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NHL’s Business Booming In VGK Era

Credit: NHL TV commercial

It’s no secret, the NHL is the least profitable, poorly marketed, and the lowest draw of all four professional sports leagues in North America. However, according to the Associated Press, business has picked up across the National Hockey League. It happens to coincide with one of the league’s freshest markets throwing one heck of a Stanley Cup championship parade in 2023.

We’ve seen an influx and a growth of female fans, diverse fans, They’re finding our product, they’re falling in love with it, they’re starting to watch more. -Kyle McMann, NHL Development to AP

Two years ago, we reported that it was estimated that 40% of Golden Knights fans are made up of women. After Vegas’ Stanley Cup championship, those numbers have most certainly increased. When you add young kids and newcomers to the sport the population of VGK’s community continues to rise. In turn, so are other NHL markets.

New fans, new franchises, and new broadcast partnerships aided the league’s latest boost in revenue and viewership. Sure, the sport may have seen a bounce back from the pandemic but let’s not forget the Golden Knights’ impact on the bottom line.

Business is booming for the NHL, which has bounced back in a major way from the pandemic. Backstopped by new media rights deals, digital dasher boards and helmet and jersey ads, and buoyed by an overlap of generational stars, ratings are up, attendance set a record and revenue is at an all-time high — an estimated $6.2 billion annually.

Trying new things, including puck and player tracking and cartoon versions of games to draw in younger fans, has set the table for this success. Decades since the experiment of the glowing puck, experts credited the league for attracting and retaining a bigger audience in a crowded sports marketplace… the league has done a good job reaching beyond traditional markets, overcoming some of the unavoidable shortcomings of being expensive to play. –Steven Whyno on APNews.com

Vegas may turn off some snobby traditionalists, but last year’s Stanley Cup Final was the second most-watched series since 2020. And in 2018, Vegas’ five game series against the Washington Capitals had the second-highest ratings since 2015. In seven seasons, hockey enthusiasts have gotten used to seeing Vegas deep into the postseason. The NHL has benefited from their competitive play.

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Dallas’ Run To The Conference Finals Painful Reminder For Vegas Fans

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

Growing up in Boston I witnessed my share of shortened seasons. Historically, after a Bruins postseason exit, my father would begin rooting for the team that eliminated them from the playoffs. It was his way of coping after another failed season by the B’s. On May 5th, after the Golden Knights were eliminated I gave my son the same advice. Now, I’m dealing with a hockey-crazed eight-year-old breaking curfew in hopes that the Dallas Stars capture a Stanley Cup trophy of their own.

You get both previous Stanley Cup champions [in Vegas and Colorado]. What a gauntlet. I just couldn’t be prouder of our group… we’ve got a mix of older and younger guys, but they were just fantastic. Just hard to believe with a gauntlet like that, that you’re only halfway there. But we’re going to enjoy and need the time off here, and get ready for the next round. -Pete DeBoer, DAL coach

However, watching Dallas’ run to the Western Conference finals is truly bittersweet. Most will agree, had Vegas beaten the number one seed in Game 7, they would be looking at their fifth conference finals appearance. After the Avalanche lost a top player to another postseason distraction, the Golden Knights probably would have found their way back to the league semifinals like the Stars have.

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DALLAS STARS 2 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (DAL Wins 4-3)

Recap: The reigning Stanley Cup champions wanted a chance to continue defending their title by eliminating Dallas in Game 7. Each team had early chances but some shots missed the net or hit the iron. The Stars eventually took the opening lead off a turnover by Shea Theodore. Dallas took a 1-0 advantage into the first intermission.

The game locked down in the middle frame with each team breaking up scoring chances. Late in the period Michael Amadio found Brett Howden on Dallas’ doorstep for an easy tap in game tying goal. After 40 minutes, Game 7 was locked in a 1-1 battle.

Dallas had several early rushes on the final period and eventually took the lead on a screened backhand shot by Dallas’ Radek Faksa. Vegas pulled Hill late in the game and had many chances to even the score. However, the defending failed to tie the game and we’re eliminated in seven games by Dallas.

The Golden Knights fall to the Stars in Game 7 and are eliminated from the 2024 playoffs. It was another great season for Vegas and we can’t wait for the 2024-25 season to begin. Go Knights Go! (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights are no longer reigning champions of the NHL. They didn’t play a bad Game 7, but they just didn’t have enough to get over the hump in the most important moments of the game. Marchessault’s open net chance hit the post, Eichel’s backhand slipped just wide, and everything else came up just a bit short. The Golden Knights remain and always will remain 2023 Stanley Cup champions. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars Game 7 at American Airlines Center.

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Cassidy’s Neutral Zone Adjustment Helped VGK Win Game 6, And Maybe Game 7 Too

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

In most playoff series the matchup of the coaches gets overblown. Talk of adjustments, line changes, goalie decisions, motivational tactics, and so much more find their way into the ether when in reality, the better hockey team typically wins despite all of it.

When it comes to the Golden Knights and Stars first round series headed to a 7th and final game, there’s no doubt the coaching has had an impact. Bruce Cassidy’s box-and-one defending style helped Vegas grab a pair of leads and hold onto them to take control of the series. Then, Pete DeBoer’s squad adjusted their exits by using the walls more to help his defensemen get the puck out before VGK’s big bruising forecheck got into the picture.

DeBoer also deserves credit for advising his forwards to leak out of the zone even earlier than they are used to catch a Vegas defense that often overloads a side of the ice against transition chances. Dallas has hit multiple stretch passes that have sent players in on clean breakaways. (Fortunately for Vegas their goalies have shut down most of them.)

As the tide of the series shifted back from Vegas to Dallas, Cassidy had to find a way to speed his team up. The Stars were making the Golden Knights look old and stodgy by limiting their ability to carry the puck through the center of the ice. In Game 6, Cassidy presented another option to his team, it unlocked the neutral zone, and made Vegas look fast again.

They’ve done a really good job at taking away the middle of the ice. We pride ourselves in that too. So, there’s room outside. So that’s what we did. We said, ok we’ve got to get the puck outside and take the ice that’s there. You’re probably not making a lot of east-west plays in the he neutral zone and we didn’t. We took what was there for the most part. -Cassidy

Here are a couple of quick examples of exactly what he’s talking about.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 DALLAS STARS 0 (Series Tied 3-3)

Recap: The Golden Knights were hoping to extend their season and force Game 7 with a victory at home against the Dallas Stars. Game 6 began with several quality scoring chances from Vegas, but Dallas’ goaltender Jake Oettinger stopped every threat. The Golden Knights recorded ten shots on net but the game was scoreless through twenty minutes.

Vegas goaltender Adin Hill began the period with a few outstanding saves to hold the game scoreless. The Golden Knights offense was outshot 12-8 in the middle frame bus still had as many scoring chances as the Stars. However, the game remained scoreless heading into the second intermission.

The third period continued to be back and forth, intense and tight. Neither team gave an inch, forcing the other to take low quality shots on net. At the 9:54 mark of the final frame Noah Hanifin shot a laser past Oettinger to give Vegas a 1-0 lead. With time winding down Mark Stone hit a long distance empty net goal to seal the game for Vegas.

The Golden Knights defeated the Stars 2-0 in Game 6 to force a seventh and series deciding game. Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday night in Dallas. Puck drop is is at 4:30 PM.  (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was without question the most action-packed game of the series and yet it remained deadlocked well into the night. Both goalies were stupendous and the offensive waves just kept coming at each of them. Eventually, a hero needed to emerge and boy did he. Noah Hanifin came through with an incredible individual effort to skate into the dangerous ice and wing one past Oettinger. Then, as the team leading has done in every game this series, VGK went into lockdown mode and they played it as perfectly as they could. We’re going back to Dallas to try and break Pete DeBoer’s 7-0 Game 7 record. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars Game 6 at T-Mobile Arena.

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“More Effective O-Zone Time” The Key To Turning Around VGK’s 5-on-5 Troubles

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

As we head towards Game 6 and what will be a pivotal game on the Golden Knights’ championship defending season, all eyes are on Vegas’s ability to put the puck in the net at 5-on-5.

In five games, the Golden Knights have scored just seven goals at 5-on-5. Four of them came in the two games Vegas won to open the series. There’s no way around it, if the Golden Knights want their season to continue tonight, they must generate more offense.

It starts with spending more time in the offensive zone.

We need more effective O-Zone time. We need more time by winning more races and battles and getting out of those swarms quicker with appropriate support. And then we need to be better on recovering shots that do go towards the net. We need to be better at executing the next pass. -Bruce Cassidy

The first step to creating that time is getting the puck in deep and working to get it back.

We wanted to establish forecheck presence and pressure on them no matter who was in the lineup whether they were using 4, 5, or 6 guys because we feel it can be effective for us. And it limits them getting back up the ice. Like Heiskanen, Harley, and Lundkvist, if he’s in there, they are good at getting up the ice and supporting the rush. -Cassidy

Dallas using only five defensemen for most of the games this series has been something on the surface that looks like Vegas can exploit, but Cassidy doesn’t see it that way. At least not yet.

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DALLAS STARS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (DAL 3-2)

Recap: Both teams were looking to take a 3-2 series lead with a Game 5 victory. Vegas opened the scoring four minutes into the game on the power play. Captain Mark Stone buried his second goal of the postseason quickly into the period. Sixty-two seconds left the Stars tied the game and took the lead a few shifts later. William Carrier’s evened the score with his patented wraparound shot. After 20 minutes Game 5 was locked in a 2-2 battle.

The middle frame was very tight with only 13 shots combined. Deep into the second period Alex Pietrangelo committed a roughing penalty that lead to a Dallas scoring play. The home team took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.

Vegas had several close scoring chances in the final frame, but Dallas and goaltender Jake Oettinger stopped any threat. The Golden Knights pulled Hill with 1:45 remaining in Game 5 but couldn’t find the game tying goal.

The Golden Knights drop Game 5 and fall behind in the seven-game series 3-2. Vegas will have a chance to even the series on Friday night. Puck drop for Game 6 is TBD.(Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Vegas got a quick goal on the power play yet again in this series, but they just couldn’t make it hold up. The Stars continued to be the better team at 5-on-5 and VGK’s offense dwindled as the game went on. The changes were the big story coming in, yet none of them really made a difference one way or the other. Dallas’ best players have been better than Vegas’ and their depth is staying right with VGK’s. Vegas’ 3rd period push once again came up short. This time it was a bit more dangerous, but Jake Oettinger was better than Chandler Stephenson’s breakaway.  (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars Game 5 at American Airlines Center.

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