Golden Knights crush Canucks in Game 1; No added fuel for Marc-Andre Fleury drama

Just about all the drama (Ryan Reaves vs. Antoine Roussel; Marc-Andre Fleury and Alan Walsh vs. Robin Lehner and Peter DeBoer?) could only go so far in Game 1, as the Golden Knights simply dominated the Canucks 5-0.

Golden Knights dominate Canucks in Game 1

After Jonathan Marchessault‘s goal made it 1-0 through the first period, the Golden Knights really bombarded the Canucks during the second period of Game 1.

Vegas piled on three more goals during the middle frame. Consider some troubling stats for the Canucks through the first 40 minutes, and Game 1 as a whole:

  • Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser failed to register a single shot on goal through the first two periods. A possibly banged-up J.T. Miller registered that often-dominant first line’s lone SOG through 40 minutes. It doesn’t appear that Pettersson or Boeser were credited with a third-period SOG, either.
  • It’s clear that Vegas was owning the high-end real estate on the ice. Through the first two periods of Game 1, the Golden Knights managed an 18-6 advantage over the Golden Knights in slot shots.
  • Also from the first two periods: ten of the Canucks’ 19 SOG came from defensemen.
  • Lehner ultimately only needed to make 26 saves to earn a shutout.

Not great! Then again, maybe we should have seen this coming; the Golden Knights were 8-0-2 against the Canucks since coming into the NHL. Consider them 9-0-2 now, or simply consider the Golden Knights’ 1-0 series lead. Either way, it seems like the Canucks need to go back to the drawing board.

Personnel-wise, it’s tough to imagine too many big changes. Playing a more defensive-minded style would likely only help the Canucks so much. Vancouver doesn’t boast a ton of lockdown-types, as great as Quinn Hughes already is in his young career. If nothing else, it’s tough to imagine the Canucks’ top players like Pettersson, Boeser, and Miller being much quieter than they were against the Golden Knights in Game 1.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Whether Marc-Andre Fleury/Robin Lehner or Reaves – Roussel, drama had little impact on game

Really, the most drama revolved around whether Travis Green would bench Jacob Markstrom as Game 1 was getting out of hand. Instead of replacing Markstrom to start the third period when Vancouver was down 4-0, Green gave Markstrom the hook after Max Pacioretty‘s 5-0 goal. (Honestly, I would’ve given the heavily-used Markstrom a breather for Thatcher Demko, but he’s wearing a suit rather than pajamas.)

If there’s going to be further drama in Peter DeBoer choosing Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury, it will have to wait. Lehner was sharp, as Lehner’s often been lately, at least during the rare moments when the Canucks actually tested Lehner.

One would expect the plot to thicken eventually, as the Canucks are an explosive team. Then again, the Golden Knights can excel in that sort of game, and that versatility could make it very difficult to try to gameplan for this Second Round series.

(Of course, few expected the Canucks to eliminate the defending champion Blues so efficiently, so who knows?)

As far as nastiness and (real?) rivalries go, Ryan Reaves and Antoine Roussel had quite the back-and-forth in Game 1. That included Reaves making chicken noises at Roussel after the pest passed on a fight, and Roussel getting a 10-minute misconduct during the third period. (Without audio, seemingly for … hugging?)

Roussel was jawing at Lehner during warm-ups, possibly about Marc-Andre Fleury, but it didn’t seem like that got Lehner off of his game.

[More on the brewing Reaves – Roussel feud]

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VGK leads series 1-0)

Game 1: Golden Knights 5, Canucks 0
Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 27, 9:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 5: Monday, Aug. 31 – TBD
*Game 6: Tuesday, Sept. 1 – TBD
*Game 7: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD

*if necessary

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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