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Colorado Proving Teams Can Slow Down McDavid In Western Conference Final

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 14 lifetime games against the Vegas, Connor McDavid, the world’s most electric player, has 17 total points. That’s an average of 1.21 points per game. It’s exciting for the fans but not for the Golden Knights. To be fair, most NHL franchises have been torched by McDavid as he’s averaged 1.58 points per game over the past four seasons.

However, in the Western Conference Final, the Colorado Avalanche seem to have figured out how to at least slow him down. Through three WCF games, the Avalanche have held McDavid to 3 points. Well below his 1.44 career points per playoff game and 2.17 he had in the first 12 playoff games this year.

Colorado deserves high marks for successfully executing a plan to slow down Edmonton’s captain. It’s similar to how the Golden Knights handled Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon.

A couple of mental mistakes, a couple of positioning mistakes. That’s what a team like Colorado does to you. The second that Colorado was up a couple of goals they went into lockdown mode. Colorado knew they had enough to win then they locked it down. That’s what good teams do in the playoffs. –Matt Kassian, Oilers Analyst and Former player to TSN

By limiting McDavid the Avalanche have taken away the Oilers’ biggest weapon and their identity. Edmonton isn’t as effective, fast, nor as threatening without their one-two punch of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

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Playoffs A Reminder Health Isn’t Only Factor For Success

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Watching the Stanley Cup playoffs certainly has a different feel without the Golden Knights as participants. As we’ve been over many, many times since their season finale, injuries played a significant role in why the team is on the outside looking in. Halfway through the first round, it’s clear Vegas needed more than just their health to advance.

Western Conference Playoff Summary

  • 14-0 Team Scoring First
  • 8-6 Home Team
  • 4.25 Winning Team Average Goals
  • 3.22 Average Goal Differential Per Game
  • 1.8 Power Play Goals Per Win
  • 10-4 When Scoring PPG

Down the stretch, the Golden Knights had trouble picking up the first goal of game, received very little output from their power play, and lacked the ability to climb back and win from behind. On most nights in the playoffs, those elements would be a recipe for disaster. Not surprising, early consistent scoring is paying off in the postseason. So far, there have been 14 games played in the Western Conference, the team that scored the opening goal went on to win to all of them.

Naturally, lower-scoring teams focus on winning defensive battles helping them survive in a long series. Last night the LA Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 and evened the series by playing their signature suffocating style. The Oilers are +7 in goal differential but are in no better shape than the Kings.

The sixth highest-scoring team in the NHL’s regular season has only mustered up three goals in three games. The Calgary Flames averaged 3.55 goals per game in the first 82 but have been held to 2 goals or less in the last three. Yet, the 2.84 goals per game Dallas Stars hold a 2-1 series lead.

Western Conference Goals Scored Per Game

  • Colorado 5.33 (1 ENG)
  • Edmonton 4.25
  • Minnesota 3.25 (2 ENG)
  • St. Louis 3.00 (1 ENG)
  • Dallas 2.00 (2 ENG)
  • Nashville 2.00
  • LA 2.50 (1 ENG)
  • Calgary 1.0

Subtract empty netters, and the averages decrease for several Western Conference contenders. Making most games much tighter than the averages show. No matter who Vegas faced off against their periodic offensive struggles could’ve haunted them in the first round.

Turn back the clock to Vegas’ run to the semifinals last year. In six games against the Montreal Canadiens, the Golden Knights averaged 2.18 goals per game, scored the opening goal twice, and were blanked on the man-advantage.

Without a doubt, the Golden Knights’ front office is tuning in nightly like all of us. We’ve heard dozens of times the NHL is a copycat league, it’s possible VGK execs are picking up plays for their grease board. Why not take a few notes on Colorado’s lethal PP, or some offensive strategies from Edmonton, Minnesota, or St. Louis. Maybe, it’s best to watch Dallas and LA’s suffocating, everything to the outside type of defense. It may be the difference between making semis or the finals.

COLORADO AVALANCHE 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (29-20-4 62 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights tried to shake off a disappointing loss last night in Arizona by hosting the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena. Vegas took the early lead when Chandler Stephenson scored his 14th goal of the season. Jack Eichel picked up another point earning an assist on the play. The Avalanche evened the score 1-1 right after the Golden Knights killed off a penalty. However, Vegas continued to pressure Colorado in their own zone and it paid off. Team leading goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault regained Vegas’ lead 2-1.

The game tightened up in the middle frame as both teams were forced to kill penalties. Laurent Brossoit was strong in net stopping all 12 shots on net. 

Colorado tied the game five minutes into the final period and took the lead :26 seconds later. The Golden Knights took several quality chances down the stretch but Avalanche defense and goaltending smothered every rebound. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 29-20-4 falling to the Avalanche 3-2. After losing two straight Vegas will get a chance to regroup before they play next on Tuesday night. Puck drop against the San Jose Sharks is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For 59 minutes of a 60 minute hockey game the Golden Knights were detailed, played with high intensity, and did much of what they want and need to do to beat the Avalanche. But a breakdown in the offensive zone followed by a turnover leading to an Avs rush flipped the game from a VGK win to a loss. It’s a very tough pill to swallow for a team that’s starting to need points in the standings. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena.

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COLORADO AVALANCHE 2 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 0 (28-18-3 59 PTS)

Recap: It was a night that Vegas fans had been waiting for months. Jack Eichel made his much-anticipated debut in a Golden Knights jersey three months after being acquired. The game with the Colorado Avalanche was instantly entertaining as both teams getting early chances and great goaltending. After the opening 20 minutes the game was locked in a scoreless tie. 

The 2nd period picked up right where the first one left off. Vegas goaltender Laurent Brossoit was sharp in the second stopping all nine Avalanche shots in the frame. After two periods of action the game stood 0-0. 

Colorado took the first lead of the game :41 seconds into the final period. The Golden Knights had several quality chances down the stretch but couldn’t solve Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Colorado added a late power play goal to finish off Vegas 2-0.

The Golden Knights record drops to 28-18-3 falling to the Avalanche 2-0. Colorado spoils Eichel’s debut who ended the night with 22 shifts and 17:24 in ice time. Vegas next faces the LA Kings on Friday night at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights hung in there defensively as they withstood numerous dangerous waves of Colorado attack. Offensively, it started out nicely for Vegas but diminished as the game progressed. They were settling from shots from the outside and couldn’t generate enough traffic in front. When Colorado took the lead, the Golden Knights pushed a bit harder but never truly looked dangerous enough to score. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena.

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Teams Gearing Up For Jack Eichel Era In Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The football season is over and the spotlight has officially been handed over to the  Golden Knights and the NHL. It’s the time of year when fringe fans become real fans and the mainstream networks pay a little more attention. It’s a great time for the league. The playoff chase begins, divisional battles heat up, and teams are already beefing up for a potential matchup with the Golden Knights.

Jack Eichel’s highly-anticipated debut is not only creating news here in Las Vegas but across the league.

Calgary has proven this season that they can hang with Vegas. Now with the addition of Tyler Toffoli, the Flames offense became a lot more dangerous. The former LA King reunites with his old coach Darryl Sutter and brings a little kryptonite with him to Calgary. In last year’s semifinal loss to Montreal, Toffoli registered four points in six semifinal games against the Golden Knights. The former Canadien adds confidence and playoff success to a team that erased the Golden Knights 6-0 last week.

Why let someone else enter the race? I do think they were talking about the possibility of making it a Ben Chiarot trade too. At the end of the day Calgary decided ‘this is the guy we wanted, our coach knows him and we’re going out and getting him.’ This is exactly what they need, a scorer. He’s one of the best scorers available. –Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Now that Captain Mark Stone is on LTIR the playoff roster picture looks a lot clearer. We all know the drill, there would have been cap casualties had the captain been fit to play. Stone’s contract relief might be enough to create a loaded playoff roster that could force other clubs to make improvements.

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How 122 Minutes Changed The Direction Of The Golden Knights Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s amazing how quickly the tides can turn for a professional sports team. For example, the Atlanta Braves were floundering below .500 in late June, holding the tenth worst record in the National League. Now, Atlanta is three games away from winning the World Series. Okay, maybe the Golden Knights two game Central sweep isn’t of the same magnitude but the tone surrounding the team and the fanbase is a stark difference from what it was on Tuesday afternoon.

There’s no arguing who’s lineup was more talented over the past two games and especially on Tuesday night. Down to their bare bones the Golden Knights did something that not even the organization expected to happen, win back-to-back road games in Colorado and Dallas. It was a tall order but coach Pete DeBoer and his makeshift roster performed as if Mark Stone was leading the way. However, the absence of Stone and others were replaced with gutsy performances by the current, less-talented Golden Knights.

Clearly, DeBoer got through to his players before the road trip began on Tuesday. In case it wasn’t loud enough the de facto leaders (Pietrangelo, Marchessault, Smith, Karlsson, Martinez) made sure the message was heard. Based off their last six periods (and OT) the healthy players were highly motivated and reminded the league on back-to-back nights that their season wasn’t finished.

It was a gutsy road trip. It was a gutsy win again today, short bench, had more guys leave during the game, so we were basically playing three lines. Guys dug deep all week. Tough circumstances and guys found a way. It was a real character test and I thought we did a great job. -Pete DeBoer

One of the reasons Vegas was able to survive and collect four enormous road points was the brilliant play from their goaltenders. As expected, Robin Lehner was Colorado’s foil, and backup Laurent Brossoit put his team in a position to win the game down the stretch in Dallas. Without sharp goaltending this week would look a lot bleaker. Several times over the last two games Vegas could have lost confidence and let the game get away from them. Up 2-1 in Colorado, the Avalanche had more than a period to tie the game but Lehner and his teammates refused to let that happen.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 COLORADO AVALANCHE 1 (2-4-0 4 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights shockingly got off to a quick start scoring two goals in the first 9:37 of the game. Chandler Stephenson started the scoring with his third of the season and Reilly Smith stretched the lead to 2-0 with a shorthanded goal. Robin Lehner was strong in net stopping all 10 Avalanche shots.

Vegas continued to frustrate Colorado for most of the middle period. The game changed when Colorado’s Jack Johnson upended Keegan Kolesar and the Avs defenseman was punished with a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Golden Knights forward Nic Roy also received a game misconduct and a two-minute instigator penalty for protecting his teammate by jumping Johnson. On the ensuing 4-on-4 play, Colorado slipped one by Lehner. Vegas held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of action.

The final period began with a continuation of the matching penalties but the score didn’t change. Vegas fought off several Colorado rushes down the stretch and Keegan Kolesar poked in an empty net insurance goal.

The Golden Knights record improves to 2-4-0 after their impressive 3-1 over the Avalanche. Vegas will get right back to work tomorrow night in Dallas. Puck drop against the Stars is scheduled for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Looking to end a dreadful losing streak, and knowing goals were always going to be hard to come by, the Golden Knights brought their work boots to this one. They played a simple, smart game, and allowed the chances to come to them as they usually do against the Avalance. Once they got the lead, they started to play the way they can defensively and they earned themselves a much-needed victory. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche game at Ball Arena.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 7 COLORADO AVALANCHE 4 (Preseason Game 5)

Recap: The Golden Knights got off to another quick start against the Avalanche in their second preseason matchup. Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar scored 3:26 into the game and last week forward Patrick Brown gave his team the early 1-0 advantage 2:07 in the first period. Defenseman Alec Martinez doubled the lead late in the first period for the Golden Knights. 

The offense picked up for both teams as each registered two goals in the second period. William Karlsson and Reilly Smith scored for Vegas in the middle frame.

The Golden Knights took a 6-2 lead in the third period after Martinez scored his second of the game and Peyton Krebs added his first goal of the preseason. Colorado worked to get within two but Jake Leschysyn sealed the game with a late empty net goal.

The Golden Knights boost their preseason record to (3-2) with their 6-4 win in Colorado. Vegas will next play the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was one of those preseason games where both teams decided to throw caution to the wind and have some fun trying to score goals. Tons of chances, lots of odd-man breaks, etc. Fun to watch for fans, the worst for coaches. Peyton Krebs was awesome too. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche preseason game at Ball Arena.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 COLORADO AVALANCHE 3 (Preseason Game 2) 2-1 COL Shootout

Recap: The Golden Knights got off to a quick start to their second preseason game taking a 1-0 lead 2:07 in the opening period. Vegas forward Patrick Brown scooped up a rebound in front of the net for his first goal of the preseason. Eight minutes later Colorado evened the score but Vegas would regain their two goal edge on special teams. Nic Hague ripped home the Golden Knights second power play goal in as many games. Vegas took a 2-1 advantage into the first intermission.

Colorado scored the only goal of the second period and took the 3-2 lead early in the final frame. Vegas veteran Alex Pietrangelo settled things down a few shifts later by rifling the equalizer by the Avalanche’s goaltender. Mainstay Jonathan Marchessault scored the game winning goal and Vegas’ second power play goal of the contest to capture their first victory of the preseason.

The Golden Knights even up their preseason record with their 4-3 win over the Avalanche. Next Vegas will travel north to Salt Lake City, UT to play divisional rival LA Kings on Thursday night. Puck drops at 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was a penalty-ridden game that really didn’t have much of a flow to it. VGK had a few guys stand out but overall there wasn’t much to see in this one. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche preseason game at T-Mobile Arena.

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Postseason Loss To Golden Knights Still Fresh To Nathan MacKinnon

When the Golden Knights lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the conference finals last season it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the players and coaches. Go ahead and throw the fans in the mix as well, they were spitting out Bleu, Blanc, and Rouge all summer long. Clearly ending on a low note leaves plenty of room for motivation going into the next season. However, that goes for most teams in the NHL and especially one that lost in meltdown style.

No, I don’t need to (go back and watch the Vegas series). It was more of a mental thing than a physical thing for us and for me too. We got a little hesitant. –Nathan MacKinnon on 32 Thoughts Podcast

After the first two games of last season’s second round series, most Vegas fans feared the worst. Colorado looked to be the better team, were getting the lucky bounces and had won six playoff games in a row. With only two losses remaining before another season was cut short the Golden Knights woke up and stormed back to clinch the series in six games. It was by far the finest moment of Vegas’ 2021 season and one of the best in franchise history.

On the losing side of the handshake line, the Avalanche were shell-shocked. They believed their skill and speed would get them into the conference finals, especially when they were holding a two games to love lead. Learning now, Colorado wasn’t as comfortable as we may have thought after Game 2.

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