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Knights on Ice — VGK Will Their Way To Beat L.A.
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Saturday, March 20, 2021

 

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Last night two Wills were needed to beat the L.A. Kings. William Karlsson scored the winning goal in the second period after the Kings wiped out the 2-goal lead that Max Pacioretty provided with his 2 goals in the first period. Then William Carrier added an insurance goal in the 3rd period that provided the VGK with a 4-2 victory at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

This win further cemented the VGK’s best record in the NHL (21-6-1). Tampa Bay is close (21-6-2). Vegas has a firm hold on the top spot of the Honda West Division, leading Colorado by 5 points and Minnesota by 6.

But before you start dancing around your living room celebrating this amazing start in their first 28 games of a 56-game schedule, please note that 15 of their 21 wins have come against the bottom 4 teams of the Honda West. The remaining 28 games will be weighted toward the other top 3 teams. Make no mistake about this, the VGK stand head and shoulders talent-wise above the bottom 4 teams on the ice, on paper, or anywhere else you can think of.

Just look at their current record vs. the bottom 4: L.A. 3-0-0, San Jose 5-0-0, Anaheim 4-1, Arizona 3-1.

Their 4 other losses and the OT loss have come against the other top 3 teams. So with the remaining schedule of 28 games there will be more games percentage wise against Colorado, Minnesota, and St. Louis than the bottom 4. The remaining points on the schedule will not come as easily.
Of all of the divisions in the 2020-21 NHL Pandemic Season, the Honda West in my opinion will be the most difficult to come out of. The winner of this division will, if everything goes as expected, play for the Stanley Cup. That said, first place is paramount for Vegas; it assures them home-ice advantage all the way to at least the semi-finals, which will decide 2 of the 4 remaining teams that will play for the honor of lifting the Stanley Cup.

Okay, back to the game.

William Karlsson took a false positive and turned it into a true positive by scoring the winning goal when it appeared he wouldn’t even play last night, as he tested positive for COVID. He was sent back to the hotel and isolated from his teammates overriding the possible false positive required 3 negatives. The clock was ticking. The first two tests were negative. With little time to spare, the third test was too. Wild Bill barely made it to the arena for the team warmups. His day was one of high and low emotions. Karlsson is never really demonstrative when he scores, but last night, when he tipped in Jonathan Marchessault’s wrist shot from the point, he showed some passion. It was also his first goal since March 3 vs. Minnesota and since that game, he has picked up only 3 assists in his last 10 games.

The other William had the insurance goal in the 3rd period to extend the Vegas lead to 2 goals. It was Carrier’s first goal since Feb. 22, 2020, vs. Florida.

A lot of negative streaks were broken last night and a few positive ones continued. Mark Stone added to his point streak of 10 games, a VGK record, as he’s literally burning up the month of March. Since March 1, Stone has scored in all 10 games with 18 points (6G, 12A).

Shea Theodore has a 6-game scoring streak, a career high, with 2 goals and 7 assists.

Max Pacioretty has a 5-game streak going (4G, 5A).

The 2-goal game by Pacioretty was the 52nd in his career.

The current streak of Fleury playing every game finally came to an end with the welcome site of Robin Lehner in the net for the first time since Feb 7 against the very same Kings, a game he eventually won despite giving up 2 goals on the very first 2 shots he faced back. Last night, Robin faced 25 shots and saved 23.

It looked like the VGK were going to be playing with a depleted lineup — minus Karlsson, Tuch, Stephenson, and of course Pietrangelo. But all played except for Pietrangelo, who’s not expected back for the foreseeable future with what is rumored to be a hairline fracture. The kids on the blueline — Whitecloud, Hague, and Coghlan — have made the absence of the 8.8-million-dollar man not so visible.

The VGK dominance when scoring first continues with Pacioretty’s first goal. They increased the league-leading record to 17-0-1 when scoring first. They also had a +30-goal differential coming into last night’s game, second only to Tampa Bay’s +37.

For all those DeBoer haters, I will just leave this right here for your consideration: He’s 36-11-3 since taking over the team in January 2020.

Some other notes of interest from the game. After the Kings tied the game up at 2-2 in the second period, the VGK held the Kings to just 2 shots on net, compared to 18 for Vegas, until L.A. had a power play in which they got 3 shots on Panda. The Kings had 12 shots on goal in the first period and just 13 shots in the remaining 40 minutes of play.

My 3 Stars of the Game: Max Pacioretty (2 goals), William Karlsson (GWG), Alec Martinez (2A and a game-high 4 blocked shots).

Next game is Sunday against the Kings at 3 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?

Pacioretty’s 2nd goal that took the War Room to confirm

Karlsson winning goal

Carrier’s Insurance goal

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