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Avs make Eichel return a moot point in shutout win over Cap-circumventing Vegas Golden Knights

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David Becker/AP

LAS VEGAS – Jack who?

Jack Eichel generated a ton of hype with his return to the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights, but he made not a lickspittle bit of difference tonight for the cap-circumventing Knights as the Colorado Avalanche shut them out 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena.

Eichel looked as rusty as a 1976 Dodge Dart, and Darcy Kuemper got the whitewash victory for Colorado.

Mikko Rantanen’s power-play goal late in the third period salted a game away that, despite the close final score, never really seemed in doubt for the Avs.

Kuemper made 29 saves, while Eichel had no points, one shot on net and took four minutes of penalties. He made as much difference for Vegas tonight as he did in his six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres in which he led them to…zero playoff games, before pouting his way out of town.

Avs got goals from Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog, and while they weren’t overwhelming offensively, they didn’t need to be. The Avs’ defense pretty much smothered Vegas’ top two lines, keeping most everything to the perimeter. When Vegas did get a decent chance, Kuemper looked big in net.

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Avs coach Jared Bednar said Kuemper looked “solid” and “calm” in goal. Vegas definitely doesn’t look as good a team as last year, though we shouldn’t judge them on their roster probably at the moment. First off, they didn’t have No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner in net tonight. Second, the Golden Knights are playing the “Kucherov” loophole with captain Mark Stone, as he rests his allegedly aching back coincidentally at just the moment they would have had to clear some serious cap room to fit Eichel in.

The Golden Knights also appear to be sitting value D-man Alex Martinez because of cap issues. GM Kelly McCrimmon is shedding crocodile tears over his team’s injury situation right now, but nobody is fooled. Vegas is doing the same thing Tampa Bay did last year with Nikita Kucherov to try and game the system until the playoffs, when there is no more cap.

Cale Makar got two assists in the victory, and Nathan MacKinnon got one. MacKinnon also crushed Vegas forward Nolan Patrick with a big open-ice hit early in the game. That earned an interference penalty for MacKinnon, but Kuemper and the suddenly red-hot Avs PK unit kept the Golden Knights to the same score on the board as they would the rest of the night.

A goose egg.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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ricoflashback

How do you like me now! How do you like me now, says DK! Great game by the Avs on a back to back. And how big are those Johnson’s in this game? EJ crushed many a player while JJ played solid defense. Combine this win with the Nuggets comeback and game winning three by Monte Morris at the buzzer and it’s been a great night for Denver sports teams.

Karl Keen

Agree with you 100% on the Johnsons. Physical, mean, and good!

Christopher Clack

(Mackinnon) “crushed Vegas forward Nolan Patrick with a big open-ice hit”

that’s not really what happened at all. more like Patrick skated into Mack with his head down. TNT crew pearl-clutching aside, not really much different than any of the typical incidental collisions that occur during a normal game except Patrick went down like he was shot.

hockeyhacker5

A shoulder to the chin will make anyone go down like they were shot, and MacKinnon clearly leaned in. Kadri would get five games for that. Patrick is sadly similar to Byram thus far–talented prospects who can’t stay healthy.

Jim Strohmeier

Will Mark Stone’s back feel suddenly better if VGK doesn’t keep it’s spot in the standings?

Scott Brower

This. I’d love to see Vegas free fall in the standings and be forced to fix their salary cap issues or, better yet, miss the playoffs altogether.

MoxNix

Coming from a Flames fan… I couldn’t agree more!

Last edited 9 months ago by MoxNix
dk

I thought these teams played each other very evenly. The stats back it up with VGK having an edge in shots and the Avs having more high danger chances.

I don’t know what the rest of you think, but I felt like we got our pockets picked in the neutral zone a bit too much.

In the end, Kuemper wins this game for us. Chapeau, tendy!

Last edited 9 months ago by dk
Karl Keen

We kept getting our pockets picked when we tried cute little passes for sure. Can’t do those against a team like that, particularly when their best pocket picker Stone isn’t even playing.

ricoflashback

I don’t think Vegas is as tough to play without Tuch, Martinez and Reaves. Stone was missing and he’s a great two way player. I’m sure we’ll see Stone and Eichel together in the playoffs. Maybe Martinez, too, if they can extend his current injury. That’s close to $15 million in cap relief right now that will disappear come playoff time. So, Vegas can have Stone, Eichel and Martinez for the playoffs and essentially be $15M over the cap.

Last edited 9 months ago by ricoflashback
dk

Don’t forget Lehner. Word is he has a torn labrum. Now there are rumors spreading that Vegas may make a move for the Flower…

Doug

Incredibly impressive performance overall by the Avs. The Knights were waiting for the Avs, very well rested, the crowd was fired up with Eichel’s return, and the Avs played and traveled the night before. To me, they didn’t play like it- refused to use any of that as an excuse. It certainly helped that Kuemper was outstanding. That was a signature win, and the kind they are going to need for the Cup run we all hope they have.

Aaron Rud

Frankly, I thought Patrick sold or embellished that hit somewhat.

GWood

Okay, reporter grades. This one gets an A+. The goose egg blast sent it over the top, but “pouting his way out of town” is hilarious. Kuemper earned his paycheck tonight, great win by the Avs.

Marcus Rose

This is from the Las Vegas Review Journal writer Ed Graney “The Knights were able to activate him and not make any major roster moves once winger Mark Stone and his $9.5 million salary went to long-term injured reserve this week because of a recurring back injury. It freed up enough cap space for Eichel’s $10 million hit. Eyes were predictably raised across the NHL. Too bad. Rules are rules, and if you don’t like them, change them. Stone is seriously injured. If he comes off LTIR before the playoffs — during which there is no salary cap — the… Read more »

Karl Keen

That is what you call a BIG CAJONES win! Those are the wins that make me believe this year will be different. Interesting to see what will happen with Mac and a suspension. I am preparing for one game. Kind of same lazy type interference play that Hall did on him. I hope the player is ok though, particularly with his concussion history. Interesting that nobody really went after Mac the rest of the game, particularly knowing that his nose fracture may not be completely healed yet. As Dater has pounded, the MacDermaid effect is real. His defense isn’t too… Read more »

MoxNix

The Prima Donna Curse (aka the Eichel Effect) has taken hold in Vegas.

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