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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.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 SEATTLE KRAKEN 2 (38-28-4 80 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights looked to make it a two-game sweep in Seattle. Jack Eichel opened the scoring midway through the opening period scoring his 8th as a Golden Knight. Logan Thompson started in goal again and was flawless through 20 minutes.

It didn’t take long in the 2nd period for Eichel to notch his 9th goal of the season. Vegas took a 2-0 lead 1:26 into the middle frame. Shea Theodore tripled Vegas’ lead with his second goal in back-to-back games. The Golden Knights held a 3-0 lead going into the 2nd intermission.

Vegas kept up the pressure in the final period making it difficult for Seattle’s offense. Seattle broke through to bust up the shutout before Jonathan Marchessault added the empty-netter to seal it. Seattle would grab one back but William Karlsson hit another empty net for a final of 5-2.

The Golden Knights’ record improves to 38-28-4 picking up four total points in Seattle. Vegas will take a short trip to Vancouver for a matchup with the Canucks on Sunday night. Puck drop is set for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis:  The Kraken are very bad. Vegas is definitely better than them. I’m not sure I trust these wins, but I’ll absolutely take them. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena.

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Seattle Tonight, Eager Vancouver Next

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

I’m sure many Golden Knights fans were up scoreboard watching last night hoping the Dallas Stars and LA Kings would each drop two points. Unfortunately, both teams teased local fans and won in overtime and a shootout. My suggestion, pace yourself. With many tight races there could be some stressful nights ahead.

Tonight, the Golden Knights will play an opponent they have and should handle easily. Of course, it’s possible Seattle ends Vegas’ three-game win streak but in reality, the visiting team should leave with four points. It’ll alleviate some pressure heading into Sunday’s game against Vancouver.

I told a story today. I said my first year coaching in the NHL we needed to win 12 out of the last 13 games,” and we did. And we had to win the last seven and we did to get in by one point. These things happen. By no stretch does anybody, unless they’re lying to me, think that we’re done. But, I mean, we have to go on a pretty good run.-Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

After Seattle, Vegas will face an eager Vancouver team in an old-fashioned home-and-home matchup. The two teams meet up a final time on April 12th. While the playoffs look dim for the Canucks, they are led by a coach that thrives as an afterthought. There’s no doubt Vancouver will be in postseason mode against Vegas. Essentially, their season could come down to the next two games.

I try to stay away from the big things and try and make it more palatable. They can buy into and say ‘all we have to do is play good tonight and let’s worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.’-Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

I’m sure Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer has his own anecdotes and stories he passes along to his players as well. The only difference is Vancouver needs a miracle to survive while Vegas is expected to participate in the playoffs. DeBoer would be ecstatic picking up another win tonight and four combined points against the Kraken. The Golden Knights longest winning streak is five games so he’s aware it’s unlikely to continue against other desperate teams. It’s vital to pluck points from every lottery team left on Vegas’ schedule.

  • Tonight @ Seattle
  • April 9th vs. Arizona
  • April 18th vs. New Jersey
  • April 24th vs. San Jose
  • April 27th @ Chicago

The Golden Knights are fully aware that if they take advantage of lighter opponents the playoffs will be in their grasp. They cannot afford to let games slip away so it’s only worth focusing on one game at a time. Take control of the next three games and Vegas will nearly eliminate Vancouver, and be in a temporary playoff position. Then they’ll likely need to sweep their Alberta trip and leapfrog Dallas in the final week of the season.

Nevermind my earlier advice, after tonight the stress level will be unbearable. Hopefully, we’ll get a night off from scoreboard watching.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 SEATTLE KRAKEN 0 (37-28-4 78 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights were awarded two early power plays but couldn’t take advantage of either. Each team had several chances but the game was locked in a scoreless tie after the opening twenty minutes.

After taking a high sticking penalty Shea Theodore broke loose from the penalty box and took a beautiful stretch pass from Jonas Rondbjerg. Theodore backhanded the puck into the Kraken’s net for a 1-0 Golden Knights lead.

Vegas doubled their lead seven minutes into the final period to take a 2-0 lead. The Golden Knights did a good job limiting the Kraken’s chances and goaltender Logan Thompson was sharp in net picking up his first career shutout. VGK added an empty netter late.

The Golden Knights record improves to 37-28-4 defeating the Kraken 3-0 in Seattle. Vegas will stay in Seattle to play another game against the Kraken on Friday night. Puck drop against the Kraken is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis:  It wasn’t exactly a great performance by the Golden Knights, but they were certainly better than the team on the other side. Vegas relied mostly on shots from the point which generated nothing, but they were the recipient of a terrible turnover by Seattle to create the first goal and then one the Kraken put into their own goal. A win is a win though and VGK need all of them they can get. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena.

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Consecutive Games Against Same Opponent Has Suited Golden Knights Well

In the first 68 games this season, the Golden Knights have not played the same opponent in consecutive games a single time. That’s about to change with the next four games. Tomorrow Vegas heads to Seattle to play the Kraken twice in a row before they depart for Vancouver for a home and home against the Canucks.

Normally, in the NHL this is a rarity. Over the course of the Golden Knights’ first three seasons, they played the same team in consecutive games just three times. 2017-18 had pairs of games against the Coyotes early in the season and the Kings right at the trade deadline. 2019-20 included a season-opening duo against the Sharks following the wild seven-game series the year before.

On each of those three occasions, the same team won both games. Vegas swept Arizona and San Jose and the Kings took both off Vegas. That also is considered a rarity.

The back-to-back, it’s the old college hockey thing, it’s really hard to sweep a team. -Pete DeBoer

This was a massive talking point heading into last season when COVID restrictions forced nearly the entire schedule to consist of back-to-back games against the same team.

For Vegas though, it actually ended up working out in their favor.

We did do it a lot last year and we were successful. -DeBoer

The schedule worked out fine for the Golden Knights, but we don’t ever need to see this again. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights played a pair of games against the same team 19 different times. Vegas won both games 11 times against six of the seven other teams in the division. The Golden Knights only lost both games twice and each time it was to the same opponent, the Minnesota Wild. They even took a point in one of them too.

Vegas ripped off a 10 game winning streak last season in which the first eight were all in this exact situation. Winning pairs against Arizona, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose the Golden Knights then went on to beat the Ducks and Avs to finish the stretch.

Using this “college hockey” style schedule, the Golden Knights went on to rack up the most points of any team in the league, tied with Colorado, and they hoisted the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against during the season.

Now, Vegas is in need of points in the worst way. With two against Seattle and two more against Vancouver, seven or eight points has to be the goal. Conventional wisdom says that’s going to be tough given the mini-series against each team, but history indicates the exact opposite.

If VGK can channel their inner 2021, they have a great chance of amassing points in bunches this week off the backs of two inferior opponents.

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.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 SEATTLE KRAKEN 2 (7-6-0 14 PTS)

Recap:  The Golden Knights fell behind early when the Seattle Kraken scored on their first power play of the game. Alex Pietrangelo tied the game off a point shot under :30 left in the opening period. After 20 minutes the game was knotted up 1-1.

Both offenses were quiet for 19 minutes of the middle frame when the scoring picked up. Seattle took the lead :31 seconds remaining but Vegas came back and tied the game :15 seconds later.

Shea Theodore broke the tie immediately to start the 3rd period for the Goldren Knights. Less than a minute later Reilly Smith scored Vegas’ first home power play goal of the young season. Seattle pulled their goaltender with close to three minutes left but Robin Lehner stood tall and preserved a 4-2 victory.

The Golden Knights record improves to 7-6-0, taking the first game of their six game homestand. Vegas’ next welcomes the Minnesota Wild on Thursday for their first meeting of the season. Puck drop at The Fortress is scheduled for 7P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: In what will go down as their best defensive effort of the season, the Golden Knights weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire offensively. However, they did well enough to get constant traffic in front of the net which led to a couple soft goals from Chris Driedger. All in all, that’s a game the Golden Knights needed to win, they fell behind twice, but were able to grab the two points. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Seattle Kraken game at T-Mobile Arena.

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Uncharacteristic Defensive Lapses Haunting VGK To Start Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Pick a stat, any stat really, and it’ll paint an ugly picture of how poor the Golden Knights have been defensively through three games. It’s something that’s been out of the norm for the Golden Knights as a franchise and even more so since Pete DeBoer took over 21 months ago.

Many will point to the guy standing between the pipe simply because the name on his back does not roughly translate to Flower, but the reality is the Golden Knights have gotten above average, bordering on great, goaltending through three games.

The problems lie with the skaters in front of Robin Lehner. It’s not just the six playing defense though, it’s the entire group of 18, albeit a different group so far in each of the first three games.

We gave up probably 10 Grade A chances in the 1st period which should be the number for the entire game. We’re not going to win games playing like that. -Reilly Smith

It’s a small sample size of just three games, but the Golden Knights lead the league on a per-game basis in shots against, scoring chances allowed, and high danger chances allowed. They are second in shot attempts conceded and expected goals against, and they are in the top 10 in literally every other negative category NHL stats keep.

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System Tweak May Change The Style Of Game Golden Knights Are Used To Seeing

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

If you watched last night’s season opener between the Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken you probably noticed a bit more of a wide-open game than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Vegas since Pete DeBoer took over.

At first blush, most of the credit for that would seem to belong to the expansion team, coming in with a highly aggressive style in all three zones, one that both caused them to fall into a 3-0 hole but also climb out of it. But, a tweak to the Golden Knights system may have played as big a role in the look and feel of that game as well.

If there’s one thing the Golden Knights know they must do this season, it’s learn how to generate more offense than they have when the going gets tough in the playoffs. It was going to take some soul searching, some creativity, and a willingness to try something new.

This has been a historically great rush team. We all know rush dries up in the playoffs, everybody is more diligent in their checking. So, how do you create more rush? -Pete DeBoer

The answer the Golden Knights came up with is what Alex Pietrangelo dubbed a “new neutral zone.” It’s a systematic tweak Pete DeBoer and his coaching staff have implemented into the Golden Knights forecheck as the opposing team exits their own zone and makes their way through the neutral zone.

We’ll get into the X’s and O’s of it as the season progresses, but the simple way to describe the difference is in the Golden Knights’ increased willingness to try and jump passing lanes and/or hound the player receiving the first pass.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 SEATTLE KRAKEN 3 (1-0-0 2 PTS)

Recap:  The Golden Knights hosted the expansion Seattle Kraken for the start of the 2021-22 season. Vegas jumped on Seattle early in the opening period. Max Pacioretty scored the season’s first goal 3:10 in and Jonathan Marchessault added one a few minutes later. Goaltender Robin Lehner stopped all nine shots he faced in the first period.

Pacioretty tipped in a Nic Hague laser in the middle period giving the home squad a commanding 3-0 lead. However, Seattle woke up and scored two goals in 1:12 to get within one. After 40 minutes of play the Golden Knights held a 3-2 advantage.

Seattle surprisingly climbed all the way back to tie the game 3-3 in the third period but Vegas would catch a break to regain the lead. Chandler Stephenson legally deflected a puck into the Krakens net off his skate making it a 4-3 contest.

The Golden Knights win their first game of the 2021-22 season 4-3 over the expansion Seattle Kraken. Vegas will head to LA for their first road game of the season on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights were in for quite a fight taking on the expansion team in their first game. They hung in there as the Kraken came out flying and waited for their chances. When they came, VGK buried three of them. Then, as Seattle stormed back, Vegas stayed under control, kept their heads and found a way to get the lead right back. That’s an experienced great hockey team beating an inexperienced one. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Seattle Kraken game at T-Mobile Arena.

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