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The Knightly Recap: Week 3

The Knightly Recap

Last week on the Knightly Recap, the Vegas Golden Knights played the Arizona Coyotes in three straight games in one week. The Golden Knights won the first two meetings while the Coyotes won the third meeting. 

This week, the Golden Knights face the Coyotes for the fourth straight game and the St. Louis Blues; which is Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s former team. With that said, welcome to week three of the Knightly Recap.

Jan. 24 at Arizona Coyotes

Their Game Finally Delivered

This game was day and night for the Golden Knights. Last game, they didn’t look like the team that went on a 4-0-0 start this season. Defensively, they weren’t in sync letting five goals get past them. Offensively, they weren’t in sync only scoring two goals though one of those goals was from a power play.

But this game determined if Vegas could bounce back from a game that they probably shouldn’t have lost in the first place. And the Golden Knights found their game back as they dominated on both ends of the ice.

Offense Took a Day Off Two Days Ago

Offensively, Vegas outshot Arizona 27-16 from all three periods. Vegas also limited Arizona’s scoring chances to only seven shots on goal; which was the highest number of shots on goals for Arizona this entire game. The Golden Knights also dominated in faceoffs for the second time this season winning 61.4% of the faceoffs compared to the Coyotes’ 38.6%. Last game, the Golden Knights dominated in the faceoff circle winning 59.2% to the Coyotes’ 40.8%.

Vegas pressurized Arizona throughout this game the same way they did in their first two meetings: constant pressure on the offensive zone and not giving them any real momentum in this game.

Defense Wins Games

Defensively, they were able to get in the way of shooting and passing lanes that the Coyotes were looking for. As mentioned earlier, the Golden Knights limited the Coyotes to less than 10 shots on goal the entire game. And the highest shots on goal the Coyotes had this game was seven. Also, Vegas didn’t overthink which zones and players to primarily focus on as supposed to their last meeting. They were able to make necessary switches in their defensive zone without making it complicated. Their defense in this game led to many scoring chances including the game winning goal.

William Karlsson Came in Wild

Before the Golden Knights won this game, the game was at a standstill with both teams not scoring a goal. That changed until Golden Knights forward William Karlsson scored the game winning goal with 42.7 seconds left in the third period. The goal was all from great defense in the neutral zone and a great puck dump into the end boards by Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch.

Golden Knights forward Jonathon Marchessault hustled to the offensive zone beating Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun to the puck. Marchessault made a centering pass to Karlsson who scored top shelf on Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. But let’s give credit where credit is due. Kuemper kept this game close making 26 saves on 27 shots.

The Flower That Continues to Bloom

However, with all the good aspects the Golden Knights had in this game, the play of Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had another great game. In his three starts this season, Fleury only allowed three goals in six games. It’s not to say that his fellow goaltender Robin Lehner isn’t a great goalie. But so far Fleury has looked like the better goaltender to put as the starting goaltender and Lehner would have to earn his net back. So far this season, Vegas head coach Pete DeBoer has been switching between both Lehner and Fleury for the starting goaltender position each game.

Also, Fleury recorded his first shutout this game marking this his 62nd career shutout. Fleury’s currently 36 years old but he’s playing like he wants to win one more Stanley Cup before he retires. And why not? He’s currently averaging a 1.01 GAA with a .951 save percentage and has a 3-0-0 record.

Jan 25. vs. St. Louis Blues

COVID-19 Strikes the Golden Knights

Three hours before the game started, one coach on the Golden Knights’ coaching staff contracted COVID-19. The Golden Knights organization decided to have all of the coaching staff quarantine and not coach this game. 

Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon would coach this game and it seems like he’ll likely be the coach again for Thursday’s game against the Blues at home. Coaching staff from Vegas’ AHL affiliate team, the Henderson Silver Knights, were also a part of this impromptu coaching staff. The Silver Knights’ coaching staff consists of head coach Manny Viveiros and assistant coaches Joel Ward and Jamie Heward.

McCrimmon also mentioned that all the players and staff were tested the morning of the game and that there were no positive tests from any of the players. However, the next game could possibly still be in jeopardy if a positive case occurs within the next 48 hours.

Not the Start They Were Looking for… Again Part 2

This is the third game this season in which the Golden Knights didn’t get the start they wanted. Though, Tuch gave the Golden Knights their only lead in this game. However, the Blues would score three goals in the first period with two coming from forward David Perron. The Golden Knights had also made more miscues on both ends of the ice this game than their previous six games.

Max Putting on the Patches

Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty continues to find ways to score as he recorded his first hat trick with the team and his seventh of his career. Pacioretty started his hat trick in the second period from Golden Knights captain Mark Stone and defenseman Alec Martinez. His second goal of the game came in the third period during a 5-on-3 power play. Pacioretty would then tie the game 6:01 after his PPG and send the game into overtime.

When Vegas signed Pacioretty from free agency almost two years ago this coming summer, they knew that he could help this team with more depth in the scoring department. However during the playoffs last season, Pacioretty wasn’t able to score the amount of goals he already has this season. If he can continue this trend of finding ways to get the puck into the back of the net, he could be on pace to win the Ted Lindsay Award.

Working Overtime and Then Some

Both teams had chances to win in overtime but the play of both goaltenders helped keep their respective teams still in the game. And with that, they had a shootout; which was the first time this season for the Golden Knights and the second time for the Blues. 

Here’s how the shootout went: Perron scored the first shootout goal with a backhand shot. Marchessault missed the goal on his attempt. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly had his shot saved by Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner. Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore and Blues forward Brayden Schenn scored on a backhand on their respective shot attempts. Tuch would be the final player in this shootout as he lost the puck on the way towards Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Posts and Crossbars Gave the Golden Knights the Blues

The score should’ve looked differently and maybe the result as well had the Golden Knights converted on the eight times they hit either the post or the crossbar in this game. But Binnington also had a good game as well making some timely saves both during regulation and overtime.

Maybe if the Golden Knights put Fleury in net, those posts and crossbars would’ve been a bit nicer to Vegas. Because it seems like the crossbar and goal posts have a friendly relationship with Fleury whenever he’s in net.

Will the GM Make a GM Move Next Game?

With McCrimmon calling the shots for the time being, maybe it’s time to start thinking about having a starting goaltender this season until they need to make a change. It worked last season with the Golden Knights bringing in Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks during free agency. Lehner helped the Golden Knights go into the playoffs before the March 12, 2020 pause due to COVID-19. He was also 3-0-0 in his first three games as the starting goaltender for the Golden Knights.

However, Lehner has allowed 14 goals in his four starts this season and is averaging a 2.95 GAA and .855 save percentage. Fleury, on the other hand, is 3-0-0 only allowing three goals in his three starts to this season. He’s also averaging a 1.00 GAA and a .951 save percentage and recorded one shutout so far. Maybe it’s time to give Fleury his starting goalie position back until otherwise.

Jan 28. vs. St. Louis Blues

This game was postponed due to a Golden Knights player, along with one more coach in the coaching staff, were tested positive for COVID-19. The decision was made by the NHL, NHLPA and both team’s medical groups.

The NHL is also “in the process of reviewing and revising the Golden Knights’ regular season schedule” and that the newly released schedule will be announced “in the next 24-48 hours”. The full statement from the NHL can be read below:

UPDATE: Four members of the Golden Knights, including three coaches, have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and are now in isolation as of Jan. 29, 2021. The NHL has also rescheduled two Golden Knights games against the San Jose Sharks which were supposed to be held on Feb. 1 and 3.

Up Next on the Knightly Recap

As mentioned in the statement made by the NHL, there aren’t any new details as of Jan. 28, 2021 in terms of the Golden Knights’ regular season schedule changes. The St. Louis Blues are still currently scheduled to play the Anaheim Ducks this Saturday Jan. 30 unless a COVID-19 outbreak happens within the organization.

Until then, stay tuned for the next Knightly Recap.

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