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Rattled By Thatcher Demko?

Following their Western Conference Final loss, Pete DeBoer made a puzzling comment about his team’s mentality.

There’s no doubt that the last couple of games in the Vancouver series against Demko probably rattled our confidence a little bit. -DeBoer

DeBoer casually revealed one of the reasons Vegas struggled to score on Dallas was a rookie backup goaltender from a previous series living inside of his players’ heads.

We’ve heard coaches reference past series to account for injuries or even style of play differences, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one admit his team was psychologically fractured by an individual performance in a prior round. We applaud the honesty, but what is he saying about his team… or maybe even his own coaching job?

Another learning lesson for our guys at this time of year; fighting through, persevering, finding a way to get yourself out of a slump. Getting your confidence back quicker. -DeBoer

What happened to the mentality this team had?(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

These are all things the Golden Knights clearly did not do well inside of the bubble, that they must improve upon if they are to hoist the Cup in the future. But one has to wonder about the fragility of the locker room if they did indeed allow the ghost of Thatcher Demko to ruin their chances to win a completely new series.

What happened to “one game at a time?” To “I’m not worried about the offense?” To “the worst thing we can do is change?”

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2020 Golden Knights Playoffs “Photo” Gallery

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Recap: For the first time in seven games the Golden Knights scored a 1st period goal. Chandler Stephenson gave his team the lead with a nifty move to the net. Robin Lehner stood strong stopping all nine of Dallas’ shots on net.

The middle frame was flooded with penalties. Altogether there were four power play opportunities for both teams and neither could produce a goal. Vegas was 0/3 on their chances taking four shots on Stars goalie Anton Khudobin. On the other side of the ice, Lehner was flawless through 40 minutes preserving a 1-0 Vegas lead.

Fifteen seconds into the final period Reilly Smith shot a wicked wrister passed Khudobin to extend Vegas’ lead 2-0. It was Smith’s first goal since August 23rd, breaking his ten-game scoring drought. Dallas would get on the board midway through the period making it a tight 2-1 game. The Stars forced overtime tying the game 2-2 on a later power play goal.

Unfortunately, Vegas took an early delay of game penalty and Dallas took advantage ending the series in overtime.

With their 3-2 OT loss, the Golden Knights were eliminated 4-1 in their best-of-seven series with the Stars. Vegas will pack up and head back home from the Edmonton bubble. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights relied on the same style of possession offense and once again it produced absolutely nothing for the eighth consecutive game. They scored twice on transition chances and that was all they had to show for the game. Then, when they got the lead, they collapsed in their own end throwing the style of game that kept Dallas’s offense at bay out the window. In OT, a tough penalty cost them the game and the series. Not a good look at all and now things have to change moving forward. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 5 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • Hopefully the delusion ends and they learn from the shortcoming

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Reilly Smith
** Chandler Stephenson
* Alex Tuch


Recap: The 1st period of Game 4 was a mirror image of the entire series. For the third straight game neither team could come up with a goal in the opening 20 minutes.

The game began to heat up in the 2nd period. Vegas took the first lead on a power play goal from Alec Martinez. Dallas tied the game and eventually took the lead 2-1 with a power play goal of their own with under a minute to go in the middle period.

Dallas suffocated the Vegas in the final period. The Golden Knights drew multiple penalties earning a 5-on-3 power play. They had several chances but couldn’t convert and tie the game.

With their 2–1 loss, the Golden Knights trail the Stars 3-1 in their best-of-seven series. Game 5 of the Western Conference finals is set for Monday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights refused to change the way they played and the Stars once again capitalized on the style. Vegas controlled a good portion of the game in the offensive zone but yet again couldn’t must up enough truly dangerous scoring chances at even-strength. The one goal they scored was on the power play and when they needed the PP to bail them out again with a 70 second 5-on-3, they couldn’t. Something must change in the style of play or there is no way the Golden Knights will defeat the Stars three times in a row and make the Stanley Cup Final. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 4 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • We might be as lost as the Golden Knights. But we’ll figure out something.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Shea Theodore
** Alec Martinez
* Alex Tuch

Vegas Faces Tough But Attainable Challenge After Losing Game’s 1 & 3

(Photo Credit: Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

If you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it a thousand times on the SinBin podcast. Teams need to win odd-numbered games to clinch a series. So far, the Golden Knights haven’t done that in the Western Conference Final. While losing the first and third contests of a seven-game series isn’t ideal, plenty of teams have actually advanced in that position.

Since the 1999-2000 season, eight teams have gone on to win a conference final or Stanley Cup final after losing Games 1 and 3 of the series. Over the past 20 years it’s been accomplished four times in the Western Conference finals, three in the Eastern Conference finals, and twice in the Stanley Cup finals. Including last season’s Cup winner the St. Louis Blues, who did it twice in their championship run. Vegas is hoping to be the ninth team, starting by winning Game 4 (something all nine teams did).

Teams That Won WCF Losing Game 1 & 3
2000: Dallas Stars- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
2007: Anaheim Ducks- won in six (won 4, 5, 6)
2015: Chicago Blackhawks- won in seven (won 4, 6, 7)
2019: St. Louis Blues- won in seven (won 4, 5, 6)

Pete DeBoer is no stranger to the situation his current team is in. In 2012, DeBoer’s New Jersey Devils lost the first and third games of the Eastern Conference finals and stormed back to win the series in six. Seven years later he was on the other end as the coach of the San Jose Sharks. In last year’s Western Conference final, the Blues overcame defeats in game one and three to outlast the Sharks in seven.

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Golden Knights OK With “Low-Event Hockey”; Should They Be?

Through the first three games of the series, the Golden Knights have tallied five goals total with just three coming at even-strength. While Vegas leads on the even-strength shot tally in the series 71-62, the scoring chance numbers per actually show Dallas ahead 60-48.

Following Game 1, a game in which Vegas was bullied a bit early, Pete DeBoer used a phrase he had previously been known for in his time in New Jersey to describe the series-opening loss.

I don’t know what the chances were but it was a low-event game both ways. I didn’t think their offense gave us a lot of difficulty. -DeBoer

When DeBoer was behind the Devils bench from 2011-2015 the brand of hockey his teams were known for was often described as “low-event.” That means the shot numbers, chance numbers, and hopefully, the goal numbers are down. It’s a brand of hockey that has worked for many teams over the course of the past decade but one the Golden Knights have always viewed as the nemesis.

When the Golden Knights are at their best, they are creating chances in bunches. They tilt the ice in their favor and they impose their will on the other team. That’s how they overwhelmed Chicago, how they eventually cracked Thatcher Demko and the Canucks, and how they made their way out of the round-robin as the #1 seed. Going back further, that was the brand they played when DeBoer first arrived and it’s how they played for the entire Gallant era as well.

In Game 1, Vegas created just 14 scoring chances in the game at even-strength and only racked up seven through the first 2 periods. In Game 2, they tallied nine in the 1st period alone and finished the game off with 19 despite playing six fewer minutes of even-strength time. Then, in Game 3, they were back to struggling to create chances, totalling 17 but just 10 through two periods.

 Even-Strength TOIScoring ChancesChances/Min
VGK Game 154:52140.25
VGK Game 246:45190.41
VGK Game 352:15170.32
DAL Game 154:52270.51
DAL Game 246:45170.37
DAL Game 352:15200.38

Meanwhile, Dallas has stayed fairly consistent. They had a breakout period in the 2nd of Game 1, but aside from that, they’ve created about the same number of chances per minute in every other period of the series.

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Recap: The Golden Knights began Game 3 of the Western Conference finals looking to take a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars.

The opening period was tight with Robin Lehner and Anton Kuhdobin both comimg up with big saves to keep it a scoreless tie heading into the first intermission.

Lehner continued to play strong frustrating Dallas into the first two periods. However, the Stars would finally get one by the Vegas goaltender with :17 seconds left in the period.

Vegas’ offense broke out of their slump when Shea Theodore scored his 7th goal of the postseason tying the game 1-1. Dallas regained the lead 2-1 a few minutes later but Vegas wore down the Stars and eventually Alex Tuch tied the game with his 9th goal of the playoffs.

Dallas didn’t take long to win the game 3-2 in overtime. The Stars found an opening :31 into OT scoring their third on Lehner.

With their 3-2 OT loss, the Golden Knights trail the Stars 2-1 in their best-of-seven series. Game 4 of the Western Conference finals between Vegas and Dallas is set for Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights took too long to get to their game and then couldn’t stick with it long enough through the first two periods. Because of it, they found themselves in a hole. The 3rd period was exactly what Vegas wants the games to look like, but it was happening while behind for the most part. There’s a growing concern that Dallas’ style has been able to keep Vegas away from theirs. In the end, a problem that has plagued them through three games cropped back up and it was an open neutral zone that led to the game-winning OT goal. Tough loss and VGK need a massive response on Saturday.  (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 3 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • High event vs low event play; VGK seems to benefit from the former against Dallas
  • Neutral zone openness has hurt VGK and completely burned them in OT

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Reilly Smith
** William Karlsson
* Shea Theodore

Stars Fans Watch Western Conference Finals In Unique Fashion

Tonight will mark the second time Dallas Stars fans will be able to sit in an arena seat and cheer on their favorite hockey club since March 10th. What began Tuesday for Game 2 has now turned into a unique event for the rest of the Western Conference Finals. Something, I’m sure would be a huge hit with Vegas fans… if the government would allow it.

American Airlines Center has opened its doors for a reduced capacity watch party for 3500-4000 Stars fans. It’s free to the public but fans have to be lucky enough to reserve one of the socially spaced-out tickets.

Regulations are looser in Texas compared to different COVID-19 restrictions that are in place in Nevada. However, in Dallas, the reported new cases were triple to what Las Vegas has seen in recent days. I’m not suggesting that local and state governments are overprotecting Nevadans, but a socially-distanced playoff watch party at T-Mobile Arena would be an enormous event. And not just for the 3500+ in attendance.

Stars fans will line up outside the arena tonight six-feet apart and wearing masks, rushing in to find their limited seat. They’ll go through security, be able to grab a snack and a soda at the concession stand and watch the Western Conference Finals from an NHL arena seat. Pretty cool right?

There are numerous detractors urging fans to voice their concerns with the Stars. So far, the complaints haven’t been loud enough for the team to cancel their coveted arena watch parties.

Is it possible Dallas is starting a trend Vegas could follow for the next and final round? If the Golden Knights keep their eyes on how safe and secure the Stars make their watch parties, I’m sure there will be future conversations. Of course, Vegas has to get there first.

The biggest problem, there’s only enough socially-distanced space at T-Mobile Arena for 3600 lucky fans. Let’s worry about that after the Golden Knights take care of business.

Optimistic Vs. Pessimistic Looks At Series Tying Game 2

(Photo Credit: Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

You ever read one of those “choose your own adventure” books? Well, I’m not smart enough to write one of those, but this article is a lot like it. There’s an optimistic route and a pessimistic route and at this moment neither is right nor wrong. So, I’m going to present both and let you choose the narrative you want to believe. Ready? Here we go.

We start with the main concept. Despite winning an absolutely crucial game, the Golden Knights have a lot more to give than they put forth in Game 2.

The Optimist: In a game they had to have, the Golden Knights didn’t even play their best, and still won 3-0. There was a marked improvement from Games 1 to 2 which means they will continue to find their way into the series. Once they get to truly playing their best, Dallas won’t be able to handle it.

The Pessimist: We’re two games in and thus far the Stars have proven they can stymie the Golden Knights. If Vegas doesn’t ramp up its game and they all look like versions of Game 1 or 2, the Golden Knights are in trouble.

The main takeaway from Game 2 will likely be Vegas breaking through and finally putting some offense on the board. When re-watching the game, and truly examining the chances both teams had, it was fairly close to even. The 1st period was a wash with each side having a few good chances. Then in the 2nd, Vegas struck on an excellent transition play. They scored again on a power play goal, then put together one of the niftiest 3-on-1 breaks we’ve seen in franchise history. In the 3rd, Dallas started to create a few more chances but couldn’t stick one in.

The Optimist: The drought needed to end, and it ended with two beautiful team goals followed by one on the power play. The normal VGK style of offense wasn’t even fully on display and Vegas was still able to score three. Now that the dam is broken, when the gritty, playoff-style goals return, the offensive problem will be completely considered a thing of the past. If Vegas is scoring, Dallas is hopeless.

The Pessimist: On the first goal a Dallas Stars defenseman fell down allowing Pacioretty an inordinate amount of time and space to pick out the play. On the second goal, Anton Khudobin seemed to forget how to play goalie and turned a shot that should have hit him in the chest into a goal. And on the final goal the Stars cheated in the offensive zone and gifted Vegas a 3-on-1 rush. The 1st period was more of the same that we had been seeing from the past four games. The power play scored just once and it was handed to them, and the rush chance is not likely replicable as Tyler Seguin shouldn’t be expected to make a boneheaded play more than once a series. Sure, there are three on the board, but only one was truly born out of excellent play by the Golden Knights and even on that one a Stars player ate s**t.

The Golden Knights also scored a goal that was waved off from a goalie interference challenge and they rang the post twice.

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Recap: The Golden Knights needed a strong effort to even up the series with the Dallas Stars. Vegas jumped out to a quick start in Game 2, drawing an early penalty setting the tone of the game. The Golden Knights wouldn’t score in the 1st period but momentum and Robin Lehner’s pads carried them into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

Vegas’ offense finally got going in the 2nd period. Paul Statsny scored the Golden Knights first goal of the series 4:53 in, William Karlsson added a power play goal four minutes later, and Tomas Nosek stretched the lead to 3-0. It was Vegas’ first power play goal since Game 7 of the second round.

Up three to start the 3rd period, the Golden Knights played more conservative protecting their lead. Lehner was outstanding again as he stopped all 24 of the Stars shots on net. It was his fourth shutout of the postseason.

With their 3-0 win, the Golden Knights tied up the Western Conference finals. Game 3 between Vegas and Dallas is set for Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 5PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights offense finally broke through in the 2nd period with a few tap in goals and a power play goal from William Karlsson. The biggest key to the game for Vegas though was how they handled the Dallas forecheck in that decisive 2nd period. They finally started breaking out of the zone with confidence and speed and it helped lead to a few rushes, multiple goals, and a number of drawn penalties. Play like that again and this series is Vegas’ to lose. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 2 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • A look at all the odd-man rushes against. What happened?

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nic Roy
** Robin Lehner
* Paul Stastny

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