Golden knights vs blues
Photo Credit: Vegas Golden Knights

FSM Presents: 2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – Vol 10

Franchise Sports Media

 

Welcome to “Two Minutes with Gawlik, Volume 10.”  The Vegas Golden Knights are on top of the West Division after Saturday’s overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche.

 

Golden Knights vs Kings
Photo Credit: KTNV

Monday, March 22nd vs. St. Louis Blues:  This was the prime definition of a bounce-back game for the Golden Knights. After Sunday’s lackluster loss against the Los Angeles Kings, VGK was eager to quickly return to the ice. The Blues and Knights traded goals in the first and second periods. VGK had an offensive explosion in the third period. Highlighted by Keegan Kolesar’s first NHL goal, VGK put five goals on the board in the third period and would go on to win 5-1. Excellent effort on the backside of a back-to-back.

Thursday, March 25th vs. Colorado Avalanche:  All paths to winning the West seem like they will go through Colorado and Vegas. The two teams and split their first four games of the season. Max Pacioretty scored just forty seconds into Thursday’s game and took a 1-0 lead into the intermission. The Avalanche had an offensive explosion of their own in the second period and took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission. Nothing was going right for the Golden Knights. Former VGK, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, got one in the third period and the Avalanche would win this one 5-1. Tough game to watch as it seemed like the Avalanche were levels above VGK.

Saturday, March 27th vs. Colorado Avalanche:  Another bounce-back spot for VGK with a successful result. Marc Andre Fleury started his second consecutive game, more on that below. Joonas Donskoi got the Avalanche on the board just over a minute into the game and the Avalanche seemed to pick up right where they left off from Thursday’s game. The teams would trade the game’s first four goals and this one would end up going to overtime. Tell me if you have heard this one before? Pacioretty with the overtime winner for VGK!  He steps up when it matters most! The effort from Alex Tuch on this goal can not go unnoticed. Tuch came flying through the neutral zone to create the scoring chance and Pacioretty just needed to tap it in.

 

With just twenty-four games to play, VGK is in first place in the West Division.  They are one point ahead of the Avalanche with one game in hand and four points ahead of the Minnesota Wild.  VGK has two games against the Los Angeles Kings and two games against the Wild during their upcoming four game homestand.

 

Photo Credit: Toronto Star

Fleury starting both games against the Avalanche is the storyline of the week for me. During Saturday’s meeting with the press, head coach Pete DeBoer stated that Fleury carried the Golden Knights most of the year and that’s why it was an easy decision to have him start the two most important games of the year.

That is an extremely heavy statement to make. If you recall, Fleury suffered a minor injury during the camp leading up to last year’s bubble playoffs. Robin Lehner had a solid camp and played well in the round-robin games and was basically the starter as Fleury served a complementary role. Fast forward to this year, Lehner goes down with an injury, and I believe the net now belongs to Fleury.

If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, Fleury would start most of the games. Of course, a lot can change between now and the playoffs. However, for now, the net belongs to #29.

 

A tricky trade deadline is noon pacific on April 12thCanada has lessened its quarantine period from fourteen to seven days as of this week for players crossing the border. That means fireworks may start to fly around April 5th.

 

Golden Knights vs Blues
Photo Credit: Vegas Golden Knights

On top of all the trickiness that Covid has brought to this year’s trade deadline, another issue is the salary cap. The NHL froze the salary cap for the 2021 season due to Covid. If all that was not enough, thirty of the thirty-one NHL teams must factor for an expansion draft. Thankfully, VGK is exempt from the expansion draft. In any event, the next could of weeks are going to be very interesting.

VGK is right up against the salary cap, which means any deal that is made to strengthen the roster must include salary being shipped out. Lehner or Fleury being traded is not going to happen, so remove that thought from your mind. As nice as it would be to have that five million or more to play with…so what piece or pieces can be moved to improve VGK’s chances at hoisting Lord Stanley in June? In my opinion, the two contracts that are the most painful are Nick Holden ($1.7M) and Ryan Reaves ($1.75M).

No one in the NHL is going to offer a strong return for either of those two players, at least not someone who is going to make an immediate impact on the roster. It would take a package with draft picks or prospects.  Cody Glass could end up being trade bait that would bring an immediate return. Outside of the powerplay, he has underperformed. That is not to say he will not be a star in the NHL, Glass may offer the best return in a trade. VGK also has two, second-round picks in the 2021 draft. Kelly McCrimmon and George McPhee have options.

VGK has made a splash at each of the trade deadlines in their first three seasons, I think that trend will continue.

 

The Henderson Silver Knights continue to dominate the Pacific Division and have the best record in the American Hockey LeagueHSK played three games against the Colorado Eagles this week and earned four out of a possible six points. Pavel Dorofeyev was a victim of friendly fire in Friday’s game, he took a hard shot off his foot and had to be assisted to the locker room. Jake Bischoff went to the locker room in the third period of Saturday’s game after blocking a shot during the penalty kill. Henderson has a couple of days until their next game which is in Tucson against the Roadrunners on Wednesday.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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