Golden knights vs sharks
Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area / Getty Images

FSM Presents: 2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – Vol 14

Franchise Sports Media

 

Hard to believe it, folks. We are already on volume 14 of “Two Minutes with Gawlik.” I cannot believe how fast this season has gone by, and the bigger shocker is that Franchise Sports Media let me keep doing this past Volume 2! Probably should have said this sooner, but I am super thankful for the platform to discuss Vegas Golden Knights hockey and thankful to everyone who takes time out of their busy day for two minutes with me!  VGK continues to roll and HSK is in their first rough patch of their young existence.

 

Golden Knights vs Ducks
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

Monday, April 19th vs. Sharks: It was time to set the intense rivalry aside that the Sharks and VGK have.  This night was about Patrick Marleau and the monumental record that he achieved. Marleau surpassed Gordie Howe’s all-time National Hockey League games played record when the puck was dropped for Monday’s game. 1,768 games. Wow! NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shared a pre-recorded speech just a few minutes into the game. Big night, big platform, lots of international attention on this game, and we all knew Bettman would not miss this moment to put his stamp on it. After the game, the Vegas Golden Knights did a handshake line with Marleau. Respect all around as everyone in attendance cheered Marleau all night long.

This was VGK’s fifteenth game in a stretch where they never had more than one day of rest between games. VGK was tired, as coach Pete DeBoer alluded to multiple times in the post-game presser. San Jose had a two-goal lead in the second period, and it seemed that the Sharks would pull away on Marleau’s special night. Captain Mark Stone would not let that happen, and he scored the games’ next two goals. A victor could not be crowned in overtime, so a shootout would be needed. Alex Tuch scored the shootout’s only goal, and Robin Lehner finally logged a win in a game that went to a shootout. Special night with a great outcome for VGK.

Wednesday, April 21st vs. Sharks: It took just over eight minutes for the intensity of the Sharks and Golden Knights rivalry to return. Max Pacioretty was sent head over heels into the board by Brent Burns, and that triggered an old-fashioned line brawl at the next whistle. Big hits and after the whistle gatherings were commonplace in this one. The Sharks would score first and held two leads in Wednesday’s game. However, the Golden Knights seemed to be getting chances left and right. Tuch got a late goal in the second period.  Jonathan Marchessault and Mattias Janmark (empty net) logged third-period tallies, and VGK won 5-2 in regulation. Vegas is 10-0-1 against the Sharks since “not a major” from April of 2019.  VGK locked up their place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the win.

Saturday, April 24th vs. Ducks: Poor pun time; it was another “lame-duck” performance by the Anaheim (not so Mighty) Ducks.  This was a prime “trap game” for the Golden Knights. Excited for Monday’s game against Colorado being re-scheduled, VGK will be off until Wednesday. Players mentioned that they were excited about the extra rest, so it was clearly on their minds prior to Saturday night’s game. Chandler Stephenson needed thirty seconds to score the first of his two VGK goals. VGK went on to win 5-1 against a Ducks team that would rather be doing anything than playing hockey. The win came at a price. Nicolas Roy and Tomas Nosek both left the game with injuries and did not return.

 

In my season preview, I predicted VGK to be a fringe playoff team. My prediction was based off two things: luck and the roster makeup. The stars aligned perfectly in seasons one through three. I figured it was time for a slow-down. I was clearly wrong on that end of my prediction.

 

Golden Knights vs Ducks
Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports

The roster makeup was my larger concern. Right up against the salary cap, VGK would not be able to make in-season adjustments via trade to improve their roster or replace injured players. Up until this past week, VGK has been able to overcome the injury bug and was able to make an impactful trade deadline acquisition in Janmark.

VGK has cruised to a nine-game winning streak and should finish the season as one of the top three teams with a strong possibility of winning the President’s Trophy. Things have gone well; however, disaster may be striking. Reilly Smith missed games this week, Ryan Reaves and Keegan Kolesar have also been missing in action for quite some time. Roy and Nosek had to leave Saturday’s game due to injuries. The injury bug strikes every team throughout the season.

If there is a positive, it is happening now instead of early in the season or during the playoffs. VGK has had to play with uncommon rosters throughout the season. Dylan Coghlan has played forward for numerous games. Other games have featured one extra forward, one fewer defenseman, or less than eighteen skaters. It will be interesting to see what happens should Smith, Roy, and Nosek be forced to miss time.

 

We are in year four of VGK’s existence in the NHL. VGK will make their fourth consecutive playoff appearance as well.

 

The Colorado Avalanche is the only other team in the Western Conference that will have four consecutive playoff appearances when the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. In the Eastern Conference, only the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Boston Bruins (should they hold on to the 4th seed in their division) will have done the same. VGK is in an elite company, to say the least. Bill Foley’s day one plan was “playoffs in three and cup in six.” So far, Mr. Foley’s playoff prediction has been wrong, and now we can hope that VGK can win a Stanley Cup prior to year six to make him completely wrong!

The Henderson Silver Knights are in a rough patch. They have been losers of four straight. HSK only has a one-point lead over the Bakersfield Condors leading up to Sunday night’s game.

 

 

I look forward to having you back in the box for another “2-Minutes with Gawlik next week right here on Franchise Sports Media.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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