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Tag: Rick Bowness

Both Teams Confident Entering Thursday’s Elimination Game

Being up 3-1 in a seven-game series can make a team full of confidence. Especially, coming off back-to-back road wins in Winnipeg. The stage is set for the home team to wrap up the series on Thursday night and advance to the second round. But it can’t be that easy.

The message for us is we haven’t won anything yet. You need to win four, right? -Bruce Cassidy

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

Clearly, the Golden Knights are feeling good about their position and history shows that they should be. In NHL history, only 31 teams have blown a series up 3-1, while 299 went on to win the round.

Five times in Vegas history, the team has been up 3-1 and won 4 out of the 5 playoff series. Twice the organization sealed the deal in Game 5 and the other two series went the distance in Vegas’ favor. Overall, it’s been highly difficult for opponents to overcome a tw0-game series deficit to the Golden Knights. But the Jets don’t seem too worried about the past.

At this point, you just take it one game at a time. We don’t need three, we need one and we’ll go from there. A bounce here, a bounce there and things can go well. I think we have the character in our room to do something special and to do something great. And like we said, we’re looking for one game. We need one game and we’ll move on to the next one and we’ll prepare the same way… We’re inches away from really flipping the script on this. -Connor Hellebuyck, Jets goalie

It hasn’t been a walk in the park for Hellebuyck throughout the first four games of the series. He’s allowing more goals per game, making fewer saves, and has recorded only one quality start in the postseason. The Golden Knights have gotten to the Jets goaltender early and often, but they haven’t broken his or his teammates’ confidence.

We haven’t had good luck so far. We’ve been playing pretty good though, despite all of our adversity. Now, we have to make sure our heads are right and know we’re in for the grind and we’re not out yet. It’s a bounce here, a bounce there. And we’re not asking for a ton, we’re asking for one a game. That’s all we need. We haven’t gotten it yet, and you’d imagine it would show itself at some point. -Hellebuyck

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One Major Momentum Swing Has The Series Tied

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

For the first four periods of the series, the Golden Knights looked like they were trying to catch up with the Winnipeg Jets. Vegas generated just 26 shots in the first 80 minutes of action, mainly because of their inability to consistently possess the puck in the offensive zone.

Then, it was almost like a switch was flipped. In the 2nd period, Vegas came alive, scoring two goals, putting 19 shots on Connor Hellebuyck, and flying around the ice at a speed the Jets hadn’t seen to that point in the series.

The Golden Knights continued that success into the 3rd period where they broke the game open and eventually took home a crucial victory to even the series.

That’s playoff hockey, the momentum swings. -Bruce Cassidy

Typically, playoff series tend to see plenty of swings like this over the course of each individual game. Two games into this series, we’ve seen just one swing, a massive one from the Jets looking like far and away the better team to suddenly Vegas exerting their dominance and looking like the #1 seed.

The term momentum does a lot of heavy lifting in the hockey world as somewhat of a catchall to explain why things go from good to bad or vise versa in a hurry. What it doesn’t do is actually explain what changed in the way the teams are playing that caused it to happen.

Clearly, the momentum of the series did shift in favor of the Golden Knights. But why?

For us a lot of times it’s puck management. In the 1st period on the 2nd shift of the game we give their best line opportunity after opportunity, we get the huge saves but it just gives them life. So we got that corrected. If you look at the scoresheet, our top guys are all over the sheet tonight, their guys were all over the sheet the other night in Game 1. -Bruce Cassidy

Cassidy also pointed to the first goal of the game that energized the crowd and seemed to wake up the Golden Kights.

Maybe the other team feels a little pressure to be cleaner and all of a sudden we’re on top of them. -Cassidy

On the other bench, they felt the shift in the game was mostly self-inflicted.

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VGK Forecheck Failed In Game 1

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

Before the series even began, the Winnipeg Jets head coach detailed one of the most important aspects of the game for the Golden Knights.

Play as fast we can. To do that, your D have to get back, your forwards have to get back and help out, make that first outlet pass. Don’t be looking for second or third options, you have to make that first option and go. -Rick Bowness, Jets coach

To start the game, the Golden Knights were all over the Jets on the forecheck, forcing critical turnovers that could have led to the game’s first goal. Vegas’ forwards pressured the puck deep in the offensive zone and Winnipeg’s reads were not fast nor correct.

Here are two examples from the first four minutes of action.

Roy throws the puck into a good area where the goalie cannot go back and retrieve it and then gets on his horse to go pressure it. The key is the challenge on the second pass from Kolesar. He flies into the zone to push the second defender off of the play, leaving the puck available for Roy to move it to Howden for a Grade A+ chance.

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Reaching Three Goal On Connor Hellebuyck Will Advance VGK To Next Round

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If the first night of the playoffs is any indication of what Game 1 between Vegas and Winnipeg will be like, get ready for an emotional evening. In four games, two home and two away teams won and all but one went under the total. Betting numbers aside, the play was low-scoring, nasty, physical, and tight. If tonight’s game trends the same it could benefit the visiting Jets.

Look at the history of our sport. How many Conn Smythe winners have been goalies? Whoever is going to win the Stanley Cup is going to get outstanding goaltending from the first playoff game on. We know Connor is going to give us that. -Rick Bowness, Jets coach

Without a doubt, goaltending is Winnipeg’s biggest strength. Historically, Vegas has had success against Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, including three victories this season. In 11 total games, the Golden Knights averaged 2.99 goals per game against the 2020 Vezina Award winner. It’s important for Vegas’ offense to continue their scoring average on Hellebuyck. The numbers are clear.

VGK Offense vs. Connor Hellebuyck

  • VGK Record When Offense Scores 3+ Goals: (47-3-2)
  • WPG Record When Hellebuyck Allows 0-2 Goals: (32-4-0)

Fans hear it every postseason; the team that scores three goals will likely win a playoff game. Vegas should feel good about their ability to average three or more per postseason game. The Golden Knights pulled it off 52 times in the regular season and won 47 of those games. However, it’ll be a bigger challenge to average three goals a game in their opening-round matchup with Winnipeg.

Hellebuyck Record Per Goals Allowed

  • Exactly 3 Goals Allowed: (1-12-0)
  • 4 Or More Goals Allowed: (4-9-1)
  • Total Record Allowing 3+ Goals: (5-21-1)

Three out of the four winning teams last night scored three or more goals. Dating back to last season, seven out of the eight Game 1 victors registered 3+ goals. That key number is even more crucial for both Vegas and Winnipeg.

We’re capable of winning. There is no question. We’re here to win. We’re not here to give these guys a little workout and move on to the next round. We’re here to win. -Bowness, Jets coach

Tonight’s game will likely be exciting, intense, and with little room to shoot on net. If Vegas can solve Hellebuyck and get to their three-goal mark, past results suggest success. Hellebuyck’s numbers are outstanding when a game is low-scoring and tight but when a game becomes offensive and open the Golden Knights hold an enormous edge.

Dallas Coach Says Colorado’s The Team To Beat In The West

It’s bulletin board season and today’s material to be pinned to the wall comes from Dallas Stars interim head coach Rick Bowness.

The veteran head coach appeared on NHL Network’s NHL Tonight (video below) and was asked “which team is the biggest threat to your chances at winning the Cup?”

Unlike most coaches who would go with a cliche answer, Bowness did not hesitate and blurted out…

Colorado. In our conference Colorado. -Bowness, Stars interim head coach

The Stars are one of the four teams in the round-robin and their first real game comes against the Golden Knights. However, his sights are not set on Vegas, they’re set on a team his Stars defeated four times out of four this regular season.

Colorado has a lot of young, talented, high skill level players and they’re going to be coming at us with a lot of speed. Listen, nothing but respect for St. Louis, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, Vegas, they’re a great hockey club, but Colorado’s a team that when you are coming out of a break like this and a short time to turn things around you’re going to rely on high skill level and speed and Colorado has a lot of that. -Bowness

Sure, the Avalanche have MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Makar, and Girard, but the Golden Knights may be just as skilled. Stone, Pacioretty, Karlsson, Smith, Marchessault, and Theodore match up pretty well with the Avs top players. Plus, the Golden Knights have two goalies better than anything the Avs roll out.

The most surprising part of the answer was how quickly he gave it. Bowness wasted no time in jumping directly to the team second on their schedule.

Are the Golden Knights being overlooked by the best teams in the West?

Maybe, and that’s probably not the worst thing in the world.

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