William Karlsson

Golden Knights-Blues
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Golden Knights-Blues stream: NHL Return to Play round-robin game

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Thursday’s round-robin matchup between the Golden Knights and Blues. Live look-in coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Golden Knights-Blues stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Standings

Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0, 4 points)
Vegas Golden Knights (1-0-0, 2 points)
St. Louis Blues (0-1-0, 0 points)
Dallas Stars (0-2-0, 0 points)

Thursday’s round-robin schedule

Golden Knights vs. Blues

Scenarios based on Thursday result

1) Golden Knights win in regulation

• Winner of COL/VGK on Saturday will finish 1st, loser will finish 2nd
• Winner of DAL/STL on Sunday will finish 3rd, loser will finish 4th

2) Golden Knights win in OT/SO

• Winner of COL/VGK on Saturday will finish 1st, loser will finish 2nd
STL: Will finish 3rd w/ 1 point against DAL on Sunday
DAL: Only way to finish 3rd is to beat STL in regulation on Sunday

3) Blues win in regulation

COL: Can finish 1st or 2nd

Will finish 1st if …
– COL gets 1 point vs VGK on Saturday, OR
– STL loses to DAL on Sunday

STL: Can finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd

Will finish 1st if…
– VGK beats COL in regulation on Saturday, AND
– STL beats DAL on Sunday

VGK: Can finish 2nd or 3rd

Will finish 2nd if …
– VGK beats COL on Saturday, AND STL loses to DAL on Sunday, OR
– VGK earns exactly 1 point vs COL on Saturday, AND STL loses in regulation to DAL
on Sunday

DAL: Guaranteed last

4) Blues win in OT/SO

COL: Can finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd
Will finish 1st w/ 1 point against VGK on Saturday

VGK: Can finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd
– Will finish 1st by beating COL in regulation on Saturday

STL: Can finish 2nd or 3rd

Will finish 2nd if…

– STL betters VGK’s result over the weekend, OR
– VGK beats COL in regulation on Saturday, AND STL beats DAL on Sunday

DAL: Guaranteed last

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Thursday, August 6, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN (live look-in)
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Golden Knights-Blues live look-in stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Western Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 4, Stars 3 (recap)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche 4, Stars 0
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Golden Knights-Stars stream: NHL Return to Play round-robin game

Golden Knights-Stars stream
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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Monday’s round-robin matchup between the Golden Knights and Stars. Live look-in coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Golden Knights-Stars live look-in stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Golden Knights have remained one of the most elite teams in the league since making the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season and, despite a mid-season coaching change, they will be a serious contender entering their third straight postseason.

Vegas fired Gerard Gallant on Jan. 15 with the team sitting fifth in the Pacific Division and replaced him with former Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer, who had been fired by San Jose in December.

Robin Lehner will start in goal against the Stars. Max Pacioretty will not play.

This season will mark the Stars second consecutive playoff appearance after they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blues in a seven-game Second Round series last season. It’s the first time they’ve reached the postseason in back-to-back years since they made the playoffs five straight seasons from 2003-2008.

This season also marked the second straight year the Stars have dealt with some mid-season turmoil. On Dec. 10, Dallas fired second-year head coach Jim Montgomery due to “unprofessional conduct” and named assistant Rick Bowness interim head coach. The team went 20-13-5 under Bowness, who called his opportunity to lead the team “a complete shock.”

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Monday, August 3, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN (live look-in)
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Golden Knights-Stars live look-in stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Western Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Stars vs. Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (live look-in stream)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Long-term outlook for Vegas Golden Knights

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With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

If you showed a non-hockey fan the salary structures of all 31 NHL teams, they’d probably not choose the Golden Knights as the team that’s only in the middle of its third season.

Rather than looking like they just entered the NHL, the Golden Knights are remarkably “established.” Consider their significant long-term commitments, which include luring players to Vegas:

That’s a lot of money, quite a bit of term, and many of those contracts include no-movement and/or no-trade clauses. Our Golden Knights are all grown up, already, folks.

On the bright side, a lot of those contracts are quite team-friendly. Theodore at $5.2M and Karlsson at $5.9M both stand out among the best deals (at least after Marchessault took a step back, and Tuch’s dealt with injury issues).

Few teams boast a strong mix of two top lines and some nice, prime-age defensemen at reasonable prices for considerable terms, let alone one that wouldn’t be old enough to go to Kindergarten. Yet, here we are with the Golden Knights.

[PHT Power Rankings: Where do Golden Knights rank among best and worst long-term outlooks?]

Long-term needs for Golden Knights

For some time, the Golden Knights experienced a serious need for a backup behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Considering that he’s 35, they had to know that MAF-or-bust wasn’t going to work forever. It sunk in 2019-20, to the point that they brought in Robin Lehner.

With Lehner being splendid during the past two years, and being much younger (in hockey terms) at 28, I can’t help but wonder if Vegas might try to be bold and keep Lehner around.

Doing so would require some juggling, possibly including trying to convince MAF to accept a trade … but it’s something the Golden Knights should at least consider.

Beyond figuring out goaltending depth one way or another — this free agent crop does look good, even beyond Lehner — Vegas faces the challenges most competitive teams do during this salary cap era. While I’d argue that Vegas is deeper than most, the Golden Knights could still use more help up and down the lineup.

Long-term strengths for Golden Knights

Under the assumptions you’d make about an expansion team, you’d expect the Golden Knights to possess a strong prospect pool. That they do, with the Golden Knights placing 10th on Scott Wheeler’s rankings at The Athletic (sub required), as one recent example.

When you pour over the details, the Golden Knights compiling a strong pool gets more impressive.

After all, the Golden Knights haven’t ever drafted higher than sixth (Cody Glass in 2017). They didn’t make a first-round selection in 2018, and only picked 17th (Peyton Krebs) in the 2019 NHL Draft.

In enjoying unexpected contention, Vegas also paid up for rentals and significant additions, bleeding picks and prospects like Erik Brannstrom and Nick Suzuki.

Despite losing key assets, the Golden Knights still managed to bulk up on prospects, giving them a strong chance of supplementing their current stars as they get older. Ideally, a Glass or Krebs may pick up the slack when players like Pacioretty run out of steam.

Beyond Pacioretty and Fleury, a lot of key Golden Knights are either in or around their primes. That Stone price tag might eventually be rough, but right now he’s a two-way superstar, and the Golden Knights can win plenty of best-on-best battles.

When you ponder the big picture, few teams enjoy a better long-term outlook than the Golden Knights.

MORE ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS:

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.

The Buzzer: Connor McDavid does not miss a beat in return

Connor McDavid shines in return The Buzzer
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Three Stars

1. William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights

What matters more: a hat trick, or a two-goal, two-assist night? Maybe the tiebreaker can be who ends up the winner.

I’m going with that, and thus handing Sunday’s top star to Karlsson. “Wild Bill” broke a 20-game goal drought with the third hat trick of his NHL career. The Ducks almost ended up spoiling his big night (more on that here, and in a moment), but Vegas held strong. Now the Golden Knights are on a six-game winning streak.

For all we know, a Karlsson hot streak could be the difference between Vegas winning the Pacific Division or not.

2. Adam Henrique and Nick RitchieAnaheim Ducks

Both Henrique and Ritchie authored those two-goal, two-assist nights discussed in the first star section.

Henrique provided the greatest dramatics, as his two goals unexpectedly sent Sunday’s Golden Knights – Ducks game to OT.

Henrique now has 23 goals and 37 points in 62 games this season. It would be tempting to call the 30-year-old a possible trade deadline target, but his $5.825M AAV extends to 2023-24, so I’m not sure teams really want to take that type of risk.

3. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers managed remarkably well without number 97, but it must have been exhilarating to get him back. Perhaps it even gave Oilers GM Ken Holland the extra push to trade for Mike Green later on Sunday?

Either way, it was a promising return by McDavid. The all-world player scored a goal and two assists, pushing his 2019-20 totals to 31 goals and 84 points in just 56 games. It’s pretty staggering that players are skilled enough to generate such numbers in a very clamped-down NHL (even if games are slightly higher scoring lately).

Anders Lee (2G, 1A), Jordan Binnington (32 out of 33 saves) and Anton Khudobin (31 out of 32) rank as other players worthy of honorable mentions. When in doubt, go with McDavid, especially during a return from injury.

Highlight of the Night (yes, from a great return by Connor McDavid)

Is it wrong to describe this as “vintage McDavid?” McDavid celebrated his return with a triumphant, very “McDavid” goal:

Factoids

  • The Blues have only allowed two goals total over the last four games, all wins. That’s only the eighth time they’ve managed to allow two or fewer over a four-game span during their history. Remarkably, they last pulled off the feat in February 2019. (NHL PR)
  • Speaking of the Blues, they will face the Wild in the 2021 Winter Classic.
  • If Calgary makes it into the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, chalk it up to being scrappy. They’re an NHL-best 14-4-1 on the road since Nov. 23. (Sportsnet Stats)
  • The Canadiens traded Ilya Kovalchuk to the Capitals, while the Oilers snagged Mike Green from the Red Wings. Zach Bogosian signed with the Lightning.
  • For better or worse, the Stars continue to play with a small margin for error. They’re tied with the Blue Jackets for the most wins in one-goal games this season with 18. (NHL PR)
  • Sabres goalie Jonas Johansson earned his first NHL win. (Sabres)

Scores

WSH 5 – PIT 3
BUF 2 – WIN 1
DAL 2 – CHI 1
NYI 4 – SJS 1
CGY 4 – DET 2
STL 4 – MIN 1
VGK 6 – ANA 5 (OT)
EDM 4 – LAK 2

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.

Golden Knights salvage OT win after stunning Ducks comeback

Golden Knights hold off Ducks to win in OT
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The Ducks saved a wild comeback worthy of William Karlsson (aka “Wild Bill”), but the Golden Knights ultimately salvaged a 6-5 OT win.

Golden Knights stay hot by squeaking by in OT

Karlsson admitted it as much: Vegas started to run out of gas. After all, the Golden Knights completed a stretch of three games in four nights.

After going 20 games without a goal, Karlsson exploded for his third career hat trick. Shea Theodore‘s overtime-winner pushed the Golden Knights’ winning streak to an impressive six games.

Vegas: 76 points in 64 games played (34-22-8)
Edmonton: 73 in 62 (33-22-7)
Vancouver: 72 in 61 (33-22-6)

As you can see, the Oilers and Canucks rank as big threats to that Pacific crown with games in hand. That only cements the thought that this would have hurt very, very badly if the Ducks rampaged back for a win.

Adam Henrique nearly rallied that victory. He scored the Ducks’ two last goals to send the contest to OT, and also generated two assists for a four-point night. Nick Ritchie also factored heavily into the proceedings with two goals and two assists of his own.

Anaheim is in sell mode, and at a crossroads. But could this once-proud franchise serve as a pesky upset threat down the stretch?

Also, one wonders if Peter DeBoer felt a sense of deja vu. The Golden Knights were collapsing late against a California team, only this time he was behind Vegas’ bench, and his team was facing the Ducks. Oh yeah, and the Golden Knights were the overtime winners this time around.

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.