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VGK Set To Advance Next Postseason Against Weak Pacific

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Throughout team history, Vegas averages 102 points over an 82 game season. This season, 102 points would’ve earned Vegas a third place finish in the Pacific Division and a seven game series against Edmonton. There’s a strong case that a healthy Golden Knights roster would’ve given the Oilers a run for their money.

There are no excuses and we need to have a good start and go from there, but this is part of playoff hockey and you’re going to go through adversity. There are no easy games and no easy series, so we’re going to be prepared to go .-Ryan Nugent Hopkins, EDM forward

So far, only the Central Division has had a team eliminated. In a few days, it’s possible two of three Pacific Division teams are sent home packing as well. Sure, Calgary is up a game but Dallas hasn’t been an easy opponent. In the other western series, the Oilers have fallen right into the trap of the underdog Kings. It’s premature but none of the three Pacific teams are looking like favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Let’s say the Golden Knights are healthy enough next season to make the playoffs. If they top off at 102 points they would likely be the second or third team coming out of the Pacific. In that case, Vegas would be guaranteed to face off against a divisional rival. Chances are the familiar faces will be in play in 2022-23. Which statistically favors the Golden Knights.

It’s not just about scoring. There’s a lot more to the game than that.-Daryl Sutter, CGY coach

Since 2017-18, Vegas has a total of 464 points. The Golden Knights have earned more than a third from inside their division. Excluding the now Central Division Coyotes, the Golden Knights have tallied 176 Pacific Division points in 119 games. That’s a hearty .676 winning % against the teams Vegas faces most and in the opening rounds of the playoffs.

Golden Knights fans have now watched how predictable the Pacific division has been for half a decade. LA in and Vegas out was the only real surprise over that period. The landscape will likely stay the same next season.

When the oddsmakers set the lines for next season’s divisional leaders the Golden Knights are likely to be the favorite. Other teams have areas to address as well. Calgary will have to make some big decisions, so will Edmonton, San Jose and Vancouver. LA’s quick climb to the postseason will be interesting if it keeps up, especially if a healthy Vegas team is rolling. In year six no matter what changes have been made the Golden Knights will have a chance to fight for the division and form a path to another conference final. It’s that easy, depending on offseason changes.

SAN JOSE SHARKS 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 (41-31-6 90 PTS) – SO (1-0)

Recap: The Golden Knights allowed the opening goal for the sixth straight game giving the Sharks the first lead. Minutes later Chandler Stephenson evened the score 1-1 with a power play goal.

Max Pacioretty gave Vegas their first lead of the contest 7:46 into the middle frame. At the midway point of the period William Carrier buried a one time pass from Keegan Kolesar to extend the Golden Knights advantage 3-1. The Sharks scored late in the period to get within one.

Nic Roy stretched the Golden Knights lead 6:35 into the final 20 minutes. Shockingly, the Sharks were able to even the score and force overtime. Vegas eventually lost in a shootout missing out on a very important point.

The Golden Knights record improves to 42-31-6 falling to the Sharks 5-4 in shootouts. Vegas picks up only one point and trail Dallas by three points for the final Wild Card position. The Golden Knights travel to Dallas for the biggest game of the season on Tuesday night. Puck drop against the Stars is set for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights put on a forechecking clinic against a team that struggles to break out of the defensive zone. They parlayed that into a bundle of shots and enough chances to put a bunch past James Reimer. However, Vegas fell asleep for a couple minutes down the stretch with the SJS goalie pulled and blew a two goal lead. Then, they couldn’t capitalize on a power play in OT. Then they didn’t score a single goal in shootout. They drop a point and they no longer control their own destiny. (Recap by Ken)


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

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

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 SAN JOSE SHARKS 1 (30-20-4 64 PTS)

Recap: It didn’t take long for the Golden Knights to get on the board as Keegan Kolesar fired home a nifty feed from Brett Howden. Vegas got numerous odd-man breaks through the rest of the 1st but couldn’t extend the lead past 1-0.

San Jose answered back early in the 2nd, but the Golden Knights responded with a classic Misfit Line transition goal by Reilly Smith. After two, VGK had only conceded 10 shots on goal.

Smith tacked on another one early in the 3rd on a beautiful play from Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson. From there, the Golden Knights clamped down on defense allowing almost nothing of danger the rest of the period.

The Golden Knights win their 30th of the season and earn Pete DeBoer his 500th career victory pushing their record to 30-20-4. Next up is an Eastern Conference foe, the Boston Bruins. Puck drop at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday is at 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis:  San Jose is terrible. VGK baited them into giving up transition chances all night, and the Sharks obliged. I still wouldn’t say Vegas has broken out of their scoring funk, but they finished enough to win this game. (Recap by Ken)


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

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 SAN JOSE SHARKS 1 (29-18-4 62 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights traveled to San Jose with the intention of snapping their three-game losing streak. Vegas wore down San Jose during a 1st period four minute power play allowing Keegan Kolesar to score his fifth goal of the season. Four minutes later Jack Eichel scored his first as a Golden Knight to stretch Vegas’ lead 2-0.

In the opening minutes of the middle period Max Pacioretty snapped a puck on net that fooled San Jose’s goaltender. The scoring play was reviewed but the refs awarded Pacioretty his 15th goal of 2021-22. 

The Golden Knights continued to control the game in the final frame. Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson was sharp in net stopping all but one of San Jose’s shots on net. Chandler Stephenson put the game out of reach with a last-minute empty-net score.

The Golden Knights record improves to 29-18-4 defeating the Sharks 4-1 to break their three game losing streak. Vegas will have a few days before they take on the Coyotes Friday night in Arizona. Puck drop is set for 6:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Vegas came out in the first period and did enough offensively to grab a lead against a reeling Sharks team. From there, they kind of let San Jose grow into the game, but they were strong enough to never really feel threatened. Thompson was excellent all night. (Recap by Ken)


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

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VGK’s Head-To-Head Dominance Over Pacific Division Slipping

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the Golden Knights entered the NHL they’ve done nothing but dominate the Pacific Division.

Not just in the overall standings, in which the Golden Knights have won the division two of the three years they’ve competed in it, but also in the postseason where Vegas has been the last team standing three of the four playoff seasons.

One of the main reasons for this dominance has been the head-to-head play between the teams. Of the six teams still in the division (Arizona left for the Central), the Golden Knights had a combined record of 68-21-8 record coming into this season. That’s 144 points in just 97 games or a points percentage of .742. Against all other teams, VGK have earned 226 points in 194 games for a points percentage of .583.

Literally almost 40% of the points the Golden Knights have earned in franchise history have come on the backs of just six teams. But this year it hasn’t gone as well.

Record against ANA, CGY, EDM, LAK, SJS, and VAN
21-22: 2-4-0 (.333)
20-21: 21-3-0 (.875)
19-20: 13-5-2  (.700)
18-19: 18-8-3 (.672)
17-18: 16-5-3 (.729)

The Golden Knights have won just two games against Pacific Division opponents not named Seattle while dropping four. They’ve lost both division games they’ve played on the road (at LAK, at ANA) and have allowed their opponent to grab at least a point in every game but one, a game they trailed 2-0 six minutes in (vs VAN).

Winning in the division has been a staple for the Golden Knights’ success and one has to wonder what their overall record will look like if they are not amassing huge point totals against the Pacific Division.

Obviously, Seattle has helped as Vegas has beaten them twice in two tries, both in regulation. However, those games were both at T-Mobile Arena and the Kraken appear to be improving as the season progresses. The next two matchups in late March and early April may not be as easy.

There are still 18 games left against division opponents. Including Seattle, the Golden Knights have recorded eight points in the first eight games. To reach their normal pace against the division (.742), they’d need to go 15-2-1.

Making that even trickier, 10 of the 18 games are on the road, including a pair in Edmonton and Calgary who are in 1st and 2nd in the division.

Adding this all up, the fact of the matter is, the Golden Knights are going to need to play much better out of division than they ever have before to reach the playoffs.

There’s no better time than now to start that as nine of the next 10 games are out of the division.

San Jose An Example How To Turn Around Canadian Road Trip

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was a tough start to their four-game road trip. Travel, time zone change and adding insult to several injuries, the Golden Knights were forced to cover Austin Matthews and Mitch Marner without another impact player. The Maple Leafs’ high-end talent took advantage of a beaten up Golden Knights lineup and eventually cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Their best players were on tonight. It was one of those nights, and with the lineup we’ve got right now, we’re going to have to red line every night in all areas in order to compete, especially against good teams, and that’s a real good team. -Pete DeBoer

Sure, the odds were stacked against Vegas but it was all but over after the second goal of the game. The Leafs are an excellent 35-2-3 when Marner and Matthews score in the same game, so it would have been nearly impossible for even a healthy Golden Knights roster to win under those conditions.

The focus now shifts to how the road trip finishes.

Big ask tonight when you look at what we’re dealing with. I think our effort actually wasn’t an issue. I thought we didn’t execute against a team that puts a lot of heat on you, and they put a lot of pressure on us in tough areas. -DeBoer

This season the Golden Knights are 2-2-0 on the road with three upcoming games to improve their record. Stealing 4-6 points over the next three games would send Vegas back home with their heads held high.

A couple of weeks back Pacific rival San Jose Sharks swept their trip to Eastern Canadian. Unlike Vegas, San Jose’s first matchup began in Montreal and ended in Toronto. Against the Canadiens, the Sharks scored two in the first four minutes to ignite a 5-0 victory. Montreal was/is reeling and San Jose pounced on them in several different ways. The Golden Knights have enough weapons in their current lineup to win in a similar fashion.

The Sharks received two goals from rookie Jonathan Dahlen, one from defenseman Erik Karlsson and two on the power play. Between Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Alec Martinez and Nic Hague, the Golden Knights have plenty of options from the blue line. Without piling on, Vegas can’t rely on their power play but they may have enough offense to win a low-scoring affair. Now would be the time for 20-year-old Peyton Krebs to start contributing and registering points. The 2019 1st rounder is young and learning on the fly but he’s pointless through nine games this season and has just 10 shots. Vegas could really use his offensive skill as one goal could change their road trip. No matter who’s in the lineup, there should be plenty of motivation to squash the Canadiens after last season’s six-game semifinal defeat.

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SAN JOSE SHARKS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 0 (Preseason Game 7)

Recap:  The Golden Knights started slowly again struggling to even get a shot on net in the 1st period. The first two Sharks shots both beat Lehner giving San Jose a 2-0 lead at the break.

Vegas’ struggles continued into the 2nd as they conceded again on a play in which Nic Hague ran into Zach Whitecloud leading to a 2-on-0 break.

Pete DeBoer shuffled the lines in the 3rd but that didn’t help either as the Sharks continued the scoring with a 4th goal.

The Golden Knights end the preseason with a record of 3-4-0, the worst in preseason in team history. Opening Night is next on Tuesday against the Seattle Kraken at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights stunk… again. Real games next, expecting much more from Vegas in that one than we’ve seen in these last two. (Recap by Ken)


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

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Will The Pacific Division Be More Challenging For Vegas in 2021-22?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After four NHL seasons the Golden Knights have benefited by playing in the Pacific Division. Since 2017, Vegas has played 113 games against their divisional “rivals” and tallied a total of 168 out of a possible 226 points. That’s an astonishing .743 Points % against the Pacific Division in four seasons.

Hockey’s been a little bit tough with our team not being very good the last few years and not getting back to the playoffs… Things are looking up for us now. We got some new players and some young guys coming up. I’m excited for this season to start.- Drew Doughty, LAK defenseman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Let’s be honest, it’s been easy street for the Golden Knights since they entered the league.

VGK All-Time Record vs. Pacific Division

vs. Anaheim: 20 Games (17-3-0) 34 Pts, .850 Pts %, 74 Goals For, 37 Goals Allowed, +37 Goal Differential

vs. Arizona: 20 Games (14-6-0) 28 Pts, .700 Pts %, 57 Goals For, 46 Goals Allowed, + 11 Goal Differential

vs. Calgary: 11 Games (8-3-0) 16 Pts, .727 Pts %, 42 Goals For, 31 Goals Allowed, + 11 Goal Differential

vs. Edmonton: 11 Games (6-4-1) 13 Pts, .591 Pts %, 35 Goals For, 31 Goals Allowed, +4 Goal Differential

vs. LA: 21 Games (11-8-2) 24 Pts, .571 Pts %, 63 Goals For, 60 Goals Allowed, +3 Goal Differential

vs. San Jose: 20 Games (16-1-3) 35 Pts, .875 Pts %, 78 Goals For, 40 Goals Allowed, +38 Goal Differential

vs. Vancouver: 10 Games (8-0-2) 18 Pts, .900 Pts %, 45 Goals For, 26 Goals Allowed, +19 Goal Differential

Since their existence the Golden Knights have proven to be the team to beat in the Pacific. Vegas has a positive goal differential against every team in the division and holds an overall goal differential of +123, talk about dominance. All indications show it should be the same in 2021-22.

Only a few west coast teams have kept their games with Vegas competitive but still not enough to threaten their path to the playoffs. Sure, San Jose won their seven game series in 2019 but in the regular season it’s been embarrassingly lopsided. Since that series three postseasons ago, the Sharks have been a non-factor in the Pacific, same goes for Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver. However, two clubs that will make things more difficult for Vegas this season are the Kings and Oilers. Each team has challenged Vegas in the regular season being edged out by one game in their series history with the 31st franchise.

While it’s hard to make judgements based off two exhibition games but it’s safe to say that Los Angeles is an improved club. Even with a lack of talent in their lineup the King’s have competed in most matchups. Coming into 2021-22, LA and Knight killer Philip Danault will continue to frustrate VGK’s offensive threats. Coveted prospects are performing at a high level and LA’s star veterans could create further problems for Vegas and the rest of the Pacific Division.

There’s not much to say about Edmonton. As long as they dress Connor McDavid every game is up in the air. Same can be said for the newest team in hockey. Seattle is the biggest wildcard in the division. Based on what the Golden Knights did in their inaugural season you’d be a fool to count out the Kraken. Calgary, San Jose and Vancouver are expected to finish below Vegas but one of those three teams could make a surprising push for the postseason.

All in all, the Pacific Division is still considered relatively weak but has improved. Vegas is the only team that isn’t being doubted by analysts across the league. The other seven teams have questions to answer and it should be a tight battle for two of three divisional playoff spots. Although the Pacific may have gotten better and could make it more difficult for Vegas to run away with the division but it’s still the Golden Knights to lose.

SAN JOSE SHARKS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (Preseason Game 1) 2-1 SJS Shootout

Recap: It may have been an exhibition game but Vegas fans cheered like it was Game 1 of the regular season. The Golden Knights hosted the San Jose Sharks for their first preseason game of the year from T-Mobile Arena

San Jose took the first lead of the game 15:29 into the first period and added another 1:02 into the second frame. Down two goals, Vegas’ Paul Cotter took advantage of his ice time and flipped one by Sharks goalie Adin Hill. Cotter received a nice pass from linemates Jack Dugan and Brett Howden to finish off the rush to put the Golden Knights on the scoreboard. San Jose would score again to take a two goal lead into the second intermission.

Newcomers Evengii Dadonov and Nolan Patrick had some strong plays on 5-on-5 and the Power Play. Dadonov made a nifty move in front of San Jose’s net collecting the puck and trying to jam it through Hill’s pads. Patrick had a beautiful tip attempt on the side of the Sharks goal that just missed the open corner of the net. On the power play both players were involved cresting a nice slot opportunity for Dadonov.

Patrick would register a power play point early in the third when Max Pacioretty chopped in a loose puck to get Vegas within one. Dadonov and Pacioretty connected later for a great chance midway through the third that was stopped by San Jose. The Sharks would regain their two goal lead 4-2 with a quick goal on a late game power play. Vegas fought down the stretch but couldn’t close the gap.

The Golden Knights drop their first preseason 4-2 to the Sharks. Vegas prepares to take on the Colorado Avalanche this Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drops at 7 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Golden Knights looks out of sorts for a good portion of this first preseason game. A few times here and there they’d get good shifts (mostly from the middle-six) but for the most part it was few and far between. They lost the fake shootout too.


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