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Knights on Ice — VGK Shows Just How Deep They Really Are, Plus Good News
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Monday, December 6, 2021


Last night at T-Mobile, the VGK played an important divisional game against the Calgary Flames who currently are in first place and started the evening 9 rather large points in front of the VGK. But for the first time in all but 2 games this season, the VGK finally had all top-6 forwards in the lineup. The return of William Karlsson, who missed the last 16 games, allowed the VGK to showcase this team’s depth in their 3-2-win.

The original Misfit line of Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith was reunited and the 1st line of Stone and Pacioretty centered by Chandler Stephenson allowed Coach DeBoer to put together the 3rd line of Janmark and Dadonov centered by Nicolas Roy. The depth of the VGK has to frighten the other 31 teams — and this is without Jack Eichel, who is rehabbing and is expected to join the VGK sometime after Christmas.

Eichel’s actual return to playing a game may not happen until March, but we’re told that his centering a line is the missing link in hoisting a silver trophy that weighs 34.5 lbs. and stands 32 inches high.

But it also brings two small problems: Where does DeBoer put Eichel when he is cleared to play and how do the VGK get the payroll down to $81.5 million?

Some think that he automatically centers a line between Stone and Pacioretty, but before we go there, can you really break up the Stone, Pacioretty Stephenson line? You know the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This line has been magical since it was put together and even with both Stone and Pacioretty missing significant time, Chandler Stephenson hasn’t missed a beat; he currently is the team’s leading scorer with 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 24 games.

Now let’s look at the Edmonton Oilers, who have 2 of the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL. McGregor and Draisaitl have 37 goals and 48 assists combined, yet they play on 2 separate lines most of the time. Granted, they are on the #1 power play unit, but Head Coach Dave Tippett understands that by separating them, he makes it difficult for an opposing team to try to shut them down with their best checkers.

Will DeBoer be of the same mindset and leave the #1 line as is, forcing the opposing team to choose their own poison? If that’s his plan, where does Eichel fit in? Do you break up the Misfit line? You can’t possibly pay Eichel $10 million to center the 3rd line. This is how deep this team will be sometime in March if everyone remains healthy and those that are still out return to the lineup. This team and its depth will be a juggernaut in the playoffs.

I’m not suggesting that Eichel will play on the 3rd line; that would be absolutely ludicrous. But where he goes is the best problem DeBoer could ever imagine having.

Seeing how the line of Roy, Janmark, and Dodonov performed last night, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers best try to accumulate as many points as they can before March, because the VGK may have the best top-9 forwards in the entire NHL. Their 4th line of Carrier-Kolesar is poised to round out their 11 forwards, leaving one spot open for a few different players who are trying their best to remain when the VGK return to full strength.

My one concern is this team’s reluctance to hit opposing players. Last night the VGK had only 14 hits, which is almost unheard of; 11 VGK did not even register a hit. Four of the 6 defensemen had zero hits and Zach Whitecloud only had 1. Brayden McNabb, who is not shy about separating a player from the puck and plastering him to the boards, had 5 hits. William Carrier had 4 hits: 9 of the 14 hits owned by just 2 players. This area will have to improve, especially come playoff time, when the ice surface becomes a whole lot smaller.

Robin Lehner stopped 23 of 25 shots and that leads me to the good news. Last night in his post-game presser, he revealed that he would not be joining team Sweden for the Olympics. With the All-Star and Olympic breaks, Robin will have plenty of time to recharge his batteries and recover from any bumps and bruises that come from facing 100 MPH slap shots and players crashing into the blue paint. His workload so far puts him on an expected 55- to 62-game schedule. With this extended break in February, Robin should be rested and healthy, hopefully for the run into late spring and early summer.

Other game notes and quotes.

“Our attention to detail was really good,” DeBoer said. “I loved our start, which we know has been an issue here at different times in the first 20 gamesI think through 40 minutes we had hardly given up anything in the house or around the net.”

William Karlsson had one shot and one hit in 15:19 of ice time in his return after missing the previous 16 games because of a fractured foot.

“Today was kind of a test,” Karlsson said. “I felt good, better than I thought. A very positive sign.”

“That was a huge game for us,” Roy said. “I think coming into this game, we knew they have a really good team and they’re in first (in the Pacific Division) for a reason. We knew we had to play for 60 minutes.”

The Golden Knights are 7-0-0 at home against the Flames at T-Mobile. They are the first team to win their first seven home games against an opposing team since the Minnesota Wild did so against the Washington Capitals from 2000-01 to 2013-14.

Pacioretty has 7 points, 4G and 3A, in a 5-game point streak and a 3-game goal streak.

Mark Stone has a 5-game point streak going with 1G and 5 assists.

Coming into last night’s game, Calgary had won 3 straight and had earned points in 8 straight games.

Last night’s win in 60 minutes allowed VGK to make this a 4-point game.
Vegas led 2-0 with an early 3rd period goal by Nicolas Roy, but Calgary trimmed the lead to 2-1 when Elias Lindholm scored 9:19 into the 3rd period. But the newly formed 3rd line came to the rescue, with Dadonov scoring the GWG just 1:26 after Calgary scored to close the gap. With the Calgary net empty with over 3 minutes left in the game for an extra skater, Andrew Manigiapane scored to make it 3-2 and things became interesting. Robin Lehner stood tall and the VGK played sound defensively in front of him, preventing Calgary from getting the game to overtime.

My 3 Stars of The Game: Nicolas Roy (1G, 1A), Evgenii Dadonov (GWG), Robin Lehner (23 saves on 25 shots, .920 save percentage)

Next game is Wednesday vs Dallas Stars at T-Mobile at 7 p.m. Pacific Time

Your comments and opinions are welcome here at Las Vegas Advisor or you may contact me directly at [email protected] or on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of Vegas Hockey Guy or on Twitter @TheRealJoePane

One other note: If you’re reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter and would like to access it earlier in the morning before I share it on social media, it’s usually published by 8 a.m. the morning after a game on LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game.

Roy’s goal
Dadonov’s GWG
Close 3rd period call for Lehner

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