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ST. LOUIS BLUES 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (13-3-0 26 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights were back home for the first time since late October riding a nine-game win streak. Vegas welcomed the struggling St. Louis Blues for their first meeting of the 2022-23 season. The Blues took the first lead of game, but Reilly Smith evened the score with a shorthanded goal 59 seconds later. After the opening 20 minutes, the game was locked in a 1-1 tie.

Phil Kessel gave Vegas the 2-1 lead 2:43 into the 2nd period but St. Louis fought back. The Blues tied and took the lead within a :46 span taking a 3-2 advantage into the 2nd intermission.

The game tightened up in the final period as the Golden Knights had to kill two penalties in the opening two minutes. The Golden Knights had several opportunities to match the score but eventually fell 3-2.

The Golden Knights’ record drops to 13-3-0 snapping their nine-game win streak. Vegas will rest up and prepare for a divisional matchup against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. Puck drop against the Sharks is scheduled for 7 PM at T-Mobile Arena. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It just took too long for the Golden Knights to get going offensively in this game. That in addition to the fact that the 2nd period was an uphill battle for a full 20 minutes. Adin Hill was good for most of the game but a miscommunication led to a crucial goal. Can’t win them all, and this is one of the rare instances where the Golden Knights didn’t deserve one. (Recap by Ken)

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Bruce Cassidy Not The Only Coach Frustrated With Preseason Defeats

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This weekend the Golden Knights had their worst outing of the preseason. Vegas lost 7-3 to the San Jose Sharks and their head coach was not happy with their effort.

It’s an attention-getter. You’ve played your games you’ve been at Training Camp, we’re not nearly where we need to be so we’ve got to get the hell back to work the next time we reconvene. That to me is the message that will be sent when we get back together. -Bruce Cassidy

In most cases, exhibition games are considered tune-ups and extended tryouts for prospects. However, with the brief time Bruce Cassidy has had with his new club, every shift counts. With only eight days before Vegas opens the 2022-23 season, it’s vital the Golden Knights continue to learn and execute their leader’s instructions.

After three preseason contests Vegas looked as if they had absorbed their coach’s new defensive look. On Friday night it fell apart. So of course Cassidy was frustrated with the results. This weekend, the Golden Knights coach wasn’t the only one to voice his concerns after lopsided defeats.

Tonight, a lot of the pressure in our D-zone we couldn’t handle it. We couldn’t handle their speed. Consequently they get the opportunities. We’re going to get better but it’s just not happening as quickly as I’d like it to be. -Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

After a 4-0 shutout, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan told the media he was reluctant to talk about his team’s effort. In Pennsylvania’s other metropolis, Flyers bench boss John Tortorella was focused on his player’s confidence. In St. Louis, coach Craig Berube was at a loss for words.

Not enough. We didn’t do enough all around. It wasn’t a very good game. We should’ve played better for them, it was a great crowd.-Craig Berube, Blues coach

This very well could be a ploy from Cassidy and other veteran coaches to get their players’ mentally before regular season action. If you ignore the score, there were several positives to take away from Vegas’ fourth exhibition game. Offensively, Jack Eichel looks dangerous and heathy, while Mark Stone flashed his play-making abilities in his return, and Paul Cotter continued his seemingly undeniable run at a roster spot.

Also, it should be noted that Jake Leschyshyn dropped gloves and defended himself after landing a clean but hard hit on a Sharks player. That’s the character and culture stuff that un-frustrates Cassidy and other coaches.

Playoffs A Reminder Health Isn’t Only Factor For Success

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Watching the Stanley Cup playoffs certainly has a different feel without the Golden Knights as participants. As we’ve been over many, many times since their season finale, injuries played a significant role in why the team is on the outside looking in. Halfway through the first round, it’s clear Vegas needed more than just their health to advance.

Western Conference Playoff Summary

  • 14-0 Team Scoring First
  • 8-6 Home Team
  • 4.25 Winning Team Average Goals
  • 3.22 Average Goal Differential Per Game
  • 1.8 Power Play Goals Per Win
  • 10-4 When Scoring PPG

Down the stretch, the Golden Knights had trouble picking up the first goal of game, received very little output from their power play, and lacked the ability to climb back and win from behind. On most nights in the playoffs, those elements would be a recipe for disaster. Not surprising, early consistent scoring is paying off in the postseason. So far, there have been 14 games played in the Western Conference, the team that scored the opening goal went on to win to all of them.

Naturally, lower-scoring teams focus on winning defensive battles helping them survive in a long series. Last night the LA Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 and evened the series by playing their signature suffocating style. The Oilers are +7 in goal differential but are in no better shape than the Kings.

The sixth highest-scoring team in the NHL’s regular season has only mustered up three goals in three games. The Calgary Flames averaged 3.55 goals per game in the first 82 but have been held to 2 goals or less in the last three. Yet, the 2.84 goals per game Dallas Stars hold a 2-1 series lead.

Western Conference Goals Scored Per Game

  • Colorado 5.33 (1 ENG)
  • Edmonton 4.25
  • Minnesota 3.25 (2 ENG)
  • St. Louis 3.00 (1 ENG)
  • Dallas 2.00 (2 ENG)
  • Nashville 2.00
  • LA 2.50 (1 ENG)
  • Calgary 1.0

Subtract empty netters, and the averages decrease for several Western Conference contenders. Making most games much tighter than the averages show. No matter who Vegas faced off against their periodic offensive struggles could’ve haunted them in the first round.

Turn back the clock to Vegas’ run to the semifinals last year. In six games against the Montreal Canadiens, the Golden Knights averaged 2.18 goals per game, scored the opening goal twice, and were blanked on the man-advantage.

Without a doubt, the Golden Knights’ front office is tuning in nightly like all of us. We’ve heard dozens of times the NHL is a copycat league, it’s possible VGK execs are picking up plays for their grease board. Why not take a few notes on Colorado’s lethal PP, or some offensive strategies from Edmonton, Minnesota, or St. Louis. Maybe, it’s best to watch Dallas and LA’s suffocating, everything to the outside type of defense. It may be the difference between making semis or the finals.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 7 ST. LOUIS BLUES 4 (42-31-8 94 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights started off the game well jumping all over the Blues by not allowing a single shot on goal for the first nine minutes. Mark Stone converted a power play goal to give Vegas the lead, but former VGK David Perron equalized a few minutes later.

In the 2nd, The Blues struck two to give themselves leads of 2-1 and 3-2, but goals from Jack Eichel and Zach Whitecloud sent the game to intermission even.

Vegas came out firing in the 3rd getting goals from both William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault early in the period and then adding another from Eichel and an empty netter from Max Pacioretty.

The Golden Knights finish the season with a record of 42-31-8 and finish in 4th place in the Pacific Division with 94 points. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Vegas actually played pretty well in a game that didn’t matter. But, the game didn’t matter, so who cares what actually happened in it? (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center.

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Vegas Needs Consistency To Manage Challenging Schedule

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Overall, it wasn’t a great weekend for the Golden Knights. They were unable to secure more than three points on their three-game road trip. The Kings, Predators, and Stars all won games as well. Time is running out. So, after an unrewarding weekend the Golden Knights need to quickly find consistency in their game and will need a little luck along the way as well.

Let’s start off positive. The Golden Knights play the 26-42-7 New Jersey Devils tonight at home. NHL computer models predict Vegas will defeat New Jersey fairly easily, so tack on two points to their total. That places them with 89 points, one point behind LA, and two behind Dallas and Nashville. With five games left that keeps Vegas in the hunt. At this late stage of the season that’s all you can really ask for.

We knew we weren’t going to run the table. We talked about that two weeks ago. We were going to drop some points along the way. We’re still right in the thick of things. -Pete DeBoer

After tonight’s game against the Devils, the Golden Knights schedule becomes more demanding. On paper, Vegas has the lineup to win out. Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty’s legs and lungs are building back to form. Thinking optimistically, if they contribute in all remaining games the Golden Knights can win most, if not all.

We’ve got to find a way to score goals in these tough games. In tight, especially. Teams are going to really tighten up in the D-zone here moving forward so we’ve got to find a way to bear down up front. -Alex Pietrangelo

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Teams Gearing Up For Jack Eichel Era In Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The football season is over and the spotlight has officially been handed over to the  Golden Knights and the NHL. It’s the time of year when fringe fans become real fans and the mainstream networks pay a little more attention. It’s a great time for the league. The playoff chase begins, divisional battles heat up, and teams are already beefing up for a potential matchup with the Golden Knights.

Jack Eichel’s highly-anticipated debut is not only creating news here in Las Vegas but across the league.

Calgary has proven this season that they can hang with Vegas. Now with the addition of Tyler Toffoli, the Flames offense became a lot more dangerous. The former LA King reunites with his old coach Darryl Sutter and brings a little kryptonite with him to Calgary. In last year’s semifinal loss to Montreal, Toffoli registered four points in six semifinal games against the Golden Knights. The former Canadien adds confidence and playoff success to a team that erased the Golden Knights 6-0 last week.

Why let someone else enter the race? I do think they were talking about the possibility of making it a Ben Chiarot trade too. At the end of the day Calgary decided ‘this is the guy we wanted, our coach knows him and we’re going out and getting him.’ This is exactly what they need, a scorer. He’s one of the best scorers available. –Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Now that Captain Mark Stone is on LTIR the playoff roster picture looks a lot clearer. We all know the drill, there would have been cap casualties had the captain been fit to play. Stone’s contract relief might be enough to create a loaded playoff roster that could force other clubs to make improvements.

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Western Teams Getting Ready To Beef Up For Vegas

It’s possible several big names will be dealt on or before the NHL’s trade deadline day this year. One team we expect to be sitting this one out is the Golden Knights, unless they are sellers, but that’s for another day. The local club already made their deadline deal in November by trading for center Jack Eichel. When you consider they’ll also be getting Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez back from injury, you could argue Vegas already won the deadline.

So, while the trade deadline may be boring for VGK fans it could be very busy for other fanbases. Specifically, teams that’ll have to face Vegas in the postseason. Some of those teams have lofty goals as well but most likely they’re not getting to the finals without going through Vegas first.

Edmonton

The Oilers are in trouble. The club isn’t scoring and they’re rapidly dropping in the standings. Even before Connor McDavid tested positive for COVID, the Oilers went on a miserable stretch scoring six goals in five games with a goal differential of -14. Currently, they’re on a five-game dip and are having a hard time digging out of it. Scoring is one problem up in Edmonton but it’s not their biggest.

It’s a brutal mistake. What are you going to do? Call it what it is. We’re playing well, and it’s a brutal mistake. Our goaltending wasn’t very good, and we didn’t get enough pucks to the net to get back in the game. -Dave Tippett, Oilers coach

With McDavid and Leon Draisital, the goals will eventually come but stopping them is a bigger concern. Tippett’s frustrations came out poorly, pointing his finger directly at goalie Mikko Koskinen. Which wasn’t taken well.

It’s not nice for anybody to be thrown under the bus. But this is how it goes in this business. When the team loses, it’s either coach or goalie who gets sacrificed. I have to be better, but at the same time we scored seven goals in my last six losses. I can’t score goals. It’s not only about goaltending when it comes to winning and losing. -Koskinen, Oilers goaltender

It’s understandable why Koskinen was iritated by his coach’s comments and good for him for responding but he should’ve kept it shorter. Now there a speculations that the goaltender has lost Edmonton’s locker room. So on top of his bloated 3.19 goals allowed average he’s creating friction. Bottom line is the Oilers are in the market for a goaltender. And surprise, surprise the biggest name on the market is tonight’s opponents netminder.

Fleury — who has a 10-team no-trade list — might be the biggest netminder name out there if available and none of the above teams has as great a need, or as much urgency to address it, as the Oilers. If Fleury was open to going to Edmonton, finding the right price could be tricky. He’s a rental and, presumably, the Hawks would need to retain cap space on his $7 million tag, so that could add an asset. With the other needs in Edmonton’s lineup, paying up for a rental at any position may not be the chosen course. But if you want someone who you could feel good about making a difference now, Fleury is it. -Rory Boylen, Sportsnet

Elliott Friedman also wrote about Fleury being an option, if the right deal was in place. The former face of the Golden Knights knows the division and has won in the West. Since 2017, the first year Blackhawk is 43-21-7 against the Pacific division and an overall record of 83-16-9 against Western Conference clubs. Fleury’s presence alone would immediately improve the problems in net for the Oilers.

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Up Two Or Down Two, Vegas Can Handle Either

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been said that a two goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. Silly, right? However, there’s some truth to it.

As you might expect, the absolute most dangerous lead in hockey is the one-goal lead as 85.35% of those were surrendered. That means either a game was tied up or the opponent took the lead back from them.

A two goal lead was given up 39.52%, seeing a two-goal lead given up nearly four out of every ten times is incredible. Think of the “dead puck” era when a two-goal lead essentially meant the game was over. Now? Not so much. Of the 463 times a team held a two-goal advantage, 183 times that team gave it up.- NBCSports.com

When a club is up two or more in a game, they tend to take their foot off the gas or play with a bit of unnatural risk. Not too mention trying to stop an angry, desperate team chasing goals. On Tuesday night in St. Louis it was a rare occurrence that a 2-0 lead wasn’t good enough for Pete DeBoer and his players.

We got the start we wanted for a change, and we talked about that, and we let them back in the game.-Pete DeBoer, VGK coach

No need for panic as it was the first time all season the Golden Knights blew a two goal advantage and lost. Vegas had spoiled puckline leads in the past but always found ways to win. The season opener against Seattle and the overtime scramble against Anaheim are two instances that stand out. In St. Louis the guard was let down too early and the Blues sensed it.

Original Golden Knight David Perron liked the Blues response on Tuesday night. Perron told Bally Sports Midwest that trailing by two only fueled his team.

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Blown Leads Becoming A Common Theme In VGK Games

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Inconsistency is always expected over the course of an 82-game regular season season. Throw in $30 million in injuries and it’s almost a given that there will be off nights a plenty.

However, that’s expected to be more from game to game, night to night, not necessarily period to period or shift to shift as the Golden Knights have been experiencing lately.

Over the last two games, the Golden Knights have experienced a major case of Jekyll and Hyde. Against Columbus they were horrible for 20 minutes, only to turn it around and put in the most convincing 40 minutes of the season. Then, in St. Louis, it was the opposite, great for 10 minutes, then miserable for 50.

Vegas is now 6-5-0 when scoring first, while being 5-3-0 when allowing the first goal. That’s eight games in 19 that have seen the team who concedes first go on to win (42%). In 2020-21, the Golden Knights played 56 games and the team who scored first lost just 14 of them (25%).

But it’s not just the first goal, it’s often the second too. VGK have been up at least a pair and gone on to see the lead disappear three times in 19 games. On the flip side though, they’ve been down at least two on four difference occasions and erased the lead as well.

All in all, there’s been game-tying goal in 13 of the 19 games this season, eight in which Vegas allowed it, and six in which VGK scored it (both happened in the Vancouver game).

Recovered Deficits

10/27 – at DAL – Overcome 1 goal deficit twice 1-0, 2-1 – Win
11/6 – at MTL – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0 – Win
11/9 – SEA – Overcome 1 goal deficit twice 1-0, 2-1 – Win
11/13 – VAN – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0, Win
11/16 – CAR – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0, Loss
11/20 – CBJ – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0, Win

Blown Leads

10/12 – SEA – Blow 3 goal lead 3-0 – Win
10/14 – @LAK – Blow 1 goal lead 1-0 – Loss
10/20 – STL – Blow 1 goal lead 1-0 – Loss
10/22 – EDM – Blow 1 goal lead twice 1-0, 2-1 – Loss
10/29 – ANA – Blow 3 goal lead 4-1 – Win
11/7 – at DET – Blow 1 goal lead 1-0 – Loss
11/13 – VAN – Blow 1 goal lead, twice 3-2, 4-3 – Win
11/22 – at STL – Blow 2 goal lead 2-0 – Loss

Maybe the oddest part of all of it has been the Golden Knights’ record in these topsy turvy games.

When they have recovered a deficit, the Golden Knights have gone on to win five of the six games. When they’ve blown a lead, they’ve come back and rescued the game three out of the eight. One has to wonder if these numbers will come back closer to even if this trend continues.

It’s a lot like the advanced analytic stat PDO. In hockey, things like this tend to even out. Right now, it looks like the Golden Knights are on the positive side of the spectrum a bit more than they probably should be at this point.

There is one really good way to avoid that from swinging back the other way though… stop blowing leads.

ST. LOUIS BLUES 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (11-8-0 22 PTS)

Recap: Vegas center Chandler Stephenson got the Golden Knights off to an incredibly fast start again, scoring :36 into the game in St. Louis. Red hot Reilly Smith doubled Vegas’ lead six minutes later giving Vegas a 2-0 lead. The Blues woke up after Smith’s goal and scored three unanswered to take a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.

St. Louis added another early in the second period on the power play. It was the only goal of the period and the Golden Knights trailed 4-2 after two periods of play.

The offense continued to struggle for Vegas since early in the 1st period. The Blues scored one more in the final 20 minutes, handing the Golden Knights a 5-2 defeat.

The Golden Knights record drops to 11-8-0 and prepare for their next game on Wednesday. Puck drop in Nashville is scheduled for 5 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A bit of an opposite game from the one on Saturday night against Carolina. In this one, the Golden Knights could do no wrong early, scoring twice and creating their own luck. Then, it completely fell apart and they were doing all the things that make coaches go crazy. A very poor game in the first of four of five on the road. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues game at Enterprise Center.

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