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Recap: The Golden Knights entered Game 4 two wins away from the Western Conference finals. Vegas took the first lead after Max Pacioretty’s quick wrist shot slipped through Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom’s pads. The Canucks tied the game 1-1 with a power play goal midway through the first. Two minutes later, Chandler Stephenson regained the lead for Vegas after a nice give-and-go pass with Shea Theodore. Starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 7 out of 8 Vancouver shots taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Vancouver evened the game early, and took the lead later in the 2nd period. It was the Canucks second power play goal that gave them a 3-2 lead. Markstrom held the Golden Knights scoreless on 14 shots in the 2nd period. 

The tide turned in the 3rd period as the Golden Knights came out ready to take care of business. Nate Schmidt tied the game 2:52 into the final twenty minutes, and Pacioretty gave Vegas the lead 4-3 with his second goal of the night. William Karlsson joined the party stretching the Golden Knights lead 5-4. Fleury stopped 27 of Vancouver’s 30 shots on net and earned his first win of the series. 

With their 5-3 victory the Golden Knights lead 3-1 in their best-of-seven game series. Vegas will have a chance at clinching the second round matchup with the Canucks on Tuesday night. Game 5 will air on NBC Sports Network scheduled for 6:45 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For the first time in four games the Canucks proved they could match up with the Golden Knights physically. They used a strong 2nd period to take a lead, but the Golden Knights were quick to offer some proof of their own that it was not sustainable for Vancouver. Vegas dominated the 3rd period from start to finish and banged in three quick goals to take hold of the game and the series. We knew it coming in, we really know it now, the Canucks cannot play 60 minutes with the Golden Knights. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 4 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks in Round 2 series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • One bad period has not led to two for the Golden Knights

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Max Pacioretty
* Shea Theodore


Recap: The Golden Knights quickly took control of Game 3. After killing an early penalty Vegas forward Alex Tuch scored the first goal of the game. It was Tuch’s seventh goal of the postseason. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud didn’t hesitate to give his team a two-goal lead 1:23 later. It was Whitecloud’s second of the playoffs making it a 2-0 1st period lead. Starting goaltender Robin Lehner fought off several power plays and a barrage of Vancouver shots holding Vegas’ two goal edge after the opening twenty minutes. 

The Golden Knights heavily pressured the Canucks in the 2nd period. They outshot Vancouver 15-7 and held their two goal lead. Both goaltenders were strong saving all 22 shots in the middle frame. 

The Golden Knights struggled on the power play until Mark Stone broke the seal in the 3rd period. Stone’s sixth of the postseason extended Vegas’ the lead 3-0. Lehner was flawless again saving all 32 shots and shutting out the Canucks for the second time in three games. 

With their 3-0 victory the Golden Knights reclaim their series lead 2-1 in their best-of-seven game series. The second round matchup with the Canucks continues tomorrow night. Game 4 will air on NBC Sports Network scheduled for 7:30 PM (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The 1st period was filled with penalties on both sides and if not for Robin Lehner’s brilliance it could have been trouble early for the Golden Knights. But, when the game was played at 5-on-5, which is was for a majority of the 2nd and 3rd, the Canucks had no answers for the Golden Knights. A classic, dominant victory in the fashion anyone who handicapped this series would have expected. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 3 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks in Round 2 series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • Back-to-backs in the playoffs: Why does VGK think they must play both goalies, plenty of team’s don’t.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nic Roy
** Alex Tuch
* Robin Lehner

Can Vegas Avoid Vancouver’s Shot Blocking Defense In Game 3?

It’s no secret the Golden Knights like to shoot, a lot. In Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks, Vegas took 40 shots on net. Not only were the Golden Knights peppering shots on opposing goaltender Jacob Markstrom, but also the ankles, arms, and legs of the Canucks skaters. At the conclusion of their 5-2 loss on Tuesday, Vegas attempted 93 shots; 2 goals, 13 missed the net, 38 saved by Markstrom, and a whopping 40 blocked by 16 Canucks players.

That shows how unselfish we are. Everyone sticking together and doing the dirty work. I know it’s not fun and you see the ice packs after games. As a goalie I appreciate that. -Jacob Markstrom, VAN goaltender

(Photo Credit: Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

The Canucks set a franchise playoff record with their 40 blocked shots in Game 2. Vancouver’s desperation mode kicked in and players paid a physical price in tying up their seven-game series 1-1 with Vegas. The Canucks were fearlessly getting in the way of shots, frustrating some of Vegas’ most lethal shooters like Max Pacioretty and Shea Theodore. Both had points in Game 2 but were victimized by Vancouver’s wall of defense.

Game 2: Shea Theodore
14 Shot Attempts
8 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Max Pacioretty
15 Shot attempts
5 Shots on Net
7 Blocked Shots

Game 2: Alec Martinez
8 Shot Attempts
0 Shots on Net
6 Blocked Shots
2 Missed Shots

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Golden Knights And Canucks Have Both Beaten Themselves So Far, Not The Other Way Around

The Golden Knights played well in Game 1. They didn’t in Game 2. The same can be said, but in reverse, for the Canucks.

In real-time last night, the game felt like a complete mess for Vegas. The neutral zone seemed wide open, the forechecking was much lighter than in Game 1, and the Golden Knights appeared to be struggling to get out of their own zone every time the puck was in it.

I took the time to go back over and watch both games with a keen eye looking for differences between mental or physical errors and tactical advantages to try and confirm what I saw live. I expected to find one game that showed Vegas imposing their style and the other game Vancouver doing it. That’s not what happened.

Instead, what I saw was a rash of errors by both teams. For the Golden Knights in Game 2, it was mostly errors that led directly to goals. For the Canucks, it was a bit of a slower burn as their mistakes piled up leading to constant pressure by the Golden Knights.

Once Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb blew a coverage in their own end leading to a 2-on-0 in front of Robin Lehner. Another time William Karlsson was caught puck watching and Elias Pettersson was given a Grade A chance that he scored. And another Shea Theodore was simply outskated in the neutral zone, which almost never happens, and it wound up placing Alec Martinez in a position where he had to cover two high-end players right around the goal mouth.

The Canucks did not impose their will on the Golden Knights in Game 2 as much as the Golden Knights shot themselves in the foot.

I thought we could have tied it up in the 2nd or at the very least been down 2-1 but we make a mental mistake on a faceoff play and we’re down 3-1 and have nothing to show for the work you put in to get back in the game. -DeBoer

On the other side, Game 1 was a lot of the same from the Canucks. They struggled to move the puck out of their own end with precision. They bobbled passes that a playoff team normally wouldn’t. And in many cases, plays that NHL players normally make in tight situations were not being made.

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Recap: The Vancouver Canucks needed a quick start to Game 2 and they got it. Vancouver took their first lead of the series scoring on starter Robin Lehner 1:29 into the game. Vancouver doubled their lead ten minutes later to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. 

Alex Tuch scored his sixth postseason goal in the 2nd period to get Vegas within one. Vancouver would respond going up 3-1 with 1:25 left in the middle frame. Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom was strong in net stopping 21 of 22 second period shots by the Golden Knights. 

Vancouver stretched their lead to 4-1 on the first shift of the 3rd period. It took the Canucks :18 seconds to set up their fourth goal of the game. Vegas added a second goal late on a 6-in-5 situation to make it 4-2 Vancouver. However, the Canucks would get it back on a last-minute empty-net goal. Markstrom continued his outstanding performance stifling the Golden Knights potent offense and securing a 5-2 Canucks victory.

Vegas is now tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven game series with Vancouver. The second round matchup continues on Thursday night. Game 3 will air on NBC Sports Network scheduled for 6:45 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights got out-desperationed (that’s a term, trust me) from the time the puck was dropped. They allowed Vancouver to get into the style of game they wanted to and the Golden Knights could not turn it around. Vegas stepped it up in the 2nd period, but couldn’t find the finishing touch enough and the frame was capped off by a breakdown off a draw. Overall, just not good enough, but Vegas knows if they play their style, the Canucks can’t stay with them. It’s a five-game series now. Vegas remains a massive favorite.  (Analysis by Ken)

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

  • A look at how Vancouver did it and how VGK can easily stop it as the series progresses

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nic Roy
** Nick Cousins
* Alex Tuch

Game 1 Allowed DeBoer To Balance Time On Ice, Setting VGK Up For The Future

When a team is in complete control of a game like the Golden Knights were Sunday, it allows a coach to balance his players’ minutes a bit more evenly.

It was a luxury coach Pete DeBoer was given when his team held a multiple-goal lead for most of Game 1. He wasn’t forced to utilize Theodore for 28 minutes like he had in the past with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. DeBoer also balanced his forwards, using player’s like Ryan Reaves and William Carrier more than their season average. In fact, Reaves played the third-most minutes he had all season and hit the ice more than Max Pacioretty in Game 1.

Take a look at how DeBoer was able to roll his guys out in a dominant Game 1 compared to the rest of the playoffs and regular season.

Shea Theodore
Game 1: 19:40 TOI
Season Average: 22:14 TOI
Postseason Average: 22:57 TOI

Mark Stone
Game 1: 16:00 TOI
Season Average: 19:25 TOI
Postseason Average: 18:44 TOI

William Karlsson
Game 1: 16:21 TOI
Season Average: 18:52 TOI
Postseason Average: 19:13 TOI

Max Pacioretty
Game 1: 14:38 TOI
Season Average: 17:55 TOI
Postseason Average: 16:42 TOI

Ryan Reaves
Game 1: 14:50 TOI
Season Average: 10:09 TOI
Postseason Average: 10:04 TOI

Thanks to Antoine Roussel, Reaves was needed more than normal but it wasn’t just “to keep the flies off the honey.” Extra minutes for Reaves and Carrier equates to less postseason wear and tear on the top-six. Being that it was Game 1, DeBoer should have some well-rested stars for tonight’s matchup.

Going forward, if the Golden Knights and Canucks go deep in their second round series, or games go into overtime, DeBoer should have a bench full of fresh legs. Hopefully, the Golden Knights won’t be forced into a four or five overtime period game, but if they do, the advantage goes to the team that spread their minutes out in earlier games.

If the Golden Knights are able to perform as they did in Game 1, I’d expect DeBoer to deploy the same strategy again tonight. Any situation that has Vegas up by multiple goals, the bottom six, and the fourth line specifically, should see more ice time. But chances are the Canucks will permit that by sending Roussel on the ice to create his typical havoc.

Remember, Reilly Smith said this about Roussel and his antics.

So, I’m assuming if Roussel is out there mucking it up, DeBoer will be able to rest his stars again. If only Vancouver’s pest knew how to keep flies off the honey.

It Was Quite The Game 1, But It’s Still Just Game 1

The Golden Knights came out in Game 1 of Round 2 and threw a haymaker at the Vancouver Canucks. It landed right on the chin and knocked the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs right on their backside.

But unlike the Golden Knights, who have yet to experience any adversity (on the ice) in these playoffs, the young Canucks have been here before. In the Qualifying Round, they were pushed around in Game 1 by the Minnesota Wild, a game they lost 3-0 and trailed for 57 minutes. Then, after taking a 2-0 series lead against the Blues they dropped consecutive games and then fell behind 3-1 in the pivotal Game 5. In both cases, they got up off the mat and imposed their will on each opponent, closing out each series a game early.

This was probably our worst game so far. We’ve talked to our group a lot over the season and we’ll talk to them again. I’ve got a lot of belief in our group and that hasn’t changed. Whenever we’ve challenged them or asked them to respond they’ve always given an effort. It’s one game, we’ll meet with our group tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go for the next game. -Travis Green, VAN head coach

Luckily, the Golden Knights have some history to lean on to remind them that you can’t win a series in Game 1.

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Recap: Jonathan Marchessault scored the first goal of the series 11:37 into the opening period. Starting goaltender Robin Lehner stopped all eight of Vancouver’s 1st period shots to hold the 1-0 Vegas edge.

The Golden Knights offense took over the game in the 2nd period. Reilly Smith doubled Vegas’ lead with an early period power play goal. Mark Stone added another midway through the period, and Alex Tuch snapped one late giving the Golden Knights a dominant 4-0 lead.

Vegas continued to pressure Vancouver well into the 3rd period. The Golden Knights pushed the puck and went to work in the Canucks offensive zone. Max Pacioretty gave Vegas a commanding 5-0 lead with his second goal of the postseason. Lehner was flawless in net stopping all 26 shots on net to secure his first career postseason shutout.

With their 5-0 win Vegas now leads the best-of-seven game series 1-0. The second round matchup against Vancouver continues on Tuesday night. Game 2 is scheduled to air on NBC Sports Network at 645 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It couldn’t have been a much better Game 1 for the Golden Knights. They dominated the game from start to finish. Vegas scored at will and they kept Vancouver from doing just about anything. All the while they were almost picking on the Canucks. It truly was men against boys. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from Game 1 of the Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks in Round 2 series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place in the NHL Bubble.

  • Reminiscent of Game 1, Round 2, 2018

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Reilly Smith
** Mark Stone
* Alex Tuch

Probabilities Of Each Opponent Based On Round-Robin Seed

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL is a league built on parity. Winning the Stanley Cup is as much about matchups (and luck) as it is the skill of any given team. This year, the matchups have a chance to vary wildly as the league is re-seeding teams at the conclusions of the play-in and first rounds.

Unlike the eight teams with set play-in round matchups, the Golden Knights seed throughout the tournament is dependant on their performance in three round-robin games. The round-robin not only determines who the Golden Knights will play in the 1st Round, but it also determines the opponent in the 2nd round as well.

With four games in the play-in round, there are 16 possible outcomes between the eight teams. Using William Hill odds, we ranked them from most likely to least likely to occur. Then, using those rankings, we are able to show the probabilities of which team the Golden Knights would be most likely to face depending on which seed they end up with in the round-robin. (An explanation of how I arrived at these numbers is at the end of the article.)

 #1 Seed#2 Seed#3 Seed#4 Seed
Edmonton (5)59.6%
Nashville (6)33.0%22.3%
Vancouver (7)19.1%28.4%10.5%
Calgary (8)10.4%22.9%16.8%4.1%
Winnipeg (9)8.7%19.3%14.2%3.5%
Minnesota (10)13.8%20.6%7.6%
Arizona (11)26.7%18.1%
Chicago (12)40.4%

As you can see from the chart, there’s a significant advantage to finish atop the round-robin. Finishing first eliminates the possibility of a matchup with Edmonton, Nashville, or Vancouver, while coming in fourth takes away any chance to play Chicago, Arizona, or Minnesota.

Compare that to this chart, how Vegas has played against each of these eight teams.

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Las Vegas “Virtually A Lock” As NHL Hub City

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s one of the worst kept secrets, the city of Las Vegas is the front runner to become one of the NHL’s playoff hubs.

I think out West that Vegas is virtually a lock. I don’t know that there’s one perfect place but I sense that Vegas has an inside track.-Ray Ferraro, Ray & Dregs podcast

With the decision still in the hands of the league, TSN insider’s Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger spoke with Commissioner Gary Bettman about the plan to return to play and the selected hubs. Which could impact the Golden Knights and our city.

I’m going to have to make a decision collectively on this probably in about three weeks. I think in two weeks we’ll start narrowing down even further. Somewhere around three weeks we’re going to have to pull the trigger and start finalizing the arrangements and make our deposits. -Bettman

Over the past two months, we’ve covered every reason why Las Vegas makes sense to the NHL, but the decision really falls on the local and state governments. Bettman’s mention that any decision was still weeks away helps the city government assess the logistics. Once elected officials make their decision, the NHL can choose Las Vegas or not. Personally, I have a feeling that both parties would like to come to an agreement.

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