The greatest hockey team in the world belongs to Las Vegas.
The Vegas Golden Knights have won the Stanley Cup!!!!!!!!!!!!! #ProphecyFulfilled
Recap: The Golden Knights came into Game 5 looking to raise the Stanley Cup on home ice. Captain Mark Stone came up with the opening goal 11:52 into the first period and Nic Hague doubled their lead 2-0 minutes later. After the opening 20 minutes, the Golden were two periods away from raising the Stanley Cup trophy.
The Panthers scored to get within one but the Golden Knights came storming back. Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, Stone and Michael Amadio all recorded 2nd period to take a commanding 6-1 advantage.
Ivan Barbashev joined the scoring, giving the Golden Knights an astounding 7-1 lead. Florida scored a pair but Stone stepped in and took a long-distance shot giving himself a clinching game hat trick. Vegas ended Game 5 and the Stanley Cup Finals with an 9-3 over the Panthers.
In their sixth NHL season your Golden Knights are the 2023 Stanley Cup Champions! (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: Yet another masterclass from the best team in hockey. The Golden Knights have won the Stanley Cup! (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Florida Panthers Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena.
The 2022-23 Golden Knights entered the season with a chip on their shoulder. After missing the playoffs last year they knew they wanted to prove to the world, and to themselves, that it was a fluke.
They also entered the year with a new head coach, which meant new systems and a new style of play. That manifested itself in new lines and pairs, different focuses in the offensive and defensive zones, and a lot of room for error.
The team started the season red hot winning 13 of 15 but the process was not as pretty as the results. As the season wore on, that process caught up to the Golden Knights and they eventually went on a run of just 36 points in 36 games before the All Star Break.
There were all sorts of different issues ranging from puck management to ineffectiveness in the offensive zone to defensive lapses to special teams woes. If there’s a specific aspect of the game a team can struggle with, the Golden Knights probably did it over the course of this regular season.
At the time, most viewed it as an indictment on the overall strength of the team. They were inconsistent. There were recurring issues from years past as well as new ones from the change in system. And despite the status atop the division, there was reasonable cause for doubt.
After four Stanley Cup Finals games, the current situation couldn’t have set up any better for Vegas Golden Knights fans. Their favorite hockey team is 60 minutes away from hoisting the city’s first Stanley Cup trophy. Along with the Las Vegas Aces, the Golden Knights have a chance on Tuesday to deliver the second professional sports championship in city and state history.
"The fans should enjoy their moment. They've been behind this team for 6 years now.
You play for the guys in the room for your family and for the organization but the crest represents the fan base and they're why we're here. So we want to make sure we do right by them." -Cassidy
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) June 11, 2023
Funny enough, Stanley Cup champions tend to end a series on the road. The Golden Knights can buck that trend a win in Game 5. Since 2000, 10 teams were presented the 124-year-old trophy on home ice, and only three over the past 10 seasons. That rare occurrence can happen for a fourth time in front of passionate home fans on Tuesday.
SCF Winning Team – Home/Road Clinching Game Since 2013
Tampa Bay snapped the five-year road stretch in 2021 when they defeated the visiting Montreal Canadiens in five games. The Golden Knights could match the Lightning’s approach tomorrow night from T-Mobile Arena.
30 to 10.
That’s the score of Golden Knights playoff games in the 2nd period this postseason.
30 to 10, in 21 games.
The 30 goals are unsurprisingly the most by any team in the postseason. The other side is pretty wild though. 10 goals allowed in the 2nd period this playoffs is the 7th fewest of all 16 teams that participated. 10 goals allowed is the same number as Winnipeg allowed in five games, fewer than Minnesota allowed in six games, and 11 goals fewer than New Jersey allowed in 12 games. And the Golden Knights just completed their 21st game!
There was a time earlier this season when one of the biggest challenges for the Golden Knights was surviving 2nd periods. They struggled to tilt games in their favor in 2nd periods and it often led to long spells of the game where they were forced to defend. It’s actually been an issue in the Cassidy system as far back as his first season in Boston.
The Golden Knights finished the season with a +3 goal differential in the 2nd period and they were -6 in home games. Yet here we are, at the most important time of the year, and nightly in Western Conference and Stanley Cup Final games they are utilizing the 2nd period to run away with hockey games.
When you have four lines rolling like that in a 2nd period, we’re the best team in the league. -Adin Hill
In Game 4 the Golden Knights absolutely obliterated the Panthers in the middle frame. They outscored Florida just 2-1, but they outshot them 11-7, out-chanced them 18-4, and generated six high-danger scoring chances compared to the Panthers’ single one.
Recap: The Golden Knights and Florida Panthers faced off for a crucial Game 4 in Sunrise, FL. Vegas came out firing, forcing scoring chances from the opening minute. Chandler Stephenson gave the visiting team an early lead 1:39 into the game with his ninth goal of the postseason. Goaltender Adin Hill made several key saves in the period to preserve a one-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
Vegas continued to pressure Florida’s zone and 7:28 into the middle frame Stephenson scored his second goal of the night to give his team a 2-0 advantage. A few shifts later William Karlsson buried a rebound to stretch VGK’s lead to 3-0. Towards the end of the period the Panthers got some luck and deflected a puck of two Golden Knights to earn their first goal of the game.
Florida got within one 3:49 into the final frame to make it a 3-2 Vegas lead. The Panthers had more scoring chances throughout the period, but the Golden Knights defended well down the stretch.
The Golden Knights take a 3-1 series lead and will have a chance to end the series with a win in Game 5 on Tuesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 PM from T-Mobile Arena. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: The Golden Knights won this game by playing exactly how they set out to play in the 2nd period. They were all over the Panthers the entire frame and it led to waves of pressure. VGK’s forecheck was by far the more consistent forcing tons of turnovers in the FLA end. Defensively, the Golden Knights have continued to do what they have done much of this season, make it impossible to get to the front of the goal. Florida had no way in and they ended up resorting to chucking pucks from the point. Vegas blocked most of them and even blocked the one that went in twice. A brilliant performance on the road has the Golden Knights coming back to Vegas with a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Tuesday. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Florida Panthers Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at FLA Live Arena.
The Golden Knights have a second chance tonight to take a stranglehold on the Stanley Cup Final and defeat the Florida Panthers in their building. After a game in which Vegas felt they played well but just let it get away late, they are very confident in their ability to turn the page, wash away the thoughts of Game 3, and go out and win Game 4.
We’re really good at flipping the switch and getting ready for the next game, so today’s no different. We had a good day yesterday to regroup and then today we were able to look at some things technically and get our minds right. -Pietrangelo
As they have done all of the postseason when they’ve had a day in between road games, they took the day off from hitting the ice. No practice, no trip to FLA Live Arena, and very little focus on either what went wrong in Game 3 or what they need to do to correct it tonight.
Instead, the focus is on the bigger picture and remembering exactly why they are here and what they have a chance to accomplish.
We’re all acutely aware of what we’re playing for and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to feel like they need to discuss it. I’ve made my feelings known to make sure to remember what we’re playing for. Refocus on the long-term goal and then the next day it’s back to the short-term goal with a mentality of details and what it’s going to take to get there. -Cassidy
Having a host of players on the team that have been to the mountaintop helps in that aspect.
Having been here before the biggest thing for me is to not overthink it. Worry about the game when we get there tonight. You don’t want to sit there all day thinking about the game. -Pietrangelo
The Golden Knights have lost consecutive games just once this season, and they believe it’s because of their tremendous ability to refocus their energy and get back to the style of play they know has been successful thus far.
Tonight, in Game 4, they know what’s coming from the Panthers.
I expect that they’ll want to replicate the recipe they had in the 1st period trying to get on top of us and getting in on the forecheck. That’s with pressure, the D are up forcing us to make plays under duress and reloading hard. I thought we didn’t execute as well as we could have and maybe that’s from travel or the crowd or whatever but I expect us to pick up where we left off in the 2nd period and on. -Cassidy
Typically odd-numbered games are the swing games in a series, but tonight’s Game 4 will play a massive role in how everyone views the next three days. A 3-1 series lead will have thoughts and dreams of parades and winning at home running wild, a 2-2 tie would be completely different.
For nearly 58 minutes last night, the Golden Knights were the better team. Hockey can be cruel though, and unfortunately, Vegas had to endure another lesson on the unpredictability of the best sport on the planet.
The commanding 3-0 Stanley Cup lead vanished and now the Panthers have a heartbeat where it felt like they were heading for life support.
The preponderance of the game may not have led to the outcome the Golden Knights were searching for, but that does not mean it did not exist nor that it can’t be learned from. There was plenty of good with just a sprinkle of bad. Here’s what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to change for Vegas heading into Game 4 tomorrow night.
What went right
Probably the strongest aspect of the Golden Knights’ game not only last night, but in the series as at large, has been their penalty kill. Vegas is a sterling 12 for 12 on the kill and caused the Panthers to struggle in many areas with the man advantage.
The strongest among them has been Vegas’ entry defense. Time and time again when Florida is attempting a power play breakout they’ve run into troubles at the VGK blue line. So much so that their most successful entry attempts have come by dumping the puck in. In addition, the Golden Knights have been excellent at clearing the puck when they get it on their sticks. If Vegas gets a touch, there’s a strong possibility the puck is headed 200 feet the other way.
Finally, the Golden Knights made adjustments inside of the penalty kill that helped on the later Florida Power plays.
They looked like they didn’t have the quick efficient movement like they did in Game 2 so we took some things away. What they did was hit (Sam) Reinhart in the bumper a few times and that’s something we corrected as we went along. -Cassidy
Florida was able to work the puck into Reinhart three times on a pair of power plays in the 2nd period. The final one in the 2nd and the only in the 3rd, Vegas denied that option and it further stymied the Panther power play.
Protecting the house
When you look at the shot chart from Game 3 it appears the Panthers had a lot of activity around the front of the Golden Knights’ net. However, in reality, despite the puck being there a lot more often than Vegas would prefer, Florida was not able to generate offense from directly in front of the goal.
Florida attacked from every different angle and with varying numbers advantages or disadvantages and the Golden Knights had the answer for all of them at even strength. Vegas racked up 31 shots protecting the center and there were countless numbers of stick checks that broke up plays before Florida could even attempt the shot.
Adin Hill was clean on most of his rebounds and on the ones he wasn’t the first stick on the puck in the blue paint or anywhere close was almost always by a player wearing white and gold.
Neutral zone structure
In the 2nd period the Golden Knights put on a clinic in how to defend a dangerous team through the center of the ice. Vegas constantly had at least four players between the puck and the goal when the Panthers would get it and they displayed excellent structure through the middle of the ice on every Florida breakout.
The neutral zone effectiveness led to Florida generating just four shots on goal, three scoring chances, and 0.16 expected goals at 5-on-5 in the middle frame. The Panthers were constantly caught in between on whether to dump-and-chase or try for the controlled entry and that indecision led to multiple rush chances for the Golden Knights.
What went wrong and what needs to change
Dealing with bad ice conditions
It’s something the Golden Knights have struggled with for quite some time now, at FLA Live Arena in particular. Vegas entered the game knowing they’d likely encounter some turbulence when trying to slide the puck along the ice, but they didn’t seem to react to it quickly enough at the start of the game. Florida dominated loose puck battles in the 1st period and it helped ignite their forecheck which had struggled through the first two games.
As the game went on, Vegas started to settle in, but they still believe they could have managed the poor ice better.
When the ice isn’t great sometimes you have to dumb it down a little bit and simplify the game. -Alex Pietrangelo
This really cropped up a bit late in the 3rd period when the Golden Knights began to exhibit some issues exiting the zone. Through almost all of the first nine periods, Vegas had been clean on their exits including short one-touch passes that broke Florida’s pressure. But, with the challenging ice conditions, those passes can be a bit more difficult to complete as the puck has a tendency to bounce uncontrollably.
Simpler exits can fix this. Rather than going for the clean, pretty play, Vegas may need to rely a bit more on things like dump, chip, or rim outs. This is especially important when playing with the lead as there is no longer a need to generate offense from these types of clean exits. Vegas wasn’t terrible in this department, but they definitely can improve.
Defending against the empty net
This one is obvious considering the result, but it’s been a persistent issue through the postseason for the Golden Knights. In three separate series, the first game in which Vegas faced an empty net they’ve given up a goal in the same manner. Winnipeg, Dallas, and Florida have all outnumbered Vegas in front of the goal on a rebound and poked home a massive goal to send each game to overtime.
What must change for the Golden Knights is an increased awareness of when to pressure the puck when it along the walls or at the points. Vegas’ zone defense at 5-on-5 has these keys down to a science and they’ve left the Panthers, Stars, and Jets before them all frustrated with their own inability to get to the center of the ice. But once the extra skater is out there the keys must change. On all three goals, including the massive one to tie the game last night, Vegas has found themselves losing a board battle with a defenseman away from the middle of the ice. In last night’s game, it didn’t lead directly to the goal, but it did lead to a scramble which eventually allowed Matthew Tkachuk to find inside positon on the rebound of the following shot.
There’s a fine line when playing against six skaters on when to attack and when to sit back. The Golden Knights know how to do it, and they’ve displayed it multiple times during the regular season and playoffs, they just need to walk that line a little better the next time the situation arises.
There’s a reason the NHL makes teams play seven times to determine which team is better. It’s because in this sport, the better team doesn’t always win. The Golden Knights have been the better team in all three games thus far in the Stanley Cup Final. It’s earned them a 2-1 series lead. And even though it feels like it could (maybe should) be 3-0, if Vegas continues to be the better team all series, those final two wins will come.
Recap: The Golden Knights and Florida Panthers met up for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Panthers struck first four minutes into the contest on a point shot through traffic. Florida and Vegas would swap penalties which led to Mark Stone’s game-tying power play goal. After the opening period, Game 3 was locked 1-1.
Both teams were awarded a power play in the middle frame and Vegas took advantage of the opportunity. Jonathan Marchessault roofed a saucer pass from Jack Eichel giving the Golden Knights their first lead of Game 3.
Vegas opened the period on the man-advantage but failed to score their third PP goal of the game. Adin Hill made some key stops down the stretch to preserve the Golden Knights’ 2-1 advantage.
Both goaltenders were sharp in the final period, making several quality saves to keep it a one-goal game. With time running out the Panthers pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. Florida put on some heavy pressure and tied the game before the two minute mark.
Florida killed off an early penalty and found a way to win Game 3 in overtime 3-2.
The Golden Knights drop Game 3 but hold a 2-1 series lead. Vegas will try and bounce back with a win in Game 4 on Saturday night. Puck drop for Game 4 is scheduled for 5 PM.(Recap by Jason)
Analysis: Vegas had to try and withstand a much better push from the Panthers to start the game. VGK were struggling under the strong forecheck for the first time in the series and allowed some dangerous chances because of it. A huge 4-on-3 power play chance was converted to stem the tide in the 1st and then the Golden Knights took complete control in the 2nd period. They were so much stronger at holding pucks in the offensive zone and it tilted the ice and forced a parade to the Panthers’ penalty box. VGK locked it down as strong as they ever have in the 3rd. But the moment the goalie came out, VGK were outnumbered around the net and it sent the game to OT. A huge penalty drawn by Stephenson sent the Golden Knights into OT with a chance to regroup and come out and win the game. They couldn’t capitalize and then the first real chance for the Panthers beats Adin Hill. Tough one to lose considering VGK outplayed the Panthers most of the night. We knew they were in for a fight, still have control though at 2-1. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Florida Panthers Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at FLA Live Arena.
With a victory tonight, the Golden Knights will be one win closer to claiming the franchise’s first Stanley Cup trophy. Through two games Vegas is scorching Florida in the offensive zone while allowing just three goals in six periods. For all intents and purposes, the 2023 Stanley Cup Final has been a one-sided mismatch.
We’ve approached every game in the playoffs the same way. We try to take it, everyone says, one at a time, but we’ve got our backs against the wall, obviously. We’re down by two, but we’re coming home. Love our team, love our resiliency. We’re going to go out and give our best effort, play our best game tomorrow and go from there. -Marc Staal, FLA defenseman
While the right things are being said from the Panthers’ locker room, they understand tying the series over the next two games is a tall order. Sure, they recovered after falling behind in their opening round. However, the Golden Knights are not playing like an opening round team. No, Vegas is competing like one of the all-time great Stanley Cup teams. The statistics and outcomes highlight VGK’s dominance.
Highest Scoring Stanley Cup Teams In Stanley Cup Final:
Last season, the Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche scored 20 total goals in six contests. The Golden Knights are eight goals away from matching the Avalanche’s total in only six periods. If their pace continues, Vegas will rank among the best offenses in Stanley Cup Final history.
Most pundits expect the Panthers to snap out of their two-game funk and threaten the Golden Knights series lead. Considering the flow Vegas is on right now, it wouldn’t be wise to count them out in South Florida. Especially, considering how VGK have feasted on the road.
I love the road, to be honest, where all the guys are together, having team dinners, playing cards all together, hanging out. We have such good team chemistry this year that we have a lot of fun. There’s no dull moment with that group of guys. -Jonathan Marchessault