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Golden Knights Gameday: VGK Fish For Sharks Sweep

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Alex Pietrangelo Vegas Golden Knights training camp questions reverse retro jersey

The Vegas Golden Knights look to sweep the two-game series with the San Jose Sharks tonight and start 2-0 on this six-game road swing.

Vegas Golden Knights (15-4-1) vs. San Jose Sharks (8-10-3)

The Vegas Golden Knights have been on a tear lately, winning five in a row in almost every possible fashion. Last night they blew a 3-0 lead and ended up in overtime, but Max Pacioretty was once again clutch scoring the overtime winner for a 5-4 victory.

It also marked a night off for Marc-Andre Fleury, who had started ten straight for the Golden Knights with Robin Lehner on the shelf. Fleury has been an absolute horse for the VGK this season, going 11-3-0 with three shutouts, a 1.71 GAA and .939 save percentage. But last night it was Oscar Dansk getting the nod in net, and although the outing was a tenuous one, he recorded the win and made some big saves along the way for his fourth NHL win.

It’s been an interesting stretch for the VGK because they’ve won games in so many ways. They’ve come from behind and blown leads. They’ve led from start to finish. They’ve won blowouts and back-and-forth close games. These are all good signs for this team because no matter what the situation, they’ve found ways to win. Especially come playoff time, knowing that you’ve already had success in “x” situation imbues a confidence all its own to a hockey team.

The Sharks meanwhile are heading the opposite direction. San Jose has only won once in its last five outings with a total of three points in that stretch. There’s not a single symptom that could easily fix the Sharks woes either. Goaltending has been subpar, the defense hasn’t helped the goaltending, and goals have been hard to come by. Even when they do score, they still give up a lot more – witness the 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Blues back on February 27. It’s been a difficult road in recent years for the Sharks and despite what the talent says on paper, on the ice things will continue to be a struggle unless some big changes happen.

Keep An Eye On

Vegas Golden Knights

There’s actually quite a few big names I could single out, but let’s shift the focus away from the forwards and even the stars on defense. I’ve talked about this before, but Alec Martinez is a rock back on D for the VGK. Martinez ranks second in the NHL with 69 blocked shots. He’s only six back of league leader Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils despite having played five fewer games to this point. Martinez is also smart with his puck movement and his veteran savvy helps cover when his D partner rushes the puck.

To see what Martinez really does, watch him away from the puck. You’ll see the areas he covers and how he anticipates plays happening to help thwart scoring chances. Still a very underrated pickup for the Vegas Golden Knights.

San Jose Sharks

Kevin Labanc has points in five of his last six games (3-4-7) and is one of the most productive younger Sharks. While Logan Couture is the big name for San Jose, Labanc is part of the young core that will make up the Sharks future and any shot they have at returning to prominence in the next few years.

Tom’s Notes:

  • The Sharks are giving up 3.86 goals per game, second-worst in the NHL (Ottawa – 3.92).
  • Patrick Marleau’s next goal will tie him for 23rd all-time in NHL history with Joe Nieuwendyk and Mats Sundin with 564 goals.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights are 10-1-3 all-time against the San Jose Sharks.
  • Vegas won’t see the Sharks again until they return home March 15 and 17 for a two-game set.

 

 

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