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Guest Post: Catharsis

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last year and a half have been tough on everyone. No matter who you are or where you live, lifestyle changes have become the norm for everybody. One of those changes involved how we watch hockey. For many, watching the Golden Knights in person became a part of their weekly routine and it was suddenly taken away despite the games continuing to go on. Finally, towards the end of last season and into the playoffs fans were allowed back in the building and for many, it was incredibly meaningful to return.

One such fan is today’s Guest Post author, Lara Lee. A diehard Golden Knights fan who never misses a game and can constantly be seen banging on the glass at T-Mobile Arena (actually she’s a great hockey fan so she’s aware *not* to bang on the glass, but you get my point), Lara was in the building for the first time in over a year for Game 3 against the Avalanche. She recounts that night, one that meant so much more to so many people who finally felt like they were getting back to normal… which of course meant the Golden Knights winning at T-Mobile Arena.

Catharsis. That’s the word I keep coming back to. Being in T-Mobile Arena for Game 3 of the Vegas Golden Knights’ series against the Colorado Avalanche felt like catharsis for me and, I suspect, many in the building. The experience of being together and helping will our team to a desperately needed comeback win was a cleansing moment. It washed away the ache of missing an entire year of seeing hockey in person, washed away the frustration of being handcuffed by dubious officiating, washed away the agony of seeing the Golden Knights outplay teams without being rewarded. Finally, we were all in one place again, and we made it count.

The crowd was electric from the start. The “KNIGHT” yell during the national anthem was the loudest that I’ve ever heard. I got goosebumps, so I can only imagine its effect on the team. The Golden Knights came out flying, and I hoped that they would score quickly so that the crowd could exhale the breath it was holding. Instead, the tension built and built until William Karlsson finally put the puck in the net in the 2nd period. But the Avalanche tied the game before we could thoroughly enjoy our lead, and the stress returned.

You could feel the nerves running through the arena when the 3rd period began. We knew our guys were the better team on this night, but we’d seen this movie too many times to trust that would lead to victory. When Colorado scored a goal to take the lead, the air went out of the building.

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Guest Post: VGK Upgraded, But Enough?

Today’s Guest Post comes from Kevin Iole. Kevin is a columnist for Yahoo Sports. He was a sportswriter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 1990 until 2007. He covered the Las Vegas Thunder for the entirety of the team’s run in Las Vegas, and did a little bit of work covering the Las Vegas Wranglers. A lifelong hockey fan whose favorite players were Eddie Shack, Battleship Kelly, Steve Durbano, and Gary Rissling before Mario Lemieux came along, Iole was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He was a diehard Penguins fan and a season ticket holder for about 10 seasons. He is a Vegas Golden Knights and Henderson Silver Knights season ticket holder along with his wife, Betsy. He became a Golden Knights fan early in the inaugural season and counts the Knights as his No. 1 team witih the Penguins No. 2. His ideal outcome would be the Knights winning the Cup 4-3 over the Penguins every year. Other than hockey, Iole loves Basset Hounds and owns about 40 VGK jerseys, many of which need new nameplates. 

For a franchise whose motto ought to be, “Stanley Cup or bust,” the Golden Knights only got marginally better this offseason.

Sure, the defense is better after essentially swapping Nate Schmidt for Alex Pietrangelo, as well as continued growth from Zach Whitecloud. This, though, is a team that lost in five games in the Western Conference finals and the only change in its forward lineup will be that its No. 2 center will be replaced by an injury prone and unproven 21-year-old.

But the forwards are worse and the goalies are the same, so will the difference from Schmidt to Pietrangelo mean that the Stanley Cup will be toted down Las Vegas Blvd in 2021?


Oh, I like the Knights’ chances of having a parade better than the Sabres or the Senators, and probably even better than the Penguins, Devils and Coyotes.

So much could go so wrong for this team.

It starts with William Karlsson, the only true elite (or close to elite) center on the roster. If he gets hurt and is out for any length of time, it’s a disaster of epic proportions.

The Golden Knights’ depth at center is nonexistent, and it could withstand a Pietrangelo absence far more than it could a prolonged Karlsson absence.

Peyton Krebs is a promising prospect, but relying on a 19-year-old in one of the most important spots on the team — and a 19-year-old who is less than two years removed from tearing his Achilles tendon, remember — is not the stuff of which Stanley Cup champions are made.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If Chandler Stephenson regresses and plays next season like he did in the first half of the season with Washington rather than the way he did after he was traded to the Golden Knights, it will seriously imperil their Cup chances.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

This team is close, though, and it has the ability to make a move that could, in fact, make it the Cup favorite. It won’t be popular, of course, but Kelly McCrimmon already told us that the popular moves aren’t always the wisest moves. But the path the Knights should take, and I’d argue must take, is clear:

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Guest Post: Brandon Pirri Gets His Shot

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The signing of Brandon Pirri was a bit of a shock for most, but today’s guest post author, Brock Lammers, explains why keeping #73 around makes perfect sense. 

At the Final Press conference of the 2019 season, Brandon Pirri said it was all about opportunity. He just wants to play in the NHL. The Knights have listened and they have signed him for 2 years $1.55 million. This isn’t the biggest contract he has signed in his career but it is a good contract for Brandon given the point he is at in his career.

Brandon Pirri is no doubt an NHL caliber forward, as demonstrated by his 10-game 2019 midseason scoring streak. I thought the Knights might have traded him last season. He was hot and his contract was expiring. It felt like there was value in a piece they were potentially set to lose, but they opted to not only keep him, but he remained on the roster through the rest of the season and the playoffs. This tells me that the Knights see something in him.

With the trade of Erik Haula and Ryan Carpenter leaving to free agency there are some open forward positions for Pirri to take. Pirri is a very exciting player with good speed and an excellent stick. He seems to always find himself in a great position for prime scoring chances. His net presence makes him a good asset on the offensive side of the puck. Pirri has also stepped up his defensive game which was one of his notable flaws last season. Many think this was the reason that he struggled to stay in the lineup and many believe if he fixed this aspect of his game he could claim a permanent spot in the lineup.

Game 7 of the 2019 First Round was the best game of Pirri’s career in my opinion. He was all over the ice, aggressively forechecking, had a good defensive stick, and of course, always creating offensive chances. If his play remains consistent with his Game 7 performance I believe he would be a good candidate for a starting slot on the opening night roster. However, with the depth of the Knights roster at the forward position, any sign of inconsistency is a sure way to become a healthy scratch.

His game 7 performance was what the Knights were looking for all year from him and they got it at the most crucial time. With two forwards already gone and another one or two potentially on the trade block, Brandon Pirri is more than an insurance plan, he’s a legitimate 3rd line option for 82 games.

Brock Lammers

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Guest Post: Keep Calm And Carry On

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are Golden Knights fans everywhere, and we love every single one of them. So, today we present you with a Guest Post from across the pond, in the United Kingdom, where Scott Mackay urges his fellow VGK fans not to go crazy over just three games.

Welcome to the NHL, quite possibly the hardest league to win in world sports.

You have to put your body through 82 regular season games to have a chance to see the playoffs and even then you have potentially another 28 games to go. It’s a rollercoaster with ups, downs, sideways and loop the loops. The Golden Knights enjoyed a fairy-tale season and the fairy-tale was rode all the way until the final hurdle. That one just wasn’t our series, it didn’t go our way.

Us Knights fans have been treated to tremendous hockey under the worst circumstances of a year ago and this team became more than a hockey team, smashing records and proving to other fan bases that we are here to stay and more importantly bringing together a community.

At the time of writing, we are 1-2-0. Believe it or not, we have 79 games to go and to see people losing it on Twitter about how much this team ‘sucks’ is really quite worrying. C’mon guys get a grip, I understand that we should have won those games but that’s professional sports, you will win some AND lose some, it’s all part of the rollercoaster. We will be absolutely awful one game and win, we will be amazing another game and lose.

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Guest Post: Year One Through The Eyes Of The Fan

Year 1 was a magical one, starting with the Expansion Draft and ending with the Golden Knights appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Today’s Guest Post from Alex Norwood walks us through the magical season through the eyes of a fan who was there from the beginning.

I, like many others, was very excited to learn who would dawn the Vegas Golden Knights jersey after being taken by the Golden Knights in the 2017 Expansion Draft. During the draft, there was a great amount of excitement to know who exactly, we as fans, would be cheering for during their first season as a team.

As development camp and the preseason came to end, the horrific events of 1 October took place. It was in that moment, that the Knights showed they were not just a team, but that they were a part of the Vegas community.

On Nevada Day the Golden Knights played one of their best games of the year. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

What came next was unexpected for everyone, including fans of the Golden Knights. After great performances and two comeback wins on the road, it was time to play in front of the home fans, for real, for the first time, and it was not really about the game. Being in attendance for the Knights first-ever home game, for what the franchise did before puck drop, might have been the most moving moment of the season. It was not about hockey that night. It was about honoring those who lost their lives and those that put their lives on the line. At that point, everyone knew there was no chance of them losing their first home game.

After winning their third, and record-breaking game, the ride we were all unprepared for never ended. Nobody could have imagined an amazing 8-1-0 start to the season. As shocking as it was for the hockey and sports world, everyone in Vegas was witnessing the start of the most historic first season in sports history. It was already crazy to be a fan of a successful team, but what came next reassured us of what we were seeing.

After suffering three straight losses to Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg, from November 28th to December 1st, the Golden Knights went on an unprecedented 13-game point streak which included six straight home wins. In the middle of that month-long run, I felt they were going to win no matter what. At that point, the team was 27-9-2 and the only thing I was worried about was that I did not want the loss column to go into double digits. And I, along with every Golden Knights fan, had completely lost my mind on how good this team really was.

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Guest Post: Paying William Karlsson

There’s not a Golden Knight fan in the world who hasn’t wondered what the future holds for William Karlsson. The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent at year’s end which means George McPhee has plenty of options. Kevin Horton dives into the numbers in our newest Guest Post.

Best part of a hockey game? Easy… the goals. Unfortunately, like most great things in life, they don’t come cheap. Per CapFriendly, at this point of the 2017-2018 season the going rate for an NHL goal is $318,437. That prorates the number of goals over an 82 game season. Basically, every time someone buries one in the back of the net it’s more valuable than the house you live in.

The shot he’s taking in this picture is probably worth $25,641. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The good news for us is that the Golden Knights employ William Karlsson who is about as cheap as an elite goal scorer comes. Karlsson entered the season on the final year of a 2-year $1,000,000 per year deal. That means Karlsson’s 39 goals so far have come at a rate of $25,641 per goal, good for the 3rd cheapest scoring price in the league behind only young stars like Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine ($21,512) best player in the world-Connor McDavid ($23,718) and Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning ($25,432.) If you standardize the individual numbers Karlsson projects to finish with a $23,345 cost per goal trailing only Laine, Point, McDavid and Auston Matthews ($21,352).

For comparison goals from higher paid perineal snipers like Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, and Nikita Kucherov cost $198,277, $152,439, and $114,689 respectively. Karlsson’s goals are basically coming at over a 90% discount compared to league average and a 75% discount compared to the league’s other top goal scorers. That’s quite a bargain.

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Guest Post: Buyers Or Sellers

With the trade deadline exactly a week away, we get the latest Guest Post from local Las Vegan and fantasy sports guru John Di Bari.

Heading into their inaugural NHL season nobody really knew what to expect from the league’s newest franchise. The consensus was to temper expectations as expansion teams are historically somewhere between horrific on the low-end to mediocre on the high-side. However, once the rules for the expansion draft were put in place and fans and writers started digging through rosters and contracts and began to do their own mock expansion drafts, many started to realize that maybe the new kid on the block might be able to put together a respectable product in year one. Nobody was realistically thinking playoffs, or even a record well above .500. However, that was fine as most expected GM George McPhee to draft a bunch of skill players with a year or two remaining on their contacts with the expectation that he’d be trying to sell as many of them as possible at the trade deadline to acquire additional draft picks and young players.

It would be so much easier if McPhee would just tell us what he’s going to do. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Then, the damndest thing happened: The Golden Knights started winning. A lot. As of this writing, the Golden Knights sit atop the entire NHL with a comfortable 10-point lead in the Pacific Division. They lead the West in goals scored and goal differential and have the league’s best home record at 22-4-2 58 games into the season. As a fan and season ticket holder, this is a great thing. It’s well documented at this point, but is still worth noting that most of the early winning was done while losing their top 3  goaltenders. The team has been fun to watch, they find different ways to win each night, and barring an otherwise epic collapse, they seem to be a lock for the playoffs. Some current projections have the probability of them making the playoffs at 100% as they sit 14 points ahead of the West’s second wild-card with 24 games to play.

On the surface, that all sounds well and good, but is it? For a single season, the answer is obviously yes, but as a brand new expansion franchise that is supposed to be building towards sustained future success and develop their farm system, the waters get a little muddied. What about the plan to move these expiring contracts and stockpile more picks and youngsters? One would assume that McPhee will want to push forward with the plan and move some of the players who have contracts set to expire at the end of the year. It’s better to get something for them rather than allowing them to walk away for free after what would essentially be a 1-year rental. On the other hand, one would also assume that owner Bill Foley will want to push for the playoffs and start to recoup some of his 500-million-dollar investment. At the end of the day, it will probably be some combination of the two strategies, and since Foley signs the checks in the building, I’ve got to think that if he wants to push for the playoffs, McPhee will have to go along with the boss. In a recent interview with Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Foley made it sound like he was definitely looking to add pieces at the deadline and push for a deep playoff run.

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Guest Post: VGK – Expansion Success And The Florida Context

It’s time for a perfectly timed Guest Post. Today we get a post from a Florida Panthers fan who is enjoying the ride of the Golden Knights while also feeling the agony that their success has brought the Panthers. Here’s the Guest Post from Jeff Hwang.

Somehow, 49 games into their inaugural 2017-18 NHL season, the Vegas Golden Knights have the best record in the NHL at 33-12-4 (1.45 pts. per game), and have matched both the 1993-94 Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for the most wins in a franchise inaugural season.

The Panthers and Mighty Ducks had 84 games to get there.

Oh what could have been in Florida. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

VGK is 2nd in the league in goal scoring per game, and 6th in the league in goals against. And in fact, once you back out Maxime Legace – the 4th-string goaltender who has played about 14 more NHL games this year than most anyone else would have wished for – VGK goalies are an absurd 27-6-3.

As a hockey fan and a 10-year Las Vegas resident, I could not be more excited about VGK’s initial success and future outlook; on the other hand, having grown up in Ft. Lauderdale as a Florida Panthers fan, it could not be any more painful to wonder how good the Panthers would be right now with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, instead of Alex Petrovic and a 4th-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Which is to say nothing of Gerard Gallant, whose mid-season firing last year as the head coach of the Panthers was something no Panther fan was happy with.

Perhaps strangely, the Panthers are the perfect team with which to put VGK in proper context. The Panthers have everything VGK doesn’t – a true No. 1 center and No. 2 center (Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck); an elite winger (Jonathan Huberdeau); and a franchise defenseman (Aaron Ekblad). And yet Gerard Gallant is the head coach and Marchessault and Smith are the wingers on the top line of the team with the best record in the NHL, while the Panthers are struggling just to get into the playoff picture.

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Guest Post: Vegas Golden Knights Christmas List

You thought they were going to be in 1st in the Western Conference and have 48 points, didn’t you? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Christmas Eve, this one needs to explanation. So, I won’t write one. Here is the newest Guest Post from our guy John Owens.

When Santa is making his list (and checking it twice), he’s going to find that the Golden Knights have been quite nice this year. A little too nice, frankly.

So it stands to reason that the team should have some good tidings coming their way. While The Creator probably feels like his stocking is pretty full right now, what’s Christmas without some presents? Let’s have a look at 5 items on the Vegas Golden Knights’ Christmas list.

1. Health In The New Year (Between The Pipes)

It really is remarkable that Vegas sits atop the Western Conference standings, not only because they are an expansion team, but also due to the fact that they have encountered the worst luck with health at the goalie position of any team in the league. Ken wrote a great post on how Maxime Lagace saved their season, and it’s hard to disagree. It’s fairly rare to even see your organization’s fourth goalie come in for an emergency relief spot sometime during the year but to get 13 starts is pretty unheard of, and Max kept the team afloat.

That being said, both Flower and Suub are back and have played well, but it’s not a great look when your franchise goaltender who has just returned from a lengthy absence due to a concussion is out here making saves with no helmet. Of course, he emerged unscathed, but these boys need to take care of themselves the rest of the way. Hopefully forgotten (undefeated) Oscar Dansk can come back healthy as well to provide depth because as we’ve seen, you never know when you might need it.

2. Continued Success At Home

Is the “Vegas Flu” a thing? I love a good conspiracy, so let’s say it’s a thing! I certainly think it’s at least a factor. Currently sitting at 15-2-1 at home, the Knights have passed many tough tests, and are feeding off the T-Mobile Arena energy. Here’s a quick wish to keep that going.

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Guest Post: Golden Knights Arrive First, In First-Class Style

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Guest Post on the site, so we are glad to welcome one back here today. Today’s topic is jerseys, or sweaters if you are that guy. Our man AJ Lee is here to say, the Golden Knights have the best jerseys in expansion history.

So here we go…

It would have been so easy to go so wrong.

After all, this is Las Vegas we’re talking about. Tragic looks abound. Uniform designers for the first major pro sports franchise in Sin City, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, must have been sorely tempted to go for a look that was, shall we say, Cirque du Power Play.

Siegfried and (Patrick) Roy.

Puck be a lady?

Subtlety being what it is in Nevada, the charter members of the Knights roster should be grateful they aren’t wearing sharkskin sweaters or fishnet socks.

Yet, in terms of jersey design, the Knights didn’t simply clear a low bar. They went top shelf.

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