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Adin Hill vs Dallas Part VI

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the past two series, Vegas goaltender Adin Hill has performed like a Conn Smythe candidate. Mark Stone and Jack Eichel are the headliners but the Golden Knights backstop is becoming an overnight sensation in 549 postseason minutes in net.

On the flip side, the Dallas Stars had full confidence in starting goaltender Jake Oettinger coming into the playoffs. It wasn’t a question of who would be in the net for the Stars. Through 18 postseason starts, Oettinger hasn’t been as sharp as he was for Dallas in the regular season The 24-year-old is significantly below his career averages in goals allowed per game and save percentage. Hill, however, has exceeded all expectations.

So what should we expect from the two netminders tonight in Dallas?

Every time our team’s stumbled, every time he’s had a stumble, his response has been exactly like it was tonight. I had no doubt that’s what we were going to get. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet. I think he’s starting to heat up here too. -Pete DeBoer

Stars coach Pete DeBoer has seen his share of goalie adventures in the past. In 2012, an ageless Martin Brodeur led DeBoer’s Devils to a Stanley Cup Final. As Sharks coach, he had long runs with Martin Jones, and several failed runs with Martin Jones. And, like VGK fans, I’m sure DeBoer has wiped Marc-Andre Fleury’s 2021 Conference Final blunder away from his memory.

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Does Dallas Have Enough Fight Left To Force A Game 5?

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. No team in NHL history has come back from an 0-3 conference finals deficit. The downward-spiraling Dallas Stars will try and begin a historic run tonight with a win in Game 4. Win or lose, in all likelihood the Golden Knights have done enough to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s just a matter of when.

So, what should the Golden Knights expect from a Stars team that the record books have shown they have nothing to play for?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s the approach we’re going to take with the rest of the series. We’re not going to get back in the series tomorrow night, but we’ll take a bite and see what happens. – Pete DeBoer, DAL coach

As former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna reminds us weekly; hockey players have a lot of pride. So, of course the Stars have something to play for but it’s unlikely to be for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. It’s hard to believe Dallas’ locker room, coaching staff and fanbase have any confidence in a four-game win streak but a victory in Game 4 would give them some sense of false hope. Even if Dallas can return home for a desperate Game 6, history is still heavily against them.

Assuming Vegas comes out as sharp as they have all series, the home team will be up against it from the opening puck drop. The Golden Knights will be hungry to sweep the series and earn as much rest as the Eastern Conference champions Florida Panthers. Dallas will be down two impact forwards but it’s not the focus around the locker room. The Stars are taking a simple approach into tomorrow’s elimination game.

We’re just worried about trying to get our first win in this series. That’s all that matters. We’re going to have to play desperate hockey now. Our lives are at stake here and I’m looking forward to it. This group has answered when our backs are against the wall. We’re going to find a way to muster up a good 60 minutes and find a way to beat a really good team. We’re going to have a hungry team tomorrow – Max Domi, DAL forward

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Behind The Scenes Look At Golden Knights and Stars Series From “We’re Not Going Home”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Playoff “Photographer” @BadSportsArt)

It’s always interesting to get a behind the scenes look at an NHL playoff series, especially from this year’s playoff bubble. Although the Golden Knights last played 60 days ago, this week we got some visual details from their series with the Dallas Stars.

The Stars released an “all-access journey” through their 2020 postseason run, and spent time focusing on the Western Conference Finals (the entire show is embedded below). In “We’re Not Going Home,” Dallas sounded extremely confident heading into their seven-game series with Vegas. The Stars were vocal about the Golden Knights’ easy path to the Conference Final.

They haven’t played a fucking team like us boys. Their first two rounds, it was pretty fucking easy. Send a fucking message early. They played two light teams, they’re in for a rude awakening.-Jamie Benn, Stars captain in “We’re Not Going Home”

Of course, Dallas’ Captain was confident at the time after his team beat Calgary in six, and Colorado in seven. It wasn’t just the players either, Dallas’ coaches felt comfortable with the matchup after watching and studying Vegas’ previous series.

Dallas assistant coach, and former LA Kings head coach, John Stevens questioned if Vegas had been pushed enough by Chicago or Vancouver. Stevens believed if the Stars played physical, and their rugged brand of hockey they would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Engelland, Golden Knights Join Team #JinxesAreForLosers By Picking Up Campbell Bowl

The winner of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals is awarded the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. There’s a long standing tradition in which players and teams refuse to touch the trophy because the only trophy a winner touches is the Stanley Cup.

I didn’t touch it. I’m a rookie, I follow what they say. If they tell me to touch it, I’ll touch it. If they tell me not to touch it, I won’t touch it. -Alex Tuch

It’s a supersition that’s been followed for many years, and according to some, has jinxed many a team, but the Golden Knights were not afraid.

After winning Game 5, 2-1, and clinching the Western Conference Championship, Deryk Engelland skated over to the trophy, immedeatley put his fingers on the handle, and eventually lifted it and brought it back to his teammates.

We decided as a group to take it because we went through the experience togehter. (Fleury) has been the backbone to our team, so more or less it came down to what he wanted to do. -Deryk Engelland

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Western Conference Champions! The Vegas Golden Knights Are Going To The Stanley Cup Final

12 down. 4 to go. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

544 days ago the words Vegas Golden Knights meant absolutely nothing. Now, those same words and the logo they’re represented by are on T-Shirts, caps, sweatshirts, and pennants next to the words “Western Conference Champions.”

No matter what anyone says about the price tag, the rules, or other GM’s messing up, this story is nothing short of preposterous. An expansion team, Western Conference Champions and heading to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season

They started the season 8-1-0 including winning their first three games five, six, and nine days after the worst day in the history of the City of Las Vegas. By Thanksgiving, they were squarely in a playoff position and it appeared they would stay there until the end. On Christmas, the Golden Knights had the best record in the Western Conference, and on January 21st they had the best record in the entire NHL. They waltzed to a playoff berth, then a Pacific Division title. They swept the Kings, dispatched the Sharks, and now have knocked off the Winnipeg Jets in five games to punch their ticket to the NHL’s grandest stage.

It’s just unbelievable and it’s all a credit to all the people that created the franchise and that worked for the franchise before we even got picked up to come to Vegas. When we got to Vegas we all felt welcome and at home. Even if you don’t have the biggest superstars in the league, you still have a bunch of guys that are going to work as hard as they can and they will be tough to beat. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

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“Are You Serious? What Do You Mean Luck?”

Connor Hellebuyck used the word “luck.” Adam Lowry chose “bounces.” Blake Wheeler said the Jets would have won Game 4 “nine out of ten times,” and Tyler Myers believes his team has been better of the two “for the last five periods.”

The narrative floating around the series has been that the Jets have had control but through a combination of Marc-Andre Fleury’s domination and a touch of luck the Golden Knights are one win away from punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.

Are you having a lucky series? -SinBin.vegas

Are you serious? What do you mean luck? I think we’re playing pretty well. Winnipeg is playing well too. I wouldn’t say we are lucky. We are playing good hockey, we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t a good hockey team. Maybe we’ve had a couple puck luck goals but there’s some luck that’s gone against us too in this series. No, I think we are playing good hockey. -Gerard Gallant

The Jets have the advantage in shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, high danger scoring chances, and expected goals, yet they find themselves down 12-9 in the only stat that matters and 3-1 on the big scoreboard that determines who wins the Western Conference.

Nothing this man is doing is this series has been lucky either. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Winnipeg can call it whatever they like, but the fact of the matter is they haven’t been the better team in this series to this point. The games have been tied for 25:39 in the series, and the Golden Knights have scored the tiebreaking goal five of the six times.

The Golden Knights are forcing the Jets into mistakes and then capitalizing on them. It’s what they’ve done all year, and for whatever reason, opposing teams, media, and fans can’t seem to wrap their head around it.

Nonetheless, no matter what anyone thinks, if the any of the next three games go like the previous three, the Jets (like the Sharks and Kings) will leave the series like most leave the fine magic shows of Las Vegas wondering, how in the world are they doing this?

And just like the people who pay hundreds of dollars every night to be amazed by con artists who are good at misdirection, they’ll head home none the wiser and the show on the Vegas Strip will go on. Oh, and none of it has to do with luck.

Vezina Candidate Being Outplayed By Conn Smythe Favorite

Hellebuyck had no chance on this one, but the other two… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like all sports, NHL award voting takes place before the postseason begins. This season, both the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets have several award nominees. One of which is Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who was nominated for the Vezina trophy along with Eastern Conference finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, and amateur golfer Pekka Rinne.

Over four games against Vegas, the Vezina nominee has allowed 11 goals and has lost three straight conference final games. Not the trait of a goaltender of the year candidate. Neither is this.

It’s a great effort by Reilly Smith, that’s clear, however Hellenuyck has to have this one. Dustin Byfuglien misses his mark, Smith jumps on the puck and streaks for the net. Hellebuyck had a clear view of Smith’s approach tracking the puck immediately after the turnover. He had plenty of time to get into position. The Golden Knight pulled the trigger at the top of faceoff circle with a good wrist shot, not a great one. Byfuglien’s mishap began the breakout but the Jets goaltender could’ve bailed his teammate out.

Down a game in the Western Conference finals, a reliable goaltender makes that save. Hellebuyck did not.

And that wasn’t even Hellebuyck’s worst mistake of Game 4. He bobbled a seemingly harmless shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, then allowed a rebound shot through the five-hole on Tomas Nosek.

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