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Canadiens Say The Pressure Is On Vegas

(Photo Credit: 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: 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*


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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Carp: Adversity Greets Golden Knights In Canada

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

By and large, a trip to Canada is a pleasant experience. But there was nothing pleasant about the start to the Golden Knights’ visit to Montreal.

With a lot of issues for both the Knights, who are playing without Chandler Stephenson, their top center, and the Canadiens, who had to play without their head coach after Dominique Ducharme found himself testing positive for COVID-19, it came down to who handled their adversity better in Game 3. Ultimately, it was Montreal that was able to get the better of things Friday, winning 3-2 in overtime and taking a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup semifinals.

We all know what happened so there’s no point in rehashing Marc-Andre Fleury’s gaffe playing the puck that allowed the Canadiens to tie it late in regulation. Or all the missed opportunities to get more than a couple past Carey Price in the Habs’ net.

The question is: How does Vegas respond today in Game 4?

Does the Knights’ power play, which has been woefully anemic, suddenly find new life? Do Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty rediscover their offense, even without Stephenson?

That’s a lot to digest and not much time to do so. Because even if the Knights find all the right answers today, all it does is get them back to square one with the Canadiens. It becomes a best-of-three series with two of the three in the Fortress, where the Habs took Game 2 Wednesday to tie the series.

And if Montreal prevails today? Does this team have the wherewithal to win three straight?

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the adjustments and improvements which need to be made.

First, it appears there will be a change in goal. Robin Lehner was first off the ice at the morning skate and was practicing in the “starter’s net” so that’s obviously huge.

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VGK Have Been Through Enough To Curb Any Doubt Of Dealing With Series Deficit

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If there’s one thing the 2021 Golden Knights are used to it’s rapid change. Whether it be pandemic-related or hockey-related, this team has been through some crazy ups and downs 34 days into this playoff run.

For the first time this postseason Vegas is experiencing a blown series lead. They’ve turned around two series deficits to take leads in a series and they’ve seen a 3-1 lead turn into a Game 7, but never before in 2021 have they been ahead in the series only to go behind in the same one.

But to think the Golden Knights will do anything but handle this with composure would be ludicrous based on the postseason they’ve been through so far.

16 games into this playoff run, the Golden Knights have experienced 16 leads and 15 deficits. They’ve seen the lead change inside of a game on eight different occasions, including six times they were behind in a game and took the lead. They’ve scored eight game tying goals while also allowing eight of their own. And maybe the most important stat of all to prove this team will not panic down a game in a series is that the Golden Knights have been behind in an unbelievable 13 of the 16 playoff games.

I don’t think there’s any emotional damage (chuckling). I think that’s a pretty harsh way of putting it. We were down 0-2 to Colorado and got smoked 7-1 in the first game and brutally dominated for 20 minutes and then really deserved to win the game and lose that one. -Mark Stone

They haven’t been exactly here before, down 2-1 after losing a Game 3, but it feels like they have been. In truth, it feels like they’ve been in every situation imaginable to this point and it hasn’t all worked out perfectly, but they are still here.

Vegas have scored 16 go-ahead goals in the postseason. Add that to their eight game-tying goals and that’s 24 different times in which there have been massive emotional positive swing goals. On the other side, they’ve allowed the go-ahead goal  15 times and allowed the tying goal another eight. So, in total, there have been 47 different times inside of 16 games in which the score has shifted from a leader to tied or vise versa.

To this point, the Golden Knights have always had an answer.

Jonathan Marchessault’s game-tying goal in Game 2 against Minnesota. Alex Tuch’s go-ahead one in the same game. The three goal comeback in Game 3. Game 7’s unlikely heroes. Marchessault and Pacioretty in Game 3 against Colorado. Stone in overtime of Game 5. And the list goes on and on and on.

Big goals and big wins are anything but foreign to the Golden Knights in these playoffs.

Now it’s time for someone, or everyone, to step forward once again and pick up the goalie that is a huge reason why they are here in the first place.

Any time a team trails in a series facing a road game next there’s reason for some doubt to seep in. But with the Golden Knights, doubt should be the last thing on the mind for this bunch that has literally been there and done that.


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

Recap: The Golden Knights came out attacking the Canadiens in Game 3. Vegas unloaded 17 shots on Montreal’s goaltender Carey Price but couldn’t hit the back of the net. The game was scoreless after the opening 20 minutes. 

Nic Roy gave Vegas the first lead of Game 3 with his third goal of the postseason 3:16 in the middle period. The Canadiens responded immediately scoring the tying goal 38 seconds later. The period would stay locked in a 1-1 tie. 

The Golden Knights regained their lead early in the final frame off a wrist shot by Alex Pietrangelo. The defenseman scored his fourth of the postseason and third of the series. With time winding down in the game Marc-Andre Fleury had a miscue trying to retrieve the puck and the Canadiens took advantage and tied the game 2-2. Montreal ended the game in overtime completing a late comeback victory. 

After losing 3-2 in overtime the Golden Knights now trail the seven game series 2-1. The series continues on Sunday evening in Montreal. Game 4 is scheduled for Friday evening at 5:00 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights had the game won. It really is as simple as that. Their d-zone coverage was brilliant all night. They had the neutral zone locked up for 99% of the game. They thwarted the Habs forecheck at every pass. But it comes down to the worst goal allowed by any goalie in the four-year history of the franchise. Sure, Vegas had a chance to win it after that, but they couldn’t pull it off and that error looms incredibly large heading into Game 4. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 3 at Bell Centre

  • Carp’s Sunday column

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Alex Tuch
** Nic Roy
* Alex Pietrangelo

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Will Vegas Solve Montreal’s Stingy Defense

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s possible in Game 1 the Golden Knights defeated a Canadiens team that didn’t play to their full identity. Clearly, Vegas executed theirs by pressuring Montreal resulting in four goals scored against goaltender Carey Price. However, things were different in Game 2 and likely for the remainder of the Semifinals series.

Everybody who was supposed to be who they are identity wise for the Montreal Canadiens played to their role. And it got Vegas uncomfortable. Where Vegas hasn’t been uncomfortable before. -Aaron Ward, Former defenseman and TSN analyst

Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry was absent for Game 1 but his presence on Wednesday allowed the Original Six franchise to clean up their endzone coverage and move the puck effectively. In their second matchup, the Canadiens pushed Vegas shooters wider than they had in Game 1. The Golden Knights had only eight low-quality attempts on net as opposed to 11 in Game 2.

This postseason with Petry in the lineup the Canadiens allow 2.20 goals per game and given up 3.00 without him.

My best asset is my legs my skating ability. Just focusing on that and closing quickly. -Jeff Petry, MTL defenseman

Tonight, Vegas will need to find ways to utilize the traffic in front of Montreal’s net. 13 of the 32 goals the Canadiens have allowed in the playoffs were from defenseman, including five in six periods from Golden Knights blueliners. Alex Pietrangelo’s goal in Game 2 was a great example how to get around Montreal’s stingy defense. The former Cup winner patiently waited for a screen to develop and slipped a shot through Petry’s legs and past Price. There’s not much an elite goaltender can do when he can’t see the puck.

The Golden Knights have scored on mobile defenseman this postseason but neither of their prior opponents were as big as the Canadiens defensive unit. To combat that, Vegas can match with their own size to jam, screen, and stuff in front of the goaltender. And of course taking advantage of rebounds, loose pucks, and all the grease that occurs in the playoffs.

Since their Game 6 loss against Minnesota, Vegas has responded well after a playoff loss. There’s no reason to believe they won’t tonight for Game 3 in Montreal. Sure, with a full deck the Canadiens will be more difficult to break through but Vegas has the creativity, size, and skill to neutralize any club’s defense. Price can’t bail his teammates out the entire series.


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

Recap: Montreal came out firing and took an early lead in Game 2. The Canadiens would add another in the period to take a 2-0 edge into the first intermission. 

Trailing by two the Golden Knights had much more energy and shot the puck early in the 2nd period. The Canadiens took a 3-0 lead but Alex Pietrangelo would respond 61 seconds later. Down 3-1, Vegas showed signs of life with twenty minutes remaining.

Pietrangelo scored again to close the gap to 3-2 in the final period. The Golden Knights made several late pushes but couldn’t capitalize. 

After losing 3-2 to the Canadiens the seven-game series is even after two games. The series shifts to Montreal for the next two games. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday evening at 5 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights allowed the Canadiens to skate around them in the 1st period once again in Game 2. This time the Habs made them pay capitalizing on multiple chances and giving them a lead. We saw a different Montreal team protecting a lead. VGK created a few dangerous chances but just weren’t opportunistic enough to get that third one past Price. Now, VGK have to head on the road where they need to get to their game a little earlier. Plus, they could really use some offensive contributions from forwards. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena

  • Diving into some adjustments

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Mark Stone
** Keegan Kolesar
* Alex Pietrangelo

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One Shift Illustrated How The Golden Knights Won Game 1 And How The Can Keep Winning

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It happened early in the 2nd period, a shift from the Misfit Line of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault matched up with Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez. Playing against the strongest defensive pair and the best shutdown line Montreal can offer, the Golden Knights put together 46 seconds of dominance that encapsulated how Vegas stormed out to a 1-0 series lead and stands as a shining example of exactly what must continue to happen for the Golden Knights to punch their second ticket to the Stanley Cup Final in four years.

After the Golden Knights struggled their way through the 1st, despite getting out to a two-goal lead, they finally started doing what they set out to do in beating the Montreal Canadiens.

In this one shift, the Golden Knights demonstrated a ferocious forecheck, multiple perfect pinches by defensemen, excellent puck support by all five skaters, strength along the boards, and an offensive mindset that put Montreal under so much pressure they were forced to take a penalty.

Here it is. Watch it and focus on how often there are moments where the puck is out of VGK’s possession and how they go about getting it back in several different ways.

It starts with a dump in from the red line by Martinez. While Karlsson wins the race to the puck, he’s hounded by two Canadiens. Karlsson recognizes he’s outnumbered and quickly jabs the puck forward to the open space and a waiting unmarked (for now) Reilly Smith.

When Smith gets it, he sees the defensemen rushing towards him and moves it around the wall. It’s hard to tell if the pass is directed towards Marchessault under the goal or all the way around to Martinez, but there’s no doubt Smith knows where the defense is lightest and moves the puck that way.

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

Recap:  For the first time in team history the Golden Knights hosted a Semi-Final Game 1. The local team took on original six franchise Montreal Canadiens for the right to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. Shea Theodore was held without a goal for the first two series but his timing couldn’t have come at a better time. Vegas’ top defenseman opened the scoring with his first goal of the playoffs 9:51 into the series. Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in net holding his team’s 1-0 lead.

Vegas began the 2nd period with extended power play time which they took advantage of. Moments after the man advantage expired Theodore found Alec Martinez to double the Golden Knights lead 2-0. Montreal would get on the board with a power play goal but Vegas answered back :53 seconds later. After 40 minutes of action, the Golden Knights held a 3-1 advantage.

Vegas continued to heavily pressure Montreal in the final 20 minutes. The Canadiens couldn’t sustain any offensive zone time throughout the entire game and it held that way. Defenseman Nick Holden gave Vegas a three-goal lead with his second goal of the postseason. Fleury finished off his dominant performance in the third period only giving up one goal in 29 shots on net.

With their 4-1 victory, the Golden Knights take Game 1 and a series lead. Vegas and Montreal take the ice again on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Game 2 is scheduled for 6:00 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It took 20 minutes for the Golden Knights to settle in, but once they did they turned up the heat on the Canadiens just like was to be expected. They lived in the MTL offensive zone and thwarted any offense before the Habs could even get through the neutral zone. 1 down, 3 to go, just like period two and on. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena

  • Film study of VGK shredding the MTL D with the forecheck

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Alex Tuch
* Shea Theodore

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