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“The Biggest Part Of Team Defense” Has Been Stepping Up Recently

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have picked it up defensively over the last few games. After allowing four or more goals in seven of eight games, Vegas has been dinged for four or more goals in just one of the last eight games.

One of the key reasons for that is Logan Thompson.

I always look at it more as team defense but the biggest part of team defense is usually your goaltender. The other five guys have to do their job. I think when we are at our best it’s a combination of both. But, we certainly don’t win without him making stops. He’s the biggest part of team defense. -Bruce Cassidy

In his last four starts, Thompson has allowed just seven goals against while posting a .943 save percentage.

Starting to feel like myself again. Since the Winter Classic game, I’ve felt good in the crease and I’m just trying to keep that going. -Logan Thompson

Early in the season, Thompson and Adin Hill shared starts and it went quite well for both of them. Then, injuries struck, and the rhythm was thrown off.

Hill was injured for the first time on November 30th, which forced Thompson into the goal more often than originally expected. The results were there at the start as he won five of his first seven starts as the undisputed starter in Hill’s absence. On December 19th though, Thompson picked up an injury that kept him out for the next week. When he returned, it was a struggle for a few games. Now, he seems to have found his mojo again.

He’s been real good lately, very consistent. I’ve liked his game. The workload is a good opportunity for him and I think he wants to be leaned on more and he’s producing. -Bruce Cassidy

The timing couldn’t be better for the Golden Knights either. With the injuries stacking up, they need to keep the scores lower to win. Thus, Thompson has to be at his absolute best. Fortunately for the nearly 27-year-old, this isn’t the first time he’s been put in this situation.

I’m not going to put any more pressure (on myself). I’ve been in this spot before. It takes me back to my first year coming up, we had a lot of bodies out. It’s the same thing except I think everybody has a lot more experience now. -Thompson

It appears Adin Hill’s return could be coming soon and it would be much welcome with a pair of back-to-backs coming up on the road before the All Star break. However, as long as Thompson continues to play the way he has for the last week or so, the Golden Knights will be just fine with him shouldering the load.

Why The Golden Knights Have Selected A Starting Goalie Instead Of Going 50/50

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights entered Training Camp most viewed it as a 1A/1B situation in the goal. Adin Hill returned with a new $10 million contract after posting a Conn Smythe-worthy performance in his 13 playoff games while Logan Thompson was back healthy for the first time since January looking to build off his All Star start to last season.

Both goalies have shown to be more than capable and the expectation was they’d work as a tandem at something close to a 50/50 split.

That’s not how it has played out through four games as both the words and actions of the coaching staff have declared Hill the starter and Thompson the backup.

You go into a new year and you are starting fresh but you can’t forget what happened. So there’s a little bit of tilt towards Hill if he came out of training camp the way he was playing and he has. We still want to give Logan his starts, and he’ll get them, just not as many as Adin right now. -Cassidy

Hill was given the start on Opening Night and then followed it up by playing the third and fourth games of the season. Thompson started the lone game in between and is likely to step back in tonight in Winnipeg. Hill would then be expected to take the reins on Saturday in Chicago and then there’s just one game before next weekend’s back-to-back.

If Hill gets the game on Tuesday the 24th, which he likely will, that would mean seven starts out of the first 10 games for Hill while Thompson gets just three.

Some of it is Hill has played a lot more recently even though it’s been months. Logan hasn’t played since the end of January. We want to make sure Hill gets his starts because he earned it at the end of last year. -Cassidy

The Golden Knights used a similar rotation last year to open the season, just vice versa with the man getting the bulk of the starts. Thompson started eight of the first 12 games and eventually saw the net in 35 of the first 51 games prior to the All Star break.

Health and performance will obviously dictate what happens over the course of the entire season, but as it stands right now, the Golden Knights have a preferred starter, and his name is Adin Hill.

50 Predictions For The Golden Knights 2023-24 Season

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Everyone loves a good prediction. So, how about 50 of them?

Let’s go!

  • Jack Eichel will score more than one point per game
  • Mark Stone will play at least 60 games
  • Marchessault will score more than 30 goals
  • VGK will sweep at least three Pacific Division teams
  • VGK will not win the division but will advance further in the playoffs than the team that does
  • Mark Stone will score more than 20 goals but never record a hat trick
  • VGK will win 7 of their first 10 games
  • Ivan Barbashev will score fewer than 40 points
  • The projected starting six defensemen will player fewer than 20 games together the entire regular

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Logan Thompson Feels First Preseason Appearance Was A Step In The Right Direction

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Preseason is tough on everybody. From younger players fighting to prove their worth to veteran players who are in many ways just trying to make it through healthy, it seems like the motivation for every player on the ice is slightly different, which often leads to messy hockey games.

Goalies may have it the toughest though as game-action hockey for the guys between the pipes is much harder to replicate than it is for skaters.

Traffic around the net, rebound control, little tips and screens, you don’t get a lot of that when you are working in the offseason, so that’s why they need to play. That’s why you see some goals that may go through some holes during the preseason that may not otherwise. They have to get used to things happening in a hurry. -Bruce Cassidy

Logan Thompson stepped into the net last night for the first time since March and only the third time since January. Understandably, he looked a bit unsettled early.

It got better as the game went on. I felt more comfortable there in the 2nd period. Obviously, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a game but it felt good and it’s a step in the right direction. -Logan Thompson

Thompson mentioned another aspect that often gets overlooked as well.

Getting your lungs back and getting the cardio up. We can go as hard as we want in practice but it’s just not that game atmosphere. -Thompson

In other words, give the goalies a break during the preseason. There may be some soft goals along the way, but in the end, all that matters is being ready for October 10th.

Back-To-Back Winning Coach Highlights VGK’s Championship Net Security

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

By the time the Stanley Cup was handed over to Vegas captain Mark Stone, coaches and players league wide were scheming up ways to copy the Golden Knights championship formula. From defensive alignments, to deeper benches and undoubtedly goaltending efficiency. Some NHL teams have the right goaltender and not enough quality players. Whereas, others have the players but are unsure if they’re good enough in net.

This week Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan referenced the World Champion Golden Knights in his training camp opening press conference. It’s no surprise the two-time Cup winning coach mentioned Vegas because years back he had back-to-back Stanley Cup winning rosters. Like Vegas, the Penguins won using multiple capable goaltenders.

Vegas’ finals winning goalie Adin Hill went 11-4 in the postseason after injured starter Laurent Brossoit recorded five wins and two losses. The same smooth transition occurred with the back-to-back Stanley Cup winning Penguins. Old friend Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his second and third championship rings playing his role in a duel goalie tandem. Which clearly caught the attention of Sullivan and other coaches.

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Decision In Goal Looms For Stanley Cup Champions

(Photo Credit: @TheRunninRebels on Twitter)

Personally, I’m not ready to move past the fact that the Golden Knights are Stanley Cup Champions. I could continue talking about that every day until the puck drops next season (and even then I’d probably keep talking about it).

However, the reality of the NHL calendar is such that decisions about the team moving forward are going to have to be made, and made quickly.

The chief among those decisions for the Golden Knights comes between the pipes. After a season in which Vegas had to scramble before it even began to overcome the loss of Robin Lehner, to using five goalies in the regular season, to seeing Adin Hill throw his hat in the ring for Conn Smythe, the choice in net for VGK is not an easy one.

One thing is clear for the Golden Knights, they aren’t going to expect one goalie to shoulder the entire load moving forward.

I do believe you have to have a good stable of goaltenders. It’s really hard to rely on one guy. I think that model has changed over the last five or six years. The tandem approach is probably the best way to go. You’re going to have one guy that’s going to end up being your guy but he should play 50 games instead of 65. And the other guy has to be good and be ready to play. And you’ve got to have some guys to bring up from the AHL team when necessary. -George McPhee

So, with that in mind, the Golden Knights will enter this offseason looking to restock their stable of goalies and they have many different routes they can go.

The best news about the position though is they start with a perfect base. Logan Thompson remains under contract for the next two seasons with a salary just a smidge above the league minimum at $766k. Thompson’s All Star first half proved he’s perfectly capable to start in the NHL and will clearly be in Vegas’ plans for next season. His salary allows the Golden Knights to view him as the backup, even if that’s not ultimately what plays out.

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George McPhee: “There Are Always Ways To Improve Your Team”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have a little more than two weeks to make any final adjustments to the roster they hope brings them back to the playoffs and on another long run.

If you’re looking at your team, if there’s someplace you can make that tweak and you can do it, you do it. If you don’t, you’re getting complacent because there are always ways you can improve your team. –George McPhee on Bob McCown Podcast

The former GM and current President of Hockey Operations have proven his belief in this concept over the first five seasons in Vegas. The Golden Knights have been active at every trade deadline, typically buying one of the most significant pieces on the market.

This year however, they sit in a bit of a different spot than they’ve ever been before, which will make life a little more difficult on McPhee and GM Kelly McCrimmon come March 3rd.

(A trade) would have to make perfect sense because we’re looking at Stone and Thompson and what are the timelines, is it becoming clearer when we can get them back? So we’re trying to buy time to figure that out. LTI becomes a factor. If Mark’s coming back, we may not do anything because we were a pretty good team when everybody was in (the lineup). The injuries complicate things, but that’s life. –McPhee on Bob McCown Podcast

While the optimism around a potential Stone return in the regular season is fantastic, any chance of it happening certainly muddies the water for the upcoming deadline.

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