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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS 0 (2-0-0 4 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Chicago Blackhawks for their 2022-23 season home opener. Both teams had chances in the 1st period but neither could find the back of the net. After 20 minutes the game was locked in a scoreless tie.

Midway through the second frame Golden Knights left wing Paul Cotter gave the home team a 1-0 advantage. It was Cotter’s first of the season and his third career NHL goal. After two periods of play Vegas held on to a slim 1-0 lead.

The game continued to tighten up in the final period which created a couple of power play opportunities for the Golden Knights. Vegas couldn’t convert on either and were forced to protect a one goal lead for the entirety of the frame. Cotter’s goal in the 2nd period was all Vegas needed to defeat Chicago 1-0.

The Golden Knights improve their record to 2-0 and look to stay undefeated when they take the ice on Saturday night in Seattle. Puck drop against the Kraken is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For the first 20 minutes the Golden Knights were a mess in all three zones and needed a heroic effort from their goalie to keep them in the game. He delivered and then some keeping the game scoreless through one. From there, the defense picked it up and Chicago’s offense pretty much dried up completely. Offensively, there was a lot more there than VGK ended up converting, but if the other team doesn’t score, all you need is one, and Paul Cotter delivered it. (Recap by Ken)

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CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (41-31-8 92 PTS) – SO (1-0)

Recap: The Golden Knights gave up the first goal of the game in Chicago late in the opening period. Michael Amadio responded immediately and evened the score 1-1. With :03 seconds remaining in the period Chicago added another to carry a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. 

Quickly into the middle frame, Alec Martinez tied the score 2-2 with his 3rd goal of the season. A little more than a minute later the Blackhawks regained the lead but Max Pacioretty would respond before the period expired. 

The two teams had several chances in the final period but neither could take the lead. Vegas was forced to play another overtime period and eventually a shootout. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 42-31-8 falling to the Blackhawks 4-3 in shootouts. Vegas’ season is officially over with one game left on the schedule. The Golden Knights travel to St. Louis for their last game of the season. Puck drop against the Blackhawks is set for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was a game that was weird from the absolute start. Knowing they needed a result from Arizona in Dallas, there was a massive lack of urgency which led to Chicago taking three different leads. Credit to Vegas for coming back but they had to know it wasn’t likely to matter. Oddly enough, Arizona scored three times in the 3rd to make things interesting and the Golden Knights STILL couldn’t find a way. Eight games down the stretch, two wins. Unacceptable. And now the season is over. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS 4 (36-28-4 76 PTS) – OT

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Chicago Blackhawks trying to win their second game in a row. Chicago took the first lead of the game midway through the opening period. Vegas had several chances but trailed 1-0 after the 1st intermission.

The Blackhawks continued to frustrate and attack the Golden Knights in the middle frame. Chicago took advantage of some defensive breakdowns from Vegas and added two second period goals. After 40 minutes of action the Golden Knights were behind 3-0.

Down three the Golden Knights woke up quickly in the final frame. Vegas tied the game 3-3 in the first four minutes of the the 3rd period. Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson and Jack Eichel all scored to even the score. Chicago regained their lead but :53 seconds later Alex Pietrangelo evened the score 4-4. The game would need an overtime period to decide a victor. Vegas completed the comeback as Evgenii Dadonov scored the game-winning goal in OT.

The Golden Knights record improves to 36-28-4 defeating the Blackhawks 5-4 in OT. Vegas will play their next two games in Seattle beginning on Wednesday night. Puck drop against the Kraken is set for 7P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: In a noon start, the Golden Knights looked like they sleepwalked through the first two periods. Then in the 3rd, they exploded with a flurry of goals that felt like vintage 2017-18 Golden Knights. An overtime win may have saved the season, but there are still massive concerns with what happened in the opening 40 minutes. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks at T-Mobile Arena.

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Iole: Uninspiring Efforts Becoming Worrying Trend

This season, diehard VGK fan and legendary combat sports columnist Kevin Iole will be delivering columns a few times a month on Sundays. Kevin’s back today to take a look at a position of depth, one that’s been notoriously thin in years past.

Pete DeBoer was correct, of course, even though he called Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago at T-Mobile Arena “just another mid-December game.” It’s a long season and a loss to a lesser team in January isn’t anything to get too worked up about in the grand scheme of things.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

I’m a lot more worked up about Keegan Kolesar’s lack of production and slowing development, and the lack of an identity for the fourth line, than I am about a loss to a weak team on home ice in the second week of January.

It’s how they lost that game that is troubling. It’s not as if the Blackhawks played an incredible game because they were fired up for Marc-Andre Fleury’s return and wanted to support their goaltender. Oh, the Blackhawks did defend hard in the final two periods in particular, and played solid hockey, but it was far from a Herculean effort by them.

The Golden Knights’ loss was more due to an uninspired effort which, if we’re being honest, has happened far too often this season for a team that fancies itself as a contender for the Stanley Cup.

On Saturday, the Knights badly missed William Carrier, who left seven minutes into the game with what the club later said was an upper-body injury. Carrier’s intensity can and often does have a trickle down effect. Without him, there were far too many passengers.

Nolan Patrick seemed out for a cruise. Kolesar’s big body is perfect for barreling over opponents and cruising to the net, but do you remember him doing that even once on Saturday? There was little urgency, or desire to win, from far too many players.

In an 82-game season, that’s going to happen, and DeBoer recognized that when he was dismissive of it.

But how could the Knights’ come out flat in a game against Fleury, a game surely they should badly want to win? Fleury was the second star, but that was mostly because no one else really stood out. Until a save on Evgenii Dadonov in the waning seconds, Fleury never made one of the five-star saves that have made him a surefire Hall of Famer. The Knights made it easy on him.

We’re still not to the halfway point of the season, and it’s happened far, far too often. They were on cruise control in two of their last three games and that’s unacceptable. Nashville played great in a 3-2 win on Tuesday, but the Golden Knights basically didn’t make it hard on them.

Then, after a stirring effort in a 5-1 win over old friend Gerard Gallant and his New York Rangers, the VGK laid an egg again against Fleury.

There’s not much DeBoer can do to change this, either. He doesn’t have the threat of making moves or sending guys down to inspire more consistently intense play.

On the surface, a Kolesar for Jake Leschyshyn swap in the lineup would probably be good, but to send Kolesar to Henderson, he’d have to clear waivers. That would be risky because he’d almost certainly be claimed.

Guys who are 6-2, 230 pounds, and can skate like he doesn’t are rare commodities in today’s NHL. Kolesar’s a big guy and big men often take longer to develop than other players do. Kolesar seemed on a nice upward trajectory early and looked as if he’d turn into that rare third- or fourth-line big man who could skate, contribute 12-15 goals, play well defensively and create havoc with his physical presence.

The Knights are going to be fighting the salary cap for several years, and it makes little sense to give up now on a guy like Kolesar who has the ability to develop into that kind of player and who has a relatively low salary.

There were some fans pining for the VGK to sign Evander Kane to a one-year deal at the league minimum after his release from the Sharks. But while Kane, though smaller, is a much more effective big man, he brings far too much baggage, and his issue with gambling means Las Vegas is the last place he should play.

It’s not a no or a NO, it’s a “HELL NO, ARE YOU CRAZY?” type of pass on Kane.

Putting Leschyshyn in for Kolesar isn’t likely to happen because it would make the Knights more vulnerable to big, physical teams.

So they’re going to have to make do with what they have and figure out a way to overcome this disconcerting trait of coming out flat far too often.

This is a good team and you have to pick to find problems. They’re the kind of problems teams like Buffalo and Arizona and Seattle and Columbus would love to have.

But when your stated goal is the Stanley Cup, you have to be picky and you have to be ruthless. The kind of effort the Golden Knights gave on Saturday and have given too often this season is unacceptable, and the leadership group needs to impress that upon the players sooner rather than later.

You can’t give away games in the NHL when home-ice advantage will be so crucial against the Colorados and Tampas and Carolinas of the world. And these games in January count every bit as much in the standings as the ones in late March or April when the playoff position push is on.

**You can find all of Kevin’s tremendous boxing and MMA work at Yahoo Sports here.**

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS 2 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (23-14-1 47 PTS)

Recap: The night began with a wonderful video tribute to Blackhawks goaltender and Vegas fan favorite Marc-Andre Fleury. Vegas didn’t take long to get going as Ben Hutton scored his first of the season five minutes into the game.  

Chicago picked up the pace in the middle frame scoring one early and one late. Fleury stopped all 12 second period shots to hold a 2-1 Blackhawks advantage. 

Fleury silenced Vegas’ offense in the final period to preserve a 2-1 Chicago victory. The former VGK goaltender was sharp in net stopping 30 of 31 total shots on net. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 23-14-1 falling 2-1 to Fleury’s Blackhawks. Vegas next faces the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Puck drop is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Uninspired is the word that jumps to mind to describe this game for the Golden Knights. On a night where you’d expect them to be rearing to score on their buddy, they just looked like they were content to play an easy game and it didn’t turn out that way for them. It’s not often we see three consecutive periods without the passion needed to win in the NHL, but that’s what we got tonight. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks game at T-Mobile Arena.

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5 Most Anticipated Home Games On The Golden Knights 2021-22 Schedule

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After a year that involved 56 games against the same seven teams and sparse crowds throughout, it’s great to be back to a normal 82 game schedule that includes all 31 teams making an appearance at sold-out T-Mobile Arena. Here are the five home games that jump off the schedule as the most anticipated matchups of the year.

5. December 27th, 2021 – vs Colorado Avalanche

It’s a shame the first time these two teams meet won’t be at the site of the Avs demise last season, but there’s no secret these two are likely to be the class of the Western Conference once again. The collision course in the playoffs will probably be played up all year and every game between the two will be highly engrossing.

4. December 21st, 2021 – vs Tampa Bay Lightning

If there’s one thing we missed more than anything else with last year’s horrendous schedule, it was measuring stick games. About a month into the season everyone knew exactly how everyone else matched up against each other in the division, so the remaining 40+ games were essentially useless. This year, there will be plenty of those measuring stick games and this is the king of them all. The two-time defending Cup champions come to T-Mobile after the Golden Knights return home from a tough four-game road trip. VGK vs TBL games have always been a blast, this one should be no different.

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS TRADE MARC-ANDRE FLEURY TO CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

The Golden Knights have traded Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks for prospect Mikael Hakkarainen.

Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, quickly tweeted a response to the trade.

The Golden Knights did not retain any salary in the trade.

Hakkarainen has spent each of the last two seasons playing in both the AHL and the ECHL. He has not registered an AHL point in his 14 appearances. Kelly McCrimmon confirmed that Hakkarainen will remain with Chicago and likely play for the Rockford Ice Hogs.

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2020 Golden Knights Playoffs “Photo” Gallery

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“Heavy” Becoming Vegas’ New Label

Throughout their series, the Blackhawks used the word ‘heavy’ 31 times to describe the Golden Knights in press conferences.

Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews uses “heavy” to describe two things. Vegas’ size, and their ability to hold the puck once they possess it. It’s no secret, the Golden Knights are big and most of their players are hard to bump off the puck. Which was apparent right from the start of the series.

Mark Stone is 6’4″, 219 pounds but also has the puck super glued on his stick. Alex Tuch is 6’4″ as well, and his skill, speed, and size make it difficult for a defender to strip the puck. Max Pacioretty is 6’2, with the lethal combination of power and a rocket shot. These are examples of being a heavy team, and playing like one.

They play a different game then the Oilers. They’re a very structured, simple team. They play a heavy game. You got to tip your hat sometimes, they play well as a squad. -Calvin de Haan, CHI Defenseman

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan used the word to describe differences between the Golden Knights and a faster, skill-based team like the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton has Connor McDavid, but what they didn’t have was the team structure and physicality Vegas has. The Golden Knights get scoring from multiple players, not just two, they defend, and rarely veer from their gameplan.

We know they’re an excellent team. They’re a heavy team, they get on the forcheck and try and hold you down… We gave them some easy ones, easy chances. They score 3-1 and during that stretch we just weren’t very good.-Jeremy Colliton, CHI coach

Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton called the Golden Knights a heavy team after three of the five games. Again, it wasn’t just their size, it was Vegas’ forecheck. When the Golden Knights push the puck with pressure they make teams feel like they’re being weighed down. All twelve forwards have that ability allowing Vegas the fortune to use all four lines.

Then there’s the natural use of the word.

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VGK vs CHI Series Stat Dump

It took the Golden Knights five games to put away the 12-seed Chicago Blackhawks and move on to the second round. Despite the score only favoring Vegas by just four over the five games, the Golden Knights dominated just about every other major statistical category. Here’s a look at the stats from the series.

*Stats are compiled from NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.com**

Team Stats

Goals
VGK – 15
CHI – 11

Shots
VGK – 187
CHI – 123

Scoring Chances
VGK – 167
CHI – 117

Corsi For %
VGK – 58.1%
CHI – 41.9%

Power Play
VGK – 1/10
CHI – 1/12

Faceoffs
VGK – 49.7%
CHI – 50.3%

Giveaways
VGK – 75
CHI – 69

Takeaways
VGK – 37
CHI – 44

Hits
VGK – 184
CHI – 140

Shots Blocked
VGK – 90
CHI – 100

Expected Goals
VGK – 17.44
CHI – 10.43

Shooting Percentage
VGK – 8.02%
CHI – 8.94%

Save Percentage
VGK – .911
CHI – .920

Individual Stats

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