Vgk vs avalanche golden knights vs avalanche
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

 

Preview: Golden Knights vs Blackhawks – 1st Round – Game 1

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The Vegas Golden Knights swept the round-robin games and climbed to the number one seed in the Western Conference. The Chicago Blackhawks upset the Edmonton Oilers three games to one in the play-in round. Vegas will square off against Chicago in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.

 

Vegas has gone 8-1 against Chicago over the last three seasons, and many of the games were not that close. Chicago will have to find the right recipe of luck and fantastic goaltending to have a chance in this series.

 

 

Golden Knights vs Blackhawks
Photo Credit: NHL

Max Pacioretty has arrived in Edmonton and is expected to play in game one. That means Chandler Stephenson will move down to the third line with Alex Tuch and Nicolas Roy. There has been a lot of hype coming out of City National Arena about our third line, and it will be nice to see how they perform. Nick Cousins will move down to the fourth line and expect Tomas Nosek to be scratched.

 

The Chicago Blackhawks are anchored by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford. Brandon Saad and Alex Debrincat will also be key contributors for the Blackhawks. Rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied three goals and three assists in the first round. There is no shortage of firepower upfront for the Blackhawks, to say the least.

 

This series will be won and lost by the performance of each team’s third line, defense, and goaltending.

 

 

Golden Knights vs Blackhawks
Photo Credit: Second City Hockey

As mentioned above, there was a lot of hype surrounding Alex Tuch, Chandler Stephenson, and Nicolas RoyTuch leads VGK in goals scored and should find a little more room on the ice with the return of Stephenson. VGK is deeper than Chicago on defense. Chicago has Duncan Keith, who, at age thirty-seven, is finally starting to slow down a bit. After Duncan Keith, the defensive talent falls off the cliff when comparing to VGK.

Chicago goaltender, Corey Crawford, played well in the play-in series against Edmonton and all but stole game four. However, his talent level is far below than of Marc Andrew Fleury and Robin Lehner. Is there a chance Malcolm Subban gets a start and proves all his doubters wrong in Vegas? For Chicago’s sake, let us hope that does not happen. For VGK’s sake, let us hope it does.

As of writing, Coach Pete DeBoer has not named who will start in net game one. DeBoer has been alternating Fleury and Lehner each game. One can only assume that practice will continue for at least the first four games of the series. VGK and Chicago have a back to back games on Saturday and Sunday, which seems more favorable for a rotation.

Will the rotation continue past game four? Your guess is a good as mine. My assumption is after game four, DeBoer will play the goalie he feels gives the team the best chance to win. I think the performance of each goalie in games three and four will determine who starts game five. If both goalies perform well, then the rotation may continue. Two elite level goalies are a beautiful luxury to have; however, that may also pose some challenges down the line.

 

 

This will be an entertaining series with at least a couple of games that could see ten or more goals scored. On paper, Vegas should handle Chicago with ease. But that is why you play the games. Chicago will be a tough out.

 

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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