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Vegas Catching Up With The Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After defeating the Detroit Red Wings last night, Vegas clawed back to one game under .500 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Golden Knights received three goals from defensemen, one from veteran Reilly Smith and rookie Paul Cotter added another. Whatever coach Pete DeBoer drew up before the game, it couldn’t have worked out any better than their well-rounded 5-2 result. It hasn’t gone as smoothly against other teams from the East.

On Tuesday, the Golden Knights faced a much more complete team and lost by two at home. Carolina is one of the NHL’s best overall clubs, and happen to be much healthier than Vegas. The Hurricanes high end forwards and mobile defense troubled the Golden Knights. Star forward Sebastian Aho shot seven times, registering 2 points and the Canes took 14 shots from defensemen. Carolina boasts 3.5 goals per game and like Vegas receive a good percentage of their offense from their blue line. Injuries aside, both rosters are among the elite and would make for an entertaining final.

The NY Islanders were another Eastern Conference team Vegas struggled with, losing 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena in late October. New York played defensively, waited out mistakes, forcing Vegas into bad shots and one and out opportunities. The Golden Knights fell into the Islanders trap and outshot New York two to one, but were out scored 2-0. Games against New York are consistently uneventful and Vegas will need patience and quality shooting to win a tight, low scoring contest. Unfortunately, the Golden Knights fell in similar fashions in back-to-back semifinals, so there’s plenty to learn from an Islanders loss.

At times in an NHL season it’s pick your poison night; a slow frustrating game or an exhaustive track meet. Earlier this month, Vegas traveled and lost by four in Toronto. The loss wasn’t the problem, the concern was the Golden Knights getting blanked 4-0. We’re all aware of Toronto’s weak defense and goaltending of the past, so at full strength Vegas should capitalize.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 MONTREAL CANADIENS 2 (6-5-0 12 PTS)

Recap:  Vegas was dominated early in Montreal. The Canadiens outshot the Golden Knights 20-1 in the first period and held a 2-0 advantage after the opening twenty minutes.

The game completely shifted in the second period. Alex Pietrangelo broke the power play drought to get Vegas within one and Jonathan Marchessault tied the game with his fifth of the season. The Golden Knights took advantage of another power play and Dylan Coghlan gave his team a one goal lead.

The Golden Knights defended well and received great goaltending down the stretch from Robin Lehner to hold the Canadiens to two goals. Chandler Stephenson and Brayden McNabb added an empty netters to secure a 5-2 road victory.

The Golden Knights record improves to 6-5-0 and jump above .500 since opening night. Vegas travels to Detroit for their last game of the road trip. Tomorrow’s game against the Red Wings is scheduled for 3 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: In what’s becoming quite the disturbing trend, the Golden Knights were an absolute train-wreck in the 1st period. However, the 2nd put an end to another disturbing trend, the power(less) play. VGK scored on back-to-back power plays to somehow manage to help them steal another game they really had no business winning. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Montreal Canadien game at Bell Centre.

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San Jose An Example How To Turn Around Canadian Road Trip

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was a tough start to their four-game road trip. Travel, time zone change and adding insult to several injuries, the Golden Knights were forced to cover Austin Matthews and Mitch Marner without another impact player. The Maple Leafs’ high-end talent took advantage of a beaten up Golden Knights lineup and eventually cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Their best players were on tonight. It was one of those nights, and with the lineup we’ve got right now, we’re going to have to red line every night in all areas in order to compete, especially against good teams, and that’s a real good team. -Pete DeBoer

Sure, the odds were stacked against Vegas but it was all but over after the second goal of the game. The Leafs are an excellent 35-2-3 when Marner and Matthews score in the same game, so it would have been nearly impossible for even a healthy Golden Knights roster to win under those conditions.

The focus now shifts to how the road trip finishes.

Big ask tonight when you look at what we’re dealing with. I think our effort actually wasn’t an issue. I thought we didn’t execute against a team that puts a lot of heat on you, and they put a lot of pressure on us in tough areas. -DeBoer

This season the Golden Knights are 2-2-0 on the road with three upcoming games to improve their record. Stealing 4-6 points over the next three games would send Vegas back home with their heads held high.

A couple of weeks back Pacific rival San Jose Sharks swept their trip to Eastern Canadian. Unlike Vegas, San Jose’s first matchup began in Montreal and ended in Toronto. Against the Canadiens, the Sharks scored two in the first four minutes to ignite a 5-0 victory. Montreal was/is reeling and San Jose pounced on them in several different ways. The Golden Knights have enough weapons in their current lineup to win in a similar fashion.

The Sharks received two goals from rookie Jonathan Dahlen, one from defenseman Erik Karlsson and two on the power play. Between Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Alec Martinez and Nic Hague, the Golden Knights have plenty of options from the blue line. Without piling on, Vegas can’t rely on their power play but they may have enough offense to win a low-scoring affair. Now would be the time for 20-year-old Peyton Krebs to start contributing and registering points. The 2019 1st rounder is young and learning on the fly but he’s pointless through nine games this season and has just 10 shots. Vegas could really use his offensive skill as one goal could change their road trip. No matter who’s in the lineup, there should be plenty of motivation to squash the Canadiens after last season’s six-game semifinal defeat.

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Who’s To Blame For The Golden Knights Underachieving… Again

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s a sad moment for fans when a hockey season abruptly ends like it did last Thursday. Reality sets in when a Cup run is over and the 31st franchise will have to wait another year for a chance at the ultimate prize. Unfortunately, the truth is, this was another wasted season for the Golden Knights. For the second straight year, Vegas faced an inferior opponent and couldn’t find a way to force a game seven. Their leaders, coaches, and framers failed again and almost identically in back-to-back years.

Against Montreal, the Golden Knights outshot the Canadiens 193 to 165 yet had two fewer goals in the Semifinals. Keep in mind the Canadiens were the 15th lowest scoring team in the regular season and Vegas was 3rd highest. The Golden Knights fell down the same hole last postseason against the Dallas Stars. Like Montreal, Dallas was another low scoring team that found a way to outscore the Golden Knights in the conference finals. It was inexcusable in 2020, and even more so in 2021 after the organization retooled in the offseason.

So, who’s to blame?

Players

Let’s begin with the leadership group. Captain Mark Stone has built quite the portfolio in Vegas, however, his stock continues to plummet in the playoffs. For three straight seasons, Stone has provided very little offense for the Golden Knights when they needed him late in a series. Going without a single point in the entire Semifinals was rock bottom for Stone. His failure to produce in the backend of a playoff series was evident again against Minnesota, Colorado, and Montreal.

In all fairness to the captain, he owned up to it.

I can praise (the Canadiens) all I want but ultimately it falls down on myself and the top players on this team. We had some guys that produced night in and night out. As far as myself I got skunked this series. That can’t happen. I’m the captain of this team, the leader of this team, I take a lot of responsibility for what just occurred. -Mark Stone

Another concern was the continuous slow starts for Vegas. In six Semifinal games, the Golden Knights allowed the first goal four times, and were sluggish to begin the 1st period in several other postseason contests. In the final 12 games of the postseason, the Golden Knights trailed at some point in 11 of them.

Is it possible the team leaders for Vegas couldn’t motivate their teammates enough to kick off the game on time? It’s hard to comprehend why, but it’s fair to point fingers at the men with letters; Stone, Reilly Smith and Alex Pietrangelo.

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MONTREAL CANADIENS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (MTL 4-2) – OT

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap:  The Golden Knights were facing elimination and needed a road win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals to extend their season.

Montreal captain Shea Weber opened the scoring with a power play slapshot but Vegas would quickly respond. Reilly Smith scored his first goal of the series :48 seconds later to even the game 1-1. The Golden Knights generated 10 1st period shots scoring on one. After the opening 20 minutes Game 6 was tied 1-1.

Both teams traded power plays in early minutes of the middle frame and both penalty kill units did their jobs again. Midway through the period, Montreal regained their lead on a stretch pass to young sharpshooter Cole Caufield. Vegas was awarded another man-advantage but failed to capitalize again. After 40 minutes the Canadiens held a 2-1 edge.

Alec Martinez came up big again for Vegas scoring the game-tying goal quickly into the third period. Both teams locked down and tightened up down the stretch. Regulation ended 2-2 and the game would head to overtime for third time this series.

Montreal ended the series 1:39 into overtime sending the Golden Knights home for the season.

After losing 3-2 in overtime to the Canadiens, the Golden Knights are eliminated in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. For the second straight season, Vegas falls one series short of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Not enough changed quickly enough. And because of it, the game looked fairly similar to the last few, and the Golden Knights just couldn’t find that one extra goal to get them over the hump… a problem they are growing all too familiar with. (Analysis by Ken)

  • Thanks from SinBin.vegas for following along with us during a crazy season. We’ll be here every single day until they drop the puck on Year 5.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Alex Pietrangelo
** Reilly Smith
* Alec Martinez

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Golden Knights Beating Themselves As Much As They’re Being Beaten By Montreal

Much of the focus five games in this series with Montreal will be on the Golden Knights’ inability to score goals. Rightfully so, as they have mustered just 11 goals in the series and a measly seven since the return of Jeff Petry in Game 2. But it’s the way they are conceding that has me more concerned for the next game (or hopefully two).

Last night, the Golden Knights came out and played a pretty solid first 10 minutes. In a postseason where 1st periods have been a problem, it looked like we were headed for something much different to start Game 5.

Another failed power play, the 12th of the series at the time, could have sapped some of the Vegas energy. However, that wasn’t the case. Following the man advantage, the Golden Knights attempted the next two shots on goal and controlled play for the next few minutes. The game was going perfectly for the Golden Knights until they started making their own mistakes.

After a dump-in by Zach Whitecloud, there was a battle for the puck in the corner. The Habs outnumbered the Golden Knights for the puck, but Nick Holden read that the exit will come up the wall. He stepped forward to challenge a pass that never happened, and then when the puck did eventually make it to his player, he was caught in no-man’s land.

It’s a read Holden has made correctly time and time again in this series and aggressive pinches like this are a big reason the VGK forecheck has had success in the times it has. In this case, it was not the right read, but that one mistake didn’t lead to the goal by itself, there were still two more to come.

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MONTREAL CANADIENS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (MTL 3-2)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap:  Coach Pete DeBoer went back to Marc-Andre Fleury at home for Game 5 after giving Robin Lehner the nod on Sunday. Midway through the first frame the Canadiens threaded the Golden Knights defense with a breakaway pass setting up a loose puck in front of Fleury. Montreal jumped on the rebound and scored the first goal of the game. Vegas was unsuccessful with their six shots on net and trailed 1-0 after the opening period.

The Golden Knights really struggled defensively in the 2nd period. Montreal found an open man twice in Vegas’ zone and scored twice taking a 3-0 advantage. The Golden Knights couldn’t generate offense again and went scoreless through 40 minutes.

Vegas began the 3rd period with desperation and urgency. Max Pacioretty broke through and scored the Golden Knights first goal of Game 5. Montreal continued to frustrate Vegas throughout the period and the offense dried up for the home team. The Canadiens flipped in an empty net goal and won 4-1 in Vegas.

After losing 4-1 to the Canadiens, the Golden Knights face elimination on Thursday night. The series goes back to Montreal in must-win Game 6 for Vegas. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Self-inflicted wounds haunted the Golden Knights in a big way in Game 5. They weren’t exactly playing well but they were doing enough to keep the game close. However, mistake after mistake after mistake took the game from close game to an insurmountable deficit. Vegas came back and started playing a lot better in the 3rd, but it was way too little way too late. These last six periods simply haven’t been good enough, and they’ve got six more periods to get it right. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena

  • VGK beating themselves. How they can stop.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Brayden McNabb
** Nic Roy
* Alex Pietrangelo

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Canadiens Say The Pressure Is On Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

According to our friends at William Hill, the Golden Knights were heavy favorites to win their Semifinals series against the Canadiens. The odds have adjusted (-340) since Montreal picked up two victories in four games. However, most believe Vegas is the better team and should advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

**Don’t forget, you can get a free VGK jersey by signing up for a new William Hill account using promo code SINBIN100. Click here for full details!**

So as the series goes deeper, is pressure building for the Golden Knights?

You come into this series and obviously there’s a certain rhetoric of how the series is supposed to go. I’m not saying they bought into it or believed it, we definitely didn’t. There is a certain expectation on their side. The longer this series goes, the more pressure falls on them.-Brendan Gallagher, MTL forward

Gallagher brings up some valid points because let’s face it, there are hefty expectations from the Golden Knights organization. This is their third semifinal in four seasons and management has built an expensive, experienced club. And we can’t forget about The Creator’s “Cup in six” decree. So yeah, to say there are expectations in Vegas is putting it mildly.

The Golden Knights have performed well as a favorite and also a slight underdog. Maybe coach Pete DeBoer and captain Mark Stone felt they proved the hockey world wrong by cutting down Colorado in six, but in reality, it was cute rhetoric to stay positive. The semifinals against Montreal is completely different. Vegas might be the better overall team but being widely chosen to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals can add a layer of internal pressure. Pressure that only mounts when you consider how things ended last year.

It’s great that we tied the series, but at some point the big guys are going to kind of have to come out and step up here, including myself. I think it’s not good enough for the forward group that we have only three goals in four games. Obviously, we’re facing an unbelievable goalie, but that’s no excuse. It’s the same thing last year against Vancouver, Dallas. It’s the same thing, we’ve got to find a way and we don’t have any excuses, we need a solution ASAP, and we need to help our team wins some games here. -Jonathan Marchessault

The Canadiens have proven the doubters wrong but with three games left to decide a winner and two at T-Mobile Arena, the series is set up to favor the Golden Knights. Game 5 isn’t a must-win for Vegas but a loss on home ice would ramp up the pressure the Canadiens forward suggested.

We get more and more comfortable in these situations and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve shortened it to a best of three. We’ve gone into Vegas and we know what it’s going to be like, an electric atmosphere for sure. They definitely feed off their fans but now that we’ve experienced it we’re going to be more and more comfortable. -Gallagher, MTL forward

Of course, pressure and stress can build the deeper an elite team advances but it hasn’t overwhelmed the Golden Knights yet this postseason.

The Golden Knights came back against Minnesota in Game 3. Vegas beat the Wild in Game 7, started another comeback in Game 3 against Colorado. They beat the Avs in Game 4 to even the series and won Game 5 in OT on the road. All the pressure was on the Golden Knights in Game 4 in this series, and Gallagher knows how that one went.

Every crucial moment the Golden Knights needed focus and urgency they got it. Expect the same tonight.

Shift Back To Vegas Should Free Mark Stone Of Phillip Danault

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Four games into this Stanley Cup Semifinals series with the Montreal Canadiens, the Golden Knight’s captain, and best player, has been held without a point. He’s been on the ice for just two of the Golden Knights’ 10 goals in the series and has registered a measly five shots in four games. He’s posted a -1 rating and below 50% share numbers in Corsi, shot share, scoring chances, and expected goals.

To summarize, the Habs have bottled up Mark Stone as well as anyone has been able to since he’s become a Golden Knight and it’s a huge reason why the underdog is tied in the series with three games to go.

But, there is good news, and that’s where the next game is being played.

One of the biggest reasons for Stone’s ineffectiveness offensively in this series has been the matchup he’s been facing. In Game 4, Stone played a total of 16:15 of ice time at even-strength, an astounding 12:21, or 76%, was played while sharing the ice with Phillip Danualt. In those 12 minutes and change, the Golden Knights did not generate a single high-danger scoring chance while allowing four, they allowed 78% of the expected goal share, and they did it while taking 10 of the 14 draws in the offensive or neutral zones.

Danault has been doing this to superstars the entire postseason and he’s doing it again to Stone… when the Habs can get the matchup.

As the series heads back to T-Mobile Arena tomorrow, the Golden Knights now control last change. At every stoppage, they’ll have the final decision as to whether or not they want to put Stone on the ice at the same time as Danualt, and if series history is any indicator, they’ll shy away from that option at every pass.

Mark Stone TOIvs. Phillip Danault
Game 15:49
Game 26:19
Game 311:01
Game 411:31
Games in Vegas12:08
Games in Montreal22:32

At home, Stone is seeing more than five minutes per game extra away from Danault than he has at the Bell Centre. Most of these minutes have been against Montreal’s 3rd and 4th lines, where Stone has seen much more success territorially.

Stone has started a shift in the offensive zone 24 times in the four games. Danault has been out there for 14 of the 24, but just three at T-Mobile Arena.

For the Golden Knights’ offense to really get going in this series, they need their captain to generate scoring chances in bunches. Stone has taken just five shots himself and he’s been on the ice for 28, fewer than six other Golden Knight forwards including last night’s overtime hero Nic Roy.

Pete DeBoer and his staff came into the series knowing the challenge Danault would present to Stone, and they adjusted accordingly in the first two home games. But now, having seen four games of it, they may look to avoid the matchup even more in Game 5. It’s up to Stone to take advantage of it.

**Stats for this article were sourced from NaturalStatTrick.com*

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 MONTREAL CANADIENS 1 (2-2) – OT

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: Robin Lehner looked sharp in net to start Game 4 in Montreal. Only his second appearance this postseason Lehner was peppered with shots but kept the Canadiens scoreless in the 1st period. The Golden Knights had trouble offensively only mustering up four shots in the opening 20 minutes.

The tight play continued but the Golden Knights were able to generate more shots in the 2nd period. Late in the frame Vegas was awarded a power play but struggled again to capitalize. With 65 seconds remaining the Canadiens took the lead and held a 1-0 advantage after 40 minutes of action. 

Lehner followed up his strong play in the 3rd period snuffing out several rushes from the Canadiens. Midway through the period, Brayden McNabb tied the game burying a pass behind the net from William Karlsson. The score held and Game 4 would need overtime to decide a winner.

Nic Roy won the game in overtime for the Golden Knights. Max Pacioretty flicked the puck on net and Roy picked up the rebound and beat Montreal goaltender Carey Price. 

The Golden Knights tied up the seven-game series 2-2 as it shifts to Las Vegas. A pivotal Game 5 is on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It took the Golden Knights 40 excruciating minutes to really get going, but the dam finally broke just in time from an unlikely finisher in McNabb. In OT, the Golden Knights continued the much better style of play they got to in the 3rd and the first high-danger chance of the game finds its way past Price to win it and even the series. VGK can and must play a lot better to win this series, but 2-2 is so much better than down 3-1. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 4 at Bell Centre

  • Series tied, VGK must be better to win 2 more.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nic Roy
** Brayden McNabb
* Robin Lehner

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