2 minutes with gawlik
Photo Credit: Joe Arrigo/Franchise Sports Media

FSM Presents: 2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – Vol 18

Franchise Sports Media

 

Welcome to, “Two Minutes with Gawlik, Volume 18!”  There is so much to dive into!

 

Golden Knights vs Wild
Photo Credit: Star Tribune

Round 1, Game 1: I cannot tell you how good it felt to be at this one. The first VGK game I attended this season had around two thousand people. It did not feel like I was going to a hockey game as I walked through Toshiba Plaza. No loud music, fans few and far between, and zero energy. I remember walking through the halls of the upper bowl and did not see anybody for a ten-second span. Once the game started, the sound of the piped-in crowd noise was overpowering. It sounded like someone was vacuuming the office down the hall.

Fast forward to last Monday, and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Toshiba Plaza was loud, smiling faces all around (without having to worry about ushers asking you to pull your mask up), and the return of the pregame pep rally on the stage. There was special energy as warmups started, and the crowd was engaged throughout the game. VGK had what seemed like a dominant first period on the scoresheet as they outshot Minnesota by a large margin. There were a couple of quality scoring chances, but it did not feel like Cam Talbot was overly tested. He had good looks at most of the shots and was not leaving dangerous rebounds.

I was brought out of my seat many times in the second and period as Marc Andre Fleury made a series of amazing saves. However, I did not find myself leaving the seat for VGK scoring chances. Minnesota was the better team from the second period on and got rewarded when they forced Alex Pietrangelo to turn the puck over early in overtime. The puck found Joel Eriksson Ek, who scored the game’s only goal that deflected off Alec Martinez’s skate. Pietrangelo has come alive over the last few games of the regular season and created multiple scoring chances in game one. However, this was a rough spot for the high-dollar acquisition.

Game 2: You never want to suffer defeat for the first two home games of a playoff series. VGK had pressure entering game two, and concerns were starting to come back over VGK’s lack of playoff scoring under Pete DeBoer. The Wild struck first in the second period, and the energy was sucked out of T-Mobile Arena from a crowd expecting a deep run into the Stanley Cup PlayoffsJonathan Marchessault brought the home crowd to its feet just eighteen seconds later when he beat Talbot top-shelf. It felt like the elephant was finally off VGK’s back. Alex Tuch gave VGK its first lead of the postseason when he banged in the loose change from the slot. The game remained 2-1 late into the third.  Kirill Kaprizov took a poor penalty late, and Tuch converted on the power play with under a minute remaining. Huge response by VGK and lead to confidence entering games three and four in Minnesota.

 

Golden Knights vs Wild
Photo Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game 3: As expected, Minnesota had a strong push to start the game. The Wild struck for the game’s first two goals less than ten minutes into the first period. Minnesota appeared to take a three-goal lead; however, a successful offsides challenge took the goal off the board. The Xcel Energy Center had some of its energy sucked out, and VGK was able to escape the first period down just two goals. At 7:25 pm the evening of game three (between the first and second periods), I sent the following text to my VGK group chat, “weathered the storm, game far from over.” VGK played its best period of hockey in the second period. Captain Mark Stone started things off, followed by Patrick Brown and Reilly Smith netting goals of their own. The script was flipped, and VGK was rolling! William Karlsson and Stone scored in the third period, and VGK went on to win 5-2 to regain home ice.

Game 4: Statement victory, to say the least. The turning point came in the first when a successful challenge by VGK nullified the tying goal by the Wild. VGK kept the foot on the loud gas and cruised to a 4-0 victory. All signs led to VGK closing the series at home in game five, or so we thought.

Game 5: VGK got what they needed when Stone scored midway through the first period. However, Kaprizov had a quick answer which sparked three straight goals by the Wild. T-Mobile Arena had the energy sucked right out going to the second intermission.  What came next was a bizarre period of hockey. Martinez got VGK within one on a powerplay goal. I was at this game, and it felt like VGK was dominating the period as I was watching the shots on goal update on the scoreboard. It was not until the intermission until I realized VGK had a 22-1 shot advantage in the period. WOW! You can say that was the best and worst period of the series for the Wild. Best because they only gave up a single goal and worst because they were dominated for twenty straight minutes. VGK could not complete the comeback and lost 4-2.

Game 6:  Yuck, let us erase this one from the memory bank. VGK appeared slow and playing above their weight class. VGK held on for as long as they could and appeared to have hope in the third. However, a successful challenge by the Wild led to a VGK game-tying goal coming off the board. 3-0 Wild, and it was officially time to worry for the first time of the series.

 

Golden Knights vs Wild
Photo Credit: Joe Arrigo/Franchise Sports Media

Game 7: Do or die time. The next sixty minutes of play would determine if DeBoer would be on the hot seat or if the last two losses would be forgotten.  Mattias Janmark was VGK’s trade deadline acquisition and had not done much since he joined the team. That was about to change. Janmark logged a hattrick that fueled a 6-2 game and round 1 series win. VGK moved on to face the Colorado Avalanche, but how much collateral damage would there be because of the series going extra games?

Summary: Not many points separated VGK and the Wild, plus Minnesota has had VGK’s number over the last four regular seasons. It should not come as a surprise that this series went the distance. Max Pacioretty returned for game seven which gave Vegas a huge lift. One could argue that the health of VGK improved throughout the series and put them in a better spot against Colorado. Thankfully, Minnesota will not be in our division next season.

 

Round 2, Game 1: Woof. Robin Lehner made his first postseason start and allowed the Avalanche a touchdown and successful extra point conversion. VGK logged a single goal and was outmatched most of the night. Line four was the lone bright spot early on, but Colorado was too much to handle. Janmark exited the game in the first period after taking a hard hit from Ryan Graves. Graves was given a minor penalty on the play. Ryan Reaves did what he is supposed to do, get revenge for the hit. Reaves found Graves in a scuffle, put him in a headlock, gave him a few punches, then took him down to the ice. That is where things SHOULD have ended, but they did not. Reaves placed his knee over the face of Graves and continued to initiate contact. Reaves also pulled out some of Graves’s hair in the confrontation. Reaves was given a two-game suspension because of his actions. VGK went on to lose 7-1.

 

Golden Knights vs Avalanche
Photo Credit: Michael Martin/NHLI

Colorado is good, and they are really good. There is a reason they won the President’s Trophy (albeit on a technicality as VGK had more wins and tied in regular-season points). There is a reason that most people are picking them to win the Stanley Cup. After that game one beating, there is a good reason that sportsbooks have made VGK a dog of plus three hundred or greater to win this series.

VGK and Colorado were evenly matched throughout the regular season.  With just fifteen skaters, VGK almost beat the Avalanche during the final week of the regular season. Newsflash! No team has ever been awarded the best of seven series victory after winning the first game. This series should go six or seven games, and Vegas will make things competitive. No one thought VGK was in a bad spot after being up three games to one in each of the last three seasons. Betting angle, find a sportsbook, and place a wager on VGK to win the series against Colorado. The price should be plus three hundred or higher. The series will hopefully make it to game six, in which VGK will be a home favorite.

 

If VGK is up three games to two, bet Colorado at plus money to win the series. If Colorado is up three games to two, bet Colorado to win game six. All of the Colorado bets would be at plus money, meaning at the least you could break even if VGK loses the series and be on a freeroll of a plus three hundred bet.

 

NHL Stanley Cup Round 1 Results:  I picked VGK, Avalanche, Hurricanes, Tampa, Islanders, Boston, Toronto, and Edmonton to advance. 6-2 is not bad as I was wrong about Toronto and Edmonton. My second-round predictions have VGK, Tampa, Islanders, and Winnipeg advancing.

Henderson Happenings:  Congratulations to the Henderson Silver Knights on a memorable season. Henderson fell to Bakersfield in a best of three series for the Pacific Division ChampionshipHSK led the Pacific Division for most of the season. I highly recommend catching a game or two next season to those that have yet to make it for one. The games are fun, entertaining, and a great family atmosphere. They are also a lot less expensive than a night at T-Mobile Arena for a VGK 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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