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Vegas Catching Up With The Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After defeating the Detroit Red Wings last night, Vegas clawed back to one game under .500 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Golden Knights received three goals from defensemen, one from veteran Reilly Smith and rookie Paul Cotter added another. Whatever coach Pete DeBoer drew up before the game, it couldn’t have worked out any better than their well-rounded 5-2 result. It hasn’t gone as smoothly against other teams from the East.

On Tuesday, the Golden Knights faced a much more complete team and lost by two at home. Carolina is one of the NHL’s best overall clubs, and happen to be much healthier than Vegas. The Hurricanes high end forwards and mobile defense troubled the Golden Knights. Star forward Sebastian Aho shot seven times, registering 2 points and the Canes took 14 shots from defensemen. Carolina boasts 3.5 goals per game and like Vegas receive a good percentage of their offense from their blue line. Injuries aside, both rosters are among the elite and would make for an entertaining final.

The NY Islanders were another Eastern Conference team Vegas struggled with, losing 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena in late October. New York played defensively, waited out mistakes, forcing Vegas into bad shots and one and out opportunities. The Golden Knights fell into the Islanders trap and outshot New York two to one, but were out scored 2-0. Games against New York are consistently uneventful and Vegas will need patience and quality shooting to win a tight, low scoring contest. Unfortunately, the Golden Knights fell in similar fashions in back-to-back semifinals, so there’s plenty to learn from an Islanders loss.

At times in an NHL season it’s pick your poison night; a slow frustrating game or an exhaustive track meet. Earlier this month, Vegas traveled and lost by four in Toronto. The loss wasn’t the problem, the concern was the Golden Knights getting blanked 4-0. We’re all aware of Toronto’s weak defense and goaltending of the past, so at full strength Vegas should capitalize.

It’s unfair to expect matching scoring chances with Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander when Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson and Jack Eichel are unavailable. We’ve witnessed Vegas magnificently pick apart Colorado, another high-octane team, for four straight playoff games. My sense is the Golden Knights would have no issues playing wide open hockey with the Maple Leafs.

The other two Eastern Canadian teams the Golden Knights have faced this year went as expected. Montreal and Ottawa have a combined record of 8-23-3 and Vegas handled both appropriately.

Overall the Golden Knights are 3-4-0 against the Eastern Conference this season. While it’s a small sample, Carolina, NY and Toronto will likely be present come playoff time.  For any Western Conference contender, it’ll be a challenge considering Eastern Conference teams have hoisted the Stanley Cup in five of the last six seasons. If the Golden Knights are fully healthy the potential postseason lineup has enough skill and talent to break up that Eastern championship trend.

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21 Comments

  1. Tim

    Paul Cotter has received our affection although just a small sample size he seems to have the IT factor. Now that he’s probably going to stay on the team and with our PP in shambles if they don’t give him a shot I’ll be very disappointed. This is the only fun part of all our injuries is giving these kids a chance and watch them run with it. Why they signed Hutton, Amadio, and now Brooks is very confusing to me. Howten at 23 has potential those other three are just taking up space for some young kids to play. Another body we don’t need is that Sven B. I could care less if he had 18 goals back in the day if he was any good why was he traded or let go? With all our injuries we could revamp our team for now and in the future giving the ones already up plus I could name another 3 or 4 on the Silver Knights who can be as good or better. Is this about keeping an AHL half way competitive for ticket sales and at the same time slow the process of some of these younger guys. In any sport I thought your farm system was to benefit the big club. We have a situation here where management is going against the grain by signing these has beens instead of rewarding the kids. lastly is there a kid or two on the Silver Knights that might make an impact like Paul Cotter if given a chance?

    • THE hockey GOD

      funny how so many people are paying NHL sky high prices to see AHL quality level hockey.

      Some day the quality will return, but not any time soon.

  2. Galdom

    New York Rangers are looking for a top six forward. Reilly Smith has a fan in Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. I’m still hoping McCrimmon will circumvent the cap Tampa Bay Lightning style so we can have an extremely strong roster for the post season and keep everyone on the roster for at least this year. In the likely event that the roster will have to be trimmed, the Rangers fit seems obvious. It would be nice to get a 2nd round pick for Smith rather then just give him away. Teams usually pony up when it comes to familiarity. Nolan Patrick has been border line useless even when in the lineup but was able to get a 2 year contract from us because of the familiarity and past history with McCrimmon.

    • THE hockey GOD

      seems like FO is going the buck shot approach trying to find a gem in the rough. So far Amadio, patrick, hutton have not shaped up to be much. Next up Brooks

    • THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GUYS THAT SHOULD GO BEFORE SMITH – HE IS ONE OF THE FEW THAT ARE GOOD TWO WAY PLAYERS – IN FACT A CASE COULD EASILY BE MADE HE IS THE BEST OF THE FEW.

      • Agreed. It seems management is bent on trading away the PROVEN players for KIDS! Yes, we need to prime these youngsters for the big league, but we should be maintaining a STRONG FOUNDATION for the others to follow. Smith , in my view, is one of those strong foundational players on the team, and trading him would undermine that . He is a SURE, RELIABLE, VERSATILE PLAYER— KEEP HIM!!

        • THE hockey GOD

          @TS provide several examples of VGK trading “PROVEN PLAYERS” for kids. I think you misspoke got that backwards. For example, Stone trade, patches trade, etc etc

          • I was referring to all the talk of trading veteran players, like Smith. Talk of other potential trades of veterans. Also the Fleury trade, to free up $$$ to get young, rookie players…

  3. Vic

    Strange article worrying about Eastern competition and finals. Let’s get the ducks in a row……injuries, salary cap, PP, making the playoffs, winning in the playoffs and then maybe the finals versus any one of at least a half dozen teams that will be hard to beat.

    That said, the level of play with all the missing pieces has exceeded my expectations. As players return and the FO figures out the cap, I get the feeling our Western competition will feel like they are renting playoff spots, and may be looking up at the VGK. The VGK are about even with many of the better Western teams right now with two hands tied behind their back.

    • Blitz

      100% Vic. It has exceeded my expectations too, and when they win with a bunch of fill-ins, it’s pretty darn satisfying.

  4. Blitz

    Talk seems to be the youngins or the fill ins maybe a better term. My two cents:

    I like Cotter alot, but I also have to step back and say I am not a good judge of his overall game. He’s got 2 nice goals in a few games and I like that he has grit and shows emotion. Is he better than Leschyshyn or Rondbjerg? I have no idea. How is his defense skills? Does he help in transition, in the neutral zone etc. Can he play on the PK? I would like to see him on the PP and sure as hell not Kolesar. I wonder why he was 3rd on the callup list? I judge alot of hockey players on grit/heart/emotion. There’s a reason guys like marchy can pull together a losing team. Doesn’t fold when things look bad. He may lose his shit and end up in the sin bin, but doesn’t just accept loss. I am not saying Cotter is that guy, but I like guys that play with emotion and I see that in this kid.

    Leschyshyn is the best skater of this group and is smooth, seem like an intelligent player. I’ve seen him in a few pushing matches, shows some emotion/fire I would not say grit per se. He seems to be #1 call up. I am guessing because he does alot of things well. Has not showed up offensively (a goal and some nice chances), but I do feel I see him do all kinds of positive things and to me is more noticeable than Janmark/Carrier/Kolesar. I use ‘noticeable’ alot. That means he is doing things I see as good. Take aways, passes, gets the puck in the zone, blocks, etc etc. Little things, but positive. Who know, maybe in a few years he is the next Reilly Smith.

    Rondbjerg has done some good things too, good enough skater, I admit I do not ‘notice’ him as much. He does not show grit or emotion. I think he has a future in the NHL too. To me though I would put him at the bottom of the 3 young AHL forwards called up.

    When the team is healthy again I would like to see at least one of these guys stay up. I prefer Cotter and Leschyshyn both stay up and trim off some of the waste.

    Hutton: why are you guys (Tim/THG) down on Hutton? I watched him alot last night and saw good things. Yeah he isn’t a offensive defense man and didn’t score. I felt like his end is the dzone. He seemed more comfortable mixing it up with guys by the net. He crushed a dude with a check, then fought retaliation guy. Makes me say holy shit, this isn’t a euro style hockey team after all. LOL. How many checks, besides McNabbs hip checks, do you guys remember from this year? I remember there being ONE hard check by the benches and I don’t remember who did it. I know Kolesar is leading in hit, but I am not even sure the guys he hits know they are being checked. Anyway, back to Hutton. I am a fan of stay at home d guys. This guy in 2 games has shown more grit than the rest of the d guys all season combine. McNabb can be that guy, but isn’t quit over the top enough.

    I am long winded today. So I want to know why not Hutton? He screwed up his on a goal his first game (played what 8 min in a wacky system), but since then I think he has been solid. MUCH better defensively than Cogs (holy crap).

    • Tim

      Blitz, The problem with Hutton is he’s a D-Man which we have in abundance. I would rather see Mirmanov who looks good and being an ex-forward has a much better upside and could add scoring where Hutton can’t and he’s 23 where Hutton is a lot older and his game is where it is no upside.

      • THE hockey GOD

        Miramov looked good in one game that you saw him, otherwise he is worse than Coghlin and Hutton on defense.

        Meanwhile is other breaking news the A’s , of Oakland, are looking to put a down payment on piece of land in Las Vegas valley for their new ball park. Location not specified. But likely in some high crime area with no parking available so hoodlums can smash in the windows on your parked car. The Las Vegas A’s, the atheletics, the team that has been relocated more times than any other baseball team (Philadelphia, kansas city, oakland, las vegas) . Why can’t oakland hold onto their sports’ teams ?

        • Tim

          THG, Have you ever been to Oakland enough said. On your other comment about Hutton who has no offensive upside with our lack of scoring I’d take Mirmanov over him youth versus over the hill but we all have our opinion.

          • THE hockey GOD

            @Tim, answer to first question, yes. Outside of Oakland the east bay is not that bad of area. Most of east bay area is conservative by the way, at least it was 15 years ago.

      • Blitz

        You don’t like Hutton because of the numbers game. I get that. Everyone loves Mirmanov’s offensive potential, I know I do, but the problem is Mirmanov is really bad on defensive and the team doesn’t need to get worse there. The team is terrible already (or has been anyway) at shots on goal against. Worst in the league or at least in that argument. Hutton is a defense first guy. I assume that is the one biggest reason they went and got someone instead of using what they got. I think Whitecloud being back, Shea looks like he is back maybe even tonight. Marty back tonight or next week. All those guys back puts Cogs and Hutton as healthy scratches. I assume at that point someone is going on waivers. Maybe that gets delayed because of the covid guys, I don’t know. Its a numbers game.

        Anyway, back to my original question and/or statement. I think Hutton is a good thing. I like his defense first mentally and his toughness. The defensive core with Whitecloud and Marty out was off balance and tilting to the O side. Hutton was the stop gap chosen over the offensive HSK guys. I don’t think he sticks around, but to be honest I think the skills he brings is more needed than what cogs brings to this team, looking at the roster. I suppose if Theo or Petra go down you need Cogs skill to carry the puck and quarterback in the O zone. His defense, like Mirmanov, is a liability.

  5. Pistol Pete

    CBJ (VGK 2-4-0) is one of only eight teams that have a regular season winning record against the Knights (includes OTL as a loss). For example VGK vs. COL 8-8-1 counts as a VGK losing record. I believe there is also a 3-3-1.

    VGK over their four season + history has a winning record (includes OTL as a loss) vs. 24 teams or 75% of the NHL. Most of the losing records are to East teams (pretty sure MIN and COL are the only West teams).

    Tonight is definitely going to be another battle to get the two points.

    • Pistol Pete

      Actually, there might be one or two .500’s in the 24 reducing the win ratio a tad from 75%.

  6. Tim

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned that Zack Whitecloud has signed a 6 year 20 million dollar deal with the Knights. Listening to the radio hockey channel at 12:30 yesterday afternoon they interviewed Whitecloud. The Vegas Golden Knights home page is a joke never anything interesting can’t even update us on a signing. Anyway I’m glad they signed him.

    • THE hockey GOD

      @ TIM are you on their emailing list ? If not, get on board. Their email pointed out the signing a few days after it happened.

      • Tim

        Thanks no I’m not on there email list I just go to the web site and that’s useless.

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