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Know Your Enemy: Vegas Golden Knights

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Taking a look at the team the Winnipeg Jets will be playing in the Western Conference Finals.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks
Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after defeating the San Jose Sharks in game six of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

With their victory over the Nashville Predators in last night’s thrilling game seven, the Winnipeg Jets secured their spot in the Western Conference finals.

With a short turnaround before game one (Saturday at 6 p.m. CDT), here is a report on the team the Jets will be playing: the Vegas Golden Knights.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Tale of the Tape

Stats Vegas Golden Knights
Stats Vegas Golden Knights
Record 51-24-7
Points 109
Division 1st Pacific
Conference 3rd West
Goals For 272
Goals Against 228
Regular Season
Goals William Karlsson (43)
Assists David Perron (50)
Points Karlsson (78)
Wins Marc-Andre Fleury (29)
Goals Against Average Fleury (2.24)
Save Percentage Fleury (.927)
Power Play % 21.4 (11th)
Penalty Kill % 81.4 (11th)
Playoffs
Goals Alex Tuch, Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault (4)
Assists Reilly Smith (10)
Points Marchessault, Smith (11)
Wins Fleury (8)
Goals Against Average Fleury (1.53)
Save Percentage Fleury (.951)
Power Play % 17.5 (10th)
Penalty Kill % 85.0 (2nd)
Season record vs WPG 2-1-0
Overall record vs WPG 2-1-0

SEASON SERIES

November 10, 2017 - Golden Knights 5 - 2 Jets

December 1, 2017 - Jets 7 - 4 Golden Knights

February 1, 2018 - Golden Knights 3 - 2 Jets (OT)

The Golden Knights got the edge in the season series, though it came down to overtime to get there. After Vegas won at home back in November, the Jets tied the season series in their own barn before dropping the final meeting of the season between the clubs.

FORWARDS

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Tampa Bay Lightning
Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71), center Jonathan Marchessault (81) and right wing Reilly Smith (19) talk during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Top Line: 81 Jonathan Marchessault - 71 William Karlsson - 19 Reilly Smith

Thanks to the generosity of the Florida Panthers and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Golden Knights managed to form a formidable first line, with all three players acquired after their previous teams gave Vegas incentives to pick Marchessault (Florida traded Smith) and Karlsson (the Blue Jackets traded their first-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and David Clarkson).

The trio combined for 213 points in the regular season, with William Karlsson’s 43 goals and 78 points leading the way. In 10 playoff games, they have combined for 32 points, with Marchessault and Smith each with 11. Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba are going to have their hands full with these guys.

New York Rangers v Vegas Golden Knights
James Neal (R) #18 of the Vegas Golden Knights, followed by teammates David Perron #57 and Erik Haula #56, celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring against the New York Rangers in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Second Line: 57 David Perron - 56 Erik Haula - 18 James Neal

When the Golden Knights roster took shape last summer, the Real Deal James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury were widely viewed to be the stars of the roster, while the rest were just cast-offs found on the isle of misfit toys (please ignore the 30-goal scorer they also picked up. Florida did, you can too).

Neal ended up not on the top line, but on the second along with Haula and Perron. The trio ended up with 165 regular season points, with Perron leading them with a career high 66. Neal started hot, but faded as the season went on and finished with 25 goals and 44 points. This line will likely prove to be one of the most important in the series. If the Jets can negate their secondary scoring, similar to the job they did against the Predators, it puts extra pressure on the top line to carry all of the offence for Vegas.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Los Angeles Kings Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Third Line: 24 Oscar Lindberg - 21 Cody Eakin - 89 Alex Tuch

In his first full season in the NHL, 2014 18th overall pick Alex Tuch found himself playing key minutes for Vegas as a 21-year-old, alongside current linemates Oscar Lindberg and Winnipegger Cody Eakin. Tuch had 15 goals and 37 points in the regular season, and is tied for the Vegas lead in playoff goals with four.

Vegas Golden Knights Fan Fest
Ryan Carpenter #40 and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare #41 of the Vegas Golden Knights look on as teammate Tomas Nosek #92 is introduced at the Vegas Golden Knights Fan Fest at the Fremont Street Experience on January 14, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Fourth Line: 40 Ryan Carpenter - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -92 Tomas Nosek

The more traditional expansion team line, this trio combined for 45 points during the regular season. All three went undrafted, and have taken non-traditional routes (through France and Sweden for Bellemare) to get to this point.

DEFENCE

St. Louis Blues v Vegas Golden Knights
Brayden McNabb #3 and Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vegas Golden Knights talk during a stop in play in the second period of their game against the St. Louis Blues at T-Mobile Arena on March 30, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights won 4-3 in overtime.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

3 Brayden McNabb - 88 Nate Schmidt

Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt went from lower pairing guys with the Kings and Capitals respectively, to being Vegas’ top pairing. Their fancy stats aren’t super impressive, but Schmidt more than doubling his career best in points by getting five goals and 31 assists this year is something to note.

New York Rangers v Vegas Golden Knights
Deryk Engelland #5 and Shea Theodore #27 of the Vegas Golden Knights talk during a stop in play in the third period of their game against the New York Rangers at T-Mobile Arena on January 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights won 2-1.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

27 Shea Theodore - 5 Deryk Engelland

Shea Theodore is going to be a terrific defenceman in this league for a long time. I’m not sure why Anaheim doesn’t agfree with me, because they traded Theodore to Vegas in order to protect Josh Manson (who I don’t think is as good) and get the Golden Knights to select Clayton Stoner and his injury.

Theodore’s advanced stats are very good, and go along with his five playoff points and 29 regular season points.

Engelland spells his first name wrong.

Maybe his last name too. Derek England. Much better.

NHL: Preseason-Los Angeles Kings at Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller (6) talks to defenseman Luca Sbisa (47) during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

47 Luca Sbisa - 6 Colin Miller

Miller is a fancy stat gem, Sbisa is a bit of a boat anchor. Not sure why Sbisa gets the nod over Jonathan Merrill, but this was the third pairing in Vegas’ last game.

GOALIES

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends the goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period in game six of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Flower has been absolutely phenomenal, and hopefully received a Hart Trophy vote or two. I’m not saying he should have won, but his value to his team was huge. The Jets will face another test in a strong goaltender this series, and unlike Pekka Rinne, Fleury’s numbers during the playoffs have been stupidly good (1.53 GAA, .951 save percentage, four shutouts).

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Calgary Flames
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban (30) makes a save against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 7-1.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

An adequate backup that got far more work than anybody expected when Fleury went down with injury early in the season. Combined with the play of Oscar Dansk, and to a lesser extent Maxime Lagace, P.K.’s brother was a key part of Vegas surviving while Fleury recovered.

PLAYOFF JOURNEY

Round One/ Pacific Division Semi-Final/ Western Conference Quarter-Final

VEGAS WINS 4-0

April 11 Los Angeles Kings 0–1 Vegas Golden Knights

April 13 Los Angeles Kings 1–2 2OT Vegas Golden Knights

April 15 Vegas Golden Knights 3–2 Los Angeles Kings

April 17 Vegas Golden Knights 1–0 Los Angeles Kings

The Kings scored three times in four games, getting shutout twice and doing nothing to support a terrific display of goaltending from Jonathan Quick. Vegas had seven goals from seven different players, while Marc-Andre Fleury was also stellar.

Round Two/ Pacific Division Final/ Western Conference Semi-Final

VEGAS WINS 4-2

April 26 San Jose Sharks 0–7 Vegas Golden Knights

April 28 San Jose Sharks 4–3 2OT Vegas Golden Knights

April 30 Vegas Golden Knights 4–3 OT San Jose Sharks

May 2 Vegas Golden Knights 0–4 San Jose Sharks

May 4 San Jose Sharks 3–5 Vegas Golden Knights

May 6 Vegas Golden Knights 3–0 San Jose Sharks

After putting up a touchdown and a shutout in game one, the teams traded punches until Vegas put the Sharks away via another Fleury shutout.

THE ENEMY BLOG: KNIGHTS ON ICE