2 minutes with gawlik
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2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – Vol 5

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Welcome to “Two Minutes with Gawlik, Volume 5.”  It was a history making week for the Golden Knights as they competed in the franchise’s first ever outdoor game at Lake Tahoe on Saturday.  Unfortunately, VGK earned zero points in their two battles against the Colorado Avalanche this week.

 

Golden Knights vs. Avalanche
Photo Credit: CBC

Tuesday, February 16th vs. Colorado: The Avalanche came out to a quick start and seemed to control most of the game. Nathan MacKinnon converted a three on two seven minutes into the game. VGK was not able to tie this one up until minutes remaining in the second period. Max Pacioretty scored on a wrist shot from the right circle with Cody Glass setting a beautiful screen. It took just over a minute for Colorado to regain the lead on a goal by Brandon SaadJonathan Marchessault cleaned up a rebound with just over thirteen minutes remaining in the game to tie things back up. This game seemed to be heading for overtime; however, Nazem Kadri had other ideas. Kadri won an offensive zone faceoff, was able to get the puck to the point and crashed the net to score on the rebound. Awesome hustle by Kadri to give the Avalanche the win in regulation.

Saturday, February 20th vs. Colorado in Lake Tahoe:  The scenery was beautiful, and it seemed like it was going to be a great afternoon of hockey. Samuel Girard got the Avalanche on the board just three minutes into the game. The first period was sluggish; players and officials were frequently falling. Players could not find their edges going to the boards. The puck was moving slowly. The quality of hockey was poor. During the first intermission, the ice crew was repairing what looked like ditches throughout the rink. Finally, after a half-hour or so, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the game would resume at 9 pm Pacific/Midnight est, citing player safety as the reason for the pause.

 

2 Minutes with Gawlik
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

The ice looked much better after the extended intermission, the players were skating much faster, and the puck was not bouncing around nearly as much as the first period. Alec Martinez scored on a rebound from an Alex Pietrangelo shot seven and a half minutes into the second. Martinez’s experienced showed on this goal. He immediately went towards the net as Pietrangelo was winding up for the shot. MacKinnon scored a highlight-reel goal to regain the lead for the Avalanche. Speeding through the offensive zone, MacKinnon gave a quick head-fake to change the angle of the shot and buried the wrist-shot top-shelf past, Marc Andre FleuryDevon Toews scored on a slapshot just two minutes later that Fleury had no chance to save due to traffic in front of the net. Alex Tuch added a highlight-reel goal of his own with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Tuch went hard to the net from just below the right circle, and as the Colorado defenseman tried to engage him, Tuch did a nifty spin-o-rama and scored backhand. Unfortunately, that is how this one would end, 3-2 Avalanche.

The Avalanche is a great team filled with the right mix of youth and veteran leadership. Plus, MacKinnon may be the best player in the NHL. Certainly, among the top three at the very least. There is a reason they are currently co-favorites with VGK to win the Stanley Cup. The Avalanche seems always to be a step ahead of VGK. This is the first time we have seen VGK chasing games, and I do not mean they are chasing games just on the scoreboard. The Avalanche appear to be the better-skilled team. It will be interesting to see what Pete DeBoer has up his sleeve for tonight’s game. A VGK win means Colorado would trail Vegas by four points. An Avalanche win (in regulation) means the teams would be tied in the standings. VGK needs to find a way to win this one.

 

The ideology of the outdoor game in Lake Tahoe was amazing. Never have we seen an NHL game with that type of scenery.

 

Golden Knights vs Avalanche
Photo Credit: Vegas Golden Knights

I really enjoyed the camera angles behind the goaltenders in the first period. The mountains were so beautiful to look at. Give the NHL an “A+” for what they tried to achieve. The NHL also deserves an “F” for their execution of the game. Thirty-five degrees and bright sunshine at noon is not something that is abnormal for Lake Tahoe in February.

I know nothing about the preparation that went into this game. But I find it astounding that no one ever considered the conditions that would be created for a “normal” February day in Lake Tahoe. As a result of this blunder by the NHL, the game concluded after 1 am on the East Coast. The NHL also changed the starting time, twice, for yesterday’s Bruins / Flyers game in Lake Tahoe. If there was something positive to take from Saturday’s VGK / Avalanche game, no one was hurt because of what might have been the worst ice conditions EVER for a period of modern NHL hockey.

The St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights are the class of the Honda West Division. VGK has played those teams a total of four times and earned just three points this season. VGK will almost certainly earn a trip to the playoffs by feasting on the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks. I think they can win a playoff series against the Blues in six or seven games, but the Avalanche might make quick work of Vegas should they meet. Of course, a lot can change between now and the playoffs…the Avalanche will just get better. Will VGK get better is the bigger question. March 25th is the next time VGK will see the Avalanche after tonight’s game.

 

The Henderson Silver Knights also played just two games this week.  The Bakersfield Condors shutout HSK 3-0 on Saturday.  HSK rebounded with a 3-2 victory over the Ontario Reign yesterday to move to 5-1 in their inaugural campaign.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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