Vegas Golden Knights Deserve an Apology

By going to the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, we all owe the Vegas Golden Knights a sincere apology for doubting them.

None of us like admitting when we’ve done something wrong. None of us like to admit a mistake. But in doubting the Vegas Golden Knights we did just that. And for it, we’re sorry.

At the start of the 2017-18 NHL season, no one thought that the Vegas Golden Knights would exceed 100 points. They did it with a 51-24-7 record for 109 points. They also made the playoffs with that record. Something no one thought they could do in year number one. And something 30 other franchises are extremely jealous of.

And then when they got to the playoffs everyone thought it would be a cute story and be over in four games. No one thought the Vegas Golden Knights could get by the Los Angeles Kings.

They did. In fact, they swept the Kings in four straight games. And the doubting didn’t end.

The Golden Knights took on an established San Jose Sharks team in round two, and everyone thought they couldn’t make it. They were wrong.  The Knights won in six games.

Then came the second best team in the Western Conference, the high flying Winnipeg Jets. The Knights downed them in five.

So here we are, in the Stanley Cup finals, and the Vegas Golden Knights are at least four games away from winning the Stanley Cup in year one of their existence. It’s a remarkable story and one we’re frankly sorry we got so very wrong.

…Although to be fair. There’s no way they beat the Capitals in the finals.

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NHL Playoffs: Marc-Andre Fleury Winning Conn Smythe

Could Vegas Golden Knights Marc-Andre Fleury win the NHL Playoffs MVP even if his team loses the cup finals? Yes.

The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the NHL Playoffs Stanley Cup final. In their first year. And the biggest reason for it is the man between the pipes; Marc-Andre Fleury.

With his 0.947 SV% and 1.68 GAA, Fleury is absolutely killing it in the postseason for the expansion Knights. But the question is, could he win if the Knights still lose in the finals?

Glenn Hall was in the exact same situation as Fleury was back in 1968. Hall led the expansion St. Louis Blues to the cup finals where they were swept by the powerhouse Canadiens.

In 1968 Hall put up a .916 SV% and 2.44 GAA in 18 playoff games for the expansion Blues. And he was awarded the Conn Smythe, regardless of being swept in the finals.

That’s precedence holmes.

Even if the Vegas Golden Knights lose the Stanley Cup finals, Marc-Andre Fleury can win the Conn Smythe. Something he was never going to do in Pittsburgh under the shadow of Sidney Crosby.

 

NHL Sign, Trade, Waive: The Swedish, Russian, Free Agents

If you had to sign, trade, or waive one of three NHL players, who would you pick and why?

On this week’s show we tried out a new feature called Sign, Trade, Waive. Where we ask each other, and you, what NHL player you’d sign, which one you’d trade away, and which one you’d waive? It sounds easy, but when you’re confronted with the question and three really good NHL players it’s anything but.

This week we all had a trio of players and all had a theme:

mitchMitch – Unrestricted Free Agents

James van Riemsdyk | Toronto Maple Leafs
Evander Kane | San Jose Sharks
David Perron | Vegas Golden Knights

All three have similar output, are of similar age, and are at similar crossroads in their NHL careers. Which one do you keep? And which one is worthless?

harperHarper – Swedish Defensemen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson | Arizona Coyotes
Victor Hedman | Tampa Bay Lightning
Erik Karlsson | Ottawa Senators

If you had to pick a number one Swedish defenseman who would take from the three? Even if you waive OEL, you still have to make a decision between Karlsson and Hedman. Which do you value more?

darcynewDarcy – Russian Big Name Forwards

Nikita Kucherov | Tampa Bay Lightning
Evgeni Malkin | Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Ovechkin | Washington Capitals

Kucherov has the youth. But Ovie has the cannon of a shot and the body of a beast. And Malkin is just good at everything. Literally everything. So which one do you waive?

Vegas Golden Knights William Karlsson Wasn’t A Guaranteed Success

Who knew what the Vegas Golden Knights were getting in the 2017 Expansion Draft? We knew they would get players that other NHL teams didn’t want or were OK with losing. But we didn’t expect them to find potential stars in the making.

These were all rejects after all. The team of misfit hockey players. No one wanted them, not even Vegas by its own declaration of trying to build through the draft.

Can you blame Vegas? Name a single successful expansion team in any sport? You can’t because it hasn’t happened. Building a successful team is always done through the draft. Or at least, that’s how it’s been done in the past.

With the season all but over the Vegas Golden Knights, the group of misfits cast aside in the Nevada desert is going to the postseason. And not by the skin of their teeth either. They’re going to win their division in their first year of existence. And key amongst that outstanding season is William Karlsson.

Who knew that William Karlsson, formerly of Columbus would turn out to be a fourth goal scorer? That’s right a forty goal scorer. William Karlsson a third line plug for John Tortorella’s Columbus Blue Jackets has become one of the top five goal scorers in the NHL.

Was he always going to be this good? As in, was he a forty goal scorer in hiding or did Vegas create a 40 goal scorer?

Some of Karlsson’s number in CBJ and VGK over the last two season.

Year Team CF/60 GF/60 xG+/- Sh%
2017-18 VGK 61.43 3.65 8.17 10.7
2016-17 CBJ 50.87 2.41 -2.16 8.19

I used these numbers for a reason. They rate a player’s on-ice performance relatively. We all know that the minutes Karlsson received in Vegas weren’t the same minutes he’s getting in Vegas. So breaking down some of the stats into /60 shows what he did/does with the time he’s given assuming it’s the same across the board.

The rate at which he controls play on the ice increased by some 120%. His goal creation (GF/60) based on ice time increased by over 150% and his expected goals for +/- which takes into account defensive play – or the number of expected goals against – increased by an alarming 378%. (all stats are 5on5 stats)

When you consider where he’s come from to where he is, there’s no reason to think that Karlsson was this 40 goal scorer in hiding. Karlsson was a good hockey player before arriving in the desert, but this absolutely dominant goal scorer he was not.

That has to be attributed to the environment he’s in with Vegas. There’s no doubt that he’s playing with better players in Jonathan Marchessault and David Parron. But it’s also the system in which they operate that has allowed Karlsson to take full advantage of the skill sets he has and flourish.

There’s no one single person to credit with his rise. Sure, credit has to be given to McPhee for building his team to find the right talent. Some credit goes to Gallant for building the structure. And some credit goes to Karlsson himself for executing.

But the reason he’s been so prolific isn’t one single factor but a range of variables all coming together in the perfect storm. His success wasn’t a guarantee.

NHL Gambling: Vegas Golden Knights 30-11-2017

For the first time in our NHL gambling Bet Of The Night daily posts, were going to take the Vegas Golden Knights as our winner tonight. For some reason they’re un-favoured on the road.

The Vegas Golden Knights are still goin’. Going into the second quarter of the season, the Knights are 15-7-1. Good enough for second in the Western Conference. Second. The Golden Knights. Who didn’t exist last season.

With that type of record the Golden Knights are well on their way to a playoff position. And perhaps a designation as the best expansion team across any league ever.

So it’s a little odd to see the Golden Knights as heavy underdogs at +155 against the lowly Minnesota Wild. It’s like Vegas bettors just don’t trust what they’ve seen so far and are wating for the bottom to fall out.

VGK +155 @ -175 MIN

I don’t get why Vegas can’t give respect to Vegas. Is it their 6-5-1 road record? Sure that doesn’t look great. But Minnesota being 6-3-2 at home isn’t any better.

I’d look at the starting goalies, but we all know the trials and tribulations that Vegas has gone through with it’s keepers. They’re on their fifth goalie of the season and they’re still winning. So it clearly doesn’t matter who’s in nets for the Golden Knights.

So the Golden Knights roll into Minnesota with an OK road record, the third most potent offense in the Western Conference, against the fifth leakiest team in the Western Conference, who are also just “OK” at home with a 6-3-2 record.

And Vegas is a +155 underdog? Sold.