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A Lot Of Goals To Replace, But Current Roster Can Do It

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season Jonathan Marchessault scored 42 goals. Chandler Stephenson scored 16, Michael Amadio 14, Paul Cotter 7, William Carrier 6, Alec Martinez 4, and Anthony Mantha 3. Add them all up and this summer the Golden Knights lost 92 goals from the team that finished 14th in the NHL in goal scoring to free agency and trades.

This is by far the most that has exited following a season in Golden Knights history and it’ll be up to a collection of players to make them all up. So, where are they going to come from?

The most likely candidates are the best and highest-paid players on the roster.

Jack Eichel posted his VGK-high 31 goals last year but has yet to reach his career high of 36 that he scored in 2019-20 in 68 games with the Sabres. It’s certainly reasonable he could score 5-10 more with a full season under his belt.

Captain Mark Stone scored just 16 last year after missing much of the back half of the season again. His high as a Golden Knight is 21 but he reached the 30-mark between Ottawa and Vegas the year he was traded. Obviously, health is a massive factor, but if he’s on the ice for 70+ games, he’s almost certain to eclipse 21.

Finally, there’s Tomas Hertl. The trade deadline acquisition played just six regular season games for the Golden Knights and scored two goals. His 82-game average during his 11-year career is 25 goals. There’s no question he’s in for at least 15 more and likely closer to 20-25.

Next is from the blue line.

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First Round Loss “Should Fuel All Of Us” Going Into Next Season

From @NHL on Twitter/X

Last night the Edmonton Oilers took Game 1 from the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final. It was an epic double overtime game in which both teams felt like they were knocking on the door to win the game and take early control of the series.

As it went on though, it’s impossible not to compare the Golden Knights to the teams still on the ice. I find myself thinking back to Game 7 at the American Airlines Center. I think about the series against the Oilers last year. And I ponder the future of all three of the teams next season. You are probably sitting at home doing it as well.

If we’re doing it, you can only imagine the frothing at the mouths that must be going on by the Golden Knights players.

I think (how the season ended) should fuel all of us. There’s only one team that’s satisfied at the end of the year. We happened to be that team last year. This year, there’s only going to be one team that feels satisfied about what they did this season and that’s not where we are going to be. -Jack Eichel

The last time the Golden Knights watched the playoffs from their couches, they came back with a vengeance the next season.

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Regular Season Caused Undue Stress On Defending Champions

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Sunday, across the pond, the English Premier League came to an end with Manchester City hoisting the trophy for the fourth consecutive season. They staved off Arsenal by two points, a team they hadn’t played since March. The 38th game of the season came, Man City led the league at the end of it, and thus, they are the champions again.

Competitively, it makes a lot more sense to simply name the champions the team with the best season. But, it’s incredibly anti-climactic, and thus, not very American.

In our sports, there are two seasons. The lengthy regular season that unequivocally separates the good teams from the bad and the short postseason that focuses as much on drama as it does on finding the league’s best team.

In many ways, the playoff system saved this year’s Golden Knights. After racing out to a blazing 11-0-1 start, the defending champions lost more of the final 70 games than they won. They were the 21st-best team in the league from November 5th to April 18th when the regular season came to a close. If the NHL were the English Premier League, VGK’s hopes of repeating as champions would have been down the drain sometime in mid-February rather than the first Sunday in May.

On the flip side, the long regular season eventually ended up being the Golden Knights’ undoing.

It wasn’t automatic we’d get back to the playoffs and we knew that going in. We figured our expectations were much higher than that but it’s not automatic. We had to work harder than we should have or needed to to get back in. We had to expend more energy down the stretch to do that than we would have liked. -Bruce Cassidy

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Everything That Was Said About Jonathan Marchessault At Locker Cleanup Day

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At the final media session for the year for the Golden Knights, everyone said the right things about pending UFA Jonathan Marchessault’s place within the organization. Now, it’s up to the team to take action to keep him here.

Here’s everything that was said about his situation from Marchessault himself, Bruce Cassidy, Kelly McCrimmon, and a bunch of his teammates.

I’ve done everything I can to stay here. I know I’m a big part of this organization and team and I’ve proven it along the years. I’m pretty confident. I would love to stay, it’s my home. I’ve been part of the group of guys that started this. It’s the most proud thing I’ve done in my life professionally for sure. I’m just happy to be a Golden Knight and I want to be one the rest of my life but that’s not necessarily in my control. It’s something my agent and Kelly are going to go through. I love it here, I want to stay here for sure, but we’ll see. -Jonathan Marchessault

I had a real good meeting with Marchy this morning. We talked with his representatives. Marchy is an original, he’s a core player, and he had a career year. So he’s done everything humanly possible to put himself in a good position. We really like the player and his value extends beyond what you see on the ice. He’s a really important leader and an important guy in our dressing room. There’s certainly a strong willingness from both sides to have real good discussions. That’s what we’re going to work on. With that said we’re not going to comment on the ongoing commentary of how it’s going or that type of thing, we’ll work diligently and see where we get to. -Kelly McCrimmon

I don’t know when it will happen. I talked to Kelly this morning and he wants me back, he likes me. And obviously the feeling is mutual. I love Vegas, I love my teammates, I love the organization, the coaching staff, all the staff working with us, they are family to me now. I could have had a rough season after doing everything we’ve done as a team and personally, but I had a good one still. So it just shows I left it all out there and things will happen I guess, we will see. -Marchessault

I love coaching Jonathan Marchessault. The progression we’ve made might be one of the best ones I’ve enjoyed from where we started to where we ended up. We started with how will we prepare for games, how will we practice, what do I need out of you, 200-foot player, what does he need, the back-and-forth, we’re both emotional. And then we win the Stanley Cup, he wins the Conn Smythe, he has a career year. For me, those are all rewarding things as a coach to see a player go through and you feel like you’ve done your small part as a coach when that happens. I enjoy my relationship with him talking honestly and openly. I love his energy around the room. He’s had great years as a Golden Knights. I can’t say enough good things about him. As a coach, you hope you can keep everybody together, him included. That’s between his party and Crim to try to get something done. I know the situation he’s in, we’ve got four or five of those guys. That’s my experience from day one til now. Love coaching the guy. Terrific guy for the room. When you see a relationship develop like that it’s nice. I’ve had it with other players where we become a little closer than some other guys, that you end up interacting with more for whatever reason. That’s how it went with Marchy. We’ll see how it leads. -Bruce Cassidy

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Above, Below, or Meeting Expectations: Far Too Many Golden Knights Fall Into The Wrong Category

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

The Golden Knights are defending Stanley Cup champions.

For the last 11 months here at we’ve used that sentence to start just about every article, literally every podcast, and everywhere else possible. Tonight might be the last time we get to use it.

That is unless the Golden Knights get improved performances from a bunch of players in Game 6 and 7.

Being the reigning champions, and bringing back a roster that is similar, if not improved on paper, means Vegas doesn’t need anyone to exceed expectations. Instead, they simply need everyone to play to their ability and they should once again be the best team in the NHL.

Through 5 games in this first round series against the Stars, that is not happening. More than half of the roster is falling short of their expectations, while just a few are exceeding them.

To illustrate this, I’ve broken the team down into those three categories, exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, or below expectations. For the Golden Knights to retain their title as defending Stanley Cup champions for even one more day, a bunch of players are going to have to take a step up from the category they’ve resided in currently in this series to at least one step higher.

**These are listed in order. For “exceeding,” first is the player most exceeding their expectation. For “meeting,” first is the player closest to exceeding, last is the player closest to below. For “below,” first is the player closest to meeting, last is the player below by the most.

Exceeding Expectations
Brayden McNabb, Logan Thompson, William Carrier

There’s a legitimate argument that Brayden McNabb has been VGK’s best player in this series. If you told me that was going to be the case coming in, I’d be certain the Golden Knights are behind in the series, and that’s exactly where they are. He’s been offensively involved and even better than his already high level defensively.

Thompson and Carrier are in a similar spot as both have been very good but their best moments have come in losing efforts so they get lost a bit. Thompson was out of control good in Game 3, but the team was so bad it didn’t end up making a difference. Carrier scored a wraparound goal on a wonderful individual effort, but the game-tying 1st period goal was the last Vegas scored.

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It’s Time For Vegas’ Best Game

From ESPN broadcast

It’s time.

It’s time for Mark Stone. It’s time for Alex Pietrangelo. It’s time for Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault and Shea Theodore and William Karlsson. It’s time for the roster littered with Stanley Cup rings. It’s time for the team that went all-in at the deadline. It’s time for the lineup so stacked it’s drawn the wrath of the NHL world.

Everything is in place. Now, the players have to do it.

The front office has restocked the team to give them every chance under the sun possible to repeat. The coach has presented them with a plan that has proven to work. He subsequently pressed all the buttons at the same time to see if he could shock the system.

In this series and especially in the last three games, Vegas’ best players have not been good enough. Stone, Hertl, and Stephenson have not been on the ice for a single 5-on-5 goal. Karlsson has been out there for just one. Marchessault hasn’t come through with a clutch  late-game goal. And let’s not even get started about whatever is going on with Alex Pietrangelo.

Simply put, based on the analytics, the Golden Knights are fortunate to still have a chance to rescue their title defending season.

They can’t wait any longer and the task is as tall as it’s ever been.

They’ll face their first elimination game since 2021 and have to beat a team (and goalie) brimming with confidence. Then, they’ll have to break Pete DeBoer’s perfect 7-0 record in Game 7’s.

But if there’s anyone that can do it, it’s the Golden Knights.

We’ve seen it, literally just seven days ago the reigning champions were the favorites to win the Western Conference. They’ve shown the ability to lock down the Dallas Stars powerful offense. They’ve shown the strength to hold the puck in the offensive zone and wear down a 5-man defense unit. And they’ve been able to break one of the better goalies in the league.

It’s going to take Vegas’ best game and then an even better game after it. And it’s going to take a great performance from the captain, a controlled one from their first alternate, and a step forward by the Conn Smythe, the trade deadline acquisitions, and the rest of the depth of the team.

There’s only one way forward and it all rests on the shoulders of the players. No more excuses.

Time to rise up like the champions.

Hertl, Hanifin, Stone Have VGK Power Play Exuding Confidence

From ESPN broadcast

The Golden Knights’ new look power play with everyone in the lineup had instant success in Game 1. They struck for the first goal of the game less than a minute into the early opportunity on a penalty drawn by the 4th line, and then potted another just three seconds into their second opportunity late in the period.

Two goals in exactly 60 seconds of time with the man-advantage is not something the Golden Knights are used to. With Mark Stone, Tomas Hertl, and Noah Hanifin all back in the lineup, for the first time in a long time Vegas has two bonafide top units.

PP Unit 1

PP Unit 2

The 2nd unit, I mean those guys were our 1st unit for a long time and they’re no slouches either. -Cassidy

It’s the first unit though that got the job done in Game 1, and it’s been especially strong since #48 has entered the lineup.

Look at our power play numbers compared to where they’ve been all year. They’ve been through the roof with Hertl. Hanifin has been getting pucks there too which helps. It could be a short sample size but I believe (getting to the net) is one of Hertl’s best skills sets and it’s particularly evident on the power play. -Cassidy

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