Golden knights vs blackhawks game 5 preview
Photo Credit: Action Network

Preview: Golden Knights vs Blackhawks – 1st Round – Game 5

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Tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Chicago Blackhawks in game five of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. 

 

Golden Knights vs Blackhawks game 5 preview
Photo Credit: NHL

Chicago earned a victory in game four because of a stellar performance by Corey Crawford in net. Vegas will try to complete the “gentlemen’s sweep” to move on to the Conference Semi-Finals.

Vegas played what was probably their best game of the post-season on Sunday. They logged ninety-four shot attempts with forty-nine of those shots on goal. Chicago only registered twenty-five shots on goal.

Coach Pete DeBoer has declared Paul Stastny and Tomas Nosekday to day.” VGK has only scored three goals without Stastny in the lineup. Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault have failed to log a point in Stastny’s absence. Patrick Brown has done an excellent job filling in for Nosek on line four, but Nosek returning would be an improvement.

DeBoer says he sets his nightly lineup based on “what gives us the best chance to win that night.” That is an interesting statement to make ahead of a particularly important game five. Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury will both have plenty of rest leading up to game five. Beyond the fatigue factor in back to back situations, what other factors play a part in DeBoer’s goalie selection?  DeBoer continually reminds everyone that he has two starting goalies to work with, but whoever starts game five, I believe, also starts game six – if necessary.

A game five victory would mean Vegas has a few days off to enjoy the bubble and get healthy. A game five loss gives Chicago hope and reminders of giving up a substantial lead in last year’s playoff start to creep back in. Look for Vegas to come out quick and shoot early and often once in the offensive zone. Game five has the potential to be a high scoring affair.

 

Two things to watch for:

 

1. Can the Blackhawks keep up the killer penalty kill?

 

They extended their streak to 14 consecutive successful penalty kills with three in Game 4. Vegas’ power play wasn’t as good as the No. 1 Oilers in the regular season, but the Golden Knights did rank ninth (22%). They’re 14th in the playoffs (15%). It’s certainly a point of emphasis for Vegas. Golden Knights’ coach Pete DeBoer said the Hawks have “some good identity there. I think their defensemen have done a really good job of getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots, and their forwards.”

 

2. After all those scrapes, there’s no bad blood?

 

Golden Knights vs Blackhawks game 5 preview
Photo Credit: Second City Hockey

Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault had regularly scrapped with Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and was fined for slashing Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat when Game 4 was in hand. And let’s even not talk about the de-cleating hits leveled by Vegas’ Ryan Reaves, Nick Cousins, and William Carrier, among others.

But from the Golden Knights’ perspectives, they’ve been in more contentious series. “I wouldn’t say it’s as intense as L.A. or one of the San Jose series,” Marchessault said.

Fun fact: Even the coaches chirped at each other when Golden Knights’ coach Peter DeBoer was on the Sharks bench before (ironically?) replacing his nemesis, Gerard Gallant, this season. “I think it goes to style of play of Chicago,” Marchessault said. “They like to generate a lot of speed in the neutral zone. They’re not as physical as L.A. or the Sharks. It’s whatever, you know. It doesn’t matter.”

 

The puck drops tonight at 7:30 PM and can be seen on NBC Sports.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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