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Golden Knight Leading Candidate For Most Important Position In World Hockey

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Everyone in Vegas remains focused on defending the Stanley Cup and cementing the Golden Knights as an NHL dynasty. For much of the rest of the world, at least some attention has begun to shift toward the upcoming best-on-best tournaments that have been missing from hockey for nearly a decade.

The NHL announced plans to host a four-nation face-off in 2025 in advance of NHL players attending the Olympics in 2026. Assuming these tournaments actually happen (we’ve been promised this many times and it often falls through), the Golden Knights are expected to be heavily represented.

Jack Eichel, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Mark Stone, and William Karlsson are all locks assuming health and Ivan Barbashev, Jonathan Marchessault, and others could make the squads as well.

The biggest surprise though might be the fact that a Golden Knight is in the running, and maybe even the favorite, to secure the most important position on the most widely talked-about team. That’s right, Adin Hill is among the leading candidates to be the starting goalie for Team Canada.

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Pietrangelo Discusses Eichel’s Impact, VGK Depth And Post Hockey Career

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s hard to imagine the Golden Knights without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. The alternate captain has only played in 88 games with Vegas but feels like he’s been a part of the organization for much longer. That’s one of the reasons why he’s here. Pietrangelo is an owner’s dream, the ultimate pro on and off the ice, and understands where to set life’s priorities.

The 14-year-career veteran joined 32 Thoughts: The Podcast and shared his thoughts on Jack Eichel’s debut, Vegas’ depth, being a family man, and Chandler Stephenson winning suitcases full cash on Super Bowl Sunday.

Mr. Stephenson won the two big squares. He walked away, it was a good day for him let’s just say that. –Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Last night Vegas fell 2-0 to the highly-skilled Colorado Avalanche. The loss I’m sure stung but quickly healed after watching Eichel skate 17+ minutes in a playoff-type game against the West’s top team. It was the first step for Eichel and Pietrangelo towards their ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Las Vegas.

A player like Jack with the amount of skill that he has and the way the game is played now, as soon as he starts feeling more comfortable with the physicality after what he went through the skill will take over, the hockey sense will takeover and off he’ll go. I don’t think any of us expect it to be too long. He’ll still be an impact player right away but we all understand it’s going to take a little bit of time for him. Even if he feels 75% of where he was a year ago that it’s pretty darn good. –Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts Podcast

At this moment, and over the next five seasons, both are arguably the two most important figures in the organization. Future championships will be won or lost with Eichel and Pietrangelo on the ice. Their success will be tied to the hip.

You can really see the skill level. The movement with the puck. The puck skill at high speed. You look at the goals he’s scored, the highlight reel goals. He’s doing everything at full speed. It’s only a compliment when you have players like Patch on the side, especially for a guy that shoots the way he does. That’s only going to be a better thing for Patch. He’s excited. It’s been a long time. –Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Most likely, Eichel will have his “A” stitched on a jersey, maybe even by next season. If all targets are reached by the time their contracts expire, we could be looking at two retired numbers. Among others.

The former St. Louis Blues captain understands the adjustments that Eichel made going from one franchise to another. Having to build a foundation in a new city and get comfortable with a new coach’s systems at the same time. We pointed out several times last season when Pietrangelo looked out of sorts and how it affected certain games. When it all came together he was the Golden Knights’ most reliable player.

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NHL Players Opting Out Of The Olympics Great News For Golden Knights

Well, the news that’s seemed inevitable is finally here. Most news outlets will present it a different way, but what I hear is, the Golden Knights’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup have increased.

That’s right, with NHL players bowing out of the Olympics, the odds of a parade on Las Vegas Boulevard got a little bit better.

There are multiple reasons for this with the chief among them being getting a rest for some of Vegas’ most important players. Had NHLers gone to the Olympics under normal circumstances, it’s probable that seven prominent players would have represented their countries for the month-long tournament, and that doesn’t include Jack Eichel.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, and Mark Stone were all locks for Team Canada. Max Pacioretty was certainly going to be on the American team. Robin Lehner and William Karlsson were both likely starters for Team Sweden and Evgenii Dadonov had a good shot at being a member of the Russian squad.

That’s VGK’s starting goalie, 1RW, 1LW, 2C, 3RW, 1RD, and 2RD who all would have been competing for a prize just as important as the Stanley Cup for all of these players. Instead of resting for a month like the rest of the team would be doing, the most important Vegas players would have been playing games more strenuous than what they would have in a normal NHL season. Not to mention, five of those seven players have dealt with injuries this season and both Stone and Lehner are battling through them as we speak.

And, remember, the NHL was just planning on going on a break, they did not shorten either the 82-game season or the four-round playoffs.

Sure, it’s a massive disappointment that we don’t get to see the amazing display that would have been a best-on-best tournament for Olympic gold, but there’s no doubt this is excellent news for the Vegas Golden Knights.

On top of not putting extra games on important players’ legs, the Golden Knights were the only team in the NHL prior to the holiday pause to not have a single game postponed. They’ve played 32 of their 82 games and sit in 1st place in the division despite a rash of injuries.

Now, during the month of February that was previously set aside for the Olympics, the league will be making up missed games from earlier in the season. Under the current plans, the only game the Golden Knights will need to make up is tomorrow’s home game against the Kings.

Many other teams around the league have four or five games they must make up. They’ll be forced to play those games over a two-week period while the Golden Knights will essentially be afforded a mini training camp as they’ll be allowed to practice while other teams play.

Of course, it seems probable that many more games will get postponed over the coming weeks, but either way, the Golden Knights are set to get a break now, in February, or some combination of the two.

We were all looking forward to seeing our home country take home the gold, but at least there’s a massive silver lining for the team that always dons gold.

Jack Eichel Downplays Idea Of Participating In Olympics

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Since the news of the blockbuster trade, everyone in Vegas is sitting on pins and needles waiting for the return, and debut, of Jack Eichel in a Golden Knights jersey.

With surgery scheduled for tomorrow in Colorado, Eichel’s timeline is expected to be around three months which would have him looking at a return to play sometime in February.

This year, however, the NHL’s February schedule is unique. The Golden Knights do not have a game between February 1st and the 25th. That’s due to the league taking a break for the All Star Game (which is in Las Vegas) and the Olympics.

Eichel is one of the best American-born players in the world and would be a shoo-in for Team USA if he were available to play. He has expressed interest in the past, but obviously, the injury throws a wrench in the works.

As recently as a few days before the trade, Eichel said in an interview with ESPN that it is a goal of his to make it back and play in the Olympics. Since the trade though, it seems to be a bit more of a longshot.

I would love to be there, I would love to represent our country. The organization in Vegas just made a commitment to me and I want to make that same commitment back, so I’m not going to rush anything. –Eichel on Spittin Chiclets

He reiterated that when being interviewed during the Golden Knights/Kraken game on ESPN.

Representing my country is something that I take great pride in. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity at some point, who knows? I just want to keep things short term at this point and take care of my health, get back to 100%. -Eichel on ESPN

This all must sound pretty good from a Golden Knights perspective. The last thing Vegas wants to see is Eichel playing in a different uniform and suffer another injury that would keep him off the ice any longer.

The Olympics will likely be littered with Golden Knights players, but it appears the newest one will not be among them.

Golden Knights Who Could Be Heading To The Olympics In 2022

As we inch closer to the NHL and NHLPA agreeing on a plan to finish out the 2019-20 season, word has leaked out that an amendment to the CBA will pave the way for NHL players to participate in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

The league blocked players from playing in the 2018 games citing an unwillingness to put the NHL season on halt for upwards of two months. Russia’s KHL took 33 days off for an Olympic break in 2018, Sweden’s SHL took 14, and leagues in Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic took nearly three weeks each.  The last three times NHL players have gone to the Olympics the league took a two-week break.

So, with the prospect of being without the Golden Knights for two weeks in the middle of the 2021-22 season, we’ll have to hope a few Golden Knights make Olympic rosters. Here’s a look at which ones have the best chance.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Mark Stone – Canada

It’s hard to believe a roster with the option to select Mark Stone would be without him, but it is actually possible. He should be a lock as the best defensive winger in the NHL and nearly a point per game producer with size and an incredible stick, but the list of Canadian forwards is vast and depending on the type of team they are going for, there’s a legitimate argument to leave him off.

In the end, not selecting Stone would be a mistake Team Canada will probably not make.

William Karlsson – Sweden

Sweden is surprisingly a bit weak when it comes to the center position. By 2022, there’s going to be an argument to be made for Karlsson as the best Swedish center available. Nicklas Backstrom will be 34-years-old, so it’ll be between Karlsson and Mika Zibanejad. Karlsson will probably find himself down the lineup a bit due to his defensive prowess, but with the wingers Team Sweden boasts, every line is going to be potent.

Assuming health, Karlsson will be headed to Beijing.

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Luca Sbisa Hates Shootout

Welcome to the SinBin.vegas Golden Knights Line Charts page. The goal of this page is to show not only the Golden Knights lines for every single game but also to show the utilization rate of each player and each position in the lineup.

“Player Utilization” shows what position that player is used most often.

“Line Utilization” shows which players play in each position most often.

“Game-by-Game Line Charts” are the lineup for each individual game.

Abbreviations: C1 = 1st line center, LW2 = 2nd line wing, 3R = 3rd pair right defenseman, HS = Healthy Scratch, INJ = Injured, SUSP = Suspended

Player Utilization Charts

 

Line Utilization Charts

 

Game-by-Game Line Charts

Game 4 at Washington

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Pacioretty-Haula-Nosek
Lindberg-Eakin-Carpenter
Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves

Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Miller
Merrill-Holden

Scratches: Bischoff, Hunt

Game 3 at Buffalo

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Pacioretty-Stastny-Haula
Nosek-Lindberg-Carpenter
Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves

Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Miller
Merrill-Holden

Scratches: Bischoff, Hunt

Game 2 at Minnesota

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Pacioretty-Stastny-Haula
Nosek-Lindberg-Carpenter
Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves

Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Miller
Merrill-Holden

Scratches: Bischoff, Hunt

Game 1 vs. Philadelphia

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Pacioretty-Stastny-Haula
Nosek-Lindberg-Carpenter
Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves

Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Miller
Merrill-Holden

Scratches: Bischoff, Hunt

______________________________________________________________________________

In this picture, Lehkonen is the metaphor for the shootout. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 2010, Luca Sbisa competed in the Winter Olympic Games for Team Switzerland. Sbisa and his Swiss mates finished in 8th place at the Vancouver games. Switzerland played three games that went to overtime, winning two and losing one. Two of the three were decided by shootouts.

After Wednesday night’s Golden Knights victory over the Flames, some of the guys in the winning locker room turned on the epic Women’s hockey gold medal game.

I was getting changed, and OT just ended so I knew they were going to a shootout. I left. I didn’t want too see it. -Luca Sbisa

I had to ask Sbisa if he was kidding. He wasn’t.

It’s not fair, you battle so hard. Obviously, when you’re on the winning side it’s great but the other team is upset because they fought so hard. -Sbisa

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Olympics May Halt Play Of Las Vegas’ First Season

When Las Vegas skates its inaugural season, it may or may not be interrupted for two weeks. We know the 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled, but we don’t know the NHL’s place in it. If players force their hand, the T-Mobile arena can cover its ice for a few weeks in February. If the league gets its way, players will be waking up at 3 AM just like us to watch amateurs from their countries play.

We’ve all been watching the World Cup of Hockey. Call it success, call it a bust, whatever, we can all agree it’s been some exciting hockey. While most NHL players are back with their teams, Canadian and European stars stayed back for World supremacy. However, the remaining World Cup players aren’t the only ones left back. Tyler Seguin, Aaron Ekblad, Matt Murray, and Marian Gaborik were all significantly injured during the World Cup.

Most players show up to win international tournaments. Aggression and physicality cause unfortunate injuries. If a player gets injured in late September, or even worse, late February, it puts a strain on their NHL club. However, getting injured in the World Cup is clearly the better of the two. The Kings lost Gaborik for eight plus weeks, which puts him back in the lineup by December. Not the worst case. If Gaborik got injured in late February it could be worse for the Kings playoff chase.

The 2018 Winter Games isn’t ideal for Las Vegas or the NHL. As the NHL has stated it’s not good for the league to shut down for two weeks. Plus player insurance policies are very expensive. And I know (Something) Knights fans will go nuts without hockey for two weeks midseason. The Knights could have a few Olympians, which should engage Las Vegas fans more to the 2018 Winter Games. However, local fans will be ticked if their favorite player gets hurt in Korea.

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