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Golden Knights 2nd Line Needed To Win Game 2

Must be more of this in Game 2. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

0 goals. -3 rating. 18:00+ minutes on ice.

That was the output of the Golden Knights 2nd line of Erik Haula, David Perron, and James Neal in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

To make it even worse, between the three of them they did not record a single shot on goal.

That is not good enough.

Vegas’ 2nd line spent a majority of their time on the ice against the Winnipeg 2nd line of Patrik Laine, Paul Stastny, and Nikolaj Ehlers as well as their 2nd defensive pairing of Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom.

This matchup will continue to be one of the keys to the series. Not only because the Golden Knights need scoring out of that line but because they must avoid allowing those Jets to score. In Game 1, it was 1-0 Jets when those eight players were on the ice, but the shot attempts, shots on goal, and scoring chances were heavily in favor of the Jets as well.

The Jets 2nd line shut down the Predators 2nd line and it’s a big reason why the Jets are here, while the Golden Knights 2nd line had success against the Sharks. Vegas is best when they are rolling multiple offensive lines, if their 2nd best scoring line disappears, their chances to win this series dimish drastically.

David Perron did not skate this morning while Tomas Tatar skated in his place both in line rushes and on the power play. Whether it’s Perron or Tatar, the Golden Knights need more from the 2nd line. Otherwise, they’re going to be staring at a 2-0 deficit when they board the plane to come back to Las Vegas.

Golden Knights Weren’t Just Off In The First Eight Minutes

Wonder if Gallant makes any changes to the lineup. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

NBC announcers Joe Micheletti and Pierre McGuire used words like panic, upset and frustrated to describe the Golden Knights in Game 1. In the first period, Micheletti even said “Winnipeg is the quicker team” and he wasn’t wrong, at that time. The Jets deserve a ton of credit jumping on Vegas early and winning the series opener.

However, outside of the first twenty minutes of play, the final numbers tell a different story. The Golden Knights average game stats were all out of whack but can take away some positives.

Shots on goal
VGK – 21
WPG – 26

  • Vegas tied their lowest SOG total over the entire regular season and postseason
  • First game this season without a shot from Erik Haula, Colin Miller, James Neal and David Perron
  • First game since 2/21 (loss at Wild) that James Neal failed to register a shot on net
  • Colin Miller now has four postseason games without a shot on net
  • David Perron has three postseason games without a shot on net

Giveaways
VGK – 11
WPG – 14

  • Third highest total of giveaways in a playoff
  • Vegas is 1-3 when they turn the puck over 10+ times in a game

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Gallant Pulls Perfect Strings To Once Again Unleash The Big Game Golden Knights

A few moves by Gallant and all of a sudden the Golden Knights looked themselves again for the biggest game of the year. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Individual awards in hockey are earned in the regular season. That’s why Gerard Gallant already has the Jack Adams Award sealed up. However, heading into Game 5, the soon-to-be Coach of the Year made some big boy decisions, and boy did they pay off for his Golden Knights.

Gallant inserted three players into his lineup, two of which hadn’t seen the ice in the playoffs, and made a line swap in an attempt to jump-start the 2nd and 3rd lines. 60 minutes of hockey later, and if there was a Coach of the Playoffs award, Gallant’s name could begin to be engraved on that one too.

Just some hungry guys ready to play and I wanted competitive guys in there playing tonight. When you lose a game sometimes you go through with your coaching staff and look around and say Lindberg has been working really good in practice, Carpenter has been a solid player for us all year long and he missed a couple of games, and Sbisa was due to get back in our lineup sooner or later. I thought all of them performed really well tonight and it was a good night for them. -Gerard Gallant

The additions to the lineup and the move to switch David Perron and Alex Tuch were some of the biggest reasons the Golden Knights took the 3-2 lead in the series.

Tuch was unbelievable. Lindy first game of the playoffs, wow, he was great too. Carpy on the 4th line was a big boost. He was all over the ice. -David Perron

Tuch scored twice. Lindberg and Carpenter each got assists, and Perron looked like himself for the first time during the playoffs netting two assists and creating a ton more chances.

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What In The World Is Going On With David Perron?

What’s wrong with you David? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

David Perron last played on March 26th in a home game against the Colorado Avalanche, the day the Golden Knights clinched their playoff berth. He missed the next six regular season games, missed Game 1, and has officially been ruled out for Game 2 of the series tonight.

David’s skating every day and he’s getting close and he’s feeling better. It’s just a matter of him you know being ready to go when he’s ready. We don’t force players into the lineup, we make sure they are ready. -Gerard Gallant

Following the game on March 28th, the first one Perron missed, Gallant was coy about Perron’s absence saying only “he didn’t play tonight.” Leading into the second game he would miss on March 30th, Gallant said he was out for “maintenance.” Then on March 31st, when SinBin.vegas flat out asked Gallant, “is David Perron hurt?” the response was “Yes, it’s a minor injury.”

Perron returned to the ice for the Golden Knights practice leading up to Game 1 of the series, but he stayed on the ice after practice with the other three players who were expected to be scratched. Yesterday, on the off day, Perron participated in a practice with the same players, a group of all the guys who did not play in Game 1. This morning, Perron was once again a full participant in morning skate but stayed on the ice well after with the other players to be scratched.

Throughout the entire 18 day absence, Perron has not been made available to speak to the media in English, he did conduct a scrum style interview with French-speaking media yesterday.

The injury has never been declared as upper or lower body, we cannot find anything in the Colorado game that points clearly to the injury, and watching him on the ice recently no one would never have any clue that he’s not healthy enough to play.

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UFA Updates; James Neal, David Perron, James van Riemsdyk

Perron has VGK Captain written all over him, but to wear the C, he has to still be wearing a Golden Knights sweater next season. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the regular season comes to a close, agents and their unrestricted free agent clients are licking their chops, waiting for July 1st. James Neal and David Perron, two key elements for the Golden Knights success are UFAs this summer.

Sportsnet focused on the latest reports regarding the top UFAs around the NHL. Neal and Perron are considered top ten UFAs available July 1st. The Golden Knights were also mentioned when it comes to prize winger James van Riemsdyk.

Here’s a bit of what they had to say. The entire article is here.

on James Neal

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos has suggested that Neal will be asking for as much as $6.5 million or $7 million per season on a long-term deal. Despite having the cap space to make that work, the belief is that Vegas is hesitant to commit long-term to players 30 and older. -Luke Fox, Sportsnet

I think they (Vegas) want to keep him too… More likely than not, they would like to keep him there. If he goes to market, James will command a lot of attention. -Pierre McGuire

 

on David Perron

McPhee is keeping mum publicly with his plans for these veteran wingers. There is value in keeping Perron beyond 2017-18, but the temptation to let Perron walk and use his cap space on younger, cheaper talent will be tempting. There’s no guarantee Perron produces this well again. -Fox

on James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leaf forward

Van Riemsdyk is still integral to the Leafs’ potent first power-play unit but is otherwise seeing third-line minutes. On another squad — Carolina? Vegas? New York? Jersey? San Jose? — he’d be a top-six fixture again. -Fox

How And When Marc-Andre Fleury Was Credited With The First Goalie Assist In Team History

Flower is a point machine! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury has been a part of a lot of firsts for the Vegas Golden Knights. He was the first to record a win, first to take a penalty, and the first to do pretty much everything else goalies can do except for record a shutout (Oscar Dansk stole that one from him). Quietly, and with a little help from a teammate, he also became the first goalie to be credited an assist in a Golden Knights game.

It happened on February 23rd, the last time the Vancouver Canucks came to T-Mobile Arena. Here’s the play.

Fleury kicked the save out to the boards. There’s a board battle in which Jon Merrill shielded the Canucks player away from the puck, however, neither Merrill nor Thomas Vanek gained possession of the puck. The next to touch it was David Perron who fired it up to Tomas Nosek. The rest is history.

Initially, only one assist was awarded because the scorekeepers must have believed Vanek got the puck, but looking closely that never happened.

So, Fleury should have earned the assist as he was the last to touch it, but it wasn’t until a fellow Golden Knight went out of his way to challenge the ruling that the first ever goalie assist became official.

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Golden Knights Must Get Back To Being Themselves

The Golden Knights do not have their own “way” like the New England Patriots. They did not come up with a different scheme of play like the “run and gun” Showtime Era Los Angeles Lakers. Nor are they trying to re-invent the game of hockey like the Moneyball Oakland A’s did baseball. But what the Golden Knights have done is carved out a style in which they prefer to play, and when they stick to it, they win.

Reel em back in David. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas has been at or near the top of the NHL standings the entire year. They’ve yet to experience a losing streak beyond three games, and when I asked a bunch of players the question, “what’s been the toughest thing your team has gone through this year,” every single guy started his response the same way, by cocking their head to the side and saying “I don’t know.”

We’ve come to know the Golden Knights as a fast, quick, transition heavy, high scoring chance team that never believes its out of a game and very rarely, if ever, partake in the rough physical style of play commonly seen in the Pacific Division. Whether this is the reason or not, Vegas had jumped out to a 16-1-1 record against the seven teams in their division. They were undefeated against the likes of the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks before the last 10 days. Then Tuesday happened, and those Golden Knights were nowhere to be found.

All year we haven’t really gotten into scrums all that much. We need to play the way we’ve played all year. We’ve had success and I think for Ryan he is trying to make an impression. When we were in St. Louis it was about getting into the net all the time with Coach Hitchcock. I think that he came here and he wants to do that, he wants to show that he cares, he’s got to learn though a little bit about the way we play. I don’t think he’s going to have a problem with that. -David Perron

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McKenzie: “Vegas Was Supposed To Be A Seller At The Deadline, They’re Not Selling”

“If those two players walk at the end of the season, they walk. Vegas will deal with that.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you have an hour or so, take a listen to TSN’s Hockey Bobcast with Bob McKenzie. It’s on my weekly must listen list. This week the Bobfather discussed the needs of all thirty-one NHL teams as he looks ahead to the February 26th trade deadline. Here’s what he had to say about the Golden Knights.

Vegas, my goodness what a story the Vegas Golden Knights are this season. Never seen anything like it in all my time covering the game. They’re not just a good team, they are legit. They look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Now how the hell can we be saying that? -Bob McKenzie, TSN

McKenzie had been running in circles trying to figure out this Golden Knights team. Now he’s starting to sound like George McPhee. McKenzie is confident Vegas management won’t “derail” the team’s success.

This is a legitimate threat, they cannot weaken their team between now and the deadline. -McKenzie

According to the TSN analyst, any open rumors about McPhee listening to offers for pending UFA’s James Neal and David Perron are officially dead.

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Never-Ending Deadline Speculation Continues

Remember, Shippy’s agent had some things to say too… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like restless fans, ESPN Insider Rob Vollman is getting prepared for the trade deadline. He ranked NHL general managers most likely to make a late-season deal. To no surprise, Golden Knights GM George McPhee made Vollman’s list.

The numbers show McPhee is rather active when it comes to trades, averaging 2.8 per season and 1.6 per year actually on deadline day.

Vegas is in the unexpected position of being buyers at the trade deadline, but don’t expect any big moves at the deadline because McPhee was not known for blockbuster trades in his time as Washington’s GM. Other than accidentally giving up a future star in Forsberg, McPhee never surrendered more than a second-round pick or a secondary prospect to get what he wanted (since 2005).- Rob Vollman, ESPN.com Insider

 

Vollman notes McPhee isn’t known for blockbusters around the trade deadline, but this is uncharted waters for an expansion team. Somehow McPhee will try to balance this season’s success and the future of the franchise. No doubt the Vegas brass will be making some difficult decisions before February 26th.

Adding fuel to the fire were comments by James Neal’s agent to Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review Journal.

(The whole story from the RJ, which is a gem, can be found here.)

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David Perron: Irreplaceable?

There’s a lot to like about David Perron. His ability to score, his versatility on the power play, or being the commissioner of locker room ping pong, Perron is a valuable piece to the Golden Knights success on and off the ice.

Try and take the puck from #57. You can’t do it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But the deadline is coming and Perron’s name will remain in the rumors unless he signs the dotted line. So the question becomes, is David Perron replaceable?

There’s a lot Perron does that could be viewed as replaceable. 11 goals in 39 games is solid, but it’s not impossible to find elsewhere. His contributions on the power play are important, but with the recent struggles that argument’s losing steam. Finally, there’s his ineffectiveness at times defensively and a penchant for taking lazy penalties that was a real problem earlier in the year.

However, there’s a specific skill Perron possesses that no one else on the Golden Knights has, and is very difficult to find on the open market. Simply put, you can’t take the puck off David Perron’s stick. Look, here are some examples.

Example 1: Perron starts with the puck along the boards above the circle. He skates it down beneath the goal line, turns, navigates out of traffic back to the circle, stops, and feeds a pass back down to Neal.

Example 2: Neal drops a pass off to Perron who takes it into a dangerous area before turning back towards the boards. He’s slashed by one of the three players trying to take the puck off him, yet he maintains control and feeds it back to the point.

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