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Vegas Versus The Mighty Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

All season long the eyes of the hockey world have been on the Eastern Conference. Based on performance and deep lineups the odds suggest an Eastern Conference team will be named the 2023 Stanley Cup champion. Through 67 games, the Golden Knights are making analysts, computer models, insiders, and pundits rethink their position.

On Saturday, Vegas casually shut out the high-powered Carolina Hurricanes to record the team’s 20th victory against the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night in Philadelphia they can add to that total.

VGK vs the Eastern Conference (30 Games)

  • .700 Points Percentage
  • 3.45 Goals Scored Per Game
  • 2.70 Goals Allowed Per Game
  • Shutout CAR, 1 Goal Allowed vs TOR
  • Jack Eichel vs East: 26 Points (13G, 13A)

Left on the schedule from the East are the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vegas will likely be a sizable favorite in both games. In 30 eastern matchups the Golden Knights would have a total of of 44 cross-conference credits. That’s 47% of Vegas’ 88 total points. Talk about flipping the script.

The message the Golden Knights sent to the East this season has been loud and it’s been heard.

They’re a good team. They hunker down in front and we knew that coming in. That got us behind the eight ball. In the 2nd period we weren’t very good, but we didn’t give up much. Just one bad bounce and it was a breakaway. Then we were down two. We had a good 3rd. We pushed, we just couldn’t get one by them. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach

Not only did the Golden Knights blank the Hurricanes, they also held the Toronto Maple Leafs to one goal back in October. On top off sweeping the Canes and Leafs, Vegas did the same to the Canadiens, Capitals, Lightning, and Senators in their two-game sets.

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Recap: The Golden Knights were looking for their second straight win by hosting the New Jersey Devils. Vegas jumped on the board first after Jonathan Marchessault scored an acrobatic goal for his 18th of the season. The Devils took advantage of a Brett Howden penalty and evened the score later in the period. In the closing minute of the opening period, New Jersey grabbed the lead and took a 2-1 advantage into the 1st intermission.

Marchessault added his second of the game 12:50 into the middle frame to tie the game. The game was locked at 2-2 after 40 minutes of action.

Early in the third period, Jack Eichel gave Vegas the lead by slipping the puck through Akira Schmid’s pads. New Jersey found the equalizer late in the period forcing overtime. The Devils took all nine shots in overtime, but goalie Adin Hill stood on his head frustrating New Jersey. Shea Theodore ended the game in the fourth round of shootout, giving Vegas two more points.

The Golden Knights’ record improves to 37-19-6 defeating the Devils 4-3. Vegas will conclude their homestand on Sunday as they welcome in the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop against the Canadiens is scheduled for 3 PM.(Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights were not the better team on this night. They got outskated by a wide margin in the 1st period and fortunately exited down just one. They played much better in the 2nd and a bit better in the 3rd, but then overtime was an abomination. In the end, sometimes all that matters in the game of hockey is the guy between the pipes. Adin Hill put in an absolute masterclass and stole two points for the Golden Knights. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. New Jersey Devils at T-Mobile Arena.

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Special Teams Cost Vegas In New Jersey

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights lost a gut-wrenching 3-2 overtime final to the New Jersey Devils. However, there’s an argument to be made that the game was lost with 10:26 in the 3rd period. Up to that point, the Golden Knights were leading 2-1 and controlled the game with strong 5-on-5 play. With ten minutes to go, New Jersey’s Brendan Smith spoiled the flow by hooking Jack Eichel and sending Vegas to the power play.

Five-on-five we did a lot of what we asked. What let us down today was probably our power play. We didn’t generate nearly enough in terms of extending the lead. We have to find a way to generate more. That’s where I thought we could have grabbed another goal for comfort. -Bruce Cassidy

Had the Golden Knights scored on their lone 3rd period power play the outcome likely would’ve changed. Cassidy’s team failed to extend their lead and barely challenged goaltender Vitek Vanecek. Instead of closing the door on New Jersey, Vegas mustered two low-percentage shots during a crucial 3rd period power play. Not only did the score remain the same but VGK’s listless PP gave life back to a dangerous Devils offense.

New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff had a sense his team would get another chance after Vegas’ ill-fated man advantage.

You have to stay around in games. You look for that opportunity. You know you are going to get two or three opportunities. If you stay with the program, you’re looking for the opportunities. In a 2-1 game we got rewarded by a 6-on-5 goal and then we finally got our power play opportunity in overtime. -Lindy Ruff, NJD coach

All combined, Vegas recorded three shots on net in four power play minutes. To make it worse, none of those attempts came from power play specialists Jack Eichel, Phil Kessel, Alex Pietrangelo, or Chandler Stephenson. Vegas generated just six total shot attempts in their six minutes of power play time and mustered up just 0.63 expected goals.

We gave up some big chances on some careless puck play. We could’ve developed more speed. We weren’t crisp with some of our passing and some of our rush execution. We turned some pucks over in our zone that we’ve been good with. Those were plays were Vitek had to make some huge saves for us. -Ruff, NJD coach

An additional moment Cassidy left out was the poorly timed tripping penalty committed by Ben Hutton in the overtime. Unfortunately, those are the risks a team faces when forced to shift a depth defenseman in a 3-on-3 situation. Don’t get me wrong, Hutton’s 2nd period dart earned him more ice time. However, he was overmatched in overtime.

Last shot was PK coverage. We thought we had a loose puck situation so we left the good ice and it squirts out. -Cassidy

Overall, the Golden Knights missed out on a golden opportunity but the team can take some positives away from their OT loss. Vegas overcame a 2nd period deficit, earned a point against a quality opponent, and thankfully gifted a point to an out-of-conference team. At this stage in the season every point exchange matters.


Recap: The Golden Knights continued their six-game road trip with a matchup against the New Jersey Devils. New Jersey jumped ahead 3:58 into the game but Vegas was able to weather the storm and hold it to a 1-0 Devils lead after 20 minutes of action.

Vegas’ offense warmed up in the middle frame, tallying two goals in a three-minute span. The Golden Knights turned the table and carried a 2-1 advantage into the second intermission.

The game tightened up in the final period making it difficult for New Jersey to generate many chances. However, late in the game the Devils tied the game on a 6-on-5 forcing an overtime period. Ben Hutton committed a tripping penalty in sudden death to give New Jersey a power play. The Devils completed the comeback and won 3-2 in OT. 

The Golden Knights record drops 29-17-3 losing to the Devils 3-2 in OT. Next, Vegas will take on the New York Rangers on Friday evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights played the style of road game you set out to play, especially when you are struggling. They were hard on their sticks, good along the wall, had strong puck support, and got great goaltending. They just wound up letting in two fluky goals and then got beat by a superhero play from Jack Hughes. Such a rough loss for a team that needed a win, but a point is so much better than coming out empty-handed. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

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Recap: The visiting Devils picked up the first goal of the game seven minutes into the game. The Golden Knights had several chances but couldn’t connect on the game tying goal. 

Most of the second period was back and forth. The Golden Knights registered 16 shots on net and we’re rewarded late in the frame. Keegan Kolesar evened the score with his seventh goal of the season. The game was locked in a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes. 

The Devils shocked the hometown fans by stretching their lead to 3-1 in the final frame. Vegas fought back and got within one late in the game. However, they couldn’t tie the game and lost a heartbreaker 3-2 at home. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 41-31-5 falling 3-2 at home to the Devils. Vegas failed to pick up two points and are in danger of running out of time. The Golden Knights get a chance to bounce back against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. Puck drop for a must-win game is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: In a game the Golden Knights absolutely could not lose, they failed to convert on the numerous chances they had, and the goalie allowed multiple terrible goals. A miserable result that likely dooms a season that will be probably remembered as miserable.  (Recap by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. New Jersey Devils at T-Mobile Arena.

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Vegas Needs Consistency To Manage Challenging Schedule

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Overall, it wasn’t a great weekend for the Golden Knights. They were unable to secure more than three points on their three-game road trip. The Kings, Predators, and Stars all won games as well. Time is running out. So, after an unrewarding weekend the Golden Knights need to quickly find consistency in their game and will need a little luck along the way as well.

Let’s start off positive. The Golden Knights play the 26-42-7 New Jersey Devils tonight at home. NHL computer models predict Vegas will defeat New Jersey fairly easily, so tack on two points to their total. That places them with 89 points, one point behind LA, and two behind Dallas and Nashville. With five games left that keeps Vegas in the hunt. At this late stage of the season that’s all you can really ask for.

We knew we weren’t going to run the table. We talked about that two weeks ago. We were going to drop some points along the way. We’re still right in the thick of things. -Pete DeBoer

After tonight’s game against the Devils, the Golden Knights schedule becomes more demanding. On paper, Vegas has the lineup to win out. Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty’s legs and lungs are building back to form. Thinking optimistically, if they contribute in all remaining games the Golden Knights can win most, if not all.

We’ve got to find a way to score goals in these tough games. In tight, especially. Teams are going to really tighten up in the D-zone here moving forward so we’ve got to find a way to bear down up front. -Alex Pietrangelo

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Islanders’ Barry Trotz On VGK: “They’re Legit”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was the perfect road trip for the Golden Knights last week along the Eastern Seaboard. Winning in Boston, New Jersey, and two in New York sent a loud message across the league. Vegas’ four-game sweep had some hiccups but collecting eight points was all that mattered. Three of their opponents were openly impressed by how the Golden Knights found ways to win.

They’re a legit, deep, big, fast, well-coached hockey team. A good sign for us. We measured up against a pretty good hockey team. -Barry Trotz, NYI coach

The Cup-winning coach knows Vegas well, and has had some success against them. We’re all aware of Trotz and the Capitals eliminating the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals but the results have been different in the regular season.

Outside of the postseason the current New York Islanders coach is 2-5-1 against Vegas. However, most games were tight and Trotz’ players were always prepared.

We played composed, we played with some urgency when we were down a goal to come back like this against a team like Vegas that keeps pressing. I thought we did a really good job tonight to come back and get the lead. It’s unfortunate to give up a goal at the end like this and lose that point. -Jean-Gabriel Pageau, NYI forward

The Islanders forced the Golden Knights into a hard-fought 60 minutes. Vegas’ skill and speed stood out to the Islanders, and specifically some of their quicker players.

You watch [Stephenson] play now, there’s no governor and he realizes it. He’s got himself to the next level. And he’s a good player. -Trotz

Vegas was sharp for several periods in New York and were hampered in others, but it never cost them in the end. Against the Rangers, the Golden Knights were completely in control of the game after the opening 20 minutes, but the remaining 40 were challenging.

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VGK’s Eastern Conference Invasion

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been an up and down ride for the Golden Knights in games against Eastern Conference teams. In fact, their record was 4-5-0 against Atlantic and Metropolitan clubs before this road trip began. After their shootout win in New York the traveling Golden Knights have a chance to sweep their annual pre-holiday road trip on Sunday.

In nine periods, Vegas scored 12 total goals and trailed for just a combined 25 minutes. The Golden Knights got off to a fast start in Boston, essentially sealing their victory after the first 20 minutes. Sure, Boston was hampered with several key players out after testing positive for COVID. However, Vegas took advantage of a team in disarray and left the Bay State with two points. There were times Vegas looked disjointed in New Jersey and the final score reflected their messy 5-3 finish. Even coach Pete DeBoer knew the process was ugly but he only cared about the two points his club picked up.

We did just enough to win. We take the two points and move on. I liked our 1st period, hated our 2nd, and we were opportunistic in the 3rd. -Pete DeBoer

Give the Devils credit for making a late push but the Golden Knights got caught trying to close out a road game too early. Eventually, the visiting team came out on top and took care of business. Which is the only goal on non-conference trips. Pick up two, and pack your bags.

It wasn’t clean but it was another character win for the Golden Knights in New York. The Rangers opened the door by laying back which allowed an opening for Dylan Coghlan’s game tying goal. Vegas beat an emotional, highly talented team for their seventh come from behind or late game triumph.

When you step out there you definitely don’t want to lose to them. They chirp on the bench. You got to play them physical and frustrate them in all three zones. -Ryan Reaves, NYR forward

Thankfully for Golden Knights fans Reaves’ new team couldn’t frustrate the Golden Knights enough.

Earlier in the season Vegas struggled with foreign opponents and now they’re on track to beat four of them in their own territories. It’s safe to say the Golden Knights are making a league wide statement on this trip. Not only is Vegas healthier but their determination, force, and urgency are beginning to remind NHL teams why they’re regarded as a deep threat. And they’re an Alec Martinez and Jack Eichel away from a full (sort of) lineup.

Okay, so they’re not the Beatles and they didn’t fly across the pond, but storming the Northeast like Vegas has should qualify as an invasion.


Recap: The Devils took the first lead 1:41 into the game but Vegas would respond later in the opening period. Defenseman Dylan Coghlan ripped a shot on the power play from below the blue line to tie the game 1-1. 

Vegas took control of the game in the second period receiving a tie breaking deflection off the stick of William Carrier. The Devils outshot the Golden Knights 15-7 in the middle frame but still trailed 2-1 heading into the second intermission. 

William Karlsson and Nic Roy extended Vegas’ lead to 4-1 in the first eight minutes of the final frame but New Jersey scratched back. Former Golden Knight Tomas Tatar cut the lead in half and minutes later the home team scored again to threaten Vegas’ 4-3 lead. The Golden Knights settled down and regained their two goal lead with an empty net goal from Jonathan Marchessault. 

The Golden Knights record improves to 18-11-0 after defeating the Devils 5-3. Vegas’ road trip continues tomorrow for an emotional matchup against former coach Gerard Gallant’s NY Rangers. Puck drop against the Rangers is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Vegas conceded first, but they controlled the game for the majority of the first half of it. Holding on to a one-goal lead they let the Devils grow into the game, but the transition game came through twice in a hurry to basically put the game out of reach… even if they came back and made it close. (Recap by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. New Jersey Devils game at Prudential Center.

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Can Vegas Find A Friend in New Jersey?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights are opposites in every which way. They both play on different coasts, the Golden Knights are built to win right now, and the Devils are way under the cap. However, the Devils are a team that may end up being one of the busiest clubs of the offseason. Sure, they’re interested in building a roster and spending money on the open market but 31 other teams might bring it directly to them. Including the Golden Knights.

We’ve talked about the Vegas goaltending and I think Lehner is the guy they’re kind of looking at. Fleury’s got one more year, who knows what he’s going to be looking at in a year. Lehner’s got some term. That one makes a bit of sense for me for Jersey. –Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast

Based on consistent comments by the organization it’s unlikely Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner gets dealt but it’s interesting to hear that there is a market.

I do think they legitimately want to improve. I don’t think for them this is simply going to be about eating deals to help out other teams. I think they want functionality. –Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast

The Devils like their young goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood but by no means are they solidified in net. Clearly, if New Jersey traded for the Golden Knights secondary starter it would be a major upgrade. So what would Vegas get out of the deal?

With $31.5M in cap room the Devils are in a position to act like an old chum to financially strapped teams. As Friedman explains New Jersey wants to get better but is willing to take advantage of cap-strapped teams looking for a bailout.

Would it hurt the Golden Knights organization if they were to pay a high tax (picks, prospects) to unload $5M in flexibility? Of course, but it depends on what the end result is. Without Lehner the goalie tandem wouldn’t be the best in the NHL, but one of the best teams in the NHL became $5M more dangerous in the playoffs. With a creative front office like the Golden Knights have, anything is possible with that amount of cap room.

The definite feeling about the Golden Knights is they want to open up some cap room. The Devils can do that, they can take advantage of that. I don’t think it’s simply going to be ‘Hey, we’re going to use our cap space to help other people get out of theirs.’ I think it’s ‘Hey, we’re going to use our cap space and if you want us to take some one you may have to pay us.’ –Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast

The Devils aren’t just useful to the Golden Knights by helping them unload a goaltender but they could take on other contracts as well. It just depends on how badly Vegas wants to shed salary and get out of cap stress.

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