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Penalties Hurt In Game 1, But It’s Not Like Vegas Didn’t Earn Their Pain

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the Golden Knights biggest points of emphasis in this series coming was to stay out of the penalty box. In Game 1, Vegas spent 34 minutes in the box. Of course, 20 of those came on misconduct penalties in the final minute, but still 14 minutes, or seven minor penalties, is simply too many against a team like San Jose.

Definitely, they are avoidable. We’ve got to be more disciplined. -Gerard Gallant

You always want to stay out of the box, especially against a team with that much firepower. We definitely have to stay out of there and keep them even-strength. -Deryk Engelland

With just two 5-on-5 goals scored of the seven total in the game, it was clearly a major part of the outcome of Game 1. So, let’s take a look at each one.

Penalty 1 – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Tripping

It’s not as much the penalty in this case as it is the shift that led to it. Vegas was hemmed in for about a minute before this puck squirted out to the side and Bellemare’s stick gets caught in the between the legs of the Sharks player.

I just need to be sharper. When I see that the puck goes behind him I have to remove the stick quicker. I was trying to make sure he didn’t have full control of his stick so I put my stick in the way, but my stick ended up between his legs. As soon as he started twisting I realized my stick was in the wrong spot. It’s avoidable. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Penalty 2 – Jonathan Marchessault – Unsportsmanlike

In a post-play scrum Marchessault ends up getting punched in the face. The call on Marchessault is essentially called as embellishment and it’s absolutely ridiculous. There’s a clear mark on Marchessault’s face from where Dillon landed a left hook and yet somehow Marchessault is given two minutes for being hurt by the punch. This one is plain and simply the referees losing control, and it hurt the Golden Knights badly. This was the beginning of what was soon to become a 3-on-3 and eventually two Sharks goals.

Penalty 3 – Deryk Engelland – Hooking

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Pick A Zone, Any Zone, The Golden Knights Stunk In Them All In Game 1

They outplayed us in every facet of the game tonight. They played hard, they worked and competed and we weren’t close to good enough and we have to be better next game. -Gerard Gallant

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Jason Pothier)

That’s not how you win a playoff hockey game on the road, that’s for sure. And while there’s no doubt Gallant is right, that his team didn’t do much of anything well, it was specifically their deficiencies when they had the puck that sunk them in Game 1 in San Jose.

There are three places a hockey team can possess the puck, in the defensive zone, in the neutral zone, and in the offensive zone. In all three, the Golden Knights failed. When they had the puck and needed to exit, they struggled. When they eventually did get the puck out, they couldn’t get it through the neutral zone with speed and crispness with any consistency. And in the cases where they did get it in, the forecheck came up lame.

Forechecking as a unit of five wasn’t there tonight. Their D are going to make that first play so you have to have two in there quick and we need our D-men joining the rush and joining the forecheck as well. As a unit of five, we just weren’t good enough tonight. We’ll try and figure out why and get to work tomorrow. -Max Pacioretty

It seems as if a lot of the times they are back there anticipating dumps in certain areas and when their D skate that way and anticipate the play they are able to come out of the zone with full control. We need to make exits on their hard and we didn’t do that tonight. -Pacioretty

Here’s the problem, according to the Golden Knights (and one Shark that we asked), nothing really changed in the way San Jose defended against Vegas.

I think we knew what to expect from their neutral zone I just didn’t think we were moving the puck. We didn’t have our support guys coming through the middle. I thought we were turning over more pucks that we should have. -Theodore

They didn’t do anything different from what we expected, but they played a lot harder. We weren’t good enough, our guys have to be ready to play more competitive hockey than we played tonight. -Gallant

Normally against the Sharks, Vegas exits well, flies through the neutral zone, and forechecks the Sharks into oblivion. Tonight, that was not the case, yet they got what they expected. So the problem must have come from within.

It’s game number 1 on the road. We need to be a little more sharp on some plays defensively, all five guys, and we should be fine on the forecheck. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

We were not moving the puck like we normally do. We shot ourselves in the foot. We didn’t play our style, we didn’t play our game. We need to refocus, readjust and get back to it. -Theodore

In the end, it’s essentially chalked up to the Golden Knights looking in the mirror and saying they weren’t good enough.

That’s fine… for now.

An Educated Guess At When The Golden Knights And Sharks Series Begin

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL playoffs officially get underway on April 10th. However, not all of the eight series will start that day. Instead, at least three will start the following night on the 11th. The schedule will not be released until Saturday at the earliest, but using some deductive reasoning we believe Vegas and San Jose will start on April 11th with games every other night through the 23rd. Here’s how we came to that conclusion.

As of this moment, only three teams have officially locked in home-ice advantage in the first round. They are Tampa Bay, Calgary, and San Jose. However, it seems fairly likely that Boston and Washington have their spaces under control. That leaves three we are waiting for.

The two series from the Central will start in two of the three of Winnipeg, Nashville, and St. Louis, so we’ll account for all three of those options. As for the Metropolitan, it looks like it’ll be in New York (Islanders) or Pittsburgh, again, we’ll account for both.

The best way to predict when each series will begin is to look at the arenas each team play in and see which dates are unavailable. Here are how all 10 arenas look for April 10th through 14th.

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Home Ice Disadvantage?

This picture was a joke when it was taken, it’s not a joke anymore. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the better part of a year and a half, the Golden Knights’ home building has rocked like it’s a playoff game every night. The raucous Vegas crowd aids their team when the Golden Knights are playing sluggish, or down a goal. It’s why home ice advantage can be important.

In Las Vegas it’s made a difference.

VGK Home Record:
2017-18: (29-10-2)
2018-19: (16-6-3)

Several Golden Knights players have spoken about the advantage the atmosphere of the T-Mobile Arena and Vegas fans give them during a game. Players tell us all the time that playing in their home building gets them amped up before and during games. Well, it happens to the opposition as well.

It’s a cool atmosphere to play here. It’s easy to get up for it. We try to play our game and rise to that next level here. -Charlie Coyle, Wild forward

Is it possible that the nightly postseason atmosphere can have a reverse effect?

After their win against the Golden Knights, Wild players admitted they got a boost of energy playing in the T-Mobile Arena’s atmosphere. In fact, it may have helped them get back in the game and eventually win it. Nashville said the same.

It was a good win. Being here in Vegas it added a little extra. I mean it was still cool… You know the first one was a lot of fun but it’s always nice to have some family and friends in town. -Jason Zucker, MIN Forward

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4 Points Out On November 1st Is A Bad Sign For VGK

None of these odds consider the return of #88. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season we brought awareness to one NHL benchmark backed by historical data that can predict which teams make the postseason. The (American) Thanksgiving Day playoff marker is a good measure for a team’s future success. The turkey day study suggests teams that are sitting in a playoff spot by Thanksgiving have a very high chance of competing for the Cup.

A more nail-biting trend is the November 1st, benchmark that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman often brings up. NHL teams four or more points out of a playoff spot by 11/01, have roughly an 18% chance of making the postseason. Since 2005-06, 47 of 58 teams that were 4+ points out of the postseason spot by November 1st, missed the playoffs. That’s a whopping 82% of teams that their fate was determined by the beginning of November. Unfortunately, that’s where the Golden Knights were, and still are as of this moment.

Just keep working at it. It’s the same old cliché every coach says, but that’s what it is. Keep putting pucks there, we are out chancing and more shots than most teams, but we just got to get hungrier. -Gerard Gallant

On November 1st, the Golden Knights had a record of 5-7-1 (11 points), good for seventh in the Pacific Division, and four points out of a playoff spot. Along with Vegas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, and St. Louis also were 4+ points down. 82% means four of those five teams are already eliminated, while one still has a shot.

Last season, Minnesota was the one that made the playoffs after being caught in the post-Halloween vortex.

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Season Heard Round The World

If you’re a sports fan, you know about Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”… okay millennials, here’s the video.

Across the country, morning newspapers led with Thomson’s historic moment. Which brings us to this widely known column printed the day after the series-clinching dinger. It’s been called the “greatest lede ever written.” It was penned in 1951, but it might as well have been written in 2018.

Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.- Red Smith, NY Herald Tribune, October 4, 1951

Right there. That’s the perfect description of the Golden Knights inaugural season. Perfectly crafted in three sentences.

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Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Game 4 Western Conference Finals – Photo Gallery – May 18th, 2018

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Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Game 3 Western Conference Finals – Photo Gallery – May 16th, 2018

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Golden Knights Kind Of Looking Forward To Opening On The Road

The white jerseys are better. Maybe that’s a reason too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In Round 1 the Golden Knights opened the series with a pair of home games against the Kings. They used a dominant Game 1 performance to take the lead in the series and followed it up with a double overtime thriller to send the series to Los Angeles at 2-0. In Round 2 they once again started at home, again dominating Game 1 but faltering in Game 2 to head to San Jose even.

Now, no matter who the opponent will be, the Golden Knights will head on the road for the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. However, they don’t seem too terribly concerned about the lack of home-ice advantage in the series.

It may not be a bad thing to start on the road this time around. Something a little bit different. We’re going to spend the next few days trying to get ready for that first period in the next game. I’m certainly happy to be here and have the chance to do it. -George McPhee

I think we’ve played really well on the road and at home. I think our record is 4-1 in both places, is it not? So, it doesn’t really make a big difference to us. I’m not once concerned about starting on the road. I’m sort of looking forward to going somewhere. -Gallant

The Golden Knights have indeed lost just once in five tries away from Vegas. That’s even better than their regular season tally of 22-14-5 on the road. They’ve won in many different ways away from T-Mobile Arena as well. Tight checking games, overtime games, closeout games, they’ve faced it all and passed every test (except that one) with flying colors.

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The Most Impressive Stat Of The Playoffs Came On The Road In Game 6

Through two rounds of the playoffs, the Golden Knights lead postseason teams in a few crucial statistics. First and for most, Vegas is tied with Tampa for the most postseason wins with eight. Vegas leads the playoffs with 204 blocked shots and 106 takeaways despite playing the fewest number of games of any playoff team. However, the stat of the postseason may have happened last night in the series-clinching Game 6.

Against a desperate Sharks team, Vegas played smart protecting the puck and maintaining possession all game. Amazingly, the Golden Knights gave away the puck only once in Game 6. One giveaway in a road closeout game. One!

Unsurprisingly, they are the first team this season to complete a game with just one giveaway.

Some argue giveaway/takeaway stats are not truly accurate, but even with the margin of error involved in scoring hockey games, one giveaway is incredible. The definition of a giveaway is when a player’s own actions result in a loss of possession to the opposing team. Think back, can you even remember the one?

Overall, the Golden Knights have hit their giveaway average in four of ten postseason contests.

Fewest Giveaways in a single playoff game (1)
Fewest total Giveaways in Playoffs (83)
Fewest Giveaway average per game (8.3)

Won’t lose many games giving away the puck just once in 60 minutes. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas was so responsible with the puck in Game 6 that San Jose had trouble gaining possession for a majority of the night. To be fair, the Golden Knights only created two takeaways in last night’s closeout game, but that was likely a result of Vegas playing conservatively with a lead while their opponent chased.

If the Golden Knights continue to play error-free hockey, the remaining teams should look out. Surprisingly, Vegas turned the puck over 15 times in Game 5’s victory. Proving the Pacific Conference Champions can win a sloppy game or two… or eight.

(In case you were wondering, Deryk Engelland committed the one giveaway in the game. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of giveaways, keep your eyes out for the next Adam Kutner contest. He’s giving away, see what we did there, two tickets to every Western Conference Finals game, and it’s free to enter. More details soon.)

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