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Knights on Ice — Strangers in the Knights
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday, October 13, 2021


“Strangers In The Night” was a song madefamous by Frank Sinatra in 1966, which helped him revive his career. A fact that’snot widely known is that Sinatra hated this song. “I just can’t stand this song, but what the hell.” Sinatra announcedat a gig in Jerusalem in 1975.

Well, Vegas GoldenKnight fans, let me be the first to welcome you to the 2021-2022 version of Strangersin VGK uniforms. You might hate it, but what the hell. If this year’s team has asmuch success as the song, it will be a fine time for hockey in Las Vegas.

If you’vebeen following the VGK since 2017-2018, you’ll need a notepad to keep track of thenew players this year. The VGK front office has done almost a complete makeoverof the original team and the previous four years of what most of the other 31 teamswould love to have accomplished.

Vegas has reachedthe playoffs in all 4 of their seasons, winning 183 games of the 291 played. They’vewon their division twice (2017 and 2019) and tied with Colorado when both teamswound up with 82 points in 56 games last season. They made it to the Final 4 teamsthree times and we all know about their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final.The team also won 38 of 66 playoff games and that’s the problem. The goal is towin 16 games in one playoff run and the team that you all have come to love hasn’tbeen able to do that. So in this cap-unfriendly situation, changes had to be madeand some popular players have left over the last few years, especially 2 over thelast off season.

But the goal is the Stanley Cup and the front office is willing to continueto move all in in their quest to achieve this.

The only players from the original Misfits who appear on the 2021-2022roster are, in no particular order: Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Reilly Smith,Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlson, and Alex Tuch.

Now for your notepad, here are the new players who have made the teamout of training camp: Evgenii Dadonov, Pavel Dorofeyev, Jack Dugan, BrettHowden, Nolan Patrick, and Laurent Brossoit. 

Last night, the VGK opened what we all hope will be a normal 82-gameseason playing the other 31 teams. The only thing that remains strange is watchingfrom your seats with a mask on. But think back to when you couldn’t attend becauseof COVID and I bet you would have sat with multiple masks on to watch a game livein front of a full house at T-Mobile.

It’s only fittingthat the newest team in the NHL, the Seattle Krakens (pronounced “Crack-in”), openedtheir season against the second-youngest NHL franchise. The schedule makers gothis one right. Here’s what happened. 

The VGK won 4-3, an abundance of ebbs and flows made the score deceiving.

The Seattle Kraken came flying out of the gate and in the first 27 secondsof the game they stormed into their offensive zone and had the VGK and Robin Lehnerscrambling for their fishing nets and harpoons to try to contain these pesky seacreatures. Alex Pietrangelo was forced into taking a tripping penalty at the 27-secondmark, but it might have been a blessing in disguise, as it stopped the game andforced Vegas into a penalty-killing situation, which seemed to calm the VGK’s early-gamejitters.

Just 43 seconds after the Kraken power play ended, Max Pacioretty scoredthe first goal of the season with a tape-to-tape pass from Mark Stone streakingdown the right wing. The east-to-west pass caught Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauerleaning left and he couldn’t recover for Pacioretty’s laser shot. The line of Stone,Pacioretty, and Stephenson wound up with 3 goals and 5 assists for a total of 8points. Pacioretty had 2 goals, Stone 3 assists. The VGK needed that kind of productionfrom their top line, with additional contributions from Marchessault, whose goalwas a dandy and will be highlighted for the next few days on ESPN (video linkbelow).

The Knights need their top 6 forwards to set the tone in scoring. Onceagain, with injuries and salary-cap gymnastics, the 3rd and 4th lines are thrown togetherfor the most part. Dylan Coghlan, a defenseman, played as a forward on the 4th line. With forwards Carrier, Roy, and Tuch out with injuries and losingPatrick Brown on waivers yesterday, that was the only choice. Coghlan saw only 6shifts and 4:37 of ice time, while Pavel Dorofeyev had even less — 5 shifts and4:07 ice time. Fortunately, Vegas scored their first 2 goals on just 3 shots andwhen Max Pacioretty scored his 2nd goal of the game, they builtup what seemed to be a comfortable lead of 3-0.

But then the Krakenmade things a little interesting when they answered back with 2 goals of their ownjust 1:12 apart. 

With just about 12 minutes to go in the 3rd period, Marchessault had the puck on his stick entering the offensivezone and failed to get it deep into the zone. Morgan Geekie sped the other way andripped a blast over Robin Lehner’s to tie the score with 12:02 left in the game.After scoring his goal, he twirled his stick as he skated by the VGK bench and stareddown the VGK players. Big mistake, kid. That little showboating fired upMark Stone, whose pass to Stephenson 35 seconds later glanced off his skate and into the net for the game-winner. The goal was reviewedby the war room in Toronto and ruled legal. I’m not so sure about that, but hey,why not welcome the Kraken to the NHL with an opening loss on a controversial goal?Nothing like a cold shower to wake you up. Trust me, Kraken fans, we’ve all havehad this happen and you’ll be on the good side of one of these rulings real soon.

For all intents and purposes, Vegas played the entire game with 3-1/3lines. That’s not a winning formula going forward against established teams. Hopefully,Carrier and Roy’s injuries won’t be long term. Alex Tuch is on LTIR and will missa good portion of the season.

About Lehner, Coach Pete DeBoer said, “I thought he was good. That’s a tough game for him. We all know the footsteps he’s following and there’s no hiding from that. It was an important win for him in a tough game.”

He continued, “I thought our top two lines were exceptional and we needed them to be. We were shorthanded tonight. We had to really lean on the big guys.”

Other game notes. Vegas is 91-0-1 when leadingby 3 goals. Last night’s crowd was announced as 18,431 but it sounded like25,000 VGK fans who were pumped to be there. The crowd at T-Mobile was verysupportive when Robin Lehner was introduced as the starting goaltender. That hadto have made him feel good, considering the love/hate VGK fans have over the off-seasontrade of the beloved Marc-André Fleury.

The Kraken did win something last night, the Twittergame. The VGK tweeted, “OMG, act like you’ve scored before.” The Krakenresponded, “OMG are you the fun police now? ” Final score: Kraken Twitter1, VGK Twitter 0

I feel at least a Twitter rivalry has begun. Afterall, we can’t even count the Sharks anymore

My 3 Stars of the Game:

1)Max Pacioretty (2G 1A)

2)Mark Stone (3A)

3)Chandler Stephenson (1G which was the Game winning goal and 1 A)

Next game is tomorrow vs. the L.A. Kings at 7:30p.m. in L.A.

Your comments and opinions are welcome here on Las Vegas Advisor or you can contact me directly at [email protected] or you can leave your comments and opinions on my Facebook Page or the Facebook Page of Vegas Hockey Guy

Marchessault’s tricky goal

Stephenson’s was-it-kicked-in goal

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