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VGK Misses Out On Inexpensive Top-Six Option

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The first article of business was taken care of last week when the Golden Knights announced Bruce Cassidy as their next coach. Next on the list, improve the roster.

Earlier in the offseason, the Golden Knights were tied to KHL star Andrei Kuzmenko. The 26-year-old totaled 53 points in 49 games with SKA St. Petersburg this season and would have fit well with VGK’s shrinking cap room. Unfortunately, Vancouver was able to offer Kuzmenko more than just money.

That’s a big win for the Canucks. I really thought the two favorites were Vancouver and Edmonton. These were two GMs who had been after Kuzmenko for some time. There were a few teams, even some of the other ones in it who thought it would be Vancouver or Edmonton.-Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Not only did the Golden Knights miss out on what would have been the perfect offseason risk, but they also lost Kuzmenko to a maturing team in their own division. The Canucks added another offensive weapon in his mid-twenties to an already bright roster.

On top of upside, Kuzmenko was brought in on an entry-level NHL contract. Not only will he be eager to play in a new league, the former KHL’er will be motivated to produce so he can strut into free agency. Sure, Vegas can take a run at Kuzmenko next summer but the value won’t be there.

Kuzmenko could only sign a one-year deal. So he needs a new contract for the next year. He knows he had to be in a good situation to set up that next contract. The one thing he had to be convinced of was he would be put in a situation where he would have a good run at another contract. At the very least Vancouver has to convince him of that. –Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

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VGK Set To Advance Next Postseason Against Weak Pacific

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Throughout team history, Vegas averages 102 points over an 82 game season. This season, 102 points would’ve earned Vegas a third place finish in the Pacific Division and a seven game series against Edmonton. There’s a strong case that a healthy Golden Knights roster would’ve given the Oilers a run for their money.

There are no excuses and we need to have a good start and go from there, but this is part of playoff hockey and you’re going to go through adversity. There are no easy games and no easy series, so we’re going to be prepared to go .-Ryan Nugent Hopkins, EDM forward

So far, only the Central Division has had a team eliminated. In a few days, it’s possible two of three Pacific Division teams are sent home packing as well. Sure, Calgary is up a game but Dallas hasn’t been an easy opponent. In the other western series, the Oilers have fallen right into the trap of the underdog Kings. It’s premature but none of the three Pacific teams are looking like favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Let’s say the Golden Knights are healthy enough next season to make the playoffs. If they top off at 102 points they would likely be the second or third team coming out of the Pacific. In that case, Vegas would be guaranteed to face off against a divisional rival. Chances are the familiar faces will be in play in 2022-23. Which statistically favors the Golden Knights.

It’s not just about scoring. There’s a lot more to the game than that.-Daryl Sutter, CGY coach

Since 2017-18, Vegas has a total of 464 points. The Golden Knights have earned more than a third from inside their division. Excluding the now Central Division Coyotes, the Golden Knights have tallied 176 Pacific Division points in 119 games. That’s a hearty .676 winning % against the teams Vegas faces most and in the opening rounds of the playoffs.

Golden Knights fans have now watched how predictable the Pacific division has been for half a decade. LA in and Vegas out was the only real surprise over that period. The landscape will likely stay the same next season.

When the oddsmakers set the lines for next season’s divisional leaders the Golden Knights are likely to be the favorite. Other teams have areas to address as well. Calgary will have to make some big decisions, so will Edmonton, San Jose and Vancouver. LA’s quick climb to the postseason will be interesting if it keeps up, especially if a healthy Vegas team is rolling. In year six no matter what changes have been made the Golden Knights will have a chance to fight for the division and form a path to another conference final. It’s that easy, depending on offseason changes.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 (40-29-5 85 PTS) – OT

Recap: The Golden Knights got off to rough start in Vancouver. The Canucks scored on their first shot after Alex Pietrangelo was called for a tripping minor. Vegas stuck to their game and got some luck late in the opening period. Mattias Janmark fluttered the puck on net and it fortunately bounced off Alec Martinez into the Canucks goal. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the first intermission. 

The scoring picked up in the middle frame. Vancouver regained their lead 1:27 into the period and added another two minutes later. Michael Amadio responded quickly for Vegas to get his team within one. Unfortunately, the Canucks took advantage of a 2-on-1 and held a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes of action.

Shea Theodore gave Vegas life by scoring five minutes into the final period and he tied the game with :42 seconds left in the period to send the game to overtime. Vancouver went on to win 5-4 in OT to pick up the extra point. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 40-29-5 after falling 5-4 to the Canucks. Vegas picks up one point as their trip continues on Thursday night in Calgary. Puck drop against the Flames is set for 6 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights were mightily outplayed in the 2nd period but they were definitely good enough in the 1st and 3rd to overcome it. They were able to push the game to OT due to yet another goal with the net empty, but the OT session was rough. In the end, it comes down to special teams, where VGK didn’t kill and they didn’t capitalize on the PP chances. One point is ok, but they really could have used both. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

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Pacific North Teams Won’t Make It Easy On Visiting Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas is arguably on their most important road trip of the season beginning tonight in Vancouver. Three games against three hungry Canadian teams from the Pacific Division. The Canucks are desperately scratching and clawing, the Flames are in 1st place, and the Oiler’s high-powered offense has likely fueled them to the playoffs. There’s no understating, the next set of games are vital to Vegas’ postseason pursuit.

We’re doing whatever it takes to win. Whether it’s killing big penalties or scoring big goals on the power play. We have the ability in our room. It’s just a matter of us going out there and do it. -Bo Horvat, VAN captain

Let’s start with Vancouver. As Golden Knights fans watched last week the Canucks are not a team to take lightly. The team in green and blue are riding a three-game win streak and have no room for mistakes.

We all know how we have to finish this season. There’s no point of putting all of the stress on yourself. Every game is stressful because it’s do or die. We’ll play the right way and give ourselves a chance. It’s right in front of us. -JT Miller, VAN forward

Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau has his players loose and motivated for a chance to shock the conference. If Vegas drops tonight’s game, Vancouver will be only two points behind them. Vegas fans are already scoreboard watching LA, Dallas, and Nashville games, there’s not enough energy to keep tabs on another. That’s why the Golden Knights must play sound defensively, take advantage of second chances and get their star players back to form. Most importantly, leave British Columbia with two points.

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VANCOUVER CANUCKS 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (39-29-4 82 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights looked to continue their win streak by hosting divisional rival Vancouver Canucks. Vegas center Jack Eichel gave his team the first lead of the game with his 10th as a Golden Knight. Vancouver responded four minutes later with two goals in a :17 second span. After twenty minutes the visitors held a 2-1 edge. 

The Canucks offense continued to push the pace in the 2nd period pressuring the Golden Knights’ defense. Vancouver added two goals to their lead and took a 4-1 advantage into the second intermission. 

Quickly into the final period the Golden Knights committed another costly penalty that the Canucks took advantage of. Vancouver stretched their lead to 5-1 scoring their second power play goal of the game. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 39-29-4 losing 5-1 to the Canucks. Vegas ends their five game win streak and miss out on an important two points. The players will get a chance to rebound on Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes. Puck drop is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Vegas scored first yet again, but not much went well after that. Elias Pettersson completely dominated the game every time he was on the ice and the Golden Knights couldn’t stop him or themselves from causing problems in the VGK end. An absolutely terrible performance in a game they really needed. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 VANCOUVER CANUCKS 2 (39-28-4 82 PTS) – OT

Recap: The Golden Knights came out firing in Vancouver taking the first 10 of 11 shots. Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo registered his 13th goal of the season on a quick wrist shot. Up 1-0, Jonathan Marchessault added his 28th doubling VGK’s lead. After the opening 20 minutes the Golden Knights led 2-0.

The 2nd period was uneventful. Both teams protected the puck and wouldn’t allow each other’s offense many chances. Vegas held their 2-0 lead into the second intermission. 

Vancouver cut Vegas’ lead in the half quickly into the final period. The Canucks were later awarded a power play which resulted in the game-tying goal. The game needed an overtime to decide a winner. Shea Theodore slipped in his 11th of the season to end the game in sudden death. 

The Golden Knights record improves to 39-28-4 beating the Canucks 3-2 in overtime. The two teams will match up again on Wednesday from T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights were in control of the game through the first 40 minutes. Dominating in the neutral zone, generating chances off Vancouver mistakes, and winning to loose pucks it looked like Vegas would skate to an easy win. But the 3rd period was anything but easy as the Canucks stormed back and very easily could have won the game. In OT, the Golden Knights got a bit of luck to go their way as Marchessault slipped and caused a 3-on-1 rush because of it. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

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Seattle Tonight, Eager Vancouver Next

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

I’m sure many Golden Knights fans were up scoreboard watching last night hoping the Dallas Stars and LA Kings would each drop two points. Unfortunately, both teams teased local fans and won in overtime and a shootout. My suggestion, pace yourself. With many tight races there could be some stressful nights ahead.

Tonight, the Golden Knights will play an opponent they have and should handle easily. Of course, it’s possible Seattle ends Vegas’ three-game win streak but in reality, the visiting team should leave with four points. It’ll alleviate some pressure heading into Sunday’s game against Vancouver.

I told a story today. I said my first year coaching in the NHL we needed to win 12 out of the last 13 games,” and we did. And we had to win the last seven and we did to get in by one point. These things happen. By no stretch does anybody, unless they’re lying to me, think that we’re done. But, I mean, we have to go on a pretty good run.-Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

After Seattle, Vegas will face an eager Vancouver team in an old-fashioned home-and-home matchup. The two teams meet up a final time on April 12th. While the playoffs look dim for the Canucks, they are led by a coach that thrives as an afterthought. There’s no doubt Vancouver will be in postseason mode against Vegas. Essentially, their season could come down to the next two games.

I try to stay away from the big things and try and make it more palatable. They can buy into and say ‘all we have to do is play good tonight and let’s worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.’-Bruce Boudreau, Canucks coach

I’m sure Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer has his own anecdotes and stories he passes along to his players as well. The only difference is Vancouver needs a miracle to survive while Vegas is expected to participate in the playoffs. DeBoer would be ecstatic picking up another win tonight and four combined points against the Kraken. The Golden Knights longest winning streak is five games so he’s aware it’s unlikely to continue against other desperate teams. It’s vital to pluck points from every lottery team left on Vegas’ schedule.

  • Tonight @ Seattle
  • April 9th vs. Arizona
  • April 18th vs. New Jersey
  • April 24th vs. San Jose
  • April 27th @ Chicago

The Golden Knights are fully aware that if they take advantage of lighter opponents the playoffs will be in their grasp. They cannot afford to let games slip away so it’s only worth focusing on one game at a time. Take control of the next three games and Vegas will nearly eliminate Vancouver, and be in a temporary playoff position. Then they’ll likely need to sweep their Alberta trip and leapfrog Dallas in the final week of the season.

Nevermind my earlier advice, after tonight the stress level will be unbearable. Hopefully, we’ll get a night off from scoreboard watching.

Consecutive Games Against Same Opponent Has Suited Golden Knights Well

In the first 68 games this season, the Golden Knights have not played the same opponent in consecutive games a single time. That’s about to change with the next four games. Tomorrow Vegas heads to Seattle to play the Kraken twice in a row before they depart for Vancouver for a home and home against the Canucks.

Normally, in the NHL this is a rarity. Over the course of the Golden Knights’ first three seasons, they played the same team in consecutive games just three times. 2017-18 had pairs of games against the Coyotes early in the season and the Kings right at the trade deadline. 2019-20 included a season-opening duo against the Sharks following the wild seven-game series the year before.

On each of those three occasions, the same team won both games. Vegas swept Arizona and San Jose and the Kings took both off Vegas. That also is considered a rarity.

The back-to-back, it’s the old college hockey thing, it’s really hard to sweep a team. -Pete DeBoer

This was a massive talking point heading into last season when COVID restrictions forced nearly the entire schedule to consist of back-to-back games against the same team.

For Vegas though, it actually ended up working out in their favor.

We did do it a lot last year and we were successful. -DeBoer

The schedule worked out fine for the Golden Knights, but we don’t ever need to see this again. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights played a pair of games against the same team 19 different times. Vegas won both games 11 times against six of the seven other teams in the division. The Golden Knights only lost both games twice and each time it was to the same opponent, the Minnesota Wild. They even took a point in one of them too.

Vegas ripped off a 10 game winning streak last season in which the first eight were all in this exact situation. Winning pairs against Arizona, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose the Golden Knights then went on to beat the Ducks and Avs to finish the stretch.

Using this “college hockey” style schedule, the Golden Knights went on to rack up the most points of any team in the league, tied with Colorado, and they hoisted the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against during the season.

Now, Vegas is in need of points in the worst way. With two against Seattle and two more against Vancouver, seven or eight points has to be the goal. Conventional wisdom says that’s going to be tough given the mini-series against each team, but history indicates the exact opposite.

If VGK can channel their inner 2021, they have a great chance of amassing points in bunches this week off the backs of two inferior opponents.

VGK’s Head-To-Head Dominance Over Pacific Division Slipping

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the Golden Knights entered the NHL they’ve done nothing but dominate the Pacific Division.

Not just in the overall standings, in which the Golden Knights have won the division two of the three years they’ve competed in it, but also in the postseason where Vegas has been the last team standing three of the four playoff seasons.

One of the main reasons for this dominance has been the head-to-head play between the teams. Of the six teams still in the division (Arizona left for the Central), the Golden Knights had a combined record of 68-21-8 record coming into this season. That’s 144 points in just 97 games or a points percentage of .742. Against all other teams, VGK have earned 226 points in 194 games for a points percentage of .583.

Literally almost 40% of the points the Golden Knights have earned in franchise history have come on the backs of just six teams. But this year it hasn’t gone as well.

Record against ANA, CGY, EDM, LAK, SJS, and VAN
21-22: 2-4-0 (.333)
20-21: 21-3-0 (.875)
19-20: 13-5-2  (.700)
18-19: 18-8-3 (.672)
17-18: 16-5-3 (.729)

The Golden Knights have won just two games against Pacific Division opponents not named Seattle while dropping four. They’ve lost both division games they’ve played on the road (at LAK, at ANA) and have allowed their opponent to grab at least a point in every game but one, a game they trailed 2-0 six minutes in (vs VAN).

Winning in the division has been a staple for the Golden Knights’ success and one has to wonder what their overall record will look like if they are not amassing huge point totals against the Pacific Division.

Obviously, Seattle has helped as Vegas has beaten them twice in two tries, both in regulation. However, those games were both at T-Mobile Arena and the Kraken appear to be improving as the season progresses. The next two matchups in late March and early April may not be as easy.

There are still 18 games left against division opponents. Including Seattle, the Golden Knights have recorded eight points in the first eight games. To reach their normal pace against the division (.742), they’d need to go 15-2-1.

Making that even trickier, 10 of the 18 games are on the road, including a pair in Edmonton and Calgary who are in 1st and 2nd in the division.

Adding this all up, the fact of the matter is, the Golden Knights are going to need to play much better out of division than they ever have before to reach the playoffs.

There’s no better time than now to start that as nine of the next 10 games are out of the division.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 7 VANCOUVER CANUCKS 4 (9-6-0 18 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights got off to a slow start conceding twice early in the 1st. They stuck with it though and scored a 5-on-3 power play goal a few seconds before the horn to head into the first intermission.

In the 2nd, Vegas came out flying with goals from Reilly Smith and Brayden McNabb on eerily similar plays. Both guys slotted a shot from the left circle past Thatcher Demko. A slew of penalties had the final few minutes of the period flipping between four-on-four and power plays for each team. Nils Hoglander scored to tie the game up.

The 3rd period was a wild one filled with Golden Knights goals. Vegas scored four times including the first career goal by Jake Leschyshyn.

The Golden Knights record improves to 9-6-0 winning their third game in a row. Vegas continues the six-game homestand on Tuesday with a game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop at T-Mobile Arena is scheduled for 7 PM.  (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A track meet at T-Mobile Arena resulted in the Golden Knights solving Thatcher Demko. VGK was just a bit better at finishing off chances than the Canucks and Vegas did well to hang in there despite the early deficit and a pair of blown leads. (Recap by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks game at T-Mobile Arena.

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