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It Can’t Happen Again, Can It?

It’s on Pete DeBoer’s mind. It’s on Marc-Andre Fleury’s mind. It’s on Mark Stone and Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson’s minds. It’s on George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon’s minds. It’s on The Creator’s mind. And it’s on every single one of you reading this’s minds.

It can’t happen again, can it?

Whether anyone wants to stare the beast directly in the eyes or not, the memory of how last season ended is inescapable for the Golden Knights as they prepare their second Game 7 in franchise history.

The first one has been woven into the fabric of the team over the past 16 months. Every decision they’ve made has been done with at least a sliver of blowing a 3-1 lead on the minds.

They hired the coach on the other bench. They revamped the penalty kill. They replaced the goalie. They added reinforcements on both offense and defense. They did it all so that these playoffs wouldn’t end the same way the last ones did.

Everyone knows what’s at stake. Even if neither Pete DeBoer nor Mark Stone would say it in the moments following Game 6.

This is a different group, different team. We’ve hit a group over there that’s feeling confident and getting great goaltending and that’s going to happen on the playoff trail and you’ve got to find a way. This is our adversity and we’ve got to stick together and come through it. -DeBoer

It’s one game. We’ve got a great team. Guys are going to go out there and bring our best and whatever happens happens. We’re confident going into tomorrow. We were confident going into Game 5 and 6. We feel like we have the team to win. -Stone

This is a mental test unlike any the young franchise has faced. The answers above are already a testament to how the Golden Knights want to handle it. They are going to try to do everything in their power to focus solely on this one game and ignore the elephant in the room. They want to play great from the moment the puck is dropped, score quickly, win the game, and come out on the other side stronger and more together than ever before.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

That’s exactly how they’ll be feeling the moment they get on the ice. But if the adversity from Games 5 and 6 rear its ugly head again in Game 7, the way the Golden Knights handle the flood of emotions linked directly to their history will determine their fate even more so than hockey skill.

Normally, it’s about being the better team, and for the first 10 minutes of the game, it can, and it will if they put the puck in the net. It’s if, and probably when, the going gets tough inside of that game that this team will have to prove to the world, and to themselves, that they can overcome it. They can block out the negative memories of a terrible ending to last season and the frustrating end to the first one. They can bear down and play the way they know they can, the way that got them to 3-1 in the series, and the way that had everyone believing they were the far-and-away better team.

The crossroads is here. Either the Golden Knights win, exorcise the demons that have been haunting them since Joe Pavelski’s blood hit the SAP Center ice, and head into the Western Conference Final with the best chance they’ve ever had to win the Stanley Cup or they lose and they’ll earn a label of playoff chokers, a label that will stick with them for as long as it takes to win 16 playoff games in the same season.

Pacioretty Unleashed His Wrist Shot In 2019-20

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty was one of three players to accumulate 300+ shots in the regular season. The two other players were Nathan McKinnon and Alexander Ovechkin; prestigious company. However, when you break it down by types of shot, Pacioretty led the entire league with 192 wrist shots. A shot in which #67 is known for.

Pacioretty must’ve come into the season focused on letting his wrist shot go more often than he did 2018-19. In his second year with the Golden Knights, the 31-year-old forward released 94 more wrist shots. Which worked out nicely for his club.

Not only did his wrist shot release go up but so did its effectiveness. Pacioretty added nine more wrist shot goals in 2019-20 and ended up having statistically one of his better seasons. His 0.93 points per game was a career-high for the 12-year veteran.

2018-19: 66 Games, 98 Wrist Shots, 12 Wrist Shot Goals
2019-20: 71 Games, 192 Wrist Shots, 21 Wrist Shot Goals

Pacioretty totaled 30 SOG in last season’s playoffs series against San Jose, scoring five goals in seven games. Unsurprisingly, 23 of 30 were wrist shots, and four of his five goals were from wrist shots. Any goalie should know what to expect from Pacioretty, the problem is whether they can save it or not.

Pacioretty’s pinpoint lasers create challenges for opposing goaltenders, especially when they’re being screened. His goal in Game 4 against the Sharks’ Martin Jones illustrates exactly how nasty and nearly impossible his wrister is to stop.

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Golden Knights Had To Sit Through “Brutal” Film Sessions Upon Pete DeBoer’s Arrival

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Shortly after Pete DeBoer was named head coach of the Golden Knights he began the process of implementing the changes he wanted to see to their systems.

The guys would gather at the team hotel to go over breakouts, d-zone coverages, neutral zone play, special teams, and everything else that went with the tweaks DeBoer wanted to see from his new team. It was all fine and well until the lights turned off.

On came the video clips and the playlist went something like this.

Sharks vs Oilers
Sharks vs. Ducks
Sharks vs Kings
Sharks vs…
Sharks
Sharks
Sharks

Yeah, in my head I was like, ‘is that shit going to last long or what’s the deal here?’ -VGK Forward

The only footage DeBoer had of players playing his system was from his former team.

Yeah, it was pretty brutal because I felt like every time we played them, we were the better team, so it was weird to see those clips. -VGK Defenseman

It just so happens that his former team is the team his current team went to war with time and time again and developed a genuine hatred for.

That was a little tough at the beginning. You are sitting there watching it thinking, ‘these fuckin’ guys?!?’ -VGK Defenseman

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 SAN JOSE SHARKS 1 (20-13-6 46 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights would take on their rival San Jose Sharks for the last time this season. Evander Kane would take an early 1st period penalty giving Vegas a quick power play. San Jose would kill off the two minutes but Erik Karlsson would take a delay of game penalty late in the period giving Vegas another man-advantage. The Golden Knights wouldn’t convert on their second PP opportunity and the game was scoreless after the opening 20 minutes.

Vegas would get their third power play opportunity with 8:53 left in the 2nd period, however the Sharks would kill the 5-on-4 again. Paul Statsny finally broke the scoreless tie with his 9th goal of the year giving his team a 1-0 lead after two periods played.

Logan Couture tied the game 1-1 early in the 3rd period slinging the puck over Malcolm Subban. The Golden Knights would regain the lead on a nasty wrist shot by Shea Theodore. Jonathan Marchessault tapped in a third goal for Vegas late in the 3rd period. Reilly Smith drove the puck to the net and snuck a perfect pass to Marchessault for the 3-1 lead. Vegas fought off a 6-on-4 disadvantage with time winding down and secured their 3-1 victory in San Jose.

Vegas’ record improves to 20-13-6 as they head home for their second of a back-to-back. The Golden Knights will host the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night for their last game before the Christmas break. Puck drops at 7PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights played a solid game in their own end through the first 40 minutes of hockey keeping every chance to the outside. Then, after scoring one they had a few breakdowns and let San Jose back in the game. However, the response from Vegas was excellent coming at the Sharks in waves and scoring twice to seal a third win against the Sharks in 2019-20. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.

  • Schmidt and McNabb have been sacrificed to allow Theodore to blossom.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Reilly Smith
** Shea Theodore
* Malcolm Subban

Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks Photo Gallery – November 21st, 2019

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Logan Couture: “We’re Not Going To Out-Skill Them”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture isn’t being offered free drinks in this town any time soon. Neither will his coach Pete DeBoer, but they’re not bitter. Couture had no issues complimenting the level of skill in Las Vegas.

We’re not going to out-skill them. Their lineup compared to ours has a little bit more skill up front. -Logan Couture

After their 2-1 OT victory against the Golden Knights, Couture explained why the win felt better than most.

For sure. We only dressed eleven… then we were down to ten forwards and six d, and found a way. I thought we kind of defended, just defended the last ten minutes to try and get that to overtime. -Couture

The Sharks captain scored the OT winner, picking up their first points against Vegas this season. Couture knows the Golden Knights lineup better than most NHL players. In eleven regular season games, Couture has 8 points (4 Goals, 4 Assists) with a plus/minus of -10. Also, add in the 13 postseason games and it’s fairly obvious he’s aware of his opponent.

Anytime we play these guys it’s going to be tough. They’re a very good team. At the end of the year they’re going to be near the top of the division. -Couture

He’s on a shortlist of players Golden Knights fans like to heckle most but overall it doesn’t cloud his vision. Same goes for the Sharks coach.

Big character win for us. A lot of things stacked against us with done of the injuries in the lineup. Obviously, with what’s happened the last couple of times we’ve been here.- DeBoer

DeBoer referenced the past poor performances his team has had in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of fire in this rivalry, but the biggest reason it’s such a great rivalry is that both teams are so good, and when they are chirping at each other, they aren’t afraid to say it.

SAN JOSE SHARKS 2 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (11-9-4 26 PTS) – OT

Recap: Vegas allowed San Jose to get on the board first however, Gerard Gallant used an early challenge. Gallant ended up being right and the goal was called off because goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was interfered with. The 1st period would end in scoreless tie.

Timo Meier would score quickly to start the 2nd period giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Vegas would get a power play opportunity but couldn’t convert. After 40 minutes of action, the Golden Knights trailed the Sharks by one.

Down 1-0 to start the 3rd period, Vegas worked hard to get back in the game. Brayden McNabb would tie the game for Vegas midway through the period.

The game went to OT where it was a wild back and forth period. A few one-on-none breaks materialized and Logan Couture finished off the game winner.

Vegas’ record falls to 11-9-4. The Golden Knights get back on the ice Saturday to welcome in Connor McDavid and at the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: There’s really not much wrong with the way the Golden Knights played in the game aside from the outcome. It took a bit for the game to really get going, but by the middle of the 1st period Vegas started to take over. They created plenty of chances but couldn’t beat a hot goaltender enough to win the game.

It’s frustrating because it’s yet another game in which Vegas played well enough to win, but didn’t. At least this time they got a point. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Shark at T-Mobile Arena

  • Logan Couture once again spews positivity on the Golden Knights
  • Photo gallery from the game

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nate Schmidt
** Marc-Andre Fleury
* Brayden McNabb

Vegas Has History Of Clinching Games In The Opening Minutes Vs SJS

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In their first two games of the 2019-2020 season, the Golden Knights have scored three goals in the opening ten minutes. It was a point of emphasis for the opponent after the opening night matchup against San Jose.

The key in this building is getting through the first ten minutes. And we didn’t do that.-Pete DeBoer, Sharks Head Coach

It’s not just this season, it dates back to the inaugural 2017-18 campaign. Under Gerard Gallant, the Golden Knights have a track record of taking quick control of the game, especially against the Sharks. Just look at how Vegas handles San Jose at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights have a clear advantage in the opening ten minutes.

11/24/17: VGK 5 SJ 4
Shea Theodore Goal At 2:33 1st Period
James Neal Goal At 11:16 1st Period

3/31/18: VGK 3 SJ 2
Shea Theodore Goal At 2:21 1st Period

4/26/18: Game 1- VGK 7 SJ 0
Cody Eakin Goal At 4:31 1st Period
Erik Haula Goal At 4:57 1st Period
Jon Marchessault Goal At 6:02 1st Period
Alex Tuch Goal At 11:43 1st Period

11/24/18: VGK 6 SJ 0
William Karlsson Goal At 0:14 1st Period
Colin Miller Goal At 4:40 1st Period
Max Pacioretty Goal At 9:29 1st Period

01/10/19: SJ 3 VGK 2
Tomas Nosek Goal At 1:34 1st Period

04/14/19: Game 3- VGK 6 SJ 3
Mark Stone Goal At 0:14 1st Period
Max Pacioretty Goal At 12:43 1st Period

04/16/19: Game 4- VGK 5 SJ 0
Max Pacioretty Goal At 1:11 1st Period

10/02/19: VGK 4 SJ 1
Mark Stone Goal At 3:46 1st Period
Reilly Smith Goal At 5:21 1st Period

VGK/SJ History Totals:

VGK is 7-1-0 against San Jose when they score in the opening 10 minutes of a game
VGK scored 16 Goals against San Jose in the opening 13 minutes
VGK scored two or more goals in 5 separate games

Is it as simple as having a ‘race out of the gate’ mentality? Or is it the atmosphere at the T-Mobile Arena?

I think it’s a little bit of both. -Marc Andre Fleury

And nobody benefits more from the quick starts than the goalie.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 SAN JOSE SHARKS 1 (2-0-0 4 PTS)

The Golden Knights traveled to San Jose for the first time since their heartbreaking Game 7 loss in last season’s postseason series.

Vegas started the game off fast yet again as William Carrier scored his first of the season at the 5:01 marker of the 1st period. The Golden Knights had multiple scoring chances but couldn’t convert until 14:09 in the period. Jonathan Marchessault tallied his first goal of the 2019-2020 season, giving his team a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.

The 2nd period was a lot more defensive as the Golden Knights fought off two Sharks power plays and kept them scoreless through 30 minutes. With ten minutes left in the period, Brayden McNabb added his first career shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 Vegas. Tomas Nosek would join the party and score his first of the season. After 40 minutes in the books, the Golden Knights held a commanding 4-0 lead.

Vegas did everything they could to preserve the shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury in the third period. Nosek added his second and the team’s second shorthanded goal of the game to extend the lead 5-0. San Jose would later break the shutout with a power play goal. After a few skirmishes, the game ended 5-1 as the Golden Knights once again dominated the Sharks.

The Golden Knights remain undefeated (2-0) and head back home for a game against the Boston Bruins. Boston (1-0) will travel to Las Vegas for an out of conference battle. Puck drops at 7pm. (Recap by Jason)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks at SAP Center

  • Max Pacioretty singled out a tiny play that told him everything he needed to know about Cody Glass

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Brayden McNabb
** Marc-Andre Fleury
* Tomas Nosek

Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks Opening Night Photo Gallery – October 2nd, 2019

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