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Golden Knights Have Created A Reputation, They Need To Get Back To Living Up To It

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Winning the Stanley Cup brings a team many things. Among them is a reputation. All season long the Golden Knights have been dealing with being the defending champions and constantly getting a high level of focus and effort from the opposition night in and night out. No one takes Vegas lightly, and it has shown in the results this season as it’s been a bit of a rocky road for VGK.

Part of that reputation is the style of play needed to beat Vegas. Not only are teams ready and excited to play the Golden Knights, but they know exactly what is necessary to have a chance against what was the best team in hockey last season.

After last year we have a reputation of being this big heavy team, which we are, so they’ve created that for themselves. The tough part is now you have to live up to it for 82 games and in the playoffs again. So what they’ve created and should be an honor to be considered that way, they have to back it up every night. -Bruce Cassidy

This is specifically the case in the defensive zone.

Vancouver probably had a game plan of ‘if you want to win, you’ve got to get inside.’ Edmonton I’m sure will be saying the same thing. We have to do a better job taking care of business in front of our net. -Cassidy

The last two games Vegas has struggled to defend the area in front of their own goal. The Canucks sent players there consistently and it helped them generate four goals. Edmonton worked a little more around the outside, but they won many puck battles in front of the net to keep plays alive.

It’s not just on the defensive end though, VGK’s game has been lacking physicality going forward as well.

We need to be better on the forecheck to create some anxiety for them, create turnovers, and get us some chances. To me that was the difference in the game. They were miles ahead of us in that area. -Cassidy

If the Golden Knights want to have any success in the playoffs, they have to live up to their reputation every night. Vegas is not one of the most skilled teams in the league, nor are they anywhere close to being one of the fastest. To win, they must be dominant in front of their own net defensively, and wear teams down physically in the offensive end.

Listen, this is what you’re known as so if you want to continue to be known as that then that’s the ask every night. -Cassidy

With four games left in the regular season, timing is running out on getting their game in order. Step one to doing it is living up to the reputation that made them Stanley Cup champions. It hasn’t been there recently, it needs to be starting tomorrow.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (42-27-8, 92 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights didn’t take long to jump on the scoreboard first in the opening period. Jack Eichel notched his 28th and 29th goal of the season in the first eight minutes of the frame. Later in the period, the Golden Knights took two costly penalties. Vancouver took advantage and tied the game 2-2 before the break. 

The track meet between both teams continued in the middle frame. Noah Hanifin snapped the 2-2 tie on the power play midway through the period. Vancouver came right back scoring two goals to take a 4-3 lead into the second intermission. 

The third period was tight with both teams limiting chances. Vegas pulled their goalie with under two minutes remaining but couldn’t find the game-tying goal. 

The Golden Knights record drops to 42-27-8 falling to the Canucks 4-3 in Vancouver. Vegas will next face the Edmonton Oilers in a possible playoff preview on Wednesday night. Puck drop in Edmonton is scheduled for 5:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: VGK got off to a quick start thanks to a struggling goaltender in the opposing net. They scored on each of their first two shots but it went south from there. A couple penalties put the Canucks right back in it, then VGK’s offense kind of shut off aside from one more power play goal. They looked stagnant in the O-Zone and didn’t have enough forecheck to get through a stingy Vancouver D. Two blown leads against a potential upcoming playoff opponent. (Analysis by Ken)

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

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Pacific Leading Team Losing Confidence As Regular Season Wraps Up

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Less than a month ago, the Golden Knights were deemed a postseason bubble team. Panic set in, the losses were piling up and SinBin’s postgame Periscopes were getting longer. Today, the reigning Stanley Cup champions are three points from earning home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Ignoring last night’s 7-4 blunder in Arizona, the Golden Knights have been performing at their best since opening the season with an 11-0-1 record.

There were about three or four plays, you’ve got to go through people, we weren’t going through people. In this game — and that’s a good wall team — they’re a team that holds on to pucks, so you have to go through people. We were caught in between. There were like four plays where if you go through the player, they probably don’t get the odd-man rush. I don’t know why they weren’t ready to play. -Rick Tocchet, VAN coach

After Vegas lopsided 6-3 victory over the Pacific division leader, the Canucks were noticeably shaken. The comments from Canucks players and coach Rick Tocchet had a hint of deep realization. It’s possible Vancouver internally acknowledged the Golden Knights are deeper and are better shaped for the playoffs.

The players know it and so does Tocchet.

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Latest Round Of Power Rankings Ignoring VGK’s Past Success

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If last night’s 6-3 win over the Pacific-leading Vancouver Canucks was any indication of how the Golden Knights will perform in the playoffs, the league better take notice. The reigning champions are back to form and are looking like a club prepared to repeat. However, outside of the 702 there are skeptics in every corner of the NHL map.

Going into last season’s playoff the Golden Knights were on the shortlist of favorites to win the Stanley Cup. This year, the 2023 champions are being overlooked by many who cover the league. In the latest release of numerous NHL power rankings, most critics buried Vegas as if they were some substandard Wild Card beneficiary.

Western Conference Playoff Polling Averages

  1. COL – (1.5)
  2. DAL – (2.3)
  3. EDM – (3.0)
  4. VAN – (3.5)
  5. NAS – (4.7)
  6. WPG – (6.2)
  7. LAK – (6.7)
  8. VGK – (7.3)

We compiled data from ten different power rankings and calculated the average for each contending Western Conference team. Those references include: CBS Sports, Daily Faceoff, ESPN, Hockey News, MoneyPuck, NHL.com, Seattle Times, Sportsnet, TSN, and USA Today.

In the Western Conference ,among contenders, the Golden Knights were at the bottom or close to it in most power rankings. LA and Winnipeg were the two closest in the eyes of various judges.

USA Today: 1. COL, 2. CAR, 3. NYR, 4. FLA, 5. EDM, 6. DAL, 7. NAS, 8. BOS, 9. VGK, 10. TB, 11. VAN, 12. TOR, 13. PHI, 14. LAK, 15. WPG, 16. WAS

Only USA Today’s rankings had Vegas higher than the seventh-best club in the conference.

TSN: 1. COL, 2. CAR, 3. VAN, 4. EDM, 5. NAS, 6. NYR, 7. DAL, 8. FLA, 9. LAK, 10. TOR, 11. WPG, 12. BOS, 13. TB, 14. VGK, 15. MIN, 16. NJD

On the flip side, the folks up north at TSN aren’t expecting a Golden Knights championship repeat. Maybe they’ll reconsider after they pushed around Canada’s most successful team. TSN analysts are fair but tough. They boldly excluded two Eastern Conference playoff teams from their Top 20. The Sports Network did note that facing the Golden Knights would be a rotten reward for any division champion.

That said, earning a first-round playoff matchup against a wild-card team won’t be the win it’s been in previous years. The two teams occupying those spots right now are the Nashville Predators, 15-0-2 in their past 17 games, and the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights. -TSN

Sportsnet: 1. NYR, 2. COL, 3. DAL, 4. VAN, 5. CAR, 6. BOS, 7. NAS, 8. FLA, 9. TB, 10. EDM, 11. LAK, 12. TOR, 13. WPG, 14. WAS, 15. STL, 16. VGK

Canada’s second major hockey network wasn’t much kinder on Vegas. They had to remind fans about the Golden Knights mediocrity since Christmastime. Maybe their recent play will gain higher marks in Sportsnet’s next power rankings.

23 teams — including the frequently-maligned New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins — have a better points percentage than Vegas’ .488 mark since Dec. 15. Good thing the Knights had built a huge buffer by posting the third-best mark (.726) to that point. –Ryan Dixon on Sportsnet.ca

NHL.com: 1. NYR, 2. COL, 3. VAN, 4. DAL, 5. FLA, 6. BOS, 7. CAR, 8. NAS, 9. WPG, 10. EDM, 11. LAK, 12. TOR, 13. TB, 14. VGK, 15. WAS, 16. PHI

Last week we begrudgingly pointed out the Golden Knights horrendous 3rd period meltdowns. The NHL’s Dan Rosen emphasized that shortcoming in his latest power ranking. On a positive note the Golden Knights have only allowed one third period goal to start April.

The Golden Knights must, must, must be better in the third period. This isn’t just because they 4-1 lead after two periods against the Predators on Tuesday only to lose 5-4 in overtime. It’s not a recency bias. It’s longer than that. They are minus-12 in third-period goal differential in March, 26-14. They gave up the three in the third to the Predators on top of allowing three to the Lightning in a 5-3 loss, four to the Calgary Flames in a 4-1 loss, three to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-3 loss and four to the Buffalo Sabres in a 7-2 loss all this month. They’re winning a lot of games going into the third period and then they give it away. – Dan Rosen on NHL.com

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 6 VANCOUVER CANUCKS 3 (42-25-8, 92 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted Pacific rival Vancouver Canucks for a late season divisional meeting. It didn’t take long for Vegas to generate their offense. Deadline acquisition Anthony Mantha gave VGK a 1-0 lead 1:37 into the game. Jonathan Marchessault added his team-leading 41st goal of the season five minutes later. Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin wrapped up the 1st period scoring for Vegas, as they carried a 4-1 advantage into the first intermission.

Again, Vegas scored in the opening two minutes into the period. Vancouver recorded their second goal of the game but trailed Vegas 5-2 after 40 minutes of action.

Vancouver cut Vegas’ lead to 5-3 early in the final frame. Brett Howden tapped in a one time pass from Keegan Kolesar moments later to regain VGK’s three goal advantage. The reigning champions finished off the Canucks for their sixth win in the past seven games.

The Golden Knights record improves to 42-25-8 defeating the Canucks 6-3. Vegas will take a short flight to Arizona for a Friday night matchup against the Coyotes. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights used a dominant 1st period to jump all over a Canuck team that did not look ready for them. From there, they were able to hold strong enough and respond every time the Canucks generated anything. This version of the Golden Knights is finally starting to look like the one that one that Cup last year. (Analysis by Ken)

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

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Which Potential Playoff Matchup Is Best For The Golden Knights?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This surely won’t come back to bite me in the butt in a few weeks. But, enough of you are asking so, we’re doing it.

With eight games to play and about two weeks left in the regular season, the Golden Knights are in excellent position to make the playoffs for the 6th time in seven seasons. The way the standings shake out there are reasonably four teams Vegas could face in the opening round. They are the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers.

Which team presents the best matchup for the Golden Knights, and which is the worst? Here’s how I see it.

(In order of hardest to easiest matchup)

Colorado Avalanche
Record: 47-21-6 (100 points, .676 points percentage)
Goals For/Against Per Game: 3.77 / 2.99
vs. VGK: 1-1-0

The Avalanche of old are back this season and will be a major problem for whoever has to play them in the first round. This year’s team is much deeper than last year’s or even the year VGK beat them in six games. Nathan MacKinnon is having the best season of his career, which is pretty amazing considering how great his career has been, and the defensive unit might be the best in the league. My main concern with this matchup is the style of game a team must play to beat the Avs in the playoffs. It’s a heavy forecheck and strong backchecking game that frustrates the top players and forces them to make mistakes. The best version of VGK can pull it off but we haven’t seen that version much this season and there are a lot of new pieces in the lineup. So, doing it four times out of seven is a tall order. The weakness remains in goal which is something Vegas could certainly exploit. Alexander Georgiev has posted just a .901 save percentage this year and his history in the playoffs is limited and not overly impressive.

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Goals Allowed In 3rd Period Stalling Golden Knights In Standings

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Maybe, we’re overly concerned because it’s fresh on everyone’s mind. On Tuesday in Nashville, the Golden Knights coughed up a three-goal lead in the final 20 minutes of their overtime loss to the predatory Predators. It was the 10th time this month that Vegas has allowed an opponent to tie the game or take the lead in the final frame. It seems out of character for a reigning Stanley Cup champion known for their impeccable defense. Unfortunately, VGK’s suit of armor hasn’t been as effective lately.

We had a great 40 minutes. It’s just playing that complete 60 is something we have to get better at, obviously. When you have a lead like that, teams start to cheat a lot and produce offense. I don’t think we handled that well. – Noah Hanifin

Since the beginning of March, the Golden Knights have allowed more 3rd period goals than every other NHL team with the exception of the wretched San Jose Sharks. In 12 games this month, Vegas gave up 26 3rd period goals and their opponents are averaging 2.2 in the final frame alone.

VGK’s Month Of 3rd Period Generosity

  • 03/26/24 @ NAS: 3 (Game-Tying)
  • 03/25/24 @ STL: 1 (Game-Tying)
  • 03/21/24 vs. SEA: 1 (Game-Tying)
  • 03/19/24 vs. TB: 3 (Go Ahead/Game Winning, ENG)
  • 03/17/24 vs. NJD: 1 (Go Ahead)
  • 03/14/24 @ CGY: 4 (Game-Tying, Game Winning, ENG)
  • 03/12/24 @ SEA: 3 (Game-Tying, Go Ahead)
  • 03/09/24 @ DET: 2 (Game-Tying)
  • 03/04/24 @ CBJ: 3 (Game Winning, ENG)
  • 03/02/24 @ BUF: 4 (PPG, ENG)

VGK’s monthly total is far and away the most of any Western Conference contender. The nearest team is the Winnipeg Jets, who have allowed 14 goals in March.

Same goes for Vegas’ divisional foes. Vancouver, Edmonton and LA have allowed 13 3rd period goals or fewer since March 1st. There’s no way around it, the differential should be concerning for Golden Knights fans.

3rd Period Goals Allowed in March By Western Conference Contenders

  • 32nd – VGK: 26
  • 18th – WPG: 14
  • 15th – EDM: 13
  • 9th – DAL: 10
  • 5th – LAK: 8
  • 3rd – NAS: 6
  • 2nd – COL: 5
  • 1st – VAN: 5

It’s a stark difference between Vegas and the seven other clubs in the West with high hopes in the postseason. It should be noted that the Golden Knights have been impacted by injuries and illnesses this month. However, a battered lineup isn’t a good enough excuse for allowing 20 more goals than Colorado or Vancouver. One of those teams could be hosting the Golden Knights next month in the opening round of the playoffs. One 3rd period score could decide a series.

Sadly, March isn’t an outlier for the reigning champions. Over 72 games, the Golden Knights have allowed the 8th most 3rd period goals. This season, Vegas has given up 86 goals in the final 20 minutes. The allowance rate has severely impacted Vegas’ placement in the Western Conference standings. Thankfully, their 3rd period holes won’t be enough to cause the Golden Knights to miss the postseason cut line.

It’s not the end of the world. You’re going to have those nights, but we’ve been building in the right direction. We’ve been a lot closer to our game, and I thought we did a lot of things well. – Bruce Cassidy

Now, there are elements throughout the month that should be positively highlighted. Along with the Kings and the Predators, the Golden Knights have allowed the least amount of (6) 2nd period goals this month. To have an even more half glass full type attitude, Vegas only gave up (9) 1st period goals in March. If VGK can hold opponents to 0.8 goals through 40 minutes in the playoffs, 3rd period results are likely to change for the better.

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