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Carolina And Vegas’ Similar Situations Could Set Up Win-Win Trade

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the third straight year, the Carolina Hurricanes entered the season with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations. A roster chock-full of talent, one of the best coaches in the league, and a strong home-ice atmosphere had many experts picking the Canes not only before the season began but also heading into the playoffs.

Carolina set franchise records with 116 points and 54 wins in the regular season and cruised to a division title, their second straight. They had multiple 30 goal scorers, 11 players reach double-digit goals, and 14 with at least 28 points. Plus, they’d been getting strong goaltending from Freddie Andersen.

Then, the playoffs came, they won a round (albeit not as easily as expected) and then flamed out in the same way they had the year before and the year before that. A team that was built on a balanced offensive attack, tremendous defense, and good goaltending had bowed out in the 2nd round for the third season in a row. The scoring dried up, the depth was exposed, and the goaltending couldn’t save the day (this year due to injury more than anything else).

It all sounds so familiar, doesn’t it?

Of course, the Golden Knights and Hurricanes are not all that similar in their construction nor in the way they’ve operated as an organization, and the problems facing each team are vastly different heading into this offseason, but there are enough similarities that could make a perfect partner for each other this summer.

Carolina have plenty of decisions to make on important players like Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, Max Domi, Tony DeAngelo, Martin Necas, and Ethan Bear. Lucky for them, they have much more cap space to do it than the team we cover on this site.

But, like the Golden Knights, they can’t simply bring everyone back and expect the results to be different this time around. They could use some sort of a shake up and they’ll want to do it by brining in usable Cup-contending pieces.

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McPhee Stresses Defense With Former NHL Defenseman He Drafted

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Late in overtime Golden Knights’ defenseman Alex Pietrangelo made an unfortunate turnover costing them an extra point in Carolina. The miscue stung but in reality, earning one point in a game that seemingly looked over was a nice parting gift. Unfortunately, players don’t see it that way. Especially, the players that make game-ending gaffes.

If it weren’t for Pietrangelo’s work in regulation it’s possible Vegas never even forces overtime. And for that, coaches, teammates, and some fans tend to cut heavily used defensemen some slack. Last night was a good example of that. It was Pietrangelo’s team-leading 29th shift of the game when his soft pass was scooped up by Andrei Svechnikov.

If you’ve got a good defense then you can be in every game. –George McPhee on Alz Caps podcast

McPhee joined one of his former draft picks, 12-year NHL veteran Karl Alzner on his podcast to talk some puck and the importance of reliable defensemen.

**The whole interview can be found here. It’s an excellent listen for any VGK fan.**

It’s clear the Golden Knights organization values top-tier defensemen. Acquiring Shea Theodore around the expansion draft, making an in-season trade for Alec Martinez, and inking Alex Pietrangelo to a loaded seven-year commitment should be enough evidence.

You’ve seen it with the Caps and you can see it with our team and other teams that have a lot of injuries this year. You can lose some forwards and hang in there. You start losing defenseman and you’re in trouble. –McPhee on Alz Caps podcast

For reference, McPhee’s first two picks in Washington were defenseman. Overall, while managing the Capitals McPhee selected 38 defensemen and nine of them in the first round. Including, choosing Alzner fifth overall in 2007. Clearly, it’s a position McPhee heavily values.

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CAROLINA HURRICANES 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (25-15-3 53 PTS) – OT

Recap: The Golden Knights faced a difficult back-to-back taking on the highly talented Carolina Hurricanes. The 1st period was uneventful with each team having chances but neither team converted any into goals. The game was scoreless after the opening 20 minutes.

The Hurricanes picked up the pace in the 2nd period scoring two goals in :57 seconds apart. The Golden Knights had several chances but couldn’t maintain any offensive pressure. Late in the middle frame Nolan Patrick finally gave Vegas life scoring his second of the season. After 40 minutes the Golden Knights trailed 2-1.

Vegas took several penalties in the final frame and Carolina took advantage. Midway through the period, the Canes regained their two goal lead. However, Vegas would respond minutes later. First Brett Howden scored VGK’s second goal with his 5th of the season and Nic Hague tied the game scoring his 4th on a wrist shot from the point. The game needed overtime to decide a winner. After an exciting back and forth opening minutes of OT the Hurricanes scored the game-winner.

The Golden Knights record drops to 25-15-3 falling 4-3 to the Hurricanes in overtime. Vegas will travel to the Sunshine State for two games against the Panthers and Lightning. Puck drop against the Panthers is set for 4:00 on Thursday night. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Playing against a dangerous opponent the Golden Knights continued their commitment to defending early in the game. As it wore on though, VGK’s play loosened up in the neutral zone and it fed the Hurricanes offense. Vegas hung in despite taking far too many penalties and found a way to push the game to OT. It’s another step in the right direction defensively though which is a great sign. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Carolina Hurricanes game at PNC Arena.

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Vegas Catching Up With The Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After defeating the Detroit Red Wings last night, Vegas clawed back to one game under .500 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Golden Knights received three goals from defensemen, one from veteran Reilly Smith and rookie Paul Cotter added another. Whatever coach Pete DeBoer drew up before the game, it couldn’t have worked out any better than their well-rounded 5-2 result. It hasn’t gone as smoothly against other teams from the East.

On Tuesday, the Golden Knights faced a much more complete team and lost by two at home. Carolina is one of the NHL’s best overall clubs, and happen to be much healthier than Vegas. The Hurricanes high end forwards and mobile defense troubled the Golden Knights. Star forward Sebastian Aho shot seven times, registering 2 points and the Canes took 14 shots from defensemen. Carolina boasts 3.5 goals per game and like Vegas receive a good percentage of their offense from their blue line. Injuries aside, both rosters are among the elite and would make for an entertaining final.

The NY Islanders were another Eastern Conference team Vegas struggled with, losing 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena in late October. New York played defensively, waited out mistakes, forcing Vegas into bad shots and one and out opportunities. The Golden Knights fell into the Islanders trap and outshot New York two to one, but were out scored 2-0. Games against New York are consistently uneventful and Vegas will need patience and quality shooting to win a tight, low scoring contest. Unfortunately, the Golden Knights fell in similar fashions in back-to-back semifinals, so there’s plenty to learn from an Islanders loss.

At times in an NHL season it’s pick your poison night; a slow frustrating game or an exhaustive track meet. Earlier this month, Vegas traveled and lost by four in Toronto. The loss wasn’t the problem, the concern was the Golden Knights getting blanked 4-0. We’re all aware of Toronto’s weak defense and goaltending of the past, so at full strength Vegas should capitalize.

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CAROLINA HURRICANES 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (9-7-0 18 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights struggled in the opening 20 minutes against the high-powered Hurricanes. Carolina took a two goal lead scoring one on the power play. 

Vegas came out determined to get back into the game and scored twice in the first 4:12 of the middle frame. Brett Howden and Shea Theodore both contributed offensively, carrying a 2-2 tie into the second intermission.

The Hurricanes broke the tie early and doubled their lead later in the final period. Carolina heavily outshot Vegas finishing off 4-2 road victory. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 9-7-0 breaking their four game win streak. Vegas’ homestand continues on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop at The Fortress is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Playing majorly shorthanded against one of the best teams in the NHL, the Golden Knights were definitely up against it tonight. It started very poorly but VGK did well to keep with it and were opportunistic enough to grab a pair of goals quick and keep the game at arm’s length. In the end though, they just didn’t have enough fire power in the current lineup to stay with the Canes. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Carolina Hurricanes game at T-Mobile Arena.

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Golden Knights vs. Carolina Hurricanes Photo Gallery – February 9th, 2019

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CAROLINA HURRICANES 6 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 (28-21-8 64 PTS) – SO (2-0)

Recap: It was Pete DeBoer’s first game in Vegas as the Golden Knights head coach. His team came out strong for him in the first. Max Pacioretty scored his 24th of the season, and Jon Merrill added his second for 2-0 edge. Carolina would get one on the board late in the period on a fluky goal passed Marc-Andre Fleury making it 2-1 Vegas.

Shea Theodore gave Vegas a two goal lead :59 seconds in to the 2nd period. The Golden Knights would hold a 3-1 lead for the rest of the 2nd period.

Sebastian Aho scored quickly to start the 3rd period getting his team within one. Chandler Stephenson gave his team a two goal lead again with a shorthanded tally. Carolina’s Erik Haula scored a power play goal two minutes later making it 4-3 Vegas. The Hurricanes wouldn’t go away and tied it up 4-4 halfway through the final period. Carolina would take the 5-4 lead six minutes later. However, Cody Eakin tied the game at six late in the period.

A wild OT period had the Hurricanes hitting multiple posts but the Golden Knights survived. In shootout, Vegas went 0 for 2 while Carolina went 2 for 3.

Vegas’ record drops to 28-21-8 sitting on 64 points on the season. Next up for the Golden Knights is the Minnesota Wild. The team will travel to play the Wild on Tuesday night. Game starts at 5P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was a game that had a bit of everything. Vegas jumped out to a solid 2-0 lead playing well but a weird goal cost them one near the end of the period. The 2nd was somewhat back and forth but the Golden Knights did well to extend the lead and keep the Canes at bay. That would not be the case in the 3rd as a rash of penalties helped Carolina take the game over and actually take a late lead. Eakin tied it due to some poor goaltending (which was a problem on both ends tonight) and then overtime and shootout weren’t pretty for VGK. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Carolina Hurricanes at T-Mobile Arena

  • Steve Carp’s Sunday column on Nate Schmidt’s resurgence
  • Photo gallery from the game

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nic Roy
** Chandler Stephenson
* Shea Theodore

On A Set Play Vegas Comes Through In The Clutch

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was the play of the game, if not one of the biggest plays of the season (feels like we’ve said that a lot, hopefully this one actually sticks). Having given up a 3-1 lead, Vegas could have easily skated out the period and secured at least a point in Carolina. However, the Hurricanes gave the Golden Knights one more chance to come away with a win. And that’s exactly what they did.

The late-game power play allowed Vegas to execute a perfectly set up game-winning goal. The beautifully designed tic-tac-toe sequence by Shea Theodore, Paul Statsny and Alex Tuch clinched a wild game for the Golden Knights. Not only was it a big goal for Tuch, but for the new coaching staff as well.

It was a good play by Theo and Stas, something we were kind of looking to do and we were able to execute. I just put my stick on the ice and made sure I hit the net. -Alex Tuch

The play began with a faceoff won by Stastny, purposely to his left, which Mark Stone jumped on and fed out to Theodore. Instead of taking his own shot, giving the puck back to Stone or Max Pacioretty to his right, the defenseman walked the blue line with the puck, opened up the seam and then used a little shot pass to feed the puck through an incredibly tight window to Stastny.

Theodore’s stutter-step/fake shot shifted the defense and goaltender just enough to find an open passing lane to Stastny who was waiting on one side of the net.

Knowing the puck was coming to him, he quickly directed the pass across the crease and on to the stick of Tuch, who tapped in the game-winner.

From the initial pass by Stone, to Theodore’s shot fake, to Stastny’s quick touch pass, each player knew exactly where the others would be. You’ll even notice Pacioretty charging in behind Tuch ready to scoop up any rebounds in case the puck was blocked. Or perhaps as a secondary option. Either way, all five players did their job and the execution paid off.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 CAROLINA HURRICANES 3 (26-20-7 59 PTS)

Recap: New coach Pete DeBoer couldn’t have asked for a better start from his team coming off the break. With William Karlsson still out of the lineup, Paul Stastny stepped up and immediately made a difference. With some nifty passing, Statsny scored his 15th of the season giving the Golden Knights an early 1-0 lead. The top line would double up the lead when Jonathan Marchessault made it 2-0 halfway through the period.

Carolina would get their first goal of the game midway through the 2nd period. However, Vegas did a good job killing off a big power play, and Malcolm Subban shut down the Hurricanes offense. After 40 minutes in the books, the Golden Knights held a 2-1 edge.

Both teams would swap goals in the 3rd with the Golden Knights hanging on to a one goal lead. Carolina was awarded a penalty late in the period and took advantage. They tied the game 3-3 until Vegas got their own late game power play. Alex Tuch put the game away with a PP goal. Shea Theodore and Mark Stone made some brilliant passes to find the open Tuch. Vegas won 4-3 in an entertaining, back and forth contest.

Vegas’ record improves to 26-20-7 and jump Arizona for the first wild card spot. They get right back to business tomorrow in Nashville to take on the Predators. Faceoff is scheduled for 5PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A strong 1st period that could have been even stronger if not for a pair of pipe hits had the Golden Knights protecting a lead for the first time in a while. They did need some strong goaltending early out of Malcolm Subban. The 2nd period was a bit closer but the Golden Knights still got a few odd-man rushes chances that they were unable to convert. A great play from Nate Schmidt starting by leading a rush and ending with a gorgeous finish gave Vegas a two goal lead, but they would squander it quickly. The new power play coach came through in his first game with a perfect set play that led to the tap-in game-winner from Alex Tuch.  (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena

  • Ryan Reaves on navigating refs

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Malcolm Subban
** Paul Stastny
* Reilly Smith

Hurricanes Breathe Life Into Stale Postgame

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

It was Feb. 1. The Golden Knights had just dropped a 5-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. And as the Knights trudged off the ice at the PNC Center in Raleigh, it was turn-the-page time and focus on the next game against the Florida Panthers the following night.

The Hurricanes, however, weren’t quite done.

They remained on the ice and celebrated the win. First, it started with a team clap of the hands that looked like something Iceland’s national soccer team does. But it morphed into a quick game of childhood favorite “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

They call it the “Storm Surge” in Carolina. Don Cherry calls it something else. Cherry, who is 85 and has had a bully pulpit for decades on the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast, ripped the ‘Canes.

These guys to me are jerks. And I’ll tell you one thing, they better not do this in the playoffs.. . . This is a joke.

Young men expressing themselves for joy of winning. You don’t do this thing in professional hockey. What are these guys? Jerks or something?

I know what I’m talking about. You never do anything like that. They’re still not drawing. They’re a bunch of jerks as far as I’m concerned. Imagine Justin Williams doing stuff like that. -Don Cherry

The team obviously has a different point of view. Williams, the team’s captain, plays a major role in all this.

And the coach doesn’t have a problem with the postgame celebrations.

We want to have fun when we win. The game should be fun. That’s why we’re doing it. I want the players to enjoy winning and the fans to enjoy being here. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach

My first thought when I saw the initial celebration earlier this year was, “What the hell is that?” But as the cellys became more creative and elaborate, I started to enjoy them. I hadn’t played Duck, Duck, Goose since I was a tyke back in the late 1950s. So I have to admit seeing a bunch of grown men doing it was pretty funny.

And the others are funny too. The fans offer suggestions, the players take them under advisement and then figure out what they’ll ultimately do.

Understand these “Storm Surges” take place after victories at home, long after the opposing team has left the ice. So the night of Feb. 1, all of the Golden Knights were in their locker room when the frivolity began, so none of them saw it.

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