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Tag: Eastern Conference

Vegas The Talk Of Original Six Hockey Fans

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

If you plan on traveling over the next few weeks, be prepared to chit-chat about the 2023 Stanley Cup champions. From the West Coast, Midwest, and Northeast, the Golden Knights Cup run has become a common conversation among sports fans.

I just don’t understand how a team can be so competitive and capture a Stanley Cup in six seasons. It’s mind-boggling to me that my team hasn’t been able to put together something so impressive like Vegas has. Maybe, we needed that coach behind our bench. -Dennis McCaul, Connecticut native & NY Rangers fan

At this moment Vegas fans cannot understand what it’s like to go through decade-long droughts like Islanders, Rangers, or Canadiens fans have gone through since before the turn of the century. Albeit all three clubs are massively popular with their fanbase, but to them it’s still a failure of a season if their team wasn’t the last one standing.

Local fans were introduced to a winning culture from the first puck drop of their 2017-18 inaugural season (“We played Arizona, and we beat the shit out of them”), but the Golden Knights didn’t take center stage in the sports world like they have now. Winning a championship brings more attention, more out-of-town observers, and more jealousy. While Ranger fans are frustrated with their team’s disappointing season, they were entertained and impressed with Vegas’ five-game Stanley Cup accomplishment.

I’m not sure why I cared. I was so pissed off by the Bruins performance I stopped watching the playoffs. Towards the middle of the conference finals I started paying attention again and the Golden Knights were the team I was rooting for. Obviously, Cassidy was a big reason for that but I also enjoyed watching the players on the team. They played like a team. Really, what I expected from the Bruins. Don’t even get me started, but overall I was glad to see Vegas win. -Jim Selvitella, Massachusetts native and Bruins fan

Specifically, Boston fans felt a connection to the Golden Knights because of their respect for former Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. Many B’s fans have convinced themselves that if Cassidy hadn’t been let go in Boston, their team would’ve lifted their first Stanley Cup since 2011. Others were happy the coach won before their favorite team. That’s typical behavior from a fanbase with so much disdain for the Bruins brass. In their opinion, the wrong people were let go and Cassidy ended up being the scapegoat.

Overall, it’s been a mixed bag of emotions from mostly Eastern Conference hockey fans. You’ll notice more anger, frustration, and sourness from Western Conference and specifically Pacific Division fanbases. Outside of Miami-Dade County, East Coast fans are largely happy the Golden Knights became this season’s champions. The players, the coach, the theatrics. Vegas stole fans away from eliminated teams along their 2023 Stanley Cup chase. The bandwagon will likely end on opening night in October.

Vegas Versus The Mighty Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

All season long the eyes of the hockey world have been on the Eastern Conference. Based on performance and deep lineups the odds suggest an Eastern Conference team will be named the 2023 Stanley Cup champion. Through 67 games, the Golden Knights are making analysts, computer models, insiders, and pundits rethink their position.

On Saturday, Vegas casually shut out the high-powered Carolina Hurricanes to record the team’s 20th victory against the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night in Philadelphia they can add to that total.

VGK vs the Eastern Conference (30 Games)

  • .700 Points Percentage
  • 3.45 Goals Scored Per Game
  • 2.70 Goals Allowed Per Game
  • Shutout CAR, 1 Goal Allowed vs TOR
  • Jack Eichel vs East: 26 Points (13G, 13A)

Left on the schedule from the East are the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vegas will likely be a sizable favorite in both games. In 30 eastern matchups the Golden Knights would have a total of of 44 cross-conference credits. That’s 47% of Vegas’ 88 total points. Talk about flipping the script.

The message the Golden Knights sent to the East this season has been loud and it’s been heard.

They’re a good team. They hunker down in front and we knew that coming in. That got us behind the eight ball. In the 2nd period we weren’t very good, but we didn’t give up much. Just one bad bounce and it was a breakaway. Then we were down two. We had a good 3rd. We pushed, we just couldn’t get one by them. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach

Not only did the Golden Knights blank the Hurricanes, they also held the Toronto Maple Leafs to one goal back in October. On top off sweeping the Canes and Leafs, Vegas did the same to the Canadiens, Capitals, Lightning, and Senators in their two-game sets.

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VGK’s Eastern Conference Invasion

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been an up and down ride for the Golden Knights in games against Eastern Conference teams. In fact, their record was 4-5-0 against Atlantic and Metropolitan clubs before this road trip began. After their shootout win in New York the traveling Golden Knights have a chance to sweep their annual pre-holiday road trip on Sunday.

In nine periods, Vegas scored 12 total goals and trailed for just a combined 25 minutes. The Golden Knights got off to a fast start in Boston, essentially sealing their victory after the first 20 minutes. Sure, Boston was hampered with several key players out after testing positive for COVID. However, Vegas took advantage of a team in disarray and left the Bay State with two points. There were times Vegas looked disjointed in New Jersey and the final score reflected their messy 5-3 finish. Even coach Pete DeBoer knew the process was ugly but he only cared about the two points his club picked up.

We did just enough to win. We take the two points and move on. I liked our 1st period, hated our 2nd, and we were opportunistic in the 3rd. -Pete DeBoer

Give the Devils credit for making a late push but the Golden Knights got caught trying to close out a road game too early. Eventually, the visiting team came out on top and took care of business. Which is the only goal on non-conference trips. Pick up two, and pack your bags.

It wasn’t clean but it was another character win for the Golden Knights in New York. The Rangers opened the door by laying back which allowed an opening for Dylan Coghlan’s game tying goal. Vegas beat an emotional, highly talented team for their seventh come from behind or late game triumph.

When you step out there you definitely don’t want to lose to them. They chirp on the bench. You got to play them physical and frustrate them in all three zones. -Ryan Reaves, NYR forward

Thankfully for Golden Knights fans Reaves’ new team couldn’t frustrate the Golden Knights enough.

Earlier in the season Vegas struggled with foreign opponents and now they’re on track to beat four of them in their own territories. It’s safe to say the Golden Knights are making a league wide statement on this trip. Not only is Vegas healthier but their determination, force, and urgency are beginning to remind NHL teams why they’re regarded as a deep threat. And they’re an Alec Martinez and Jack Eichel away from a full (sort of) lineup.

Okay, so they’re not the Beatles and they didn’t fly across the pond, but storming the Northeast like Vegas has should qualify as an invasion.

Western Conference Hub Hosting Cup Final Could Benefit Western Conference Champ

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Now that playing at home appears to be on the fritz, the Golden Knights will turn their attention to playing in Western Canada, where it appears they’ll stay if they have success early in the playoffs.

Vegas will have the ability to set up shop in Alberta and stay for the entirety of the postseason, or however long they last. That shouldn’t be an advantage considering the oddities surrounding this format, but the raw numbers suggest staying west could benefit the Golden Knights.

Overall, the Golden Knights proved for a third straight season that they were a Western Conference challenger. Unsurprisingly, when on the road, they’re at their best when playing inside Pacific Division buildings.

VGK at Pacific Division
19-20: 7-3-1 (.682)
18-19: 9-5-1 (.633)
17:18 – 10-3-2 (.733)
Total: 26-11-4 (.683)

VGK at Central Division
19-20: 3-4-0 (.429)
18-19: 4-6-0 (.400)
17-18: 4-5-1 (.450)
Total: 11-15-1 (.426)

VGK at Eastern Conference
19-20: 7-6-3 (.531)
18-19: 6-9-1 (.406)
17-18: 8-6-2 (.563)
Total: 21-21-6 (.500)

The numbers really skew against the Golden Knights when you take into account who they were playing. Most of the wins were against the below-average Eastern conference teams as seven of the nine losses came at the hands of East playoff teams.

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The Lopsided Conference Conundrum

The NHL currently sits at 30 teams with 16 in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference. Assuming the league scoops up their $500 million a piece from Quebec and Las Vegas, they would have to cross a geographical bridge.

For those of you are who red-blooded Americans, Quebec is in Canada, more specifically, eastern Canada, Like, really really eastern Canada (it’s almost in Maine.)

In other words, the dream of putting the two new teams in the Western Conference to even them out is pretty much dead.

The obvious idea would be to move a team (cough, Columbus, cough) and even it out that way, but our friends at the San Jose Mercury News pried this gem out of Gary Bettman.

Bettman has previously said that if a 16-14 split works, he doesn’t see a reason why a 17-15 split wouldn’t.” -John Wawrow AP Hockey Writer

How very rational of you Mr. Bettman.

Yeah, why wouldn’t it work?

Ok, good. One less thing to worry about. Now I can sleep at night.

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