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Four Bold Predictions For The Vegas Golden Knights

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Vegas Golden Knights predictions schedule NHL return

When we say bold predictions, we mean BOLD.

Vegas Hockey Now is very big on keeping things real and giving you the unfiltered analysis – good and bad – on the Vegas Golden Knights.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t think big like Golden Knights fans either. If everything were to go right this season, what great things could happen? This isn’t a list that includes ‘the team will be good this season’ on it. This is shooting for the moon and having fun doing it. Here we go.

Prediction #1 – Major Hardware

This is the year the Golden Knights add more hardware to the trophy case, but not something they’ve won before. With two legitimate Norris Trophy candidates on the roster in Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore the VGK will be in the conversation all season long when it comes to defense. The only worry I have is one player cannibalizing the other because they’re on the same team. I’ve seen it happen.

That said, I’m predicting Robin Lehner puts forth a Vezina-winning campaign this year. Partly because he’s been nominated before and is fully capabale, but also look at the defense in front of him. I fully expect Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury to capture the William Jennings Trophy (fewest goals against) this season, and Lehner should be making room for his first Vezina Trophy.

Prediction #2 – Chandler Stephenson, NHL All-Star

No, there wont’ be an All-Star Game this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the NHL won’t hand out selections. Even if it ends up being post-season First and Second Team All-Stars, Stephenson will be on the list. Playing between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, we predict a huge season for the pivot that sends folks scrambling to pick him up in fantasy leagues across North America. He hasn’t looked out of place whatsoever and that’s even with Pacioretty flying around like he has wings on his skates. This line will be electric and Stephenson is literally in the middle of it all.

Prediction #3 – Vegas Has Highest-Scoring Defense in the NHL

A reach? We don’t think so. Pietrangelo and Theodore will obviously play a big role in this, but don’t overlook the rest of the defenders. Plus, Pete DeBoer likes an active defense jumping up into the play to make things happen offensively. It makes for a nice attacking blend of hockey that helps the Golden Knights keep other teams back on their heels. Offense from the defense will be a tremendous bonus on a team that has one of the best top six forward groups in the NHL, and could potentially boast one of the best power plays this year.

Prediction #4 – The Stanley Cup Comes To Vegas

I’m not buying the Colorado hype. I think the entire East Division is going to beat itself to a pulp. Tampa Bay is the most likely Stanley Cup opponent and they’ll get Nikita Kucherov back by then (no cap in the playoffs). So don’t kid yourself, this isn’t going to be easy. But Vegas is deeper than Tampa up front and on defense. While I definitely give the edge in special teams and goal to the Lightning, I believe the Golden Knights have what it takes to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to The Strip this season. You heard it here first!

So there you go, four bold predictions for this season. What are your predictions? Tell us in the comments… Golden Knights or otherwise!

 

 

Welcome to your new home for Vegas Golden Knights breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to VHN+ for all of our members-only content the entire Vegas Hockey Now crew plus an ad-free browsing experience.

Vegas Hockey Now Editor-in-chief. Host, creator online hockey show @talkingpucktv. Yes I called NHL games.

Golden Knights Gameday

A wild night in Vegas: Golden Knights’ comeback one for memory books

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It wasn’t the Annexation of Puerto Rico, but it might have been more historic.

As Mark Stone creeped toward the goal line, puck intact, he waited until the last possible moment to find a cutting Max Pacioretty in front of Cam Talbot.

Pacioretty, on the precipice of vomitting after chasing Kirill Kaprizov for nearly a minute, had enough in the tank to finish a 2-on-1 and steal victory from the jaws of defeat for the Vegas Golden Knights.

It’s a 5-4 overtime victory that will go on the list of memorable moments for this 4-year-old franchise. On a night where 2,605 fans were allowed in T-Mobile Arena, the first such occurrence in 363 days, the Golden Knights rallied from two goals down in the third for a rare victory against the Minnesota Wild.

It wasn’t the usual 17,500-plus that have been known to pack “The Fortress,” but the impact they brought was more than enough on this night.

“Our fans are, by far, the best in pro sports,” Stone said. “This arena is the best arena in sports. They bring it no matter what. You could feel the energy skating out for warmup.”

You can hardly script nights like this. It’s a game featuring the top two teams in the West Division; the Golden Knights have long struggled against the formidable foe from Minnesota. Coming into Monday, the Golden Knights were 2-6-0 against the Wild and lost five of those matchups by at least two goals.

So, of course, the Golden Knights fell behind two goals entering the third period in one of the wildest second periods this season.

The teams combined for six goals in the middle stanza. Cody Glass got the Golden Knights on the board 7:09 into the frame, but Minnesota got two goals in 1:06 from Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno.

After Pacioretty scored his first of two goals at 13:41, the Wild struck yet again in quick fashion — twice in 19 seconds — from Foligno and Nick Bonino — to take a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Even 12 minutes into the third period, the Golden Knights couldn’t break through Minnesota’s defense. Vegas didn’t have a shot on goal until 11:30 mark of the frame. Then, Nicolas Hague opened the bottle and poured a Haugerbomb from the point at 12:40 of the third to make it 4-3.

It wasn’t a flashy goal, but it woke the Golden Knights up. The crowd, no matter how limited, came to life, and propelled the home team. The Golden Knights outshot the Wild 11-3 in the third period, with six of them coming in the final 7:20 of regulation.

“I think that’s what’s great about our group; we’re never out of a game,” Hague said. “I think we could feel it coming, and for us to be able to keep fighting like that and find a way to get back in that game and get the job done, that’s what we do.”

And yet, despite nine total goals, the best player on the ice didn’t score any of them. Instead, he just had the primary assist on all five on the home side.

Stone waited until the first game with fans, as captain, to put on a performance for the ages. He became the first player since Artemi Panarin, and only the second in 25 years, to record five primary assists in a game.

The only players to have more include some guy named Gretzky (twice), Ron Francis, and Elmer Lach.

Ironically enough, Pete DeBoer joked with Stone at morning skate that he should shoot more. Who needs shooting?

Stone can go from scoring one point in his previous six games to erupting for a career-high out of nowhere. It’s nights like Monday where you can never discount his value.

Look no further than the tying goal from Alex Tuch with 41.6 seconds remaining.

Pacioretty’s bouncing pass from the endboards somehow skipped to Stone. The calm demeanor, from settling the puck down, and finding Tuch in front for the tip in front, is why he wears the ‘C.’

“I think that’s what five primary assists and a bunch of fans gets you,” Tuch said. “That’s why he’s our captain. He comes in every day with that work ethic and that enthusiasm.”

The Wild will remain a thorn in the Golden Knights’ side. They’ll still play each other seven more times, and each meeting likely the equivalent to this slobberknocker.

Wednesday, they’ll do it all again, with fans in the stands yet again, and normalcy somewhat restored.

And for one night, the gold helmets are not cursed. Because even on a night like this, everything is a winner.

“That was the story of the night,” DeBoer said. “What a difference just having them in the building. I thought our players did a great job acknowledging them. Just nice, a sense of normalcy to get people back.”

 

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Golden Knights Gameday

Vegas Golden Knights Stone Minnesota Wild in OT 5-4

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Vegas Golden Knights Mark Stone Max Pacioretty

Mark Stone set up every single goal of the game including the game winner for Max Pacioretty in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights came from behind to top the Minnesota Wild 5-4 at T-Mobile Arena on Monday night.

Stone broke in on the right wing as Pacioretty wove behind him to the left side. After waiting out the sprawling defensive effort from Jared Spurgeon before completing the pas to Pacioretty at the goalmouth. He converted it for his second goal of the game to give the Golden Knights the victory.

Alex Tuch tied the game with a late six-on-five goal to force overtime with just 42 seconds remaining in regulation. He tipped in a pass off the shaft of his stick, beating Alex Staylock over the left shoulder.

Vegas entered the second period trailing 4-2 after a six-goal second period. The Golden Knights scored twice on the power play from Cody Glass and Max Pacioretty. But the Wild capitalized four times on a pair of goals from Marcus Foligno and singled from Jordan Greenway and Nick Bonino to grab the 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to record his 10th win of the season.

Tom’s Takeaways:

  • The 2,600 fans at T-Mobile Arena for the game were not disappointed as the VGK rallied from a two goal deficit to win in OT. You could definitely feel the energy change in the building, even at only 15% capacity. When Nicolas Hauge scored to make it 4-3 in the third period, something just clicked. It’s good to have people back in the building.
  • For the second time this season, Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals. And for the second time this season, Vegas won when he did. While not his best outing of the season, Fleury still made several key stops along the way to the win. It will be good when Robin Lehner can give him a bit of rest when he’s back in the lineup.
  • Every one of the five assists Mark Stone recorded were primary assists, meaning he made the direct pass to set up the goal each time. The five helpers in the game is a career high for Stone as well.
  • Vegas is now 9-0-1 when scoring first.
  • The Golden Knights scored multiple power play goals in a game for just the second time this season, going 2-for-3 with the man advantage.
  • Minnesota extends its unbeaten in regulation streak to seven games at 6-0-1.

 

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Golden Knights Gameday

Morning Skate Report: Golden Knights welcome back fans with West Division showdown against Wild

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The last time the Vegas Golden Knights were supposed to play the Minnesota Wild, the sports world stopped.

Vegas got on a plane March 11, 2020 with the intention of playing a game in St. Paul, Minnesota. The next day, the Golden Knights returned home and wouldn’t play another game until August.

COVID-19 has created challenges far and wide, with many craving even the littlest of normalcy. Sanity returns Monday for 2,600 fans when they enter T-Mobile Arena Monday to watch the Golden Knights take on the Minnesota Wild in a West Division showdown.

“There was a big buzz around the group this morning … about the fact that we’re going to have fans there,” said Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer. “It’s a great first step on the way back to filling T-Mobile and getting that atmposhere back. Even with the number we’re going to have tonight, it’s a huge boost compared to playing in the empty rink.”

Clark County approved a directive to allow 15 percent of T-Mobile Arena’s capacity, capping at 2,600 fans, to attend Golden Knights games during March. Vegas will play seven times at home this month.

There aren’t many home-ice advantages that rival T-Mobile Arena. Even at its 17,500-seat capacity, the Golden Knights have averaged 18,223 fans during the first three years of their existence.

The Golden Knights’ 75 wins at home since the inaugural season and .676 points percentage at “The Fortress” are top-10 marks since 2017-18.

“Any time you can have your home crowd in the arena and cheering you on, and bring that energy like our fans do, it’s an advantage for us,” said defenseman Zach Whitecloud. “We’re all excited to have them back, and for them to come and watch games in person, we’re excited for them.”

What a treat for fans to come back to, as well. This is a matchup of the top two teams in the West Division; the Golden Knights are atop the division by points percentage (.735) and have a game in hand on Minnesota (.667).

The Wild have been a thorn in the Golden Knights’ collective side since 2017. Minnesota is 6-1-1 in eight all-time meetings with the Golden Knights, with five of those wins coming by at least two goals.

There’s a newfound energy surrounding Minnesota. Normally a grind-it-out, wear-you-down type of team that excels defensively, the Wild have found the scoring touch. They’re 10th in the league in scoring (3.17 per game) with four players with at least five goals.

Leading the way is 23-year-old rookie Kirill Kaprizov, the presumable Calder Trophy favorite at this juncture. Kaprizov, a 2014 fifth-round pick by Minnesota, leads the Wild with 17 points and has registered a point in every game during Minnesota’s six-game winning streak.

“What’s impressive about him is his willingness to do a lot of dirty work, winning battles in the corners, going to the net,” DeBoer said of Kaprizov. “He’s not a big guy, but he’s very strong on his feet. He makes a lot of things happen when he’s on the ice.”

The Golden Knights have already had troubles with Minnesota in the past, but it’s a deeper, more dangerous team this time around. Nevertheless, the fans in attendance tonight will get their money’s worth.

“Their game is real,” DeBoer said. “You look at their lineup, they’ve got a sneaky, deep lineup. It’s a great test for us.”

Vegas Golden Knights projected lineup

Alex Tuch — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone

Max Pacioretty — Cody Glass — Reilly Smith

Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Keegan Kolesar

William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves

Shea Theodore — Alex Pietrangelo

Alec Martinez — Zach Whitecloud

Nicolas Hague — Dylan Coghlan

Marc-Andre Fleury

Oscar Dansk

Nosek in, Roy out

Tomas Nosek will play his first game since Feb. 9 after spending the previous two weeks in COVID-19 protocol.

The fourth-line center will take his place back in the lineup, while Keegan Kolesar will be at third-line right wing with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.

Nicolas Roy will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Nosek said. “It’s been a tough start after COVID, but I’ve been skating for more than a week.”

Nosek’s time away from the team due to COVID did provide a silver lining. His wife Eliska gave birth to their second boy, Matias, on Feb. 20. Their first child, Patrik, last January.

Because of COVID, Nosek said they had to reschedule Eliska’s appointment to induce the labor. They were able to reschedule and Baby Nosek arrived safely and healthy.

“Thank God I was able to be there,” Nosek said. “I was happy so they could reschedule it and I was able to be there. One of the happiest moments of my life. It’s a great feeling to become a dad again.”

Lehner remains out

Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner will not dress for the eighth consecutive game as he continues to deal with an upper-body injury.

Lehner has not played since Feb. 7 with what was considered a “tweak” during morning skate on Feb. 11.

“It’s one of those injuries where, when you get it, you hope it’s a week, but it’s all based on symptoms and becoming symptom-free,” DeBoer said. “There is no timeline on those types of injuries.”

This will be Marc-Andre Fleury’s ninth straight start, and the Golden Knights have gone 5-3-0 with Lehner out. Oscar Dansk is expected to be the backup after winning three consecutive starts last week with the Henderson Silver Knights.

“You’re hopeful that when the injury happens that it’s a quick recovery, but if symptoms persist, it might be a little longer,” DeBoer said. “It’s heading in a positive direction and hopfeully we’ll see him soon.”

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