Last night Vegas missed out on a golden opportunity to stash away more money in the bank before their busy season begins. So what, they lost to Buffalo. It’s only one game and a win tomorrow would keep Vegas on pace to cross the 50-point mark by year-end. We’ll get into January later, but for right now the Golden Knights have four more games to focus on in 2022.
Starting tomorrow night, the Golden Knights are set to play statistically some of the league’s worst defenses and offenses. Putting it lightly, the remaining schedule is as soft as Santa’s beard.
Some would argue that St. Louis and LA aren’t walkovers and they tend to get up for games against Vegas. However, both are struggling to keep the puck out of their own nets and have two of the worst penalty kill units in the league. The Golden Knights will likely attack the net knowing there are holes in each team’s defense. If it plays out, Vegas should be in a position to expose weaknesses in LA & St. Louis’ special teams. Both clubs are manageable but it won’t be as easy as the Golden Knights other two opponents.
Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Buffalo Sabres to wrap up their two-game season series. Vegas outshot Buffalo 10-6 but neither team could find the back of the net. After the opening 20 minutes, the game was locked in a scoreless tie.
Buffalo opened the scoring 1:53 into the opening period and added a second goal five minutes later. The Sabres would later tack on another to take a 3-0 lead into the 2nd intermission.
Chandler Stephenson scored his 8th of the season in the final period to get Vegas within two. Jonathan Marchessault had a chance to make it closer but failed to convert on a penalty shot. Reilly Smith scored late on a 6-on-5 to make it a one-goal game with two minutes remaining, but the Golden Knights couldn’t force overtime.
The Golden Knights’ record drops to 22-11-1 losing to the Sabres 3-2. Vegas will stay home and prepare for the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Puck drop against the Coyotes is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: It’s a lot of the same for the Golden Knights at home. The first issue has existed for a while and continues now. They just don’t finish at a high enough clip. The chances were there all night, from breakaways to power plays to extended time in the 3rd period, and they couldn’t beat Luukkonen enough. The second issue is in their breakouts. Too often they turn it over and then can’t recover in time to put out the fire created. Finally, and this is one I don’t agree with Cassidy as much, is goaltending. The better goalie has been in the other net most nights recently at home. I’m not sure it’s completely VGK’s goalies’ fault, Cassidy seems to think at least a part of it is. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Buffalo Sabres at T-Mobile Arena.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.