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Offseason Additions And Subtractions In The Pacific Division

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are back at home in the Pacific Division where they have dominated the competition over the past four seasons. A lot has changed since 2019 though. The NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, are now in the Pacific, Arizona has left for the Central, the Canadian teams all look much different now, and the trio of California teams each ready to see if their rebuilds can start taking shape.

Everyone here already knows all about the Golden Knights and the Kraken are a complete wild card heading into this year, so let’s take a look at the key additions and subtractions from each of the other six teams in the Pacific.

Anaheim Ducks

Add: Greg Pateryn, Danny O’Regan
Subtract: Haydn Fleury, Danton Heinen, Andy Welinski

For a team that is supposed to be in the middle of a rebuild, this was a shockingly boring offseason for the Ducks. They still have a bevy of prospects that could break through at any moment, but looking at what we saw last year coupled with the mild offseason, Anaheim is probably the worst team not only in the Pacific but in the entire NHL.

Calgary Flames

Add: Blake Coleman, Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Pitlick, Trevor Lewis, Andy Welinski
Subtract: Mark Giordano, Josh Leivo, Derek Ryan, Dominik Simon

Losing Giordano hurts, a lot, but they did well to bring in usable players to replace what went out this offseason. Coleman will likely be an excellent option to play somewhere in their strong top-six and it will allow for a bit more depth through what has been a fairly weak 12-man forward group the last few years. One of these times Zadorov is going to find the right fit and become the player most believe he can become, and this certainly might be it. The rest of it is somewhat of a depth reshuffle which is always good for a team that struggled the year before. Calgary likely won’t challenge Vegas atop the division, but they could be a sneaky tough team and they are always a pain in the butt to play against.

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Schmidt Reviews Are High In Vancouver

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It feels like just yesterday Ken and I were digging up interviews and stories about all the players the Golden Knights selected in the Expansion Draft. That’s when we first discovered the personality of Nate Schmidt. We instantly declared “Nate Schmidt’s going to be your favorite player, you just don’t know it yet.

Even though we’re watching Alex Pietrangelo suit up in a Golden Knights jersey day in and day out in camp, it’s still tough to see videos of Schmidt somewhere else. We always knew it would be the case, but Schmidt is already making an impact in Vancouver.

He looks comfortable. His skating has jumped out to me the first couple of days. It’s been very much as advertised for Nate Schmidt.-Jeff Paterson, TSN Vancouver on TSN 1040

Vegas fans knew what Vancouver was getting when they acquired Schmidt this offseason. A reliable defender with the ability to pitch in offensively and a whale of a personality. The Canucks are seeing it in person and the reviews have been high.

The Canucks got better when the Golden Knights front office made the tough decision to move #88. Not only will Schmidt boost the blueline but he’ll add some veteran presence surrounding emerging star Quinn Hughes.

Not quite at Quinn Hughes level, not many are in terms of generating offense but this guy doesn’t miss an opportunity with his skating to jump up into the rush. He loves to be the trailer, loves to add another layer of attack. –Paterson, TSN Vancouver on TSN 1040

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Rattled By Thatcher Demko?

Following their Western Conference Final loss, Pete DeBoer made a puzzling comment about his team’s mentality.

There’s no doubt that the last couple of games in the Vancouver series against Demko probably rattled our confidence a little bit. -DeBoer

DeBoer casually revealed one of the reasons Vegas struggled to score on Dallas was a rookie backup goaltender from a previous series living inside of his players’ heads.

We’ve heard coaches reference past series to account for injuries or even style of play differences, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one admit his team was psychologically fractured by an individual performance in a prior round. We applaud the honesty, but what is he saying about his team… or maybe even his own coaching job?

Another learning lesson for our guys at this time of year; fighting through, persevering, finding a way to get yourself out of a slump. Getting your confidence back quicker. -DeBoer

What happened to the mentality this team had?(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

These are all things the Golden Knights clearly did not do well inside of the bubble, that they must improve upon if they are to hoist the Cup in the future. But one has to wonder about the fragility of the locker room if they did indeed allow the ghost of Thatcher Demko to ruin their chances to win a completely new series.

What happened to “one game at a time?” To “I’m not worried about the offense?” To “the worst thing we can do is change?”

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2020 Golden Knights Playoffs “Photo” Gallery

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VGK PK Came Alive In Games 5-7, But They Weren’t Without Help

Call it a mulligan. Call it an extra life. Call it whatever you’d like, the Golden Knights got it in Game 7.

After having a season defined by a 5-minute major penalty in which they allowed four goals, the Golden Knights faced the same beast a year later when Ryan Reaves was assessed a match penalty for a hit to the head.

The stakes were actually even higher this time around. Rather than having a cushion, the game was tied with three and a half minutes left in the 2nd. If Vegas faltered again trying to kill off five minutes, their season would be over and the stigma would live with them forever.

Instead, Vegas got to try the “level” again, and this time they passed with it flawlessly, albeit with a lot of help from their opponent.

In the five minutes against the Canucks, the Golden Knights allowed just one shot on goal, foiled seven Canuck entry attempts, blocked multiple shots, and played just  1:36 inside of their own zone.

All in all, on the 11 minutes of power plays for the Canucks in Game 7, they got just two shots on goal, had a measly five scoring chances, had seven shots blocked, miss the net on five more, went 10 for 25 on entry attempts and allowed three shots on goal to the shorthanded Golden Knights.

Vancouver’s power play was without answers. Nothing illustrated that more than the image of Quinn Hughes on an empty bench during the 2nd intermission staring at an iPad searching for a solution.

In the series, the Golden Knights killed 23 of the 26 Canuck power plays including each of the final 14. Vegas was on the kill for 44 minutes in the series and allowed just 30 shots on goal. They consistently stood the Canucks up at the blue line and they took away cross-ice passes with ease. Literally the only place in which Vancouver has success was in the faceoff circle.

Prior to Game 6, after the Golden Knights had killed off three straight penalties in Game 5 and six overall, I asked Pete DeBoer if his penalty kill system was completely where he wanted it to be after taking over mid-season and implenting changes. I was a bit surprised when the answer wasn’t a resounding yes.

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Recap: The Golden Knights were playing in a do or die Game 7 for the second straight season. The top seed came out shooting but Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko continued his hot streak from Games 5 & 6. Vegas fired 11 on Demko, while Robin Lehner only needed to stop two. Game 7 was scoreless after the opening period.

The goaltenders took over the game in the 2nd period making some season-saving stops. Lehner made a brilliant save on a two-on-one preserving the scoreless tie. Late in the period Ryan Reaves was given a five-minute major and a game-misconduct for an illegal hit to the head of Vancouver’s Tyler Motte. The Golden Knights killed half of the major penalty in the 2nd period to hold the 0-0 tie.

Vegas began the final period on the penalty kill, continuing from Reaves’ major penalty. The Golden Knights stepped up and stopped the Canucks extended power play. Later in the period Vegas was awarded a power play and it wouldn’t take long for Shea Theodore to give his team the first lead of Game 7. Alex Tuch and Paul Statsny scored an empty-net goals late in the contest. Lehner was outstanding shutting out the Canucks to claim the seven-game series.

With their 3-0 win the Golden Knights clinch the series and advance to the Western Conference final. Vegas will face the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. Game 1 will air on NBC and is scheduled for 5PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Take a breath Vegas. Everything the Golden Knights feared could happen was happening through the first 40 minutes of the game. They couldn’t find a way to beat Demko. They allowed almost no offense against but everyone once in a while a dangerous chance popped up (what a save by Lehner). They even took ANOTHER penalty causing them to have to kill five minutes. In the end, who else but Shea Theodore to find a way to beat Thatcher Demko and the Golden Knights finally prove what we should have known all along, they are the better team. On to the Conference Finals… again! (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 7 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks in Round 2 series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • It’s all about PK entries
  • Hopefully the blueprint isn’t out on how to stifle the VGK offense

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Zach Whitecloud
** Nic Roy
* Shea Theodore

It Can’t Happen Again, Can It?

It’s on Pete DeBoer’s mind. It’s on Marc-Andre Fleury’s mind. It’s on Mark Stone and Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson’s minds. It’s on George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon’s minds. It’s on The Creator’s mind. And it’s on every single one of you reading this’s minds.

It can’t happen again, can it?

Whether anyone wants to stare the beast directly in the eyes or not, the memory of how last season ended is inescapable for the Golden Knights as they prepare their second Game 7 in franchise history.

The first one has been woven into the fabric of the team over the past 16 months. Every decision they’ve made has been done with at least a sliver of blowing a 3-1 lead on the minds.

They hired the coach on the other bench. They revamped the penalty kill. They replaced the goalie. They added reinforcements on both offense and defense. They did it all so that these playoffs wouldn’t end the same way the last ones did.

Everyone knows what’s at stake. Even if neither Pete DeBoer nor Mark Stone would say it in the moments following Game 6.

This is a different group, different team. We’ve hit a group over there that’s feeling confident and getting great goaltending and that’s going to happen on the playoff trail and you’ve got to find a way. This is our adversity and we’ve got to stick together and come through it. -DeBoer

It’s one game. We’ve got a great team. Guys are going to go out there and bring our best and whatever happens happens. We’re confident going into tomorrow. We were confident going into Game 5 and 6. We feel like we have the team to win. -Stone

This is a mental test unlike any the young franchise has faced. The answers above are already a testament to how the Golden Knights want to handle it. They are going to try to do everything in their power to focus solely on this one game and ignore the elephant in the room. They want to play great from the moment the puck is dropped, score quickly, win the game, and come out on the other side stronger and more together than ever before.

(Photo Credit: Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

That’s exactly how they’ll be feeling the moment they get on the ice. But if the adversity from Games 5 and 6 rear its ugly head again in Game 7, the way the Golden Knights handle the flood of emotions linked directly to their history will determine their fate even more so than hockey skill.

Normally, it’s about being the better team, and for the first 10 minutes of the game, it can, and it will if they put the puck in the net. It’s if, and probably when, the going gets tough inside of that game that this team will have to prove to the world, and to themselves, that they can overcome it. They can block out the negative memories of a terrible ending to last season and the frustrating end to the first one. They can bear down and play the way they know they can, the way that got them to 3-1 in the series, and the way that had everyone believing they were the far-and-away better team.

The crossroads is here. Either the Golden Knights win, exorcise the demons that have been haunting them since Joe Pavelski’s blood hit the SAP Center ice, and head into the Western Conference Final with the best chance they’ve ever had to win the Stanley Cup or they lose and they’ll earn a label of playoff chokers, a label that will stick with them for as long as it takes to win 16 playoff games in the same season.


Recap: The Golden Knights got off to a bad start to Game 6 allowing the Canucks to score 2:50 into the 1st period. Vegas fired nine shots on Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko but couldn’t convert. After the opening 20 minutes the Golden Knights trailed 1-0.

Both goaltenders were strong in the 2nd period shutting both teams offenses. Robin Lehner allowed only one goal through two periods but Canucks led 1-0 heading into the second intermission. 

Vancouver doubled their lead 1:03 into the 3rd period. The Canucks took a 3-0 lead later in the period putting the Golden Knights in desperation mode. Vegas coach Pete DeBoer pulled Lehner with under six minutes to go but Vancouver took advantage and scored on the empty net. Demko was flawless in net and shutout Vegas 4-0.

With their 4-0 win the Canucks tied up the series and force a Game 7. Vegas will have a other chance at clinching the second round matchup with the Canucks tomorrow. Game 7 will air on NBC Sports Network scheduled for 6PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Once again, the Golden Knights simply could not solve the Thatcher Demko riddle. They were dominant, just like Game 5, but they simply couldn’t find a way to generate enough truly dangerous shots to beat a young hot goalie. They were consistently unable to get onto second chances in front of the goal and watched the game slip away as the opportunistic Canucks kept finding a way to score. On to Game 7, VGK better figure this out or they’re going to become a playoff laughingstock. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 6 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks in Round 2 series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • How will VGK react to a scary familiar situation?

Ken’s Three VGK Stars (I had to try very hard to come up with these)
*** Nick Cousins
** Nic Roy
* Nick Holden

Vegas Holds The Edge No Matter Who Vancouver Starts In Net

The Golden Knights were expected to smell blood on Tuesday night after the Canucks announced backup goaltender Thatcher Demko as the starter for Game 5. If anything, the reverse happened. Demko became the shark and snacked on a quantity of Vegas shots.

We are aware this photo has nothing to do with this article. But it’s great, so here it is. *Sorry Zach* (Photo Credit: Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

Since his performance was so strong and starter Jacob Markstrom was designated as “unfit to play”, Vancouver may select Demko to start tonight’s Game 6. So, who benefits more if they do?

First postseason start or not, Demko’s performance was superb and may be tough to match. In his young career, he’s limited opponents to one goal six times. That’s over a span of 36 starts. He’s a fine goaltender that could frustrate the Golden Knights again, but odds say he’ll allow more than one goal tonight. Which might be all Vegas needs to clinch the seven-game series.

Especially if this is the Golden Knights mindset coming into Game 6.

We’re going to come into tomorrow’s game just to try to step on their necks and end this. -Reilly Smith

Smith also mentioned that Vegas needed to stick with their gameplan no matter what the outcome was after Game 5. The Golden Knights play best when they attack with numbers, using all three forwards to force their way into the Canucks’ zone by using their patented aggressive forecheck. If they play like that, it wouldn’t matter who is tending Vancouver’s net. The top seed in the West hasn’t lost its confidence after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, they believe they were merely unfortunate. Vegas knows they’re the better club, and if they were to take 43 shots like they did in Game 5, they will go on to advance to the conference finals.

Plus, Vegas got tipped off how Vancouver successfully outlasted them in Game 5.

We’re just trying to play fast and get the puck in their zone. They clog the middle pretty well so we can’t really skate through it. The longer we wait to pass then their forwards are stuck at the far blue line. So if we pass it to them then they have no speed. For us we were just trying to get it out of our hands quickly so they can get on the forecheck with speed. It’s the defenseman’s responsibility to get up and gap up and try and support the forecheck. -Quinn Hughes, VAN defenseman

Leaked strategy or not, it shouldn’t matter for a good team like Vegas. Coach Pete DeBoer and his players will/should adapt from last game’s miscues.

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High Shot Count Hasn’t Always Translated To Wins For The Golden Knights

Because of the Pause, it feels like ages ago, but one of the Golden Knights’ final games of the regular season was a 4-1 loss to the LA Kings. In that game, the Golden Knights outshot the Kings by a margin of 43-17, and at even strength it was 40-8. Vegas created 10 more high-danger chances, they owned 75% of the game’s shot attempts, and the expected goals pointed to a nearly three-goal victory.

Instead, the Golden Knights lost the game 4-1 and never led. That night, Cal Petersen stopped 42 shots and ended Vegas’ eight game winning streak. The only Golden Knights goal was scored on an individual effort by Shea Theodore.

Sounding a bit familiar?

(Photo Credit: Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

Last night the Golden Knights peppered the exact same number of shots, 42, at playoff debutant Thatcher Demko. They led in shots by 26, they created 24 more scoring chances, and finished the game with a Corsi of 67.5%. The only goal was a magical individual effort by Shea Theodore.

It’s easy to sit back and say, “well, they ran into a hot goalie” and if this was a rare occurrence, it would probably be a fair statement. But with this version of the Golden Knights, it’s not, even if the previous instances happened eight to ten months ago.

If you rank every game by even-strength shot share, that Kings game is atop the regular season and last night’s Canucks Game 5 leads the playoffs. Both losses for the Golden Knights.

Go a little further and you’ll see that games ranked 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10 are all losses for Vegas as well. Thus, the 10 best games for the Golden Knights in regards to outshooting their opposition, six of them are losses. In the playoffs, it’s games ranked first, second, and fifth of the 13.

This can’t be simply attributed to the Golden Knights falling behind and the other team sitting back trying to hold the lead.

Last night, after the 2nd period, Vegas led the shot chart 28-10. The game was tied for all but 24 seconds of those 40 minutes. In the Chicago game, Vegas trailed for a majority of it, but only for more than a single goal for just 18 seconds (another game in which the only goal was scored by Theodore).

This is an issue that has plagued the Golden Knights all season long. I can specifically remember sitting in the bowels of the Staples Center (those were the days) asking myself, how can this team constantly dominate on the stat sheet but keep losing hockey games.

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