Half Season Review/ Second Half Preview

The latest episode of the podcast is our Half Season Review and second half look ahead. With the deep dive into #VGK and what to expect the rest of the way, then the guys go around the league and break down all the divisions

  • The four way race for the two spots left in the Atlantic
  • Who is more surprising the Sabres or the Islanders
  • Can any of the bottom 4 in the Pacific make a run

  • The wide open Central

  • There is much more including the OT segment when Mark and Chris debate deferring penalties in the last two minutes of a period. Check it out!
  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vegashockeypodcast/2019/01/05/vegas-hockey-podcast-around-the-league

    Golden Knights Win Wild One

    Anaheim, CA

    January 4th, 2019

    The Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Friday night in a game that saw both teams score 2 goals in less than forty seconds during the second period.

    The Golden Knights opened the scoring at 6:52 of a dominant first period when defenseman Nate Schmidt took a pass from Brad Hunt and blasted the puck through heavy traffic for his 4th goal of the year to put the Golden Knights up 1-0. The tally created some controversy as there was a delayed penalty being called at the time. The Ducks goalie John Gibson appeared to control the puck just prior to the Schmidt shot by shoveling the puck into the corner to his left but the referee allowed play to continue.

    The Golden Knights finished the period with a 1-0 lead, out shooting the Ducks 17-6. John Gibson, showing why he was selected to the All-Star Game, kept the Ducks in the game with 16 saves, many of them on point-blank scoring chances by the Golden Knights.

    Nick Holden opened what would become a wild second period by taking a penalty at 1:22. The Ducks Daniel Sprong took quick advantage of the power play to tie the game at 1 a side. Just thirty-five seconds into the man advantage he took a pass from Josh Mahura and let go a blast from the top of the right circle. The Ducks Nick Ritchie provided an excellent screen at the top of the crease and Marc Andre Fleury never saw the shot.

    Just eighteen seconds later the Ducks took the lead on a goal by Carter Rowney. The Ducks started out of their end with Brian Gibbons leading the way up the right side. Entering the Golden Knights zone he spotted Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm down low on the left side and hit him on his tape with a perfect pass. Lindholm then tipped the puck across the crease to Rowney who didn’t miss the wide open net.

    Exactly eight minutes later the Golden Knights started their two goal outburst. Tomas Nosek parked at the top of the crease banged home the rebound of a Brayden McNabb slap shot for his fifth of the year to even the score. Nosek, who spotted the puck loose behind Gibson, managed to get his stick on it while fighting for position and shove it across the goal line while falling to the ice.

    Thirty one seconds later, Mac Pacioretty, who earlier in the day was activated from the injured list after missing 7 games, put the Golden Knights ahead for good. Alex Tuch created a turnover at the Golden Knights blue line when the Ducks Adam Henrique tried to enter the zone along the left side boards. Tuch pushed the puck up ice to Paul Stastny, who had Pacioretty breaking up the left-wing to create a 2 on 1 attack. Stastny sailed a beautiful cross ice pass down low to Max who buried the puck behind Gibson for his eleventh goal of the year, the eventual game winner.

    To make room on the roster for Pacioretty the Golden Knights announced earlier in the day that Brandon Pirri would be sent down to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. Pirri, who has quickly become a fan favorite in Las Vegas by scoring six goals and 9 points in just seven games with the big club appears to be a victim of his waiver exempt status. Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon seemed to confirm that the team would like to keep Pirri at the NHL level by saying “he’ll be back.”

    Fleury and the Golden Knights shut down the Ducks the rest of the way, stopping all eleven shots he faced in the third period to seal a dominating performance and earn the two points. The Ducks netminder John Gibson showed why he is an All-Star selection this season, stopping thirty-nine shots by the Golden Knights. Many of them high quality, point-blank chances by the Golden Knights, who carried play most of the night.


    With the win the Golden Knights move into a points tie with the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division at 54 points, and a tie for second overall in the NHL with the Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs. THe Golden Knights have now won five straight and extended their point streak to eight games, capturing 14 of a possible 16 over that span. THe Golden Knights start a three game home stand against the New Jersey Devils Sunday at 1:00 PM PST.


    Golden Knights Win Franchise Opener

    Marc-André Fleury made 45 saves and James Neal scored twice in the third period as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in their first game in franchise history.

    In what may be the prototypical Knights game this season, Fleury stood on his head and kept the game close until the offense was able to come up with just enough to get the win.

    Trailing 1-0 midway through the third period, James Neal took a drop pass at the blue line from Defenseman Nate Schmidt, skated into the top of the right circle and snapped a wrist shot past Stars Goalie Kari Lehtonen for the first goal in franchise history. 

    Five minutes later, with time winding down, Neal scored the game winner. Jason Garrison started the play at center ice, pushing the puck up to a streaking Cody Eakin who split the defense, barreling his way right down the slot before sneaking a cross ice pass to an open Neal on the right wing. Neal, who was falling to his knees after receiving the pass, lifted the puck over the sprawling Lehtonen and into the top of the net for the game winning goal. 

    After a moving pregame ceremony honoring the victims of last Sunday’s senseless attack in Las Vegas that saw the entire Stars team skate over and stand with the Golden Knights for the National Anthem, the teams skated to a penalty filled scoreless tie at the end of the first period.

    Tyler Seguin opened the scoring 17 minutes into the second period with his first of the year following a holding penalty on Knights Defenseman Colin Miller. 

     Marc-André Fleury shutout the Stars the rest of the way, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the third period, giving the Knights the opportunity they needed. 

    The Knights are back in action tonight, facing the Arizona Coyotes in Arizona before heading home for their TMobile Arena debut on Tuesday, also against the Coyotes. Puck drop is at 6:00 PM PST.

    Mark Warner

    George McPhee On The Vegas Hockey Podcast

    In this episode of the podcast, we welcome George McPhee into the box, the first General Manager for the new Las Vegas NHL franchise.
    We talk about:
    * Where he is at building his staff
    * The importance of the expansion draft vs. the amateur draft
    * His time playing for Herb Brooks and working with Pat Quinn
    * His thoughts on the state of the Islanders
    Plus a whole lot more. Don’t miss this episode of the Vegas Hockey Podcast!

    George McPhee Ready To Add First Members To His Staff

    Mark Warner

    July 24, 2016


    Speaking exclusively to the Vegas Hockey Podcast, McPhee said he would start adding to his staff by the end of this coming week.

    “I talked to a lot of people this past week, and I expect some things will come to a head this week.” McPhee told us, “We’ve had a lot of conversations for the first round of what we want to do, and next week we have to start signing a few of them up.”

    One of those conversations may have been between Las Vegas and Washington Capitals Assistant GM  Ross Mahoney. As reported by Elliote Friedman, the new team has asked for permission to speak with him.

    With the upcoming junior tournaments showcasing the top players available in next year’s entry draft, McPhee looks at putting the right people into the scouting department as the biggest challenge he faces. “That process, I’d like it all done now,” McPhee said, “I know what I want, and I know what I’d like to do, but it takes time to go through this process.”

    While the full contingent of Pro and Amateur Scouts for the newly minted NHL franchise won’t be in place for some time, the first round of hirings will begin later this week.


    Look for our full conversation with George McPhee on iTunes, Soundcloud and TheHockeyWriters.com


    Vegas Hockey Talk With Professional Handicapper Dana Lane

    Once again Handicapper Dana Lane jumps in the box for this all Vegas episode of the Vegas Hockey Podcast! Dana has been a friend of the show since Day 1, and as the middle of the season has come and gone, it’s time to look back to see where we started and where we are, so we can see where we are going!  Dana hits on all the pertinent Las Vegas angles, such as:

    • The All-Star Game and the John Scott effect
    • Opening Lines for some of the pre-season favorites and where they are now
    • Opening lines for some pre-season Underdogs and how high they have risen…looking at you Florida and Dallas…and The Bruins as well
    • One team currently in a playoff spot who still holds 100-1 odds !!!
    • Who are the best live dogs to cash in on at the betting window,(if you aren’t in Las Vegas, this is for informational purposes only) 🙂
    • All the latest expansion news and thoughts from Sin City herself
    • As always, much more than we could list here

    So if you are planning a trip to Las Vegas and want the inside scoop when you head to the window to bet on your Stanley Cup favorites, tune in to this episode of the Podcast for all the current news surrounding Las Vegas and the NHL!

    If you have a team you want covered exclusively for an upcoming episode of the podcast, drop us a line at MarkWarner@VegasHockeyPodcast.com or leave a comment and we will do our best! Thanks for listening!!

    Mark Warner

    Chris Lizza

    THE Vegas Hockey Podcast

    Bruins Talk

    Cam Hasbrouck of The Hockey Writers jumped in the box to talk about a whole lot of topics with us. Among those are;


    • The surprising season the Boston Bruins are putting together.
    •  The improved offensive numbers, especially the Power Play numbers, and what changed in special teams philosophy
    • Two trades went down last week and we talk about the effects to come on the teams involved
    • Up and coming young talent in the Bruins system and their contributions this year
    • The hit on Adam McQuaid and the repercussions

    Plus we get into a lot of other hockey talk as well!!  Check out the Podcast!



    What Makes Hockey “work” in A Given market? Will hockey “work” in Las Vegas? Part One of a Three Part Series

    Hello hockey fans, welcome to the blog! We have received great feedback from our listeners and the twittersphere and one of the main topics is “will hockey “work” in Las Vegas” ? We think that is a great topic to explore more in-depth on a podcast, but for now, a few quick thoughts, or maybe not so quick.

    If you have listened to our first episode, Thanks!!! In it, we had a great discussion with NHL Goaltender Clint Malarchuk about that very subject. Clint played Goalie in the most traditional of markets, Quebec City, and perhaps the least traditional market most hockey fans can imagine, Las Vegas. Which is one of the reasons we sought Clint for our first show. We felt his perspective on both markets would be unique. We were right. If you haven’t listened to the show, you can right here on Soundcloud Or here on iTunes Or you can follow us on Twitter

    Among other things, one main theme came from him and he said it best. “I’m often asked if Vegas would work as a hockey market, and my answer is yes” Clint told us. He cited great fan support for a minor league team, which was over 7,500 and in the top ten in the league until the arena refused them a new lease. This was in 1993-97 at a time when Las Vegas had a population of barely 400,000 people. He said point-blank, “Vegas IS a hockey town”, Now the city has grown to over 2 million people in the area, most having moved here from cold weather, traditional hockey cities and the one thing they do miss from back home is their hockey, as Clint rightly pointed out. Some of us have been here since the 80’s, went to the first outdoor game in the modern era at Ceasers Palace between the Kings and the Rangers, went to as many Las Vegas Thunder games as we could, and know how the city feels about hockey first hand. Most of you don’t. People look for reasons the franchise here will fail, and cite the teams in Arizona and Florida as examples. People look for reasons the franchise will succeed and cite the 41 million tourists who visit Las Vegas each year, or the Casinos will prop up the team. We think the truth is somewhere in the middle. But the bottom line, as Mr. Malarchuk said, “Vegas WILL support a hockey team”. And there is no one who would know better than him.

    So, what does make hockey “work” in a given market? Is it the weather? We here at the podcast hear that “Hockey in the desert is a stupid idea” all the time. Is it? Can NHL teams in warm weather climates succeed? How do you define success? One friend of the show from Quebec has said success is selling 90% of your tickets on average. We like to think that on ice results matter greatly, is that true? Do Cups equal success? How about a cities “passion” or “love” of the sport? Does that automatically mean buts in the seats and financial stability regardless of on ice performance and climate conditions? Does that even mean an NHL team will be financially viable in a hardcore traditional market? All very good questions that need to be asked and answered, so we will take a crack at them.

    Number one and the easiest to answer is can hockey work in a warmer climate city and the answer is so obviously yes that to suggest otherwise is, quite frankly, laughable. Lets look at a few teams that have made things work in warmer cities, and then at some that have not. Maybe herein lies the answer to the larger question facing us.

    We hear a lot of people using Florida as an example of why Las Vegas shouldn’t be given an NHL team. We agree that after the Panthers magical run with the rats raining down to the ice that things have gone south in a hurry, (no pun intended). However, these people conveniently  forget that just up the road is a team many consider to be thriving  in Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now by the 90% of seats sold barometer, we say the Bolts are a big success.  We will use post lockout numbers for the purposes of this discussion, mainly because looking at the last 10 years is relevant to the Las Vegas question. Over the last ten years, The Lightning have been 2nd,3rd.8th twice, 9th.10th 13th, 18th, and 21st twice. They have had a high average of 20,509 and a low average of 16,497. Six out of 10 years in the top ten in attendance. only twice in the bottom third. They have a Stanley Cup Championship from 2003-04. During that time they made the playoffs six times and did not qualify four times. This would seem to spell success, right? The team has lost money in 5 of those 10 seasons, according to Forbes, with a high of -11.9 million in 2010-11.

    So in the Lightnings case. we would say marginally successful. The perception of  ticket sales equaling success seems to hold up somewhat, but on ice success in this market does not necessarily mean profitability.

    Looking at another non-traditional market, Los Angeles may surprise you. Setting the three barometers of success as attendance, on ice performance, and profitability, how do the Kings stack up? Certainly there is a perception of an increased level of interest since the Kings won their first Championship in 2012, and then again in 2014. Is this entirely true? Was Staples Center an empty barn before 2012? Let’s find out.

    Starting in 2002-2003, The Kings started a franchise record run of six straight seasons missing the playoffs. They would not see the postseason again until 2009-10. So, obviously, on ice performance was a negative factor. Or was it? During that time the Kings would start 12th in the league in attendance with 17,569, or 97 percent of capacity. They fell to a low of 22nd, drawing 16,488 per game in the 2008-09 campaign, or 89 percent of capacity. Still within a tick of the 90 percent sell rate we set as the bar for success. In between they finished 11th, 12th, 16th, 18th, only falling below the 90th percentile the one year. Pretty solid numbers for a team with no fans until three or four years later. And in a warm weather city far from the Canadian border.  Their operating revenue those years only dipped into the red once, 2010-11.  Now, since 2011, attendance has risen back to where it was in 2002-03 and above, which should be expected. This year, the Kings drew 100.2 percent of capacity at 18,265. Good for 15th in the league.  By the way the Kings won the Stanley Cup twice in three years from 2012 through 2014.

    Summarizing the Kings last ten years, under the three guidelines we set forth above, we see a very successful franchise, even before their current on ice successes. Selling 90 percent of their  tickets while finishing tied for last in 2006-07 demonstrates a solid, loyal fan base in Los Angeles. And it’s been there for some time. The teams value has soared from 118 million in 1997 to a current value of 580 million.

    Now let’s look at some very traditional, hockey rich franchises, starting with the Chicago Blackhawks. Does cold weather, proximity to Canada or “traditional market” decide profitability? How does on ice performance affect attendance in a hockey “hotbed?” Let’s see what the numbers say.

    From 2003-04 to 2014-15 the Blackhawks have seen a roller coaster of attendance figures. In 03-04 Chicago drew only 13,253 fans finishing 27th in the league, at 58 percent of the standing room capacity of the United Center, the second lowest per game average in our survey, Lower even than the current poster child of “franchise futility” the Arizona Coyotes 2014-15 total of 13,345. The following year was even worse, checking in at 29th overall.  How is this possible? Was it the on ice performance that turned away the fans in Chicago?

    From 2003-2007 the Blackhawks missed the playoffs.In 2003 they had the second worst record in the league with 59 points. Only Pittsburgh was worse with 58. Missing the playoffs again in 05-06 with a not much improved 65 points saw the attendance drop to 13,318, twenty-ninth in the league. In 2006-07 The Blackhawks drew only 12,727 fans, second to last in the NHL, again finishing last in the Central Division. How could such a tradition rich, cold weather team draw roughly 3,500 less fans per game with barely 55 percent of tickets sold, than the warm weather, non traditional market Los Angeles Kings during similar periods of on ice ineptitude? We have heard several reasons mentioned for this, most often hearing the lack of a TV deal, or the ownership wasn’t supporting the team as well as the fans might hope. But when you look at the next few years, it may be that on ice performance drives ticket sales in Chicago.

    Beginning in the 2007-08 season the Blackhawks fortunes began to change. While they still missed the playoffs, they selected Patrick Kane with the number one overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft. Having picked Jonathon Toews with the third overall pick the previous year, the Blackhawks on ice fortunes were improving, along with their attendance. They brought in 16,814 fans per game that season good for nineteenth in the league. Still well below the 90 percent threshold, but trending up. In the 2008-09 season, the Blackhawks would return to the playoffs and their attendance would continue to mirror their performance. In fact, they would lead the league in attendance with over 100 percent of tickets sold bringing in 22,247 per game. With skillful management building the team around Kane and Toews the Blackhawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013. They have now reached the Western Conference Finals in three straight years and five out of the last seven.

    On the financial side of things, the Blackhawks, in their lowest attended season. had negative operating revenue of 4 million dollars. All other years in the survey they had positive operating revenue reported by Forbes. Peaking last year with a 50 million dollar surplus, and a whopping 110 percent capacity average, easily taking the number one spot in both percentage of tickets sold and number of fans through the door, The sixth straight year the Hawks have led the league in attendance.

    It was noted that Bill Wirtz claimed to have lost $191 million dollars from 1997-2007, however, when the revenue from the United Center and the Chicago Bulls among other events is factored in, the Blackhawks are very successful. Although, it must be said, attendance at the United Center appears to mirror on-ice results more than any other team we looked at.

    In the next part of this three part blog, we will look at more franchises in depth like the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars to see if we can determine if hockey works in two cities with the same franchise!

    Thanks for reading, feel free to send any feedback to MarkWarner@VegasHockeyPodcast