Golden knights vs ducks                  
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

FSM Presents: 2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – Vol 6

Franchise Sports Media

 

Welcome to “Two Minutes with Gawlik, Volume 6.”  Another successful week for Southern Nevada Professional Hockey that featured nothing but wins!

 

Golden Knights vs Avalanche
Photo Credit: Mile High Hockey

Monday, February 22nd vs Colorado: This was the most important of all VGK games to date for the 20/21 campaign. A VGK victory would earn a split of the four-game series, and a VGK loss would allow the Avalanche to gain four points in the standings. The first period was scoreless. Alex Tuch got VGK on the board early in the second period while on the powerplay. Tuch started by dropping the puck to William Karlsson on the blue line. Tuch gained speed and beat has man through the neutral zone. Karlsson got the puck back to Tuch just as they entered the offensive zone. Tuch was in all alone and converted the mini breakaway. Tuch was not done scoring. Just four minutes later, Tuch (again) had a full head of steam as he crossed the blue line. Tuch was able to get a backhand shot to the net that was initially saved, but the Colorado defenseman inadvertently deflected the puck in the net. Just two minutes later, Jonathan Marchessault found himself all alone between the circles and was able to score on a nice wrist shot. That would be the end of the scoring, and Vegas would win 3-0.

Thursday, February 25th vs San Jose:  This game would be postponed due to a player on the Sharks entering COVID-19 Protocol.

Saturday, February 27th vs Anaheim: Alex Pietrangelo has had a bit of a slow start in his inaugural VGK season, he was a factor Saturday night. Trailing 1-0, Pietrangelo was able to find a small opening to score on a wrist shot from the right circle with under four minutes remaining in the first. Karlsson would also find his scoring touch in this one. With under four minutes remaining in the first, Karlsson was able to score on a breakaway as he was taken down. VGK would need overtime to win this one, and it was Karlsson who ended it on yet another breakaway goal. Final score 3-2 in overtime.

In my last article, I was a bit harsh on VGK in terms of how they matched up against the Avalanche. I was more of the “glass half empty” side of things. The reality was that the three teams had just completed three one-goal games that could have gone either way. Monday’s game was a dominating performance by VGK.  While I am not ready to crown VGK the Honda West Division champs yet, I do feel they are the class of the division.

 

Credit Coach Pete DeBoer for helping the VGK to find their scoring touch against the Avalanche on Monday.  The forward lines were put into a blender and the result was a second period explosion of goals.

 

I have said this many times before. Tuch is one of the hardest players in the league to slow down once he gets a full head of steam. He has the right combination of size and speed. He also has a tremendous amount of strength with a long reach which helps him to protect the puck. VGK has him locked up through 2025/26, and he will easily out-perform his $4.75M yearly salary.

I am trying my best to understand how the NHL determines when to postpone a game due to COVID-19 Protocol. Here is what I got so far; VGK coaches enter protocol hours before the game, game will play with a different coaching staff. Tomas Nosek enters Covid Protocol during a game, game will continue with a short bench for VGK. A Sharks player enters Covid Protocol thirty plus hours prior to a game, game postponed due to Covid Protocol. I get that there are so many more layers to the Covid Protocol than what I mentioned above. The optics of it are just hard to understand at times.

 

Where is Robin Lehner?

 

Courtesy: NHL
Photo Credit: NHL Rumors

Lehner suffered an upper-body injury on February 9th and last played February 7th.  This is where things get odd. Lehner was in line to start February 11th. However, reports indicate Lehner arrived at T-Mobile Arena for the game and alerted the team he was unable to play. Lehner never stepped foot into T-Mobile and has not been on the ice since. Fleury has been spectacular in Lehner’s absence. VGK caught a couple of scheduling breaks during that time getting three days off leading to the outdoor game and four days off leading up to their recent win against Anaheim. Even though Fleury has had eight consecutive starts, he is fresh. Looking ahead, VGK has seventeen games in March. That averages out to be greater than games every other day.  George McPhee has echoed his hopes for a fifty, fifty split once Lehner returns. But when will Lehner return? Considering it has been roughly three weeks since Lehner last took the ice, he will need a few days of practice at the least before suiting up for a game. Once he does suit up, I do not see a fifty, fifty split out of the gate. Hopefully, Lehner can return by next week at the latest to let Fleury get some rest.

Nosek is close to being able to return to the lineup. What will DeBoer do with the lineups? Ryan Reaves has just one assist through seventeen games and is a minus one. If DeBoer were to ask me what I think should be done (zero chance he cares what I think), I am benching Reaves and having Nosek between William Carrier and Keegan Kolesar.  Line four needs to play with energy while being able to play a strong defensive game.  Reaves is the worst defensive forward on the team.  Does his “energy” make up for his lack of defensive ability?  I do not think so. Nosek between Kolesar and Carrier is just the right blend of energy and ability.  Reaves will serve much better as the teams thirteenth forward than an everyday player.

VGK welcomes fans back to T-Mobile Arena for the first time in nearly a year! The Fortress will be at about fifteen percent capacity for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild. It will be an emotional and exciting night for everyone inside T-Mobile Arena. Monday’s game represents progress and hope for what has been such a rough time for Las Vegas. Let us hope the maximum capacity can be raised throughout the season!

 

The Henderson Silver Knights are off to an 8-1 start which matches VGK’s start in their inaugural season.  We have seen how this story plays out. Congrats to the Henderson Silver Knights on their upcoming Conference Championship and trip to the Calder Cup Finals in season one! The hope is that HSK can welcome fans to The Orleans Arena some time in March.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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