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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 ANAHEIM DUCKS 2 (12-4-1 25 PTS) – OT

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Recap: The Golden Knights traveled to Anaheim to take on the Ducks for the first game in five nights. Vegas showed some early rust and Anaheim was able to take the first lead of the game. Late in the opening period Alex Pietrangelo scored a much-needed goal to tie the game 1-1.

William Karlsson gave the Golden Knights the 2-1 2nd period lead with a highlight reel flip shot. It was Karlsson’s 4th goal of the season, and maybe his prettiest.

Anaheim tied the game on a controversial call in the 3rd. Coach Pete DeBoer challenged the goal for a missed high-stick whistle but the goal was confirmed and Vegas had to fight off a two-minute minor. After 60 minutes the game was locked at 2-2 and would need another five minutes to decide a winner. Karlsson scored the game-winner late in overtime to give his team a 3-2 victory.

With the win in overtime, the Golden Knights record improves to 12-4-1. Vegas hits the ice next on Monday night against the Minnesota Wild. Game is scheduled for 7 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights got off to a hot start early dominating the first portion of the game. But it tailed off in the 1st and they ended up tied at the intermission. A pair of incredible goals by William Karlsson was the difference in the end. Have to give Fleury a lot of credit for this one too. (Analysis by Ken)


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Fleury Flourishes On Extended Start Streaks

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At some point, Marc-Andre Fleury will need a break. He’s in the midst of a seven-game start streak, his fifth-longest regular season consecutive game stretch as a Golden Knight. With Vegas though, Fleury tends to thrive in these situations. When the 36-year-old is given the reins for an extended amount of time he’s been extremely reliable.

Since 2017-18, Fleury has started seven-straight games or more six separate times. His combined point percentage is .666 in those 57 contests and has a losing record just once.

Seven+ Game Start Streaks

2021: 7 Straight Starts (4-3)
2019-20: 9 Straight Starts (6-3)
2018-19: 13 Straight Starts (10-2-1)
2018-19: 7 Straight Starts (3-4)
2017-18: 11 Straight Starts (7-3-1)
2017-18: 10 Straight Starts (6-4)

Combined Winning Percentage: .631%
Combined Points Percentage: .666%

Fleury’s current streak is mostly out of necessity. Going into the season, the veteran goalie was expected to split most of the games with Robin Lehner. With Lehner unavailable, Fleury has played 11 out of 16 games this season and is on pace to start 38. Much more than the coaching staff had planned.

Last night’s performance was a great example of Fleury’s capability. After playing 11 straight periods against Colorado, the 36-year-old was making acrobatic saves late in the game to preserve his third shutout of the year. Even against the same high-powered Avalanche team he faced in four consecutive games, Fleury seemed the least tired player out there.

Now that the Golden Knights have finished their four-game series against Colorado, the upcoming schedule allows some opportunities to rest Fleury. On Thursday night, Vegas will travel to San Jose, a team that struggles to keep the puck out of their own net. Maybe that’s a game coach Pete DeBoer can comfortably rest his netminder. Also, with there being two days in between games, Fleury could have four days of rest before his next start.

As the schedule creeps towards March, the heavy competition goes away for a few weeks. The next eight matchups are against the Sharks, Ducks, and Wild. The Golden Knights are significantly better than all three and the coaching staff should look to use their schedule to spell Fleury some starts, even if Lehner isn’t ready to come back. Vegas will need what we can now confidently say is their number one goaltender fresh for when they face St. Louis and Colorado later in March.

With his third shutout of the season in his pocket, we all know the 17-year veteran will want to play the bulk of the remaining games. Who can blame him? Fleury’s having an All-Star type season, wants to be in the Vezina discussion and prove to his bosses they were wrong. I say let him compete for trophies, just as long as he can take a few games off here and there. DeBoer can save Fleury’s 28 consecutive start streak for the postseason.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 COLORADO AVALANCHE 0 (11-4-1 23 PTS)

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Recap: The 1st period in Denver, CO was tight and defensive. Marc-Andre Fleury made some timely saves, and the Golden Knights offense created ten quality shots on net. However, the scoring wouldn’t break out until the 2nd period. 

Alex Tuch continued his hot streak scoring two 2nd period goals. Tuch’s sixth and seventh of the season gave Vegas a 2-0 lead. Jonathan Marchessault added to the lead with his sixth of the year midway through the middle frame. Fleury was flawless and preserved a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

Fleury was outstanding down the stretch, frustrating the Avalanche forwards. Colorado had multiple high-danger chances but the 36-year-old made several acrobatic saves keeping the puck out of his net. Fleury was perfect through sixty minutes and secured his third shutout of the season. 

With the 3-0 win, the Golden Knights improve their record to 11-4-1. Vegas has a couple of days off and then get back to work on Thursday night in San Jose. The game against the Sharks is scheduled for 730P PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Pete DeBoer knew the Golden Knights needed more offensively. So, he dropped the lines in a blender and boy did it make a difference. The Golden Knights controlled the puck much more than they have in the previous three games and were finally able to break the dam and start scoring. The Avs weren’t impotent though as they created plenty of chances but Marc-Andre Fleury put in his best performance of the season. (Analysis by Ken)


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Where Has All The Offense Gone?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the first time in 2021, the Golden Knights have lost consecutive games. After racing out to an impressive 10-2-1 record in their first 13 games, Vegas has dropped two in a row to the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights are also 2-3-0 in their last five games and have scored just eight goals.

Before the recent skid, the Golden Knights had been averaging 3.7 goals per game. Over the previous five, that number has plummetted to 1.6. The even-strength scoring numbers look even worse. First 10 games, Vegas scored 31 goals at even-strength. Since, they’ve mustered just four in five games.

We need to find ways to generate offense especially at 5-on-5. A big part of our game is to produce and try and play offense without giving up much defensively so we need to find out how to get better in that area. -Max Pacioretty after 2/14 win vs. COL

So, what happened?

First, it starts with the most basic concept when it comes to scoring, shooting. The Golden Knights reached 30 or more shots in six of their first 10 games. They’ve failed to reach 30 in any of the previous five and haven’t even made it to 25 twice (their two lowest performances of the season).

They’re 27th in the NHL in shots on goal per game with 25.8 since February 10th. Before this stretch, they were 5th in the league with 32.3.

It goes beyond shots actually on goal too. The even-strength Fenwick numbers (unblocked shot attempts) are poor as well. Vegas has allowed more unblocked shot attempts than they’ve created in just six games of their first 15. Four of the six have come in the last five.

The Golden Knights have had 80 even-strength shots blocked in the last five games. That’s an average of 16 blocked shots against. In the first 10 games, Vegas saw 122 shots blocked or 12.2 per game; a difference of almost four more blocked shots per game.

First 10
37 goals (3.7 per game)
32.3 shots per game
6 games with 30+ shots (60%)
55.5% Fenwick
12.2 shots blocked per game

Last 5
5 goals (1.6 per game)
25.6 shots per game
1 game with 30+ shots (20%)
46.1% Fenwick
16 shots blocked per game

The next one is a confusing one. In Vegas’ first 10 games they recorded 45 takeaways while giving the puck away 54 times. In the last 10, they’ve more than exceeded their takeaways (59) in half the number of games, while seeing their giveaway number (23) drop by about one a game. Thus, the Golden Knights are up more than seven takeaways per game over the last five than they were in the first 10.

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COLORADO AVALANCHE 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (10-4-1 21 PTS) – at LAKE TAHOE

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Recap: It was a game the players and fans had waited a long time for. The Golden Knights and Avalanche met up for their third straight game but this time outside on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Colorado took an early lead 2:58 into the game. Vegas responded well locking down their opponents and adding pressure in their offensive zone. The game changed late in the period as Mark Stone was penalized with a four-minute high-stick penalty. The Golden Knights’ penalty kill worked hard but wound up taking another penalty for too many men in the ice. Colorado was unable to score on either penalties before the 1st period came to a close. After the opening 20 minutes, Colorado held a 1-0 advantage.

The game was suspended during the first intermission due to sloppy ice conditions. Commissioner Gary Bettman deemed the ice surface was unsafe and the game would proceed at 9P PT.

Once the game resumed the Golden Knights were able to tie the game 1-1. Alec Martinez picked up his first goal of the season jumping on a rebound in front of the net. Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon broke the tie a few minutes later. Vegas trailed 2-1 after two periods played.

The Golden Knights had several power play chances in the final frame but couldn’t take advantage. The Avalanche added to their lead in third but Alex Tuch got it back with a beautiful spin-o-rama goal. However, Vegas couldn’t catch up and lost the franchise’s first outdoor game 3-2.

With their 3-2 loss to the Avalanche, the Golden Knights record drops to 10-4-1. Vegas and Colorado wrap up their four-game series on Monday night in Denver. Game is scheduled for 6PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It took a LONG time to get through 60 minutes of hockey, but whether it was day time or night time the Golden Knights were the inferior team on the ice. Colorado’s speed was clearly on display and Vegas struggled with it the entire game. The Golden Knights can beat Colorado, but they need to play close to a perfect game to do it and they certainly didn’t do that today. (Analysis by Ken)


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Vegas And Colorado Preparing For Inevitable Postseason Showdown

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Golden Knights have played a total of 15 games in the 2021 shortened season. Their overall record is an outstanding 10-3-1 but Vegas’ measuring tape record is 1-1-0.

In six periods against the Avalanche, the pace, style, and quality of hockey was noticeably different. Cliché or not, the last two contests between the heavyweights in the West felt like playoff games. The Golden Knights hadn’t seen the power, skill and speed of Nathan MacKinnon and his talented teammates. Same goes for the Avalanche. In the 13 games Colorado played, only Vegas has a winning percentage of .569 or higher.

You get a real good goaltender like Fleury that is an active player in the net. He’s an aggressive guy. This is a team that checks real well. Their numbers on the analytics side of it is they’re not giving up a lot of scoring chances and you have to earn those chances. -Jared Bednar, Colorado coach

With six matchups left between one another, the Golden Knights and Avalanche will have to do some soul searching. In all likelihood, the winner of the West Division will be one of these two clubs. If that’s the case, both front offices will examine their clubs and ask themselves if the current roster is good enough to beat the other in a long playoff series. To advance it might come down to taking advantage of trade deadline or feeling confident and standing pat.

It might sound simple, but both the Avalanche and Golden Knights should look at each other as their only roadblock to the Stanley Cup Finals. Whether it’s a waiver pickup, a deadline trade, or the elevation of internal depth, any and all acquisitions should be aimed at outlasting the other in a seven-game series. Perhaps Vegas looks to add speed or depth scoring at the deadline to help neutralize Colorado’s pace and power. Or maybe Colorado looks to add some girth and toughness to challenge Vegas’ strength.

There’s no doubt the speed and level of play has been higher than any point we’ve seen. -Pete DeBoer

Last year at the deadline each team added to their offense. Colorado traded for Vladislav Namestnikov and the former 1st rounder scored four goals in the postseason. Vegas acquired depth for three positions. Alec Martinez was brought in to sure up the defense and he’s been in the lineup ever since. Offensively, the Golden Knights supplied the bottom-six with Nick Cousins. And of course, Vegas flip-flopped Malcolm Subban (and in a way Marc-Andre Fleury) for Robin Lehner.

Both teams tend to be active around the deadline, making deals in three straight years. Expect involvement again this year but like Vegas, Colorado has cap issues. It could come down to which front office can be more creative opening up room for more salary.

From what we saw in the last two games, the Golden Knights and Avalanche are evenly matched, despite each playing without key pieces. Both are elite and capable of winning the Cup, but can’t do so without getting through the other.

We all know it, Vegas and Colorado are destined to play in the second round of the postseason and it has the potential of being one hell of series. Best start preparing now.

COLORADO AVALANCHE 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (10-3-1 21 PTS)

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Recap: Vegas struggled to stay on the ice in the 1st period. The Avalanche were awarded six minutes in power play opportunities which the Golden Knights killed all three penalties. However, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon scored his third of the year to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.

Max Pacioretty tied the game with a 2nd period power play goal for his eighth of the season. The Avalanche regained the lead a minute later to take a 2-1 edge into the second intermission.

The Golden Knights brought heavy pressure in the 3rd period and it paid off. Jonathan Marchessault popped in the tying goal with heavy traffic in front of the net. Nazem Kadri scored the winning goal :41 seconds remaining in the game to pull of the 3-2 victory.

With their 3-2 loss to the Avalanche, the Golden Knights record drops to 10-3-1. Vegas and Colorado resume their series on Saturday afternoon outdoors at Lake Tahoe. Game is scheduled for 12 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Another excellent game between the best two teams in the West Division came down to the final minutes. Vegas did well to keep battling and stay in the game, tying it multiple times. But the speed of Colorado just kept coming at Vegas and they eventually broke late. This Avs team is very dangerous and the Golden Knights are going to need a heck of a plan to beat them if (probably when) these two match up in the West Division Championship series. (Analysis by Ken)


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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 COLORADO AVALANCHE 0 (10-2-1 21 PTS)

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Recap: It was the first battle of eight between the West Division’s top two teams. The Colorado Avalanche traveled to Vegas for two games before the clubs face off outside at Lake Tahoe.

The 1st period was tight with strong goaltending from both teams. The Golden Knights were awarded two early power play opportunities but couldn’t take advantage. The Avalanche tested Marc-Andre Fleury but came up empty after the opening twenty minutes.

Max Pacioretty broke through early in the 2nd period with his 7th goal of the season. Both teams traded penalties but neither converted into a goal. Fleury was flawless in the middle frame stopping all 11 Colorado shots on net. Vegas held a 1-0 advantage after 40 minutes.

The Golden Knights pressured and held the Avalanche forwards scoreless in the third. Fleury’s brilliant performance earned him a second shutout of the season.

With their 1-0 win the Golden Knights improve their record to 10-2-1. Vegas and Colorado resume their series on Tuesday night. Game is scheduled for 7 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Colorado made life very easy on the Golden Knights for the first 10 minutes of the game, but the final 50 Vegas earned every bit of the shutout they recorded. The Golden Knights were terrific defensively all night, led by Alex Pietrangelo. Fleury was excellent in the net but everyone deserves props for a game in which they took care of the puck and did a great job controlling an incredibly dangerous offense. (Analysis by Ken)


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Tahoe Takeaways

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There have been 30 NHL outdoor games since 2003. Up until now, all but six teams have participated.

When the Golden Knights face off against the Colorado Avalanche on February 20th, they’ll become the 26th NHL team to skate outdoors. While five other franchises have waited for almost two decades, Vegas will get their opportunity up in Northern Nevada in only their fourth season.

Outdoor Weekend

Here’s a cool fact about Lake Tahoe, it never freezes over.

The Lake Tahoe Basin has its share of below-freezing days and nights, but surprisingly enough the Lake itself has never frozen over. On occasion, Emerald Bay has been covered with a layer of ice, and ice also forms in cold protected inlets. However, Lake Tahoe’s great depth and volume of water is always in motion and keeps it from being the world’s largest ice rink. -KeepTahoeBlue.org

Luckily, the league did their research and will avoid any ice cracking disasters. The NHL games will take place at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, NV. It’s reported that an ice sheet will be built around the resorts golf course, however it was unclear exactly where. Will an NHL game be played be on a massive three-hole water hazard?

Vegas’ Opponent

Many were confused why the NHL would choose the Avalanche over one of the three California teams. I’d imagine there were several reasons, but one would have to be the spotlight factor. Colorado and Vegas are two premier teams in the West division, it allows the league and networks a chance to showcase both clubs. In all likelihood, it could be a playoff series preview. San Jose may be closer to Lake Tahoe, but clearly, the league felt a superior Colorado team would make for a better event.

The Perfect Matchup

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Vegas’ Cup Run Got Tougher With New Playoff Format

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the new divisional alignments, the NHL needed to create a playoff format that fits. Canada has its country-wide division intact, and the US will provide the other three. The Golden Knights will be in a division with most of their Pacific buddies, but will also have to deal with two top Central teams in Colorado and St. Louis.

East: Bos-Buf-NJ-NYI-NYR-Phi-Pgh-Was
Central: Car-CBJ-Dal-Det-Chi-Fla-Nas-TB
West: Ana-Ari-Col-LA-Min-SJ-STL-VGK
North: Cgy-Edm-Mtl-Ott-Tor-Van-Wpg

With a mish-mash of divisions and conferences, the NHL decided to come up with a plan to reward the team that preserves from each division. Essentially, the Golden Knights will have to beat two teams from their division to secure a spot in the final four.

Any other season, the Golden Knights would regularly begin the postseason by playing a Pacific division team. In 2018, Vegas swept a first-round series against LA and in 2019, San Jose controversially sent the Golden Knights packing after the opening round. This year though, without wild cards, Vegas will have to be the best in the West to win the Cup.

The new playoff format throws a wrench at tradition. Since divisional realignment in 2014 (with exception of the 2020 postseason), every Stanley Cup champion was forced to defeat two divisional rivals. This season will have more of a twist. Each division will have a four-team playoff to decide one team to advance to the NHL semifinals.

With temporary divisions in place, the Golden Knights may end up having a difficult path to the Finals. Depending on their seeding, Vegas could face both Colorado and St. Louis to reach the semi-finals. Talk about some heavy lifting. If we simply go off paper, the Avalanche, Blues and Golden Knights are the top three teams in their expanded division. Leaving one spot for Anaheim, Arizona, LA, Minnesota, or San Jose.

Of course it’s not a foregone conclusion the Golden Knights will secure one of the four open playoff seats, but I think we all agree it would be a major surprise if they didn’t. Which is why it’s imperative for Vegas to get off to a strong start. A sluggish beginning to a shortened 56-game schedule could mean a lower seed, and a tougher path through the Colorado and St. Louis.

Unlike last postseason, there are no lightweights in the 2021 playoffs.

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