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VGK Needs A Statement Season From Mark Stone

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According to Golden Knights captain Mark Stone, he is expected to be fully recovered by training camp. It’ll be important for Stone to produce early on but the long-term should be the goal for Vegas.

We’re a veteran group so it’ll be nice to get the bodies healed and ready to go for the start of the season. Kind of prove that we’re good as we think we are. Got a little taste of humble pie this season and wasn’t fun to be a part of. -Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio

With their most dangerous weapon gone, Stone will need to create offense in meaningful spots. Let’s face it, a $9.5M winger has to score on an empty net with the season on the line.

As we watched last season, failing to deliver in the clutch and a bevy of injured players were the main reasons why Vegas missed the playoffs. This season the goal shouldn’t just be to qualify for the playoffs but to be healthy when they get there as well. Vegas will need Stone’s presence throughout the season but mainly in the chase to 16 postseason wins.

Stone’s Last 9 Games in 2021-22
2 Points (1 Goal, 1 Assist)
0.22 Points Per Game
18 shots on net
202 Shifts
18:57 Average Time Of Ice

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New VGK Coach, New VGK PP

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No matter who becomes the next coach of the Golden Knights they will have to address Vegas’ underachieving power play. Clearly, the man advantage was one of the reasons the organization missed the playoffs, and why Pete DeBoer was fired. It’s a cold world when your team struggles to net pucks 5-on-4. So, regardless of how it looked over the past two and half seasons the new staff will be tasked with fixing it by opening night.

Trotz has got a lot of interest there’s mo question to that. Additional to Philadelphia his list includes Winnipeg, it’s also believed to include Vegas and Detroit. There could be more. -Elliotte Friedman on Hockey Night In Canada

Last season the average power play efficiency was 20.61% with teams scoring on average 49 PP goals. The Golden Knights were below the cut line and totaled ten fewer goals than the league mean. Vegas ended up 25th out of 32 clubs and missed the postseason like all but one team below them (LAK). Had the Golden Knights performed to just the league’s average we’re probably breaking down a second round series or grieving a first round exit.

Most suspect the front office will hire a coach and staff that has had special teams success. Realistically, any candidate that performs above average would net Vegas an extra ten goals. However, there is a lot of expectations and pressure for the next staff. The power play has been under a microscope for some time now and it will continue to be scrutinized. Putting in simple terms, power play success could be a quick way to win over the fanbase.

Currently, the Florida Panthers are the perfect example of how an inept power play can severely damage a team’s pursuit of the Cup. One of the league’s best man-advantage units in the regular season is coming up empty in the second round. In ten power play opportunities the Panthers have one goal to show for it. Tonight, they’re facing elimination. A few conversions may have changed the trajectory of the Sunshine State series.

No one is expecting the Golden Knights to lead the league in power play goals next season but fans are simply asking for an improvement. Letting go of Pete DeBoer was a sign the organization desired an upgrade. Maybe it’ll be a simple strategy change or new offensive weapons. All the Golden Knights need is more production from their special teams to go along with VGK’s history of solid 5-on-5 play. If not, history will most definitely repeat itself.

VGK’s Frustration Visibly Noticeable To Opponents

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It’s been eerily quiet since the Golden Knights season finale. There hasn’t been a peep from any of Vegas’ players, coaches, or executives since their postgame press conferences on Friday night. It’s almost as if The Creator and his staff are choosing the next Pope.

Without any knowledge of the conversations being held it’s impossible to guess which direction Vegas is heading. Whatever it may be, it was apparently obvious to many lineups across the NHL.

I had a few teams tell me today that Vegas was always a very together team. Through good and bad. This year was the first year they really saw them as a frustrated team. Doors slamming in games, players showing frustration or snapping at each other occasionally during games. I don’t want anyone to take that I think the Vegas Golden Knights all despise each other because I don’t know if that’s true. –Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It’s no secret, Golden Knights fans witnessed their team’s frustration almost weekly. That’ll happen with extensive injuries, poor performances, and a struggling power play. However, we can’t hear the doors slamming or snapping on the bench. Mark Stone and other team leaders keep their locker room tight but it’s hard to believe it felt the same without the captain for most of the year. Add in injuries to Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez and the chemistry had to have taken a hit.

When you’re losing and your season is slipping away that’s normal. Teams noticed it more this year. Was that just as frustration of the injuries and the season slipping away or is there any chance the fabric of this team has been changed and they have to address that. I don’t know. Teams noticed it this year, more than ever. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman’s advice to the Golden Knights is to address the goaltending situation. Over the weekend, the Sportsnet reporter continued to stress that Robin Lehner’s frustration and season ending injuries were sensitive matters.

The number one thing they have to deal with is Lehner. People are telling me wait. This is not over. There’s still more to go here. What’s everyone going to say? This is going to take some skill and handling. There are the possibilities of aftershocks. Is this something that the league and the Players Association are going to have to get involved in? Depending on where all of this goes. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It doesn’t take a spyglass for an opposing team to hear or read about the tension between Lehner and the coaching staff down the stretch. It was on full display after Vegas’ late-season loss against the New Jersey Devils.

Is there a way to deal with this so that it can be solved to everyone’s satisfaction mentally, and physically, and emotionally without a series of aftershocks that further damage the franchise. If it’s not dealt with in a proper way it’s going to get worse before it gets better. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight, unfortunately without the Golden Knights. On the bright side, missing the cut allows Vegas more time in the offseason. A head start helps examine prospects, target free agents, trades or anything else they feel they need to get sorted out. The next few days will reveal what the organization’s plans are going forward. Lehner, DeBoer, slamming doors, and teammates snapping are areas that need immediate attention.

Lehner’s Plan For Season Ending Surgery Another VGK Communication Breakdown

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Coach Pete DeBoer had time to reflect on Wednesday’s season saving comeback win against Washington. His team controlled the puck overtime and in a matter of minutes Vegas remained in a playoff hunt. Also, with yesterday’s day off the Golden Knights head coach was able to further internalize his controversial but successful goalie change in a 1-1 tie.

The decision to start him, we pay him to start games like this. It’s the most important time of the year. He’s healthy he’s fresh he’s got a lot of energy. We need him at this point of the year. After that NJ game I felt like I wanted to give him the opportunity to bounce back. -Pete DeBoer, 04/20

After Wednesday’s victory the head coach answered questions about why he decided to start Robin Lehner in net. DeBoer explained that the higher paid goaltender should get the nod in big games. 20 minutes into the game he clearly felt differently. The veteran coach also emphasized that Lehner was not injured and that the goalie was rested.

He’s healthy he’s fresh he’s got a lot of energy.-Pete DeBoer, 04/20

But the latest information refutes DeBoer’s claim. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and The Athletic’s Jesse Granger both reported that Lehner will undergo season ending surgery.

Normally, these type of conflicting reports are further cleared up by the organization. That is if, they had the same information about Lehner’s health. However, today after Golden Knights practice things got weird.

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McCrimmon: If We Can Get In… We Will Be A Tough Out

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There are no guarantees in professional sports. In all leagues, there are highly-regarded teams each year that miss the postseason. Some by a large margin and other times by a few percentage points. Sadly, the badly wounded Golden Knights are one of those teams at risk of missing their mark.

I never anticipated that the injuries would last so long and just compound, one after the other. Sunday, we had eight guys out. In Seattle, we had nine guys out. Take that many guys out of your lineup and you lose your depth. –Kelly McCrimmon to Sportsnet

Injuries as we know are impacting results but last night’s effort wasn’t only about injuries. It was a lousy performance by 19 relatively healthy players, and it could cost them their season. Coach Pete DeBoer never mentioned missing players or a banged-up lineup in his postgame press conference. He only wanted to move on.

We were awful. We were awful in front of the net, we were awful in breakouts, we were awful everywhere. We were no good. So we’re going to flush it, move on, and get ready for Saturday.  -Pete DeBoer

Golden Knights fans have seen it countless times, some nights certain teams just don’t have it. Normally, it happens in November, or off a back-to-back or when families visit for a mild-weathered Christmas. Unfortunately, injuries make it difficult to predict when a dud of a game will occur.

If we can get in, I think we know what to expect at playoff time. We will be a tough out. –McCrimmon to Sportsnet

Last night was not the best example of Golden Knights hockey and they didn’t look like a desperate club trying to make the playoffs. It’s concerning DeBoer couldn’t get his team to play up to their abilities in such an important game. His superiors reminded Sportsnet it’s difficult to coach on any given night without their top performers.

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Seattle Tonight, Eager Vancouver Next

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I’m sure many Golden Knights fans were up scoreboard watching last night hoping the Dallas Stars and LA Kings would each drop two points. Unfortunately, both teams teased local fans and won in overtime and a shootout. My suggestion, pace yourself. With many tight races there could be some stressful nights ahead.

Tonight, the Golden Knights will play an opponent they have and should handle easily. Of course, it’s possible Seattle ends Vegas’ three-game win streak but in reality, the visiting team should leave with four points. It’ll alleviate some pressure heading into Sunday’s game against Vancouver.

I told a story today. I said my first year coaching in the NHL we needed to win 12 out of the last 13 games,” and we did. And we had to win the last seven and we did to get in by one point. These things happen. By no stretch does anybody, unless they’re lying to me, think that we’re done. But, I mean, we have to go on a pretty good run.-Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

After Seattle, Vegas will face an eager Vancouver team in an old-fashioned home-and-home matchup. The two teams meet up a final time on April 12th. While the playoffs look dim for the Canucks, they are led by a coach that thrives as an afterthought. There’s no doubt Vancouver will be in postseason mode against Vegas. Essentially, their season could come down to the next two games.

I try to stay away from the big things and try and make it more palatable. They can buy into and say ‘all we have to do is play good tonight and let’s worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.’-Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

I’m sure Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer has his own anecdotes and stories he passes along to his players as well. The only difference is Vancouver needs a miracle to survive while Vegas is expected to participate in the playoffs. DeBoer would be ecstatic picking up another win tonight and four combined points against the Kraken. The Golden Knights longest winning streak is five games so he’s aware it’s unlikely to continue against other desperate teams. It’s vital to pluck points from every lottery team left on Vegas’ schedule.

  • Tonight @ Seattle
  • April 9th vs. Arizona
  • April 18th vs. New Jersey
  • April 24th vs. San Jose
  • April 27th @ Chicago

The Golden Knights are fully aware that if they take advantage of lighter opponents the playoffs will be in their grasp. They cannot afford to let games slip away so it’s only worth focusing on one game at a time. Take control of the next three games and Vegas will nearly eliminate Vancouver, and be in a temporary playoff position. Then they’ll likely need to sweep their Alberta trip and leapfrog Dallas in the final week of the season.

Nevermind my earlier advice, after tonight the stress level will be unbearable. Hopefully, we’ll get a night off from scoreboard watching.

Golden Knights Used As Example For LTIR Change At League Meetings

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We’ll never know if the Golden Knights were trying to mimic the 2021 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. When Vegas’ front office pulled the trigger on the Jack Eichel trade, speculation grew across the league that the club would attempt to field a team over the cap in the postseason. Things have changed dramatically for Vegas since then but it didn’t stop NHL GM’s from leaving anonymous notes in the league’s complaint box.

There’s been a lot of white noise around Vegas in how they’ve treated LTIR this season. Last year’s Tampa, this year’s Vegas. At least in perception. Gary Bettman and Bill Daly could not have been more unequivocal saying Vegas has been transparent. There’s no issues with the way they’re handling their LTIR and their business. –Pierre LeBrun on TSN

The noise was loud enough that the topic of LTIR maneuvering came up yesterday at the GM meetings.

Now, is there validity to say that we get to the playoffs and we’ve got a cap of $81.5 million and fundamentally that means we should only be able to dress $81.5 million in the playoffs? Sure, that makes sense. I think you’ve gotta go back and study it. –Brad Treliving, Calgary GM to Sportsnet

It was reported that the league broached the subject out of concerns that some believed Tampa bought last year’s Cup. Sure, adding Nikita Kucherov to the lineup on Game 83 is unfair but it would be next to impossible to prove Tampa stretched out injuries.

In fact, two-time Stanley Cup-winning GM Julien BriseBois wasn’t bashful about his feelings. His club won back-to-back championships, you think the speculation or finger-pointing matters to him?

If we hadn’t won the Cup last season, perhaps we wouldn’t be the poster child, but I’d rather win the Stanley Cup and be the poster child anyway, knowing that these situations have happened in the past. In 2015, we played against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final and they had the example of Patrick Kane at the time and won the Cup. The situation we had last year with Kucherov—there’s 32 teams and it happens; there are many teams in LTI –Julien BriseBois, Lightning GM to Sportsnet

It’s possible several teams will be over the salary cap in the playoffs. Which drives front offices to ignore cap manipulation.

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2022 Has Been Challenging In Many Ways For The Golden Knights

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It hasn’t been easy for the Golden Knights in 2022. Overall, Vegas has lost 14 games this calendar year and collected only 24 out of a possible 48 points. It gets even worse. Since January 1st, the Golden Knights have scored the second least number of goals in the entire league. Adding to insult, Vegas has a meager .375 winning percentage in one-goal games since January.

It’s been a challenge considering the injuries Vegas has faced but like Sunday against the Senators, the Golden Knights just need to find ways to win. So how bad has 2022 been for Vegas? Well, let’s examine the numbers.

Goals Scored In 2022

  1. Florida 119
  2. Colorado 113
  3. Toronto 113
    ** 31. Vegas 61

Goals Scored Per Game In 2022

  1. Florida 4.58
  2. Toronto 4.19
  3. Calgary 3.85
    ** 28. Vegas 2.54

It’s no secret the Golden Knights have been struggling to score. Against a below-average Philadelphia team, Vegas’ offense stunk up the joint only creating one goal on 48 shots. You can give credit to hot goaltenders or look in the mirror and accept how poorly the club shoots the puck. Fourteen games this season the Golden Knights have shot 40 or more times on net. After Tuesday’s loss, Vegas is 5-8-1 when they shoot 40+.

Highest Shooting Percentage In 2022

  1. St. Louis 12.7%
  2. Tampa Bay 12.4%
  3. Florida 12.2%
    ** 32. Vegas 7.4%

The game against the Flyers was the 11th time the Golden Knights scored 2 goals or fewer goals since the turn of the calendar year. After four postseason exits, fans are well aware scoring two goals in the playoffs won’t cut it.

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“Best Time Of The Year, It’s Balls To The Walls”

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On Tuesday night Vegas coach Pete DeBoer became the 27th winningest coach in NHL history. The 15-year veteran coach clinched his 500th career win against the franchise he coached to the Stanley Cup finals in 2017. DeBoer admitted beating the San Jose Sharks for his milestone win was a little sweeter.

It did. I coached in San Jose for five years, went to a Stanley Cup final, got fired. It wasn’t a revenge thing. There’s a bunch of people on that other team that really contributed to that 500 number. It is a big number. 28 guys in the history game. When you start putting in that perspective it’s pretty special. –DeBoer with Jim Rome

The Golden Knights head coach jumped on the Jim Rome show to chat about his 500th victory and the diversity his club has faced this season. Rome asked DeBoer about the extended injuries Vegas has dealt with and the coach didn’t use that as an excuse for their latest rough patch.

We’ve dropped four or five of our last six in different ways. We hadn’t play poorly but we hadn’t put it altogether for 60 minutes. It was an important win for our team. We had been stumbling, spinning our wheels a little bit. We needed to get some momentum. We’ve got the two busiest months of the year coming up against some really tough teams. –DeBoer with Jim Rome

One reason why it’s difficult to hammer the Golden Knights’ latest stretch is the introduction of center Jack Eichel into the lineup. After a few injured teammates, Eichel has become the biggest offensive focus for opponents. DeBoer mentioned how vital the newest Golden Knight will be in the near and distant future.

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Flames Head Coach Darryl Sutter: “You’re Going To Have To Go Through Vegas” To Win The West

Apparently records don’t matter to the Calgary Flames. Even with a seven point lead, the Flames felt like the underdog in their 3-2 loss Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena. Currently, Calgary is in 1st place in the Pacific Division but are highly aware of how dangerous a healthy Golden Knights an be.

Well, they’re the best team on paper. They’re clearly the best team out West, maybe other than the team that owns the Stanley Cup, if you look at it.

It’s not even that close, to tell you the truth. -Darryl Sutter, Calgary coach

That’s high praise coming from a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach. Sutter won with teams that didn’t win their division, twice. In 2012 & 2014 the LA Kings finished 3rd in the Pacific Division yet went on to win two silver chalices. Sutter’s Kings were never considered Cup favorites but he believed they were as deep as any opponent they faced. In Sutter’s first Stanley Cup run, LA finished the season with 95 points and eliminated a 111 point Vancouver Canucks club in five games.

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