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Golden Knights Prospect Excited For A Chance To Play For Team Canada

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights prospect Peter Diliberatore recently received some positive news from Team Canada. The young defenseman was invited back to Canada’s select camp, to possibly represent his home nation in the upcoming World Junior Championships.

The sophomore from Quinnipiac University has played every game this season and is fifth in scoring for the Bobcats. Last season, Diliberatore was named to the 2018-19 ECAC Rookie team and was fourth in NCAA hockey with a +22 plus/minus rating. Earlier this week, Diliberatore appeared on The Pipeline Show with Guy Flaming.

I didn’t really have set goals on points or anything. I wanted to make a statement in the lineup and play every game… I asked questions all around, see what I can do to get more playing time. Whether it was PK, or power play. -Diliberatore on The Pipeline Show

The Golden Knights 2018 6th round pick (180th overall) comes off very even-keeled and realistic with his young career from college, to Team Canada, and all the way to Vegas.

It’s a small, quiet school but at the same time I knew they were good at developing players to get to the next level. I thought that’s kind of where I need to fit in and be in where I can play right away, and not have to wait and sit out or anytime like that. -Diliberatore on The Pipeline Show

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An Idea On How To Deploy The Bottom Six When Cody Eakin Returns

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not the way anyone envisioned it coming to be, but the 3rd line of William Carrier, Cody Glass, and Alex Tuch was formed three games ago. In those three games, the Golden Knights have earned points in each and won two on the road.

They’ve also received three goals and five assists from that line. They’ve created eight scoring chances in 26 minutes of play and have a 54% Corsi.

But where they’ve been best is in the eye test. Since the Golden Knights have been a franchise, they’ve never had a 3rd line look as good as Carrier, Glass, and Tuch have looked over the past three games. Tuch is driving offense, Glass is controlling the defensive end, and Carrier is winning puck battles helping set up the cycle to spend time in the offensive zone.

Tuch has returned to the right-wing, Glass to his natural center position, and Carrier is playing with the most offensive talent since he’s been a Golden Knight. It’s not the perfect line, but it’s certainly an upgrade on what they’ve gotten throughout this season with Cody Eakin as the center.

Tuch scored just one goal in 10 games with Eakin. He has three with Glass and Carrier. Glass has just three assists in 23 games playing with Eakin. He has two in three games with Tuch and Carrier.

However, the fourth line hasn’t looked quite the same without Carrier. Ryan Reaves has struggled without Carrier recording just five hits in three games while Carrier was on the 3rd line. Tomas Nosek still appears to play better as a center than a winger. And Stephenson scored the goal, but doesn’t quite seem a match for Nosek and Reaves.

Eakin remains out week-to-week with an upper body injury, so the decision on where to put him when he returns is not imminent, but after just three games on the road, it might be time to start considering where else he might fit.

The key question moving forward will become usage. Eakin has averaged about 15 minutes of ice time each season with the Golden Knights. That’s normal for a 3rd line center with penalty-killing duties. But, if he finds himself relegated to the 4th line, his TOI will likely drop under 10 minutes per game as has been the case for Reaves in 66% of games this season. That also means relying more heavily on Glass, something Gerard Gallant has not shown a willingness to do. (He’s played more than 14 minutes in less than half his NHL appearances.)

Vegas has never used an interchanging line system throughout an entire game, but they may want to consider it when Eakin is ready to return. With Glass, Eakin, Carrier, Reaves (or Nosek), Tuch, and Stephenson, there are multiple combinations that can be deployed depending on the situation.

Rather than lay out the standard two lines and roll them over, they could be mixed and matched depending on draw location, score, matchup, and stamina. Here are just a few of the logical trios that could be made out of that group.

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NEW YORK ISLANDERS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (15-11-5 35 PTS) – OT

Recap: Malcolm Subban got his fourth straight start in net for Vegas, hoping to help his team sweep their three game road trip. Subban and the Golden Knights did a great job of keeping the Islanders off the board in the 1st period. Both teams went scoreless after the first period.

The Islanders opened up the scoring in the 2nd period on an odd-man rush resulting in a 1-0 NY lead. Vegas would fight back, picking up the pressure in the Islanders zone. Alex Tuch tied the game scoring his third goal of the road trip. The second period ended 1-1.

New York would break the tie early in the period and take the lead 2-1. The Islanders locked down defensively for most of the 3rd period but Vegas didn’t give up. With under five minutes remaining in the game, Jonathan Marchessault tied the game 2-2 adding his fourth goal in his last two games. The Golden Knights hard work forced an overtime period.

The Islanders offense forced a late overtime 4-on-3 power play. Seconds later NY would beat Subban and take the game 3-2.

Vegas’ record drops to 15-11-5 snapping their four-game win streak. However, they finish their road trip picking up solid 5 out 6 points. The team will travel back to Vegas for a quick two-game homestand. Vegas will host the NY Rangers on Sunday. Game time is scheduled for 4PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights kind of fed into what the Islanders wanted to do playing them to a defensive struggle. New York was certainly the better team but Vegas did well enough in their own zone to limit dangerous chances and take advantage of a few the other way. Overtime remains a struggle where this time they not only struggled with possession, but also took a penalty.  (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

  • The 3rd line is good, should be here to stay.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Alex Tuch
** Nate Schmidt
* Cody Glass

Stephenson Helps, But VGK Still Short On Depth Scoring Options

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have been fortunate thus far this season in regards to injuries. At any given time they’ve never been without more than two forwards, missing only Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin at various times.

Of course, health is important for any team, but it’s especially crucial for the Golden Knights due to their lack of depth in the minor leagues.

Thus far, just three forwards have made both NHL and AHL appearances in the Vegas system. Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, and Nic Roy have only six points despite racking up 25 combined games. Between the entire trio, they’ve yet to find the back of the net in the NHL.

Meanwhile, at the AHL level, those same three forwards have tallied six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in just 22 total games. And, aside from 20-year-old Lucas Elvenes, Pirri and Zykov rank as the top scorers on the Chicago Wolves, and Roy comes in 6th. They are the best the system has, and we’ve already seen what they can (or can’t) do at the NHL level.

I raised this concern during the offseason after the Golden Knights watched four of their top-six AHL scorers leave for other teams or leagues.

Luckily, it’s yet to bite Vegas as they haven’t been forced to dip into that depth. Of course, the addition of Chandler Stephenson pushes everyone down one rung on the ladder, but it’s still a serious issue.

Brandon Pirri had a hot run with the Golden Knights last season and certainly stands as a the best fill-in option, but beyond him, there’s not much there Vegas can rely on.

Elvenes is playing in his first professional season in North America, and is thriving, but he’s likely not cut out for the NHL grind yet. Zykov is playing with Chicago now, but the chances he ever returns to Vegas remain slim after his PED suspension. Then there are Gage Quinney, Curtis McKenzie, Tye McGinn, and Nic Roy. Roy was the clear front-runner of the group, and in his seven-game stint with the Golden Knights, offense wasn’t a word that came to mind.

35% into the season, it hasn’t mattered. Hopefully, it doesn’t in the remaining 65% either.

Expecting Another Golden December

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Kelly McCrimmon spoke with the media yesterday to formally announce the Chandler Stephenson acquisition. He also mentioned his high expectations for the month of December.

We’re trying to get all little bit of traction. December has for one reason or another traditionally been a really good month for this organization. We’re hopeful we can get a solid footing and play good hockey. -McCrimmon

Vegas’ GM should feel optimistic about the next 13 games in December. A month his players annually shine.

Win Percentage in December
2017: .846 %
2018: .600 %
Overall: .714 %

Point Percentage in December
2017: .923 %
2018: .800 %
Overall: .857 %

Including last night’s game in New Jersey, the Golden Knights have an exceptional franchise record of 22-4-4 in the month of December. Beginning the month 2-0-0 is a good sign their holiday tradition will continue. Vegas plays 13 more games this month including seven at home and only three are against teams in the top 3 in their division.

Historical Breakdown

December 2017
13 Games: 8 Home/5 Road (11–1-1) Record

  • Goals For: 49 Total
  • Goals Against: 33 Total
  • Win Streak: 7 Games
  • OT/SO Games: (4-1)
  • 2+ Goal Wins: 5
  • Pacific Division Points: (8 points)
  • Wins vs Playoff Teams: 8 (Anaheim x 2, LA, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Toronto, Washington)
  • William Karlsson: 10 Points (7 Goals, 3 Assists) +9
  • Jonathan Marchessault: 14 Points (5 Goals, 9 Assists) + 9
  • Reilly Smith: 11 Points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) +10
  • Alex Tuch: 8 Points (3 Goals, 5 Assists) +3
  • Marc-Andre Fleury: (4-0-1) 1.56 GAA, .948 Save%, 8 Goals Allowed
  • Malcolm Subban: (6-0) 2.25 GAA, .920 Save%, 14 Goals Allowed

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 NEW JERSEY DEVILS 3 (15-11-4 34 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights took on the New Jersey Devils on a back to back, and with a new player in their lineup. Vegas would be forced to stop and block a barrage of New Jersey shots in the 1st period. The Devils would take advantage of a poor line change by the Golden Knights and take the 1-0 lead.

The newest Golden Knight would get Vegas right back in the game early in the 2nd period. Chandler Stephenson scored his 4th of the season and his 1st as a Golden Knight tying the game 1-1. The Devils would regain the lead later in the period giving his team a 2-1 edge.

Jonathan Marchessault took over the game himself and scored a third period hat trick, giving his team the lead 4-3. Vegas fought off a 6-on-5 empty net situation and picked up their second win on the road trip.

Vegas’ record improves to 15-11-4 and extend their winning streak to four games. The Golden Knights will finish off their road trip on Thursday against the New York Islanders. Game time is scheduled for 4PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A far from perfect effort from Golden Knights was good enough to beat the lowly Devils. Vegas came out flat in the first period and couldn’t establish much of any offense. Defensively they hung in there despite allowing 17 shots. As the game went on they got better and better with the best performance of the season from Jonathan Marchessault. Subban played well in his fifth straight game and the new guy Chandler Stephenson was solid for his debut. (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center

  • VGK December dominance

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Chandler Stephenson
** Alex Tuch
* Jonathan Marchessault

 

Kelly McCrimmon And Chandler Stephenson Meet With Media Following Trade

GM Kelly McCrimmon met with the Vegas media at Prudential Center in New Jersey to discuss the acquisition of Chandler Stephenson. Also, Stephenson chats about the crazy day he’s had getting traded from Washington to Vegas.

Chandler Stephenson Add Is All About Depth

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights shipped out a 2021 5th round pick to add 25-year-old center Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals.

Stephenson is a bit of a swiss-army knife type forward who is versatile enough to play all over the lineup and in all situations. With Washington, he was primarily deployed on the fourth line, but throughout his 168 games, he saw time on all four lines including a quick stint with Alex Ovechkin on the top line.

What Stephenson is known most for is his penalty killing. In that regard, he’s close to elite.

There are 89 centers in the NHL with at least 30 minutes of penalty-killing time on ice this season, and Stephenson’s numbers are very good. He ranks first in that entire group in high danger chances allowed per 60 minutes with only 1.74. He also ranks in the top-three in the NHL in Corsi against (66.06), scoring chances allowed (31.29) and expected goals allowed (3.6) on the penalty kill. He’s 13th amongst all centers in goals against per 60 at 3.48. –Jesse Granger, The Athletic

The add isn’t just about penalty killing though.

It’s also about replacing Cody Eakin during the injury. It’s also about finding a new center to push Nic Roy back to the AHL where he may belong at the moment. It’s also about adding versatility to the roster. It’s about all of it.

Let me break it down group by group.

Centers
Karlsson, Stastny, Eakin, Nosek, Glass, Roy, Stephenson

As opposed to teams of VGK’s past, this team is not loaded with centers playing wing. Most of the Golden Knights wingers, especially when Eakin is out, are natural wingers, while every center is playing center. There’s a lack of versatility that both Gallant and the front office like to have on their roster. By adding Stephenson, who has played a lot of center and a lot of wing, they get a guaranteed NHL caliber player (something Roy is not yet) who can fill in at center when needed, or play on the wing if necessary. He’s an insurance policy for three different guys. For Cody Eakin if he’s hurt for a while, for Cody Glass if he isn’t physically strong enough to play center yet, and for Nic Roy if he’s just not quite ready to be a full-time NHLer.

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS HAVE ACQUIRED CHANDLER STEPHENSON (F) VIA TRADE

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have acquired Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals for a 2021 5th round pick. Stephenson is a 25-year-old forward who was drafted by George McPhee in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Stephenson’s best season was in 2017-18 when he scored 18 points (6G, 12A) in 67 games. He is a bottom-six type player who kills penalties and plays about 10 minutes a night.

Stephenson has one year left on his contract at $1,050,000. He is an RFA with arbitration rights this summer.

Darren Dreger reports the Golden Knights have given up a 5th round pick in exchange for Stephenson.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 NEW YORK RANGERS 1 (14-11-4 32 PTS)

Recap: The Vegas Golden Knights came in the historic Madison Garden looking to take care of business. NY native Alex Tuch got things going immediately for the Golden Knights, scoring two goals in the first 3:50 of the game.

Reilly Smith continued Vegas’ offensive attack early in the 2nd period with a nasty backhand over Henrik Lundqvist, making it 3-0. Max Pacioretty have Vegas a four goal lead a minute and a half later. After the first 30 minutes of the game, the Golden Knights had two even-strengthened goals, and two power play goals. The Rangers would get on the board but Vegas would hold a firm 4-1 lead after 40 minutes of action.

The Golden Knights defended and secured their three goal lead in the 3rd period. Vegas only shot four times on net but fought off a handful of Ranger power plays. The Golden Knights finished of New York 4-1.

Vegas improves their record to 14-11-4 with their first victory of a three game road trip. The Golden Knights get right back on the ice tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils. Puck drop is scheduled for 4P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights came out on fire to start this one. Alex Tuch was an absolute monster playing in his natural right-wing position and William Carrier and Cody Glass looked much better on that line as well. The defensive system was far from perfect, but Subban and a bunch of missed chances by the Rangers kept the game at bay. Overall, it was the kind of game the Golden Knights needed for their confidence. They jumped out to an early lead, and despite taking a bunch of penalties were able to coast to the finish. Not sure I would call it dominant, but it was absolutely a good enough effort to beat an average team.  (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden

  • More on the acquisition of Chandler Stephenson

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Malcolm Subban
** William Carrier
* Alex Tuch

 

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