. -Mark Stone

We noted earlier this month that the long Eastern Conference road trip could help grow an already healthy team chemistry and it showed against the Sabres. Sure, OT winners in Washington and Toronto should be considered taxing victories but neither felt as important as the contest up in Northern New York. From the players to the coach, anyone in white and gold was emotionally invested in shutting up the heckling fans in Buffalo. Bench boss Bruce Cassidy made his declaration on the intense, revenge game when he spoke with ESPN in the 1st period.

The puck has found Jack a couple of times in great spots, hopefully he buries one. -Bruce Cassidy, on ESPN broadcast

Eichel’s retribution was important to him but possibly even more to his teammates. Leaving Buffalo with two points was the club’s only mission and they were well prepared for a passionate battle against the Sabres. Last night could have been the loudest confirmation of how strong the bond is in the 13-2-0 Golden Knights locker room. Unbeaten in nine straight games, five on an eleven-day road trip and finishing with a statement win in Buffalo is exactly how a tight group travels back home.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 7 BUFFALO SABRES 4 (13-2-0 26 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights were looking to make it a clean sweep on their five-game road trip by taking on the Buffalo Sabres. Both teams had extra motivation going into the game; Vegas wanted to pick up the win for teammate Jack Eichel and the entire city of Buffalo were hoping to send their former captain back to Nevada empty-handed. Chandler Stephenson set the table for the Golden Knights with a power play 5:44 into the game. Buffalo later evened the score with a PP goal of their own.

Phil Kessel snapped the tie early in the 2nd period giving Vegas a 2-1 advantage. The Sabres added another PP goal, but Paul Cotter gave the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.

The 3rd period was the Jack Eichel show. He assisted on the first goal and then scored three straight to net his first hat trick as a Vegas Golden Knight.

With the 7-4 win, the Golden Knights record improves to 13-2-0 and sweep their five-game Eastern Conference road trip. Vegas will travel back home and prepare for the struggling St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Puck drop against the Blues is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Eichel. (Recap by Ken)

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Table Is Set For Eichel To Lead VGK’s Offense To The Postseason

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy will be Jack Eichel’s sixth in his seven-season career. Some point fingers at the 25-year-old and say it’s a pattern. Others are willing to give him a pass based on Buffalo’s inability to dress a competitive team. No matter which side you are on, all are hoping that Eichel has his best years under Cassidy.

You can’t win the Stanley Cup unless you get in the playoffs. When I came here, the standard here is the Stanley Cup. And that’s our goal. Obviously, I think we all understand the situation that we’re in. -Jack Eichel, May 2022

In Buffalo, Eichel had his best seasons playing for head coach Phil Housley. In 2018-19, the former Sabre totaled 82 points (28 Goals, 54 Assists) and finished in the top 25 in both points and assists. Eichel had another strong campaign in 2019-20, averaging (1.15 PPG) more than a point a game. However, he watched the playoffs from home.

Eichel’s Top Three Seasons

  • 2018-19: 82 Points (28 G, 54 A), 77 Games, 1.06 Points Per Game, 26 Power Play Points
  • 2019-20: 78 Points (36 G, 42 A), 68 Games, 1.15 Points Per Game, 27 Power Play Points
  • 2017-18: 64 Points (25 G, 39 A), 67 Games, 0.96 Points Per Game, 20 Power Play Points

*One Season w/ Vegas: 25 Points (14 G, 11 A), 34 Games, 0.74 Points Per Game, 8 Power Play Points

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Golden Knights Understandably Losing Composure After Latest Setback

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

It’s becoming easier and easier to hear and see the frustration coming from the Golden Knights during their current five-game road trip. As the losses pile up some of the players are acting a bit out of character. Honestly, after the last few weeks who can blame them. In early January, Vegas was sitting comfortably in a playoff spot leading the Western Conference by three points. Now they stand 21 points behind the conference-leading Colorado Avalanche and hanging on to a playoff spot by a thread.

The rapid descent in the standings is taking a toll on Vegas’ players and coaches. After yesterday’s 6-4 loss in Columbus, a normally mild-mannered Chandler Stephenson was unfiltered about his club’s inability to win.

Everybody has to dig deeper, grab their nuts and just work. That’s the bottom line. -Chandler Stephenson

Stephenson seemed tired of making excuses and answering questions about how and when will the team turn things around. Like other teammates, they don’t have the answers, so they vent. Including coach Pete DeBoer.

We’re four games into this trip and I could argue we could have won every one of the games, but we found ways to lose. And that’s troubling. We’ve got to stop the bleeding. -Pete DeBoer

Four days ago newcomer Jack Eichel gave his now infamous postgame riff after Vegas’ 3-1 loss in Buffalo. Eichel’s disparaging remarks about his former supporters are still trending in trash talk history. Many in Vegas have already forgotten and really don’t care what Eichel’s feelings about Buffalo are. That’s fair, frankly, I don’t care much either. However, it was an opportunity for the 25-year-old to come out on top, but he chose the heel route, and that’s resonating around the league, especially in Buffalo.

Let’s chalk it up to emotions, and give Eichel a pass for being out of character. After all, it was his first toe stub since becoming a Vegas Golden Knight.

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BUFFALO SABRES 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (32-23-4 68 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights traveled to Buffalo in what was Jack Eichel’s first visit back to Upstate New York. But the Sabres didn’t care. Former 1st round pick and Vegas prospect Peyton Krebs gave Buffalo the first lead of the game. Vegas was awarded three power plays but couldn’t do anything on the man advantage.

Vegas outshot Buffalo heavily in the 2nd period but couldn’t even the score. The Golden Knights were given more power play time but went silent again in the middle frame.

Finally, in the 3rd, the Golden Knights were able to break through and tie the game 1-1. Defenseman Ben Hutton tallied his third of the season to keep Vegas in the game. However, a few minutes later Jonathan Marchessault took a minor penalty which Buffalo took advantage of. The Sabres took the lead with three minutes left and eventually saw Alex Tuch ice it with an empty netter.

The Golden Knights record drops to 32-23-4 falling 3-1 to the Sabres. The Golden Knights have dropped their first two of this five game road trip. Next Vegas will face off against the Penguins tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. Puck drop is set for 4 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Hello darkness. Another game in which the Golden Knights simply could not put the puck in the net against a bad hockey team. It’s a pass/fail type situation for Vegas right now and this one goes heavily in the fail column. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 BUFFALO SABRES 2 (27-16-3 57 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights returned home from their four-game road trip to host the Buffalo Sabres. Vegas didn’t wait long taking the lead scoring :33 seconds into the game. Reilly Smith scored his 12th of the season to make 1-0 VGK. Brett Howden doubled the Golden Knights lead late in the opening period taking a 2-0 edge into the first intermission.

Jonathan Marchessault notched his 20th goal of the season with an early period power play making it three-goal advantage. Keegan Kolesar stretched Vegas’ lead to 4-0 with a shorthanded goal. Former Golden Knight Alex Tuch broke through late in the frame to get the Sabres on the board. 

Captain Mark Stone regained Vegas’ four-goal lead scoring in front of Buffalo’s net 1:14 into the final period. The Sabres snuck another one by Robin Lehner to get within three. However, that would be the last goal and the Golden Knights went on to win 5-2.

The Golden Knights record improves to 27-16-2 defeating the Sabres 5-2. The NHL All-Star break begins giving Vegas a week to rest before their next game. The Golden Knights next game is on Tuesday,  February 8th in Edmonton. Puck drop against the Oilers is set for 6 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Sabres are bad. The Golden Knights are good. The game played out exactly this way it should have with Vegas taking an early lead and then controlling the game throughout. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Buffalo Sabres at T-Mobile Arena.

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Jack Eichel’s Business Sense Built For Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s rare for an NHL player to request a trade. But when you’re an upset 25-year-old franchise center being forced to undergo an undesired medical procedure, things change.

When he went to them with a trade request, they took it very personally. There are people that can say I understand that this is business and the people don’t understand that. Jack Eichel saw this is as business. –Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Let’s face it, that type of acumen fits well with an organization that’s moved on from fan favorites, bought cap space for little return, and purchased the biggest names in the sport. We’ve learned early on in the franchise’s existence that it’s a fish or cut bait mentality. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they continue to make the playoffs.

Eichel had his own put up or shut up moment last offseason when he requested a trade.

The Pegualas saw Jack Eichel the same way the fans did as a US born savior of their team. When he asked for a trade they saw it as a betrayal… they were so hurt and so disappointed, I have no doubt it made the situation harder. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Eichel felt like he was doing his part but the Sabres organization wasn’t doing enough for him. Lack of supporting characters and a messy front office were bad enough but not allowing Eichel to chose his own medical procedure led to his cold but calculated demand.

He did a lot of research into the two surgeries and why one was better than the other and why he chose the disc replacement. It was almost like he was saying I earned the right to the make the decision. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

In 375 games with Buffalo, Eichel registered 139 goals and 355 total points. Not only did he earn the right to make decisions but the Sabres ownership backed that up by offering an $80M extension in 2017. After handing over large sums of money like that, it would suggest the Sabres wanted Eichel to have a voice in the organization. The player felt it was taken away by barring him from a selective surgery or his choice.

Eichel credited all of his agents, I think over the last couple of weeks Brisson and Berry really turned up the heat. They knew they had a really unhappy client and they were turning up the heat anyway they could. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

On top of his high end skill that will undoubtedly win Vegas more hockey games it’s the possibility of handling a pressure filled boardroom organization like the Golden Knights. Eichel has proven he’s willing to pause his career for what’s best for himself. Not many players would’ve held steadfast like the newest Golden Knight but he put himself first and the team second. And that’s completely fair.

However, when the surgery is done and his neck has healed, Eichel is strictly in the business of winning a Stanley Cup.

The Eichel To Vegas Rumor Train Keeps Chugging

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Jack Eichel to Vegas rumors may have quieted down since training camp but new television partner ESPN continues to stoke the fire. The Worldwide Leader’s NHL play-by-play announcer John Buccigross mentioned Eichel on Tuesday’s opening night broadcast of the Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken. Buccigross doubled down on his comments yesterday on ESPN’s The Point.

I think Pat Brisson is going to make this happen. I just look at Vegas with Alex Tuch who’s injured, he was a big prospect, he makes some good money. They need to match up because of their cap. I just see Vegas. -John Buccigross, ESPN’s The Point

The Cawlidge Hockey enthusiast discussed the current status of the Sabres disgruntled star with NHL reporter Emily Kaplan. From the sounds of it, Buffalo may have come close to an agreement with one of the handful of suitors.

Behind the scenes the NHL and the NHLPA have intervened, they don’t like this stalemate. Jack Eichel is now sharing his medical records with teams, and I was told as of Thursday there was serious optimism that a trade was imminent. Everyone felt really good about it, they thought it was going to happen. Then on Friday things went quiet.-Emily Kaplan, ESPN NHL reporter

There are several reasons to believe that the Golden Knights are one of the teams still in on the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. Vegas’ front office is habitually aggressive and has reportedly been interested in almost every available stud since 2018. The biggest motivation to acquire Eichel is his unique talent and ability to elevate Vegas enough to lift the Stanley Cup.

There are five teams still in on Jack Eichel. Those are teams that believe they can fit his $10M salary into their cap situation, maybe that means moving some contracts or whatever. All of those teams have agreed Jack Eichel will get the disc replacement surgery he wants. -Kaplan, ESPN

Adding the 24-year-old to the current Golden Knights roster would reasonably make them the favorite to win the Cup for several years, something Kaplan has mentioned on the show in the past.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek also discussed Vegas’ interest in Eichel on their latest episode of 32 Thoughts podcast. Friedman found it difficult to believe the Golden Knights could wiggle enough cap room to make a deal with Buffalo. Of course, unexpected injuries could create a narrow path.

We all sit here and wonder, what are they going to do down the middle? Buffalo has said unless Krebs is in the deal we’re not really interested in doing this. Vegas is a threat, they’re a Stanley Cup champion contender. -Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Back to ESPN, Buccigross agrees with Friedman that Eichel addresses Vegas’ weakest position.

That’s what they need Barry, to plug that 26-year-old guy right in the middle of that lineup. They don’t want too young and they don’t want to old because they have enough 30-year-olds as it is. -Buccigross, ESPN

Legendary flowmaster and hockey analyst Barry Melrose chimed in to give his take on the swirling Eichel to Vegas tittle-tattle. In the end, Melrose might be making the most sense.

They can’t have everybody. -Barry Melrose, ESPN NHL Analyst

It’s hard anticipating what happens in the foreseeable future but consider the Golden Knights one of the five teams in the mix for Eichel. It will be tough to maneuver but ESPN would like it to happen.

Timeline – Robin Lehner Speaks Out

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the weekend the Golden Knights became the big story around the league and I’m sure it caught them off guard. It was probably even more unsettling as the club was bonding and preparing for the long season ahead up in Montana at owner Bill Foley’s ranch. The tweet storm might have made for some awkward moments at team breakfast.

Let’s rewind to earlier last week when outspoken goaltender Robin Lehner joined the boys at Spittin’ Chiclets to chat about an array of topics. As Vegas fans have learned in a little more than a year, Lehner’s honesty is refreshing.

Tuesday, September 28th – Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast Released

  • Lehner discussed his status in net and how he professionally handled the Marc-Andre Fleury goaltending controversy.

I respect what he did actually, he stuck up for his client. It screwed me a bit. It wasn’t the greatest time… It turned up the heat. It really did. This is probably the most pressured season I’ve had coming into this year. It’s fueled by the narrative of how everything was left and the whole (Fleury) trade.-Robin Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets

  • Lehner also spoke about the Jack Eichel injury standoff with Buffalo and had heavy criticism for the Sabres organization.

I hate it. I know they put investments into us but I still think your body is your body. End of story. If Eichel wants to make his surgery and they are scared of protecting their investment, how hard could it be to have him sign a waiver? Is something goes wrong he doesn’t get paid. It bothers me because Jack Eichel is a world class talent. We didn’t always see eye to eye but I respect him as a person. Am
I saying this to trash the Sabres? No I’m not. If I wanted to hurt the Sabres I would have but they destroyed my ankle that year.- Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets

  • The Golden Knights goaltender suggested the NHL has stale “dinosaur” type executives and coaches that control the league and push their agenda’s even though sports and the world have changed.

We’re all robots. Everyone says the same thing. I understand 20 years ago but it’s 2021 now. Am I going to tell a player to be open and honest now? I know a lot of people have but yes they’re going to be punished.-Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets

Wednesday, September 29th – Lehner plays first preseason game

  • Lehner suited up for his first start of the preseason getting some important ice time. The #1 starter stopped 20 of 22 shots.

Friday, October 1st – Lehner tweets his feelings about the Jack Eichel situation in Buffalo

  • Lehner stressed that it should be the players choice when it comes to their body.

  • Lehner also shows disappointment with the NHL Players union and their silence.

Saturday, October 2nd – Lehner tweets picture of ankle from his injuries in Buffalo

  • Lehner accuses Buffalo of screwing up his ankle and pushing pain killers.

https://twitter.com/robinlehner/status/1444348543330828290?s=21

Sunday, October 3rd – Lehner calls out Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault for his tactics handling injured players

  • Lehner labels Vigneault a dinosaur coach and calls for his firing.

  • Lehner accuses Vigneault, the Flyers and other organizations for irresponsibly handing players prescription drugs.

Monday, October 4th – SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman tweets the league is aware of Lehner’s accusations

  • The NHL would like to have a conversation with Vegas’ netminder.

  • NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reacts to Lehner’s tweets and
    suggested players shouldn’t be forced to tweet out internal information. Bettman also added that the league has services available to players.

We take his comments seriously and we’d like in short order to be in a conversation with him so we can hear his concerns directly and we’re going to follow up to see what merit there may be to his concerns. You don’t have to tweet to get our attention. We have an 800 number people can call. You can call us directly, we’re an open book. But if he has concerns we want to hear them and see how they need to be addressed.-Gary Bettman with SportsNet’s Jeff Marek

  • Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault responds to Lehner’s strong accusations.

I consider myself experienced. A dinosaur? You could say with experience you become a dinosaur maybe. But I do know I’ve been coaching a few years and I am tough, I am demanding but I care about my players. Through the years probably there are some guys who liked me and probably some a little less, but I’ve done it with the best intention (and) with respect.- Alain Vigneault, Flyers coach

  • Vigneault was confused and disappointed about the idea of him pushing prescription pills.

I was obviously very disappointed, as far as me pushing pills, I don’t need another income. I have no idea where that comes from. I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea.- Alain Vigneault, Flyers coach

Chances are the league and possibly the Golden Knights front office are scrambling to squash the accusations, but would also like to listen to Lehner’s concerns. Expect more developments to come down this week.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 BUFFALO SABRES 2 (36-22-8 80 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights and Buffalo Sabres met up for a Friday night matchup on the Las Vegas Strip. The Sabres struck first 2:16 into the game, taking an early 1-0 lead. Vegas’ Nic Roy tied the game with his 4th goal of the season. New goaltender Robin Lehner saved 8 out of the first 9 shots he faced as a Golden Knight.

Both teams had several scoring chances in the 2nd but both goaltenders were perfect in the period. Each stopping six shots, keeping the game tied 1-1 after 40 minutes played.

The Golden Knights took over the game in the 3rd period. William Karlsson broke the tie with his 14th of the season, and Reilly Smith added his 26th to give Vegas a 3-1 lead. Smith broke his personal best in goals with 16 games remaining. The Golden Knights closed the door on Buffalo down the stretch winning 4-2.

Vegas’ record improves to 36-22-8 remaining in 1st place in the Pacific Division with 80 points. The team will get a day off and hit the ice again on Sunday night against the LA Kings. Puck drop is scheduled for 730p. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The game took a long time to get exciting, but it finally did as the Golden Knights mauled the Sabres in the 3rd. Robin Lehner allowed one on his first and last shots but was perfect in between. It ends up looking like an easy win but it was more of a “nobody wants to win” type game for the first 40. The win streak has stretched to eight with a chance to break the franchise record Sunday. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Buffalo Sabres at T-Mobile Arena

  • DeBoer’s commitment to experimenting with lines before the playoffs.
  • The post trade deadline run

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** William Karlsson
** Nic Roy
* Robin Lehner

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