Golden knights vs kings
Photo Credit: Knights on Ice

2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – Vol 3

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Welcome to “Two Minutes with Gawlik, Volume Three!”  VGK continues to win games despite crazy circumstances.  With over sixteen percent of the regular season completed, I may need to backpedal my prediction of VGK being a fringe playoff team.  Here is how the last week of VGK hockey went.

 

Golden Knights vs Kings
Photo credit: Reuters

Friday, February 5th VS Kings:  Did you ever take one of those drives on the 215 from Henderson to Sahara where you just cruised to your destination without issue. No slow traffic in the left lane, no accidents, and no construction to slow you down! That is how this game felt against the Kings. VGK cruised to an early three-goal lead and never looked back. The only blemish to note is two unanswered goals from the Kings in the third period. Going into Friday’s game, Vegas was a plus ten in the third period. Do not put any stock into VGK’s third-period effort in this one, it is hard to keep the pedal to the metal with a five-goal lead. Marc Andre Fleury had another elite performance and is making a case to take the net from Robin LehnerCody Glass is making his net-front presence known as he is using his size to his advantage. This was a game where VGK was expected to have a slow start due to the extended layoff between games. Friday’s game was quite the opposite. The boys were excited to get back on the ice and it showed.

Sunday, February 7th VS Kings:  Did you ever take one of those drives on the 215 from Henderson to Sahara where it felt like everything was slowing you down? The wind was blowing at fifty plus miles per hour, visibility was poor, construction had an extra lane blocked, and you got stuck behind a minivan doing fifty-seven miles per hour in the left lane from Decatur to Buffalo. Thankfully, you made it to your destination on time, but for a moment you thought that you might be late. That is how Sunday’s game went. The teams traded the first four goals of the game and Chandler Stephenson gave VGK a 3-2 lead going into the first intermission. Jaret Anderson-Dolan tied the game for the Kings in the second period. Stephenson gave VGK the lead for good early in the third period. This was the goal of the year in my opinion. VGK has struggled on the powerplay so far this season but the play setting up the goal was picture perfect. A perfect breakout set up with a drop pass from Alec Martinez to Alex Tuch, Tuch sends it to Stephenson who was able to use his speed and get one past Calvin PetersonVGK would take this one by a score of 4-3.

 

Robin Lehner has not looked like himself in his last two starts.

 

Golden Knights vs Kings
Photo Credit: Sportsnet.ca

He seems slow to react. Lehner is a big body, he does not need to move around the net as much as Fleury. I am not sure if there is an injury (Lehner took a puck high off his shoulder that hurt him on Sunday) or if this is just part of the ups and downs goalies experience over the course of the season. Coach Pete DeBoer said the goalies would trade starts for the first ten games of the season and has been true to his word through nine games. Tuesday’s game against Anaheim will be game ten. I predict Fleury gets seven of the next ten starts. He has earned it. Fleury is sporting a goals-against-average of 1.25 with a .944 save percentage. Lehner sits at 2.96 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. It needs to be Fleury’s net for now which will allow Lehner time to get his game worked out.

“Drive for show and putt for the dough,” is a commonly used term in golf. The third period has been a green with minimal slope and plays just slow enough to make it easy for golfers to sink medium-range puts. VGK is now a plus-nine in the third period which as of Sunday’s game, ranks top of the NHL. Simply said, VGK is the best third-period team in the NHL.

 

Glass is finding his game.

 

Golden Knights vs Coyotes
Photo Credit: Arizona Daily Star

He put on twenty-plus pounds of muscle as he rehabbed from injury in the offseason. The powerplay has started to convert and Glass is a large part of the powerplay’s recent success. He can set up shop in front of the net as the power-play unit works the perimeter. Glass will collect a fair number of dirty goals this season.  If he can elevate his game just a bit more, VGK will create mismatches for their opponents as it is extremely difficult to plan for three high powered forward lines.

Where is the energy?!? I said it last week and I will say it again. Line four has not had much energy. Maybe it is because of no fans in the arena? Or maybe William Carrier and Ryan Reaves do not seem to be playing with the same level of energy? I do not know what it is, but I am no longer excited when line four takes the ice…or starts the game!

The Henderson Silver Knights won their inaugural regular-season game at Orleans Arena on Saturday night. HSK scored the game’s final four goals and won this one by a score of 5-2. Fun fact, VGK won their inaugural home game by a score of 5-2, HSK is on track to make the Calder Cup Finals by that logic! Jack Dugan, Dylan Sikura, Peyton Krebs, Reid Duke, and Danny O’Regan looked good in this one. HSK goalie, Logan Thompson, had a great performance. My favorite moment of this game occurred after the game had ended. As the postgame was taking place, you could hear “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones playing over the PA system. Just another reason to love the production crews of the Golden and Silver Knights! Also, another reason to be sad about not being able to see our teams play at T-Mobile Arena and the Orleans Arena.

 

It was a strong week of Golden and Silver Knights Hockey!

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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