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Former Vegas Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer faces Vegas in the playoffs for the second year in a row
Former Vegas Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer faces Vegas in the playoffs for the second year in a row


David Becker / Associated Press, File Saturday, April 20, 2024 | 3:35 p.m. FRISCO, Texas — Pete DeBoer is very familiar with the Vegas Golden Knights and their playoff history. The coach is about to become a part of all six of that franchise’s postseason appearances, either on their bench or against them. DeBoer and the Dallas Stars will go against Vegas in the playoffs for the second year in a row. They meet in a first-round series that opens Monday night in Dallas, where last year the Golden Knights wrapped up the Western Conference Final with a Game 6 victory on way to winning the Stanley Cup. DeBoer was the Vegas coach for back-to-back postseasons in 2020 and 2021. The two years before that, when the Golden Knights made the playoffs in each of the franchise’s first two seasons, DeBoer was going against them as San Jose’s coach. “A lot of familiarity. It’s actually crazy to think about with 32 teams in the league that that’s the case,” DeBoer said. “When I look at that list, every one of those journeys was a different story. And a lot of great memories, a lot of not so great memories. … But, yeah, I can’t explain that. Hopefully we end the streak this year.” The Golden Knights have played 88 postseason games, with DeBoer at 58 — or two-thirds — of them, including three round-robin games in the Canadian bubble in 2020. DeBoer was the Vegas coach for 39 of those games, with a five-game series loss to Dallas in the Western Conference Final in 2020, and getting that deep in the playoffs again the next year with a six-game series loss to Montreal in the third round of another pandemic-altered NHL season. “It seems like every year we’re up against him,” said Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, whose team was 3-0 against Dallas this season in games all played before Christmas. “But I liked the way we played against Dallas this year, and hopefully we’ll have that same success.” This will be the fifth time for 39-year-old Stars forward Joe Pavelski to face Vegas in a playoff series, twice with DeBoer in San Jose, for Dallas against DeBoer in 2020 and now for the second year in a row with his coach in Dallas. Pavelski, whose 73 career playoff goals are the most for an American-born player, has appeared in 182 playoff games. That includes 25 against Vegas, matching his most against any of 16 different postseason teams, though he downplayed the idea of a building postseason rivalry for he and his coach against the Golden Knights. “Well, those are individual numbers,” Pavelski said. “Each series, they’re competitors. You’re going to have to compete and do a lot of good things.” The Stars on Saturday recalled defenseman Derrick Pouliot from the AHL Texas Stars, giving them another slight Vegas connection. Pouliot was called up for depth with Jani Hakanpaa uncertain for the start of the first-round series after missing the past 13 games with a lower-body injury. Pouliot has played in 226 games over nine NHL seasons for seven teams. His only two games for Vegas came during the 2021-22 season, when the Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the only time in their franchise history and DeBoer was then fired — about a month before he was hired by the Stars to replace Rick Bowness. DeBoer was 98-50-12 in regular-season games over 2 1/2 years as the Vegas head coach, with a 22-17 playoff record, after replacing Gerard Gallant during the 2019-20 season. Dallas also has a coach that has been part of every Vegas playoff game. Misha Donskov this season joined DeBoer’s staff as an assistant after being with the Golden Knights each of their first six seasons — the past four on their bench, including DeBoer’s time there, after being the team’s director of hockey operations. “It’s not like Nisha has any kind of state secrets,” DeBoer said. “These teams know each other. These coaching staffs know each other, what each other is trying to accomplish. There’s no secrets there.” Just a lot of familiar faces. AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson in Las Vegas contributed to this story.

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