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Mitch Marner Extension Or NMC Unlikely To Scare Off Vegas’ Potential Pursuit

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are facing many franchise-altering decisions this offseason, but they aren’t alone. While Golden Knights fans are anxiously waiting for a Jonathan Marchessault extension, fans in Toronto are hoping their team unloads one of the NHL’s top line forwards. After another first-round exit Toronto Maple Leaf center Mitch Marner has become the target of local fans. The career 1.11 points per game player would be a fit for any team, including the Golden Knights. However, it would take some creativity by both clubs.

It’s a huge couple of days on the calendar that I think are under the radar. A lot of the things that end up happening at the Draft or on July 1st, those conversations were born this week in Buffalo at the combine. You can see all of the agents talking to GMs, GMs meeting with GMs. It’s all sort of playing out this week. – Pierre LeBrun on TSN OverDrive

Now, there is nothing directly linking Vegas to Marner, but I think all of us would agree, you cannot count the Golden Knights out on any available player. You name him, Vegas inquired. So, it’s safe to guess both first-round victims have been in communication. Like LeBrun reported, maybe the seed was planted for a future transaction.

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Golden Knights Fend Off Doubt In Toronto As Guentzel Rumors Heat Up

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Until last night the Golden Knights hadn’t been on the right side of a lopsided result (against an NHL team, San Jose doesn’t count) since the All-Star break. Over that period the reigning champions were 3-4-1 and failed to win four of five home games. Yesterday’s offensive outpouring from Vegas wasn’t entirely unexpected but it came at the right time of the season.

Pretty good game for us, to be honest. I still think the leaders and the guys who have been in the league for a while have to step up in this little stretch, especially with Stoney and Jack out. Hopefully today was a turnaround for us. -Ivan Barbashev

When healthy, there’s no question the Golden Knights could put up five against a team as iffy on defense as the Maple Leafs. Doing it on the road, without several key players was reminiscent of last season’s extended results without captain Mark Stone.

Vegas received six goals from five different players, two from depth forwards. Along with their abundance of offense, the Golden Knights sturdy defense frustrated some of hockey’s most lethal weapons. The same formula catapulted Vegas to their first Stanley Cup championship.

They’re good enough to win. If you think you’re good enough to win then you go for it. There’s not a feeling of being easily satisfied. Last year was last year. I do believe they’re one of the teams in and around Jake Guentzel. The Penguins want guys that can help them now. If Pittsburgh is looking for young pros, (Vegas) have that in their organization. I find it very hard that Vegas is not going to take a swing at the biggest player available. – Elliotte Friedman on The Jeff Marek Show

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 6 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 2 (33-19-7, 73 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights took on the Maple Leafs in an attempt to avenge their 7-3 defeat to Toronto last week in Las Vegas. Adin Hill had to be sharp early in the game, stopping several quality chances from Toronto. Vegas added some pressure at the end of the period and held the Maple Leafs scoreless in the opening 20 minutes.

Vegas’ offense heated up in the middle frame, beginning at the 9:11 mark of the period. First Ivan Barbashev opened the scoring with his 14th goal of the season. Mason Morelli doubled Vegas advantage three minutes later. Toronto cut the lead to 2-1 but William Karlsson recorded his 20th goal of 2023-24 late in the period. The Golden Knights held a 3-1 edge going into the second intermission.

The reigning champions locked down defensively in the final period, limiting the high-powered Maple Leafs. Midway through the frame, Jonathan Marchessault added his 31st of the season to make it a 4-1 Vegas advantage. The Golden Knights leading goal scorer would add to his career-high in goals later in the frame with the empty net goal.

The Golden Knights record improves to 33-19-7 defeating the Maple Leafs 6-2 in Toronto. Vegas will continue their road trip on Thursday in Boston. Puck drop against Bruins is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights played their best defensive game in quite some time. They limited the amount of time the Leafs spent in the O-Zone but also challenged absolutely everything Toronto did through the middle of the ice. Tons of blocks, plenty of broken-up passes, and excellent positioning frustrated Toronto and VGK’s offense eventually got it going. If VGK want to continue winning games with Stone and Eichel out, that’s the formula. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.

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Golden Knights Have Proven Success Without Stone In Lineup

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On January 12th of last season, Golden Knights captain Mark Stone played in his last regular season game of 2022-23. Vegas’ roster battled through the schedule without their leader and secured the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.

We all know what transpired once the postseason began.

(Courtesy of TNT)

Without Stone in the second half of last season, the captain’s teammates went 23-9-7 to finish out the string of regular season games. It was a bit of a surprise but also a sign of what to expect in the postseason. The Stone-less lineup averaged 3.23 goals per game and allowed only 2.67 per contest. Coach Bruce Cassidy got his entire roster to buy in and finish off the season strong without their heart and soul.

January 14, 2023 to April 13, 2023 – Games Without Stone

  • Record: 23-9-7 (53 Points)
  • Points Percentage: .679
  • Goals Scored: 126
  • Goals Allowed: 104
  • Games with 4 or More Goals Scored: 20
  • Games with 5 or More Goals Scored: 9
  • Winning Streak of 4 Games or More: 3
  • Record vs. Playoff Teams: 12-6-4 (26 Points)
  • Shots Per Game: 30.5
  • Games Scoring First Goal: 22
  • Blocks Per Game: 17.74

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TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 7 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (32-19-6, 70 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights welcomed the streaking Toronto Maple Leafs for a Thursday night out of conference matchup. Midway through the opening period the Maple Leafs began to heat up. In a six-minute span, the visitors scored four straight goals and carried a 4-0 advantage into the opening intermission.

William Karlsson gave Vegas some life scoring immediately into the middle frame. Later in the period the Maple Leafs added two goals to stretch their lead to 6-1 before the break.

Vegas quickly changed the tone of the game with back-to-back goals in the first two minutes of the period. Auston Matthews sealed the game for Toronto with his 52nd goal of 2023-24.

The Golden Knights record drops to 32-19-6 losing to the Maple Leafs 7-3. Vegas will try and rebound on Saturday in Ottawa as they begin a five game Eastern Conference road trip. Puck drop against the Senators is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: On a night when the AXS ticketing app went down causing thousands of fans to get into the building late, the Golden Knights also arrived quite late. They got completely obliterated in the 1st period and it didn’t get much better in the 2nd. An absolute fanny whacking by the Maple Leafs. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Toronto Maple Leafs at T-Mobile Arena.

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Vegas Versus The Mighty Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

All season long the eyes of the hockey world have been on the Eastern Conference. Based on performance and deep lineups the odds suggest an Eastern Conference team will be named the 2023 Stanley Cup champion. Through 67 games, the Golden Knights are making analysts, computer models, insiders, and pundits rethink their position.

On Saturday, Vegas casually shut out the high-powered Carolina Hurricanes to record the team’s 20th victory against the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night in Philadelphia they can add to that total.

VGK vs the Eastern Conference (30 Games)

  • .700 Points Percentage
  • 3.45 Goals Scored Per Game
  • 2.70 Goals Allowed Per Game
  • Shutout CAR, 1 Goal Allowed vs TOR
  • Jack Eichel vs East: 26 Points (13G, 13A)

Left on the schedule from the East are the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vegas will likely be a sizable favorite in both games. In 30 eastern matchups the Golden Knights would have a total of of 44 cross-conference credits. That’s 47% of Vegas’ 88 total points. Talk about flipping the script.

The message the Golden Knights sent to the East this season has been loud and it’s been heard.

They’re a good team. They hunker down in front and we knew that coming in. That got us behind the eight ball. In the 2nd period we weren’t very good, but we didn’t give up much. Just one bad bounce and it was a breakaway. Then we were down two. We had a good 3rd. We pushed, we just couldn’t get one by them. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach

Not only did the Golden Knights blank the Hurricanes, they also held the Toronto Maple Leafs to one goal back in October. On top off sweeping the Canes and Leafs, Vegas did the same to the Canadiens, Capitals, Lightning, and Senators in their two-game sets.

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Vegas Continues To Topple Quality Opponents On The Road

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last week we examined how the Golden Knights are taking care of business when facing non-contenders. When points are easily available, Vegas along with other threatening teams, tend to scoop them up. Now, the same can be said for when the Golden Knights face off against the league’s best, especially away from home. Tuesday in Winnipeg was Vegas’ latest example of a quality win.

The Golden Knights held leads of 2-1 and 3-2, only to walk away with a 6-5 victory. On the road vs. a quality opponent, the 31st franchise drew two penalties that changed the game. Jonathan Marchessault tallied the game-tying and tie-breaking goals to put the Golden Knights in the driver’s seat. Not only did they beat the Jets at home, they swept the season series between the two. That’s six points against a Western Conference team with a .661 points percentage.

Through 31 games the Golden Knights have several quality victories. Down center Jack Eichel and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas knocked off a dangerous Bruins team in Boston earlier this month. Also, the Golden Knights took two of two against the 44-point Toronto Maple Leafs.

2022-23 VGK Quality Wins

  • 10/20: VGK 5 vs. WPG 2
  • 10/24: VGK 3 vs. TOR 1
  • 10/30: VGK 2 vs. WPG 1 OT
  • 11/08: VGK 4 @ TOR 3 OT
  • 12/05: VGK 4 @ BOS SO
  • 12/13: VGK 6 @ WPG 5

There’s an argument to be made that Vegas has more quality victories this season. Both LA and Seattle are currently in playoff positions but neither are on the same level as Boston or Toronto.

Taking a deeper dive into Winnipeg, the Golden Knights were without their biggest offensive weapon and their two deep threats from the blueline. Somehow, the scrambled lineup managed to net six goals against Jets on the road. It also marked the second time this season that Vegas handled 2020 Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck.

To be fair, the Golden Knights have lost to a handful of quality clubs. In their ten losses, Vegas lost six times to postseason hopefuls. One in overtime. Starting in early 2023, the Golden Knights will play 11 of their first 12 games against playoff contenders. Vegas will host Pittsburgh, LA, Florida, Edmonton, Dallas, Detroit, and Washington. They’ll travel to Colorado, New Jersey, and New York for two games. January will be the most challenging month the Golden Knights have faced this season. Thankfully, they banked enough support points in 2022.

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