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Knights on Ice—On Thin Ice
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Sunday, February 21, 2021


Sometime in early 2016, when Bill Foley and the Maloof family were exploring the idea of bringing an NHL franchise to Las Vegas, the pundits insisted, “Hockey in the desert will never work.” They should have said, “Hockey on Lake Tahoe on a sunny Saturday will never work.”

Yesterday’s game started at 12 noon, but didn’t end until almost 12 hours later. A 9-hour break in play was imposed between the first and second periods due to the ice conditions caused by the bright sun and the higher elevation of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe sits at 6,225 feet above sea level; Las Vegas is at 2,000 feet.

The NHL has hosted 30 previous outdoor games and some have had minor delays in start times, but never on this long. The VGK might have actually benefited by the delay, as they clearly were unprepared for the noon start. Both Alex Tuch and Pete DeBoer thought their first period was bad. Tuch went as far as calling it their worst period this season. The final score of 3-2 in favor of Colorado is deceiving; the Avs were clearly the better team for all 3 periods and Vegas was lucky that the score was only 1-0 after the first period.

The ice was bad for both teams, so let’s not use that as an excuse for the VGK’s poor performance. The area of the ice most affected by the sun was in center ice where the NHL logo was. The darker sections of the ice absorb more sunlight than the white ice does. When the sun went down and the ice crew had ample time to repair the damage, almost every player had praise for conditions. The speed of both teams in the 2nd and 3rd periods was a vast difference from what we watched in the first 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Colorado’s speed was more than Vegas could handle.

Still, with good ice, we got to see hockey in its purest form: outdoors. Almost every hockey player, especially those who grew up in Canada, learned to skate on lakes, ponds, and puddles. The game wasn’t actually on Tahoe itself, but on a rink constructed at the 18th hole of Edgewood Golf Course just a few feet from the shore. During the intro to the game and the first period, viewers were treated to magnificent views of the lake and surrounding Sierra Nevada, which means “Snow-capped Mountains.” The breathtaking vistas kind of made up for the ugly view of pond hockey played in the first period.

The “oh boy” moment took place in the second period after the game resumed. Nathan MacKinnon picked the puck up just inside of his blue line. Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who was wearing a wireless mic, was heard exclaiming, “Oh boy!” This expressed the amount of respect every NHL player has for MacKinnon and his skill, and this came from one of the top defensive players in the game, who was over 60 feet away from MacKinnon. Pietrangelo knew what was coming and was trying his best to get back deeper into the zone and hopefully force MacKinnon to the outside. It really didn’t matter, as even from the right-wing faceoff circle he blasted a perfect shot over Fleury’s right shoulder and just below the cross bar. This regained a one-goal lead for the Avs after Alec Martinez’ goal.

Pietrangelo had a rough day yesterday; he was on the ice for all 3 of the Colorado goals. Martinez had tied the score at 1-1 at the 7:37 mark of the 2nd. Mackinnon’s goal came just 3:41 after that. The Avs never relinquished the lead. Alex Tuch’s spinarama backhanded goal with just 5:35 left in the game was the closest Vegas got at 3-2.

Fleury was once again good in the net, stopping 36 of the 39 shots he faced. The only goal where I thought he looked lost was the first of the game, when he was beat between the pads commonly known as the 5 hole. I don’t ever recall seeing Fleury’s 5 hole being that wide open in the 4 years I’ve been watching him, game in and game out. It should be noted that with yesterday’s loss, the Flower is 0-4 in outdoor games.

With yesterday’s loss, the VGK have dropped 8 points out of a possible 12 and will desperately need to win tomorrow’s game in regulation time against this same team to salvage this 4-game series. This stings, considering they won the first game and had the second game all tied up with just 40 seconds left in regulation. A loss on Monday will tie Colorado in points with Vegas for the 2nd spot in the Honda West Division with Colorado having a game in hand. St. Louis currently occupies the top spot in the division, but has played 3 more games than Vegas and 4 more than Colorado.

Both teams have excellent penalty killing units and held each other scoreless in 4 PP chances for both teams. But truth be told, the Vegas power play is struggling. Once again they had a 5-on-3 opportunity for 1:22 and did not score.

Vegas has scored only 5 goals in the last 3 games against Colorado. Fleury can only do so much. Colorado has just scored 6 goals in these 3 games and has 2 wins to show for it. Good teams find a way to win and on Monday, the VGK need to find that way.

My 3 Stars of the Game: Nathan MacKinnon (1G, 2A, and involved in all 3 Colorado goals), Devon Toews (game-winning goal and 1A), the NHL Ice Crew (that saved the day by getting the ice ready after the sun turned it into part of Lake Tahoe)

The next game is tomorrow at 7 p.m. vs Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

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?

MacKinnon’s Oh Boy goal

Alec Martinez’ goal

Alex Tuch’s spinarama

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Name: Anthony Curtis
Group: Las Vegas Advisor
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV United States
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