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Tag: Western Conference Final

Golden Knights And City Of Las Vegas Make NHL History Yet Again

Photo from Kartane in SinBin Discord

I could use a break from the puzzling decisions the Golden Knights’ front office made last week, I’m sure the fans can as well. With that, let’s completely ignore roster management and highlight yet another accomplishment by the 31st franchise. After holding the 2024 NHL Draft at The Sphere, the Vegas Golden Knights and the City of Las Vegas have hosted every one of the NHL’s major events. It’s a rare feat as many established teams haven’t had the opportunity to complete what Vegas has in only seven full seasons.

Major NHL Events Hosted In Las Vegas

  • 2017 – NHL Expansion Draft
  • 2018 – Stanley Cup Finals
  • 2022 – NHL All-Star Game
  • 2023 – Stanley Cup Finals
  • 2024 – NHL Draft

Front offices, agents, rookies, and fans all packed Las Vegas’ most desired venue for the league’s annual entry draft. The host team Golden Knights picked Trevor Connelley at #17, while also continuing to show off our beautiful city to the hockey world. The NHL Draft makes it the league’s fourth major event Las Vegas has hosted since 2017. The Stanley Cup finals (2018, 2023), All-Star game (2022) and the NHL Draft (2024) have now all taken place in Southern Nevada. Some teams haven’t seen any of these soirées in their hometowns, let alone all of them.

Sure, the Golden Knights have a leg up on most of the other 32 NHL destinations, but the league only awarded the city with the All-Star Game and NHL Draft. The team and the players were the reason the Stanley Cup Trophy was handed out in Sin City. Just think about this, since VGK’s first season there have been six individual champions, a third of them hoisted the Stanley Cup on the Golden Knights home ice. Vegas may have been on the wrong side of one of those T-Mobile Arena celebrations, but they made up for five seasons later.

Teams To Never Host A Stanley Cup Final

  • Columbus Blue Jackets: 2000 – Present
  • Minnesota Wild: 2000 – Present
  • Seattle Kraken: 2021 – Present
  • Winnipeg Jets: 1999 – Present
  • Utah/Arizona: 1996 – Present

There are teams established before the turn of the century that have almost nothing to show for, while the Golden Knights have secured the 2023 Stanley Cup trophy and participated in four conference championships since 2018. The NHL likes to spread the wealth when it comes to exhibitions and off-ice celebrations. The league rewards franchises with major events like the All-Star game, Award Show, and the NHL Draft but it ends there for five NHL franchises. The Golden Knights created their own destiny by reaching the final four in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2023. VGK crossed the two toughest events to host off the list in their inaugural season.

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Reliving The 2023 Western Conference Final

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to remember the last time the Golden Knights and Stars met in the playoffs, the 2023 Western Conference Final.

*Highlights are attached to each game, just press “Game 1” to watch them.*

Game 1

Just before the horn sounded on an active 1st period offensively for both teams, a bad hop along the wall in the Vegas defensive zone helped Dallas get on the board first in the series. The Golden Knights struck back midway through the 2nd with a shot from the point that went off the back wall and directly onto William Karlsson’s stick. Karlsson gave Vegas the lead early in the 3rd when he pounced on a loose puck in the slot and fired one clean past Jake Oettinger. Dallas would level the score but a classic 4th line drive to the goal created a loose puck on the doorstep and Teddy Blueger slammed it home. Jamie Benn tied the game with the Dallas net empty which sent the game to overtime. Just two minutes into OT, Chandler Stephenson’s excellent zone entry set up a wonderful chance for Mark Stone. His shot was stopped, but Brett Howden worked to get the puck back and threw a shot at the net from below the goal line that pinballed across the line.

It was a great start to the series for the Golden Knights as they controlled play for most of the game, dominated at both blue lines, and had the lion’s share of the chances. It took a little longer than expected to get across the line, but they eventually got there.

Game 2

The Stars struck first in Game 2 as well when a long-range shot hit a Golden Knight in front of the goal and hopped over Adin Hill. A two-man advantage helped Vegas tie the score later in the 1st as a failed cross-ice pass ended up on Mark Stone’s stick right in front of the net. Jason Robertson’s second goal of the series put the Stars back on top. Vegas managed just 10 shots on goal through the first two periods and entered the 3rd down a goal. Moments before pulling the goalie, Jack Eichel set up Jonathan Marchessault with an incredible no-look pass that tied the game and sent it to OT once again. Just over a minute into overtime Chandler Stephenson collected a rebound with a perfectly timed drive to the net to poke home the game-winner and give VGK the 2-0 series lead.

This game was much more leaning in Dallas’ favor but the Golden Knights were still able to generate plenty of offense by causing Stars turnovers. Hill came up huge and Mr. Clutch, Jonathan Marchessault, was there to save the day before the clock struck midnight.

Game 3

On their first shift of the game, Jack Eichel fed another slick pass to Jonathan Marchessault to give the Golden Knights the lead very early in the 1st. Not even a minute later, Jamie Benn visciously cross-checked Mark Stone and was assessed a major penalty and eventually a two-game suspension. The Stars looked like they might kill the five minutes off and even had a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. But seconds later, Nic Roy fed Ivan Barbashev for a power play goal that demoralized Dallas less than six minutes in. William Carrier extended the lead with a backhand shot Oettinger whiffed on. The Stars would pepper Adin Hill with shots but they never could solve him and Vegas would go on to win 4-0 thanks to another power play goal.

Benn led with a foolish penalty that put his team in a hole and the Stars followed. For the third straight series, the Golden Knights had broken their opponents’ will, and it was just a matter of time before VGK punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 4

Looking for the sweep, the Golden Knights wasted no time getting on the board again in Game 4 as Karlsson poked home a Reilly Smith shot-pass to put VGK up 1-0 inside five minutes. Another Jason Robertson power play tally would tie it late in the 1st. Jonathan Marchessault gave Vegas the lead back scoring a one-timer off a great feed from Brayden McNabb. The Stars tied it in the 2nd and continued to generate chances in the 3rd, but Vegas held strong to send the game to overtime for the 3rd time in four games. This one ended quickly in OT as well but with the Stars’ Joel Pavelski delivering the dagger this time around.

It’s never easy to sweep and team and the Stars proved it in Game 4. Vegas scored first and could have run away with it, but Dallas never went away and eventually eeked one out in the extra frame.

Game 5

Midway through the 1st period, Jack Eichel created havoc on the forecheck allowing Ivan Barbashev to pick the puck up, drive the net, and slot it home to give the Golden Knights a lead. Dallas evened it with a spray-and-pray goal but Chandler Stephenson gave Vegas the lead back early in the 2nd. It wouldn’t last long as Jason Robertson continued his torrid pace tying the game. Adin Hill was beat for one of the only soft goals he allowed the entire postseason to give the Stars a 3-2 advantage which they would extend and walk out of T-Mobile Arena with the win.

The worst game of the series for VGK started well but went downhill as it went on. Hill bailed them out time and time again but couldn’t do it long enough to secure the series win on that day.

Game 6

Enough was finally enough for the Golden Knights as they took Game 6 by the scruff of the neck and would not be denied their trip to the Final. Vegas were all over the Stars from the moment the puck dropped. Goals by William Carrier, William Karlsson, and Keegan Kolesar built up the 1st period lead and the Golden Knights never stopped.

When all was said and done, it was a 6-0 victory and Vegas had punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.

Dallas Brought Desperation And Tactical Adjustments To Game 4, VGK’s Turn To Counter

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

The Golden Knights have the Stars on the brink. With their backs against the wall, Vegas knew they’d get everything Dallas had left in the tank in Game 4. That of course comes with the cliches of desperation, higher levels of intensity, and in this particular series, trying to keep the season alive long enough to get Jamie Benn back from suspension.

Desperation was the highest it’s been. At home, you know what’s on the line, what the stakes are. Everyone came to play and we’re going to need that same desperation through these next three games. -Jason Robertson

What Game 4 also came with was a few new players in the Dallas lineup, a brand new set of lines through the bottom-nine, and a couple of tactical tweaks.

We felt they were forechecking the puck side very heavily and trying to outnumber us on that side. So that took away a little but of our ability to break out on the strong side. When we did we were good, and we did on the first goal by Karlsson. They were on us quicker after that. So we tried to change sides with some rims and we tried to balance our breakouts but that’s one area I noticed for sure they were more content to forecheck us and it worked for them. -Cassidy

As Cassidy mentioned, one of the first times the Stars tried to aggressively attack the strong side of Vegas’ breakout, the Golden Knights beat it and ended up scoring a goal. Watch.

As you can see, all five Stars players are on one side of the ice. Reilly Smith makes an excellent play along the boards to eliminate the pinching Ryan Suter and the Golden Knights are off to the races.

Of course, there’s a lot more to do on this play to end up putting it into the back of the net (including getting a lot of help from Suter’s peculiar route back into his own zone), but it all started with a clean breakout against a numbers disadvantage along the wall.

That adjustment would pay off for the Stars though. Here’s the very next time they got the puck in deep.

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