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Can Vegas Put Postseason Scoring Drought Behind Them In 2021?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over their history, the Golden Knights have scored a total of 877 franchise goals, 738 in the regular season, 139 in the playoffs. In 238 regular season games, Vegas’ average comes out to 3.14 goals scored per game. In all three seasons, Vegas tallied more than the league average, and are ranked 8th in the NHL in goals since their inception.

The big offseason question was can the Golden Knights score enough in year four, and most importantly, in the playoffs?

2017-18: 268 Goals, 3.26 Goals Per Game (Regular Season) 57 Goals, 2.85 Goals Per Game (Playoffs)
2018-19: 246 Goals, 3.00 Goals Per Game (Regular Season) 25 Goals, 3.57 Goals Per Game (Playoffs)
2019-20: 224 goals, 3.15 Goals Per Game (Regular Season) 57 Goals, 2.85 Goals Per Game (Playoffs)

Coming into the Vancouver series, the Golden Knights were on a torrid offensive pace. Three round-robin games and a five-game whooping of the Blackhawks had Vegas scoring at a 3.75 goals per game clip. Then, it hit the skids. In 12 postseason games against Vancouver and Dallas, the #1 seed in the Western Conference averaged only 2.25 goals per game. In the last eight games, they scored just 12 goals or 1.5 per game.

After the season, it was mostly written off publicly by players, coaches, and the office as just a rough patch and a pair of hot goalies The offseason was centered around one major move, though one that should help the team offensively.

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Vegas’ Cup Run Got Tougher With New Playoff Format

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the new divisional alignments, the NHL needed to create a playoff format that fits. Canada has its country-wide division intact, and the US will provide the other three. The Golden Knights will be in a division with most of their Pacific buddies, but will also have to deal with two top Central teams in Colorado and St. Louis.

East: Bos-Buf-NJ-NYI-NYR-Phi-Pgh-Was
Central: Car-CBJ-Dal-Det-Chi-Fla-Nas-TB
West: Ana-Ari-Col-LA-Min-SJ-STL-VGK
North: Cgy-Edm-Mtl-Ott-Tor-Van-Wpg

With a mish-mash of divisions and conferences, the NHL decided to come up with a plan to reward the team that preserves from each division. Essentially, the Golden Knights will have to beat two teams from their division to secure a spot in the final four.

Any other season, the Golden Knights would regularly begin the postseason by playing a Pacific division team. In 2018, Vegas swept a first-round series against LA and in 2019, San Jose controversially sent the Golden Knights packing after the opening round. This year though, without wild cards, Vegas will have to be the best in the West to win the Cup.

The new playoff format throws a wrench at tradition. Since divisional realignment in 2014 (with exception of the 2020 postseason), every Stanley Cup champion was forced to defeat two divisional rivals. This season will have more of a twist. Each division will have a four-team playoff to decide one team to advance to the NHL semifinals.

With temporary divisions in place, the Golden Knights may end up having a difficult path to the Finals. Depending on their seeding, Vegas could face both Colorado and St. Louis to reach the semi-finals. Talk about some heavy lifting. If we simply go off paper, the Avalanche, Blues and Golden Knights are the top three teams in their expanded division. Leaving one spot for Anaheim, Arizona, LA, Minnesota, or San Jose.

Of course it’s not a foregone conclusion the Golden Knights will secure one of the four open playoff seats, but I think we all agree it would be a major surprise if they didn’t. Which is why it’s imperative for Vegas to get off to a strong start. A sluggish beginning to a shortened 56-game schedule could mean a lower seed, and a tougher path through the Colorado and St. Louis.

Unlike last postseason, there are no lightweights in the 2021 playoffs.

Behind The Scenes Look At Golden Knights and Stars Series From “We’re Not Going Home”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

It’s always interesting to get a behind the scenes look at an NHL playoff series, especially from this year’s playoff bubble. Although the Golden Knights last played 60 days ago, this week we got some visual details from their series with the Dallas Stars.

The Stars released an “all-access journey” through their 2020 postseason run, and spent time focusing on the Western Conference Finals (the entire show is embedded below). In “We’re Not Going Home,” Dallas sounded extremely confident heading into their seven-game series with Vegas. The Stars were vocal about the Golden Knights’ easy path to the Conference Final.

They haven’t played a fucking team like us boys. Their first two rounds, it was pretty fucking easy. Send a fucking message early. They played two light teams, they’re in for a rude awakening.-Jamie Benn, Stars captain in “We’re Not Going Home”

Of course, Dallas’ Captain was confident at the time after his team beat Calgary in six, and Colorado in seven. It wasn’t just the players either, Dallas’ coaches felt comfortable with the matchup after watching and studying Vegas’ previous series.

Dallas assistant coach, and former LA Kings head coach, John Stevens questioned if Vegas had been pushed enough by Chicago or Vancouver. Stevens believed if the Stars played physical, and their rugged brand of hockey they would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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The Golden Knights And The Success Of High Cost Teams

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The St. Louis Blues did it, same with the Washington Capitals, so why can’t the Golden Knights do it? I’m not only talking about winning a Stanley Cup, but doing it with one of the highest payrolls in hockey.

2019-20 Highest NHL Payrolls (per CapFriendly.com)
Arizona: $85.1M ($3.59M LTIR)
Toronto: $95.2M ($13.7M LTIR)
Dallas: $82M ($525K LTIR)
St. Louis: $83.2M ($1.75M LTIR)
Vancouver: $83.9M ($2.42M LTIR)
*** 9. Vegas: $81.8M ($668K LTIR)

LTIR= Long-Term Injured Reserved

The Creator is a rare owner driven to win and willing to spend to the limit, and he’d probably spend over it if he were allowed. That’s why the Golden Knights owner is considered a fan’s owner.

We all know about the cap jam Vegas is in and there’s no doubt they’ll fix it by the next time they play. It’s might’ve cost them a lot, but it’s hard to question their elite-level talent and championship-caliber roster. The Golden Knights are not only a highly rated team but they’re also built to win championships.

Cup Winners (Payroll Rank)
2019-20: Tampa Bay (18th)
2018-19: St. Louis (7th)
2017-18: Washington (3rd)
2016-17: Pittsburgh (6th)
2015-16: Pittsburgh (6th)

With the exception of the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the past handful of winners were in the upper quarter of the league’s salary threshold. When the Capitals beat the Golden Knights in 2018, Washington boasted a $75.3M cap hit, while Vegas was #18 on the list with a $68.7M payroll. Clearly, a difference in cost and expensive talent helped result in a five-game Capitals win. Washington’s high-priced talent paid off and could’ve been a motivating factor towards the Golden Knights direction of signing league stars to big contracts.

This year, all ten of the highest cap teams made the postseason, but I think it’s safe to say we can throw out the 24-team bubble playoff format. Going back to 2015-16, teams in the top 10 have no missed the playoffs often.

Highest Payroll Teams To Miss Playoffs
2015-16: Vancouver (2nd), Toronto (9th)

2016-17: Philadelphia (2nd), Arizona (4th), Detroit (7th)

2017-18: Chicago (2nd), Dallas (7th), Detroit (8th), Vancouver (9th), St. Louis (10th)

2018-19: Detroit (1st), Edmonton (4th), Anaheim (8th)

Although it’s happened over the years, it’s a small percentage of teams (13/50 since 2015) that missed the postseason. Also, many of those teams were mismanaged or at the end of their playoff windows.

Assuming the Golden Knights remain within the top ten highest payrolls next season, fans should confidently expect them to clinch a playoff berth. And possibly go on another deep run. Vegas’ window was open before but after this offseason, it’s wide open right now.

Rattled By Thatcher Demko?

Following their Western Conference Final loss, Pete DeBoer made a puzzling comment about his team’s mentality.

There’s no doubt that the last couple of games in the Vancouver series against Demko probably rattled our confidence a little bit. -DeBoer

DeBoer casually revealed one of the reasons Vegas struggled to score on Dallas was a rookie backup goaltender from a previous series living inside of his players’ heads.

We’ve heard coaches reference past series to account for injuries or even style of play differences, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one admit his team was psychologically fractured by an individual performance in a prior round. We applaud the honesty, but what is he saying about his team… or maybe even his own coaching job?

Another learning lesson for our guys at this time of year; fighting through, persevering, finding a way to get yourself out of a slump. Getting your confidence back quicker. -DeBoer

What happened to the mentality this team had?(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

These are all things the Golden Knights clearly did not do well inside of the bubble, that they must improve upon if they are to hoist the Cup in the future. But one has to wonder about the fragility of the locker room if they did indeed allow the ghost of Thatcher Demko to ruin their chances to win a completely new series.

What happened to “one game at a time?” To “I’m not worried about the offense?” To “the worst thing we can do is change?”

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Vegas Faces Tough But Attainable Challenge After Losing Game’s 1 & 3

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

If you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it a thousand times on the SinBin podcast. Teams need to win odd-numbered games to clinch a series. So far, the Golden Knights haven’t done that in the Western Conference Final. While losing the first and third contests of a seven-game series isn’t ideal, plenty of teams have actually advanced in that position.

Since the 1999-2000 season, eight teams have gone on to win a conference final or Stanley Cup final after losing Games 1 and 3 of the series. Over the past 20 years it’s been accomplished four times in the Western Conference finals, three in the Eastern Conference finals, and twice in the Stanley Cup finals. Including last season’s Cup winner the St. Louis Blues, who did it twice in their championship run. Vegas is hoping to be the ninth team, starting by winning Game 4 (something all nine teams did).

Teams That Won WCF Losing Game 1 & 3
2000: Dallas Stars- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
2007: Anaheim Ducks- won in six (won 4, 5, 6)
2015: Chicago Blackhawks- won in seven (won 4, 6, 7)
2019: St. Louis Blues- won in seven (won 4, 5, 6)

Pete DeBoer is no stranger to the situation his current team is in. In 2012, DeBoer’s New Jersey Devils lost the first and third games of the Eastern Conference finals and stormed back to win the series in six. Seven years later he was on the other end as the coach of the San Jose Sharks. In last year’s Western Conference final, the Blues overcame defeats in game one and three to outlast the Sharks in seven.

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Vegas Holds The Edge No Matter Who Vancouver Starts In Net

The Golden Knights were expected to smell blood on Tuesday night after the Canucks announced backup goaltender Thatcher Demko as the starter for Game 5. If anything, the reverse happened. Demko became the shark and snacked on a quantity of Vegas shots.

We are aware this photo has nothing to do with this article. But it’s great, so here it is. *Sorry Zach* (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

Since his performance was so strong and starter Jacob Markstrom was designated as “unfit to play”, Vancouver may select Demko to start tonight’s Game 6. So, who benefits more if they do?

First postseason start or not, Demko’s performance was superb and may be tough to match. In his young career, he’s limited opponents to one goal six times. That’s over a span of 36 starts. He’s a fine goaltender that could frustrate the Golden Knights again, but odds say he’ll allow more than one goal tonight. Which might be all Vegas needs to clinch the seven-game series.

Especially if this is the Golden Knights mindset coming into Game 6.

We’re going to come into tomorrow’s game just to try to step on their necks and end this. -Reilly Smith

Smith also mentioned that Vegas needed to stick with their gameplan no matter what the outcome was after Game 5. The Golden Knights play best when they attack with numbers, using all three forwards to force their way into the Canucks’ zone by using their patented aggressive forecheck. If they play like that, it wouldn’t matter who is tending Vancouver’s net. The top seed in the West hasn’t lost its confidence after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, they believe they were merely unfortunate. Vegas knows they’re the better club, and if they were to take 43 shots like they did in Game 5, they will go on to advance to the conference finals.

Plus, Vegas got tipped off how Vancouver successfully outlasted them in Game 5.

We’re just trying to play fast and get the puck in their zone. They clog the middle pretty well so we can’t really skate through it. The longer we wait to pass then their forwards are stuck at the far blue line. So if we pass it to them then they have no speed. For us we were just trying to get it out of our hands quickly so they can get on the forecheck with speed. It’s the defenseman’s responsibility to get up and gap up and try and support the forecheck. -Quinn Hughes, VAN defenseman

Leaked strategy or not, it shouldn’t matter for a good team like Vegas. Coach Pete DeBoer and his players will/should adapt from last game’s miscues.

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Can Vegas Avoid Vancouver’s Shot Blocking Defense In Game 3?

It’s no secret the Golden Knights like to shoot, a lot. In Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks, Vegas took 40 shots on net. Not only were the Golden Knights peppering shots on opposing goaltender Jacob Markstrom, but also the ankles, arms, and legs of the Canucks skaters. At the conclusion of their 5-2 loss on Tuesday, Vegas attempted 93 shots; 2 goals, 13 missed the net, 38 saved by Markstrom, and a whopping 40 blocked by 16 Canucks players.

That shows how unselfish we are. Everyone sticking together and doing the dirty work. I know it’s not fun and you see the ice packs after games. As a goalie I appreciate that. -Jacob Markstrom, VAN goaltender

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

The Canucks set a franchise playoff record with their 40 blocked shots in Game 2. Vancouver’s desperation mode kicked in and players paid a physical price in tying up their seven-game series 1-1 with Vegas. The Canucks were fearlessly getting in the way of shots, frustrating some of Vegas’ most lethal shooters like Max Pacioretty and Shea Theodore. Both had points in Game 2 but were victimized by Vancouver’s wall of defense.

Game 2: Shea Theodore
14 Shot Attempts
8 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Max Pacioretty
15 Shot attempts
5 Shots on Net
7 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Alec Martinez
8 Shot Attempts
0 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots
2 Missed Shots

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Golden Knights vs. Canucks Game 3 Has Been Postponed

A day after games in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS were postponed in response to the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, NHL players have decided to follow suit.

Multiple sources are reporting all NHL games for tonight, including the Golden Knights vs Canucks Game 3, will be postponed.

The Golden Knights are holding media availability at 1:30 PM. (UPDATE: It has been delayed.)

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Game 1 Allowed DeBoer To Balance Time On Ice, Setting VGK Up For The Future

When a team is in complete control of a game like the Golden Knights were Sunday, it allows a coach to balance his players’ minutes a bit more evenly.

It was a luxury coach Pete DeBoer was given when his team held a multiple-goal lead for most of Game 1. He wasn’t forced to utilize Theodore for 28 minutes like he had in the past with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. DeBoer also balanced his forwards, using player’s like Ryan Reaves and William Carrier more than their season average. In fact, Reaves played the third-most minutes he had all season and hit the ice more than Max Pacioretty in Game 1.

Take a look at how DeBoer was able to roll his guys out in a dominant Game 1 compared to the rest of the playoffs and regular season.

Shea Theodore
Game 1: 19:40 TOI
Season Average: 22:14 TOI
Postseason Average: 22:57 TOI

Mark Stone
Game 1: 16:00 TOI
Season Average: 19:25 TOI
Postseason Average: 18:44 TOI

William Karlsson
Game 1: 16:21 TOI
Season Average: 18:52 TOI
Postseason Average: 19:13 TOI

Max Pacioretty
Game 1: 14:38 TOI
Season Average: 17:55 TOI
Postseason Average: 16:42 TOI

Ryan Reaves
Game 1: 14:50 TOI
Season Average: 10:09 TOI
Postseason Average: 10:04 TOI

Thanks to Antoine Roussel, Reaves was needed more than normal but it wasn’t just “to keep the flies off the honey.” Extra minutes for Reaves and Carrier equates to less postseason wear and tear on the top-six. Being that it was Game 1, DeBoer should have some well-rested stars for tonight’s matchup.

Going forward, if the Golden Knights and Canucks go deep in their second round series, or games go into overtime, DeBoer should have a bench full of fresh legs. Hopefully, the Golden Knights won’t be forced into a four or five overtime period game, but if they do, the advantage goes to the team that spread their minutes out in earlier games.

If the Golden Knights are able to perform as they did in Game 1, I’d expect DeBoer to deploy the same strategy again tonight. Any situation that has Vegas up by multiple goals, the bottom six, and the fourth line specifically, should see more ice time. But chances are the Canucks will permit that by sending Roussel on the ice to create his typical havoc.

Remember, Reilly Smith said this about Roussel and his antics.

So, I’m assuming if Roussel is out there mucking it up, DeBoer will be able to rest his stars again. If only Vancouver’s pest knew how to keep flies off the honey.

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