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Jon Cooper Says “Mediocre Or Worse” Power Play Can Still Win In Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to win in the postseason, it’s Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

His team had had their names engraved on the Cup in back-to-back seasons and despite the 0-2 hole to the Rangers they still have as good a chance as anyone to win it again this year.

During the ESPN broadcast of Eastern Conference Finals Game 2, play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough shared an interesting comment from the Lightning bench boss on the importance of the power play in the postseason.

It’s interesting what Jon Cooper said about the adage that you have to have your power play in the playoffs. He said “Not really. You have to have your penalty killing. Where you have to have your power play is when you are behind. You can be mediocre or worse on the power play but you can’t be bad killing penalties and last long in the playoffs.” –McDonough on ESPN during Game 2

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Golden Knights Used As Example For LTIR Change At League Meetings

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’ll never know if the Golden Knights were trying to mimic the 2021 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. When Vegas’ front office pulled the trigger on the Jack Eichel trade, speculation grew across the league that the club would attempt to field a team over the cap in the postseason. Things have changed dramatically for Vegas since then but it didn’t stop NHL GM’s from leaving anonymous notes in the league’s complaint box.

There’s been a lot of white noise around Vegas in how they’ve treated LTIR this season. Last year’s Tampa, this year’s Vegas. At least in perception. Gary Bettman and Bill Daly could not have been more unequivocal saying Vegas has been transparent. There’s no issues with the way they’re handling their LTIR and their business. –Pierre LeBrun on TSN

The noise was loud enough that the topic of LTIR maneuvering came up yesterday at the GM meetings.

Now, is there validity to say that we get to the playoffs and we’ve got a cap of $81.5 million and fundamentally that means we should only be able to dress $81.5 million in the playoffs? Sure, that makes sense. I think you’ve gotta go back and study it. –Brad Treliving, Calgary GM to Sportsnet

It was reported that the league broached the subject out of concerns that some believed Tampa bought last year’s Cup. Sure, adding Nikita Kucherov to the lineup on Game 83 is unfair but it would be next to impossible to prove Tampa stretched out injuries.

In fact, two-time Stanley Cup-winning GM Julien BriseBois wasn’t bashful about his feelings. His club won back-to-back championships, you think the speculation or finger-pointing matters to him?

If we hadn’t won the Cup last season, perhaps we wouldn’t be the poster child, but I’d rather win the Stanley Cup and be the poster child anyway, knowing that these situations have happened in the past. In 2015, we played against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final and they had the example of Patrick Kane at the time and won the Cup. The situation we had last year with Kucherov—there’s 32 teams and it happens; there are many teams in LTI –Julien BriseBois, Lightning GM to Sportsnet

It’s possible several teams will be over the salary cap in the playoffs. Which drives front offices to ignore cap manipulation.

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Learning From History: The 2016-17 Tampa Bay Lightning

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This is a cautionary tale. It is meant to serve as a reminder that nothing is guaranteed in the NHL, and to show that even one of the best teams of this decade is susceptible to a season just like the Golden Knights are experiencing right now. Unfortunately, this tale’s happy ending came three seasons after the year we’re going to discuss in this article.

The team under the microscope is the 2016-17 Tampa Bay Lightning.

Just one year prior the Bolts had reached the Conference Finals where they were dispatched in seven games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The year before, Tampa played in the Cup Final where they were outclassed by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Coming into 16-17, expectations were high, very high. Tampa was the third favorite to win the Cup in the betting odds and were expected to eclipse 100 points with ease.

The season began well as the Lightning ripped off five wins in their first six games and racked up a 12-7-1 record over their first 20 games. They were sitting in 2nd place in the division and cruising along just like years prior.

Then, the injury bug hit.

Within a 10 game span. Captain Steven Stamkos was lost for four months with a knee injury, stallwart defenseman Anton Stralman went down with an upper-body injury, and Ryan Callahan was lost with a lower body injury.

Over the next few months, Tampa saw Brian Boyle, Jason Garrison, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette, Vlad Namestnikov, and Ben Bishop all miss games. By the end of the year, no team lost more money from the salary cap to injuries on the season than the Lightning.

As they soldiered on, their play suffered. Tampa went a miserable 10-18-5 during the meat of the season which had them within one point of dead last in the Eastern Conference standings on February 1st.

Following the season, Tampa Bay radio announcer Dave Mishkin chronicled the year in an extended article on the team’s website. Here are a few snippets.

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

(Photo Credit: 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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Recap: The Golden Knights took on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the last game of their four-game road trip. Vegas forward Brett Howden scored his 6th goal of the season to give his team the first lead of the game.

The Golden Knights bottom-six forwards continued their strong play on the trip by doubling the lead in the 2nd period. William Carrier scored his 5th of the season to make it 2-0 Vegas lead.

Vegas fought off three Tampa power plays in the final frame to hold their two-goal advantage. However, the Lightning cut the lead in half with six minutes left and tied the game late. The game would need an overtime period and eventually a shootout to decide a winner. Mark Stone sealed it for Vegas in the seventh round of shootout.

The Golden Knights record improves to 26-16-3 defeating the Lightning 3-2 in shootout. Vegas wraps up their road trip going 2-1-1 earning five points. Next up they’ll face the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop against the Sabres is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights played an excellent game on the road for two periods. Frustrating the Lightning and making life very difficult in all three zones. But then, in the 3rd, Tampa turned up the heat and the Golden Knights couldn’t handle it. Despite getting multiple odd-man rushes, Vegas did not get a single shot on goal from inside the offensive zone in the period. Meanwhile, Tampa went to work and came back to tie the game. Vegas pulled off an improbable win in shootout. (Recap by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning game at Amalie Arena.

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Recap: The Golden Knights hosted reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning before the NHL pauses for a handful of days. Tampa only needed six minutes to take the first lead of the game. After a scary collision Vegas captain Mark Stone came back out and tied the game on the power play. 

The offense picked up for both teams in the middle frame. Stone scored again 1:41 into the period to give Vegas their first lead of the game. Nic Roy stretched the Golden Knights lead to 3-1 shaking Norris trophy defenseman Victor Hedman. Tampa woke up and tied the game on two straight shots. After 40 minutes the game was tied up 3-3.

The Lightning took the lead late into a third period power play. Vegas had some chances throughout the final twenty minutes but couldn’t tie the game.

The Golden Knights record drops to 20-12-0 falling 4-3 to the Lightning. Vegas and the rest of the NHL will get some time off and return to the ice after Christmas. Until further notice from the league the Golden Knights are scheduled to play the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. Puck drop is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For 25 minutes or so the Golden Knights were slapping the Lightning around. Outshooting them at an incredible clip, generating chances at will and thwarting Tampa’s offense. Then Mark Stone left the game and things started to fall apart. Tampa scored a pair quick and then a ridiculous slapper from Stamkos gave them a lead VGK couldn’t overcome. (Recap by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning game at T-Mobile Arena.

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5 Most Anticipated Home Games On The Golden Knights 2021-22 Schedule

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After a year that involved 56 games against the same seven teams and sparse crowds throughout, it’s great to be back to a normal 82 game schedule that includes all 31 teams making an appearance at sold-out T-Mobile Arena. Here are the five home games that jump off the schedule as the most anticipated matchups of the year.

5. December 27th, 2021 – vs Colorado Avalanche

It’s a shame the first time these two teams meet won’t be at the site of the Avs demise last season, but there’s no secret these two are likely to be the class of the Western Conference once again. The collision course in the playoffs will probably be played up all year and every game between the two will be highly engrossing.

4. December 21st, 2021 – vs Tampa Bay Lightning

If there’s one thing we missed more than anything else with last year’s horrendous schedule, it was measuring stick games. About a month into the season everyone knew exactly how everyone else matched up against each other in the division, so the remaining 40+ games were essentially useless. This year, there will be plenty of those measuring stick games and this is the king of them all. The two-time defending Cup champions come to T-Mobile after the Golden Knights return home from a tough four-game road trip. VGK vs TBL games have always been a blast, this one should be no different.

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Will Positive Tests Around The League Affect The Golden Knights Preparation?

Yesterday was a tough day for the NHL and their attempt to award a 2020 Stanley Cup champion. News broke that the Tampa Bay Lightning temporarily shut down their facilities due to three players and two staff members testing positive for Covid-19. The anxiety escalated even more when it was reported that Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews tested positive as well. Leaving fans concerned for the players and their return to the ice.

Locally, it’s been quiet. According to GM Kelly McCrimmon, none of the Golden Knights players have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus.

Since NHL clubs were permitted to open their training facilities on June 8, all players entering these facilities for voluntary training have been subject to mandatory testing for COVID-19… All players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. The NHL will provide a weekly update on the numbers of tests administered to players and the results of those tests. The league will not be providing information on the identity of the players or their clubs. -NHL PR

With the latest news from around the league, the question around Las Vegas is how will this affect the Golden Knights and their preparations?

So far 11 NHL players have tested positive since June 8th. However, over 200 players have been tested multiple times and results came back negative. While the positive test news may sound grim, it doesn’t appear it will delay the opening of training camps scheduled to begin on July 10th. Even if more players fall ill, according to the league it won’t impact the Golden Knights groundwork.

The league had a conference call with all of the general managers tonight, and I think the word is ‘let’s see where this goes.’ I don’t think there’s any movement at this point in time of changing the opening of camps on July 10th. I think they’ve set it so the final day of the Stanley Cup Final, if it happens on schedule is October 5th. -Elliotte Friedman, SportsNet

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Recap: The Golden Knights welcomed in the blazing hot Tampa Bay Lightning team for a Thursday night game at The Fortress. The Lightning got on the board first 7:02 into the game. However, newly acquired defenseman Alec Martinez tied the game for Vegas 1-1 late in opening period.

Reilly Smith set up Paul Statsny 6:45 into the 2nd period giving Vegas the 2-1 lead. Tampa tied the game on a power play goal by Steven Stamkos. The game wouldn’t be tied for long as Mark Stone gave his team the 3-2 lead a minute later.

Vegas held a one goal lead going into the 3rd period but Ryan Reaves scored his 7th goal of the season right off the faceoff. Max Pacioretty added his 28th :37 seconds after later on the power play. In a blink the Golden Knights held a commanding 5-2 lead. Tampa got a power play goal but Vegas would close out the game 5-3.

Vegas’ record improves to 32-22-8 and now have 72 points on the season. The team will get back to business on Saturday night against the Florida Panthers. Puck drops at 7p. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It didn’t start out pretty but as the game wore on the normal Golden Knights vs Lightning game broke out. Vegas controlled the even-strength play for a majority of the back half of the game and put themselves in a position to end the hottest team in hcokey’s win streak. The Golden Knights are back to looking like the team that entered the season as the favorites to win the Western Conference. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Tampa Bay Lightning at T-Mobile Arena

  • Reading between the lines of The Creator’s comments on the trade deadline
  • A shift-by-shift look at Alec Martinez’s debut in Vegas

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Max Pacioretty
** Mark Stone
* Alec Martinez


Recap: The Golden Knights came out hot against Tampa attempting six shots to the Lightning’s one. However, the home team would get on the scoreboard first, midway through the opening period. William Carrier would tie up the game with his sixth goal of the season. Tampa would take the lead again 2-1 heading into the 1st intermission.

The Golden Knights were awarded three power plays in the 2nd period but couldn’t convert and tie the game. Defensively, Vegas limited Tampa to 5 shots and kept them scoreless in the middle frame.

Paul Stastny would tie the game 2-2 early in the final period with his 16th of the season. Unfortunately, Steven Stamkos would give his team the lead 3-2. Tampa would later tack on an empty netter beating Vegas 4-2.

Vegas’ record drops to 27-21-7, sitting on 61 points on the season. The Golden Knights have one more game on the road trip before coming home this Saturday. The team will take on the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 4p. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights played a terrific game, especially at 5-on-5. They took just one penalty and it resulted in just a minute of power play time for the Lightning, another major plus. However, the Lightning were incredibly opportunistic cashing in on just about every dangerous chance they had while the Golden Knights couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a puck for most of the night. It’s yet another example of a game where the Golden Knights play great but don’t win, just this time with a new head coach. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena

  • 4th line starts

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Mark Stone
** Nate Schmidt
* Brayden McNabb

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