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FSM Essential Recap: VGK vs Avalanche – 8/9/2020

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The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche in thrilling fashion Saturday afternoon in Edmonton.

 

Alex Tuch netted the game-winning goal in overtime, giving VGK a 4-3 victory and the #1 seed in the Western ConferenceJonathan Marchessault scored on a beautiful tip-in and penalty shot. Nicolas Roy punched one in as well. Robin Lehner was solid in goal, stopping thirty-two of the thirty-five shots Colorado put on net.

This was the first time Vegas never trailed in the round-robin games. Vegas played a very controlled game. If there is one element to criticize The Knights on, it was penalties. Six penalties are a bit much at this stage of the game against elite competition.

 

Golden Knights vs Avalanche
Photo Credit: Edwardsville Intelligencer

So… Vegas just won the top seed in the west. Now, what is their prize? A matchup against Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, and the rest of the young Chicago Blackhawks. Wait…that is the prize? Chicago is a solid team loaded with Stanley Cup pedigree.

Earning the top seed means Vegas will play the lowest remaining seed in each round of Western Conference play. In comparison, it may be safe to say that a matchup against the 11th seed, Arizona Coyotes, would have been a bit more desirable. Earning the top seed means that all it takes is one upset in the opening round of the Western Conference for Vegas to avoid playing one of the round-robin teams.

 

Max Pacioretty is close to returning.  Assuming he returns, Chandler Stephenson would drop to the third line, Nick Cousins would drop to the fourth line, and Tomas Nosek will be scratched.

 

Golden Knights vs Avalanche
Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press

The bigger question is who starts game one of the Stanley Cup Playoff in net? Marc Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner? Coach Pete DeBoer has rotated goalies since his arrival in January. If the rotation is to continue, Fleury will draw the net in game one. If he goes with the goalie who has performed better in Edmonton, it’ll be Lehner for sure.

If I were the coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, it would be Lehner’s net to lose.

Goal number one of reaching the postseason has been achieved. By winning all of their round-robin games, Vegas has the “easiest” path to the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

 

Golden Knights Notes:

Ryan Reaves helped set a nasty tone — at least by round-robin standards. It wasn’t “playoff-level,” but the Avs and Golden Knights brought some higher energy to this one. Not shocking with home-ice advantage on the line, but noteworthy.

Nathan MacKinnon displayed passion — maybe too much. He received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which preceded a Vegas power-play goal. Naturally, MacKinnon redeemed himself by… being Nathan MacKinnon.

Alex Tuch scored the overtime game-winner after an excellent defensive play by Mark Stone. Tuch had a nice round-robin run, and could be crucial to Vegas, especially if Max Pacioretty continues to be “unfit to play.”

 

 

 

The updated NHL Round-Robin standings. (ties broken by regular-season points percentage)

 

EAST
Lightning (2-0-0, 4 points)
Flyers (2-0-0, 4 points)
Capitals (0-1-1, 1 point)
Bruins (0-2-0, 0 points)

 

WEST
Top Seed: Golden Knights (3-0-0, 6 points)
Second Seed: Avalanche (2-0-1, 5 points)
Blues (0-2-0, 0 points)
Stars (0-2-0, 0 points)

 

SUNDAY‘S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Round-robin: Bruins vs. Capitals, Noon ET – NBCSN
Round-robin: Stars vs. Blues, 3 p.m. ET – NBC
Game 5: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN

 

Magic Number = 16.  Go Knights Go!

 

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: TDChrisG

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