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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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Despite Injuries, DeBoer’s Eyes And Stats Agree VGK Creating Enough To Chances To Score

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Through four games, the Golden Knights have lit the lamp 10 times. Four against Seattle, one against each of the Kings and Blues, and three last night against Edmonton. Only seven teams have scored fewer to this point and there are a combined six wins in 28 games between those teams.

The Golden Knights are understandably struggling to score as they fight through injuries that have $26.5 million out of the lineup. However, in the past two games, head coach Pete DeBoer has been encouraged with the offensive output.

When we take Stone, Pacioretty, and Tuch out of the lineup, we know scoring isn’t going to come easily. Actually, the last two games without those guys in I’ve found that we’ve generated enough chances offensively to score some goals. We got three tonight, could have had four or five. So from an offensive perspective, I feel better about our chances of scoring enough to win with those guys out for however long they’re out but we’ve got to get our goals against down. -DeBoer

The raw numbers bore it out too.

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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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ST. LOUIS BLUES 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (1-2-0 2 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights geared up for the first time without Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone in their lineup as they hosted the undefeated St. Louis Blues. William Karlsson stunned the Blues by taking the lead 8:17 into the game. Reilly Smith fed Karlsson a cross ice pass to open up a shot and a follow up rebound. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner was outstanding in the opening period and held a 1-0 advantage after the opening twenty minutes.

St. Louis tied the game early into the middle frame scoring off a rebound. Lehner held tight for the remainder of the period and the game remained 1-1 after two periods.

The third period continued to be a back and forth affair until the Golden Knights made a costly turnover in the neutral zone. The Blues took advantage and nabbed the 2-1 lead. Vegas fought back but couldn’t bury the equalizer. St. Louis added an empty net goal late in the game to secure a 3-1 victory.

The Golden Knights record drops to 1-2-0 after their tough 3-1 loss to the Blues. Vegas will prepare for their next game on Friday night against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The undermanned Golden Knights simply weren’t good enough at any point during this game. They consistently gave up too many chances and they couldn’t generate enough offensively despite generating loads of shots. They are going to have to figure out how to play without their best two scorers and their first crack at it wasn’t successful. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues game at T-Mobile Arena.

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VGK Lead West Division In Playoff Experience, But Not By Much

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

From the two elite teams at the top to the solid pair in the middle to the dumpster fire group on the bottom, the West has been anything but a gauntlet for the four teams that qualified for the postseason.

Vegas and Colorado ran away with it pacing not only the division but also the entire NHL. St. Louis and Minnesota each had their good and bad moments but neither were ever really in grave danger of missing out on the best time of the year.

But now, we’re here, and it’s all erased. From here, it no longer matters how many times you beat the Kings or Ducks, instead, it’s who can withstand a pair of seven-game series, emerge the true champion of the division, and represent the West in the NHL’s Final Four.

A lot is made at this time of year about experience. Whether we’re talking about Stanley Cup Champions or just NHL playoff experience in general, it’s always better to have it than not. For the Golden Knights, they have plenty of it.

We’ve been through that road the last three years. We’ve had good rounds and bad rounds and we know what to expect. We have a lot of playoff experience as a group. Obviously we’re not going to have an easy path if we want to go all the way but we have the gamers in that locker room that I’m confident we can go a long way here. -Jonathan Marchessault

In fact, the Golden Knights actually have more playoff experience, by games played, than any other team in the West Division. But not by much.

Playoff Experience
Vegas – 1,086 games
St. Louis – 1,035 games
Minnesota – 783 games
Colorado – 778 games

The Golden Knights are led by Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been on a team that’s qualified for the playoffs an insane 15 consecutive seasons. He, with Robin Lehner, have Vegas atop the goalie experience chart by a wide margin.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 ST LOUIS BLUES 1 (39-13-2 80 PTS)

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Recap: The Golden Knights got off to a great start against the Blues. Reilly Smith opened the scoring with his third goal in three consecutive games. Later in the period Chandler Stephenson shot a shorthanded laser to stretch the lead. After the opening twenty minutes Vegas held a 2-0 lead.

The scoring dried up for most of the second period until the Blues took advantage of a 4-on-4 situation. With :36 left in the middle frame St. Louis cut the lead in half.

The Golden Knights were awarded an early power play in the third period and Smith cashed in again. Vegas held a 3-1 advantage for most of the entire period until Smith scored an empty net goal registering his first career hat trick.

Vegas’ record improves to 39-13-2 after their 4-1 victory against St. Louis. The Golden Knights host the Avalanche in a big late season matchup on Monday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For the first 2 periods, the Golden Knights completely outclassed the Blues in just about every phase of the game. St. Louis had a bit of pushback in the 3rd but Vegas held strong and snuffed out any thought of a comeback. Play like that, and St. Louis won’t win a game in a playoff series against the Golden Knights. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs St. Louis Blues at T-Mobile Arena

  • Steve Carp’s Sunday column
  • Forecheck awareness against STL

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Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues Photo Gallery – May 7th, 2021

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