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Carp: Out Of Sight, Not Out Of Mind

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

The Golden Knights were last seen together last Tuesday in Boston. We’re not going to see them again until Friday in Raleigh.

For some of you, this has been tough, not being able to watch your favorite team, or even attend a practice.

It’s been tougher on coach Peter DeBoer, who had all this time at his disposal but was unable to get his team on the ice for what would’ve been a mini-training camp. The NHL’s CBA doesn’t permit teams to practice during the All-Star Break or during a team’s mandatory mid-season hiatus.

Instead, DeBoer likely spent the time away from the team getting familiar with the way the team operates. He probably has huddled with his staff to go over some of the things he tried to institute in his first three games on the bench after taking over for Gerard Gallant in Ottawa. He got his personal affairs in order and perhaps started looking for a place in Summerlin for he and his family to live.

But it’s going to be a while until things get a sense of normalcy to them or the Knights become whole again. In fact, there’s a good chance we don’t see this team the way it was initially constructed much, if at all, the rest of the season.

Let’s start with this Friday against the Hurricanes. Marc-Andre Fleury will not be in net as he opted to take that game rather than sit out the contest vs. the Bruins for his one-game suspension after opting out of the All-Star Game Saturday. So you’ll see Malcom Subban on the ice at the PNC Arena with either Garret Sparks or Oscar Dansk backing him up.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Then there’s William Karlsson. Will he be ready to go against Carolina Friday? Or is he going to need more time? While Wild Bill tends to his injury, DeBoer has to continue to shuffle things around. He’s had Chandler Stephenson centering for Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault the first three games of Karlsson’s absence from the lineup. Will that continue? Probably, given Paul Stastny’s game has perked up since being reunited with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.

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Source: Golden Knights To Add Steve Spott To DeBoer’s Coaching Staff

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen

According to a reliable SinBin.vegas source, former San Jose Sharks assistant coach Steve Spott will join Pete DeBoer’s staff in Vegas following the bye week.

Spott was added to DeBoer’s staff in San Jose a few months after DeBoer took over in 2015.

Spott ran the sharks power play for most of his time in San Jose. The Sharks posted the 6th overall power play last year converting at 23.7%. They were also #3 (22.6%) in 2015-16. Overall, the Sharks operated at 21.6% under DeBoer/Spott while the Golden Knights sit at 18.7% in franchise history.

Last year DeBoer announced he was switching the roles of his coaching staff, moving Spott to be in charge of the defense. He remained in charge of the defense until he was fired with DeBoer on December 11th, 2019.

Prior to joining DeBoer’s staff, Spott was the head coach of the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. In one season he led the Marlies to the Western Conference Final. Before that, Spott worked under DeBoer as an assistant for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers from 2002-2008. When DeBoer left to take the head coach position in Florida, Spott stayed on as head coach of the Rangers for 5 seasons. Spott and DeBoer first worked together in 1997 with the Plymouth Whalers and the two have worked together for 16 out of the last 23 years.

A powerful Toronto Sun article from 2016 details just how close DeBoer and Spott are.

Spott is expected to join DeBoer in Las Vegas this week and an official announcement from the team is imminent.

The Smiths Secret Weapon

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In early December, the NHL tweeted out a GIF of two comparable goals scored by Reilly and Brendan Smith. Not only were their backhand moves remarkably identical, but they pulled it off in the same week.

The Smith brothers are only two years apart so naturally they grew up working on the same skills, drills, and moves. Was this some secret family backhand that was passed down?

No. It’s honestly a pretty standard move to do on breakaways. We did it a week apart, and with him playing forward this year, in the past he hadn’t had as many breakaways. He made it look a lot better than I did. It is pretty cool that we did it in the same week.- Reilly Smith

After telling him to quit being modest, Smith opened up about executing his lethal backhand. A skill he considers vital to his offensive success.

I never really used a curve that was so big, it was a straighter curve. Mine’s relatively straight, and I just get more off from my backhand that way. I was always given the ability to have a pretty good backhand growing up. It’s just something that I’ve worked on.- Reilly Smith

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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Golden Knights Jersey Number Origin Stories

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The most recognizable characteristic about an NHL player, even more so than their name, face, or even how well they play hockey, is their number. Numbers were even more important for Vegas because with everyone new to the team that was the first way everyone was going to get to know the players. In theory, every number would come with a story. Of the 98 potential options, players had to have a reason to choose the one they wear every day. Right?

Well, we asked every player on the Golden Knights how they selected their jersey number, and while some have solid backstories, most don’t. Nonetheless, here they all are.

#3 – Brayden McNabb

I’ve just always worn it since junior, there’s really nothing behind it. I think I’ve always just liked 3 growing up, I just like the look of it.

#5 – Deryk Engelland

Probably just given to me, I don’t know. It was a long time ago (laughter). I was 5 or 7 growing up, but there’s no real reason for it.

#9 – Cody Glass

I was 9 when I was around 12 years old. It’s the number my brother wore, so that was kind of ironic that I ended up with it here. I’ve worn 8 most of the time but (Griffin) Reinhart had it so I had to go with something else.

#10 – Nic Roy

They just gave it to me. I had no control, but I’ve had it in the past. Had it for Team Canada in World Junior.

#14 – Nic Hague

My Dad wore it in minor hockey and junior B. I had it every year in minor hockey. The first year I did not wear it was my first year in Junior and then when I got to Chicago. I just got lucky that in the 3 years no one else wanted it.

#15 – Jon Merrill

I had a couple of options when I was coming here and it was just random that I took 15. I would have kept 7 but (Jason) Garrison had it and then I wanted 24 but Lindy (Oscar Lindberg) really wanted it. So I went with 15.

#19 – Reilly Smith

18 wasn’t available.

#20 – Chandler Stephenson

I always had numbers in the teens but I figured I’d try something new. It looks a little wide on the jersey, but I like it.

#21 – Cody Eakin

It was my Dad’s old number.

#26 – Paul Stastny

My Dad. He’s always been my favorite player and my mentor. Growing up I think you just see the number all the time. Everyone wants to be like their Dad, especially if they are a good role model. So for me, it was easy.

#27 – Shea Theodore

I wore 17 in junior, so I kind of like the 7’s. When I went and played in San Diego I wanted 17 but a guy already had it so I kinda just took 27. Then when I came to Vegas they gave me a pick and I just like the way it looked.

#28 – William Carrier

My brother’s birthday.

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Vegas Needs To Score 3 Or More, Allow 3 Or Less

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This season the Golden Knights are allowing 3.04 goals per game. Which places them 15th in the NHL. On the flip side Vegas is 17th, scoring 3.04 per game. The exact amount of goals that they let in. That’s a problem.

Over an 82-game season, a team holding opponents to under 3 goals a game will have a good chance for future success. Likewise, teams scoring 3+ goals per game have a strong chance of clinching a playoff berth.

Top 10: Goals Scored Per Game

  1. Florida 3.67- Playoff Position
  2. Colorado 3.65- Playoff Position
  3. Tampa 3.60- Playoff Position
  4. Toronto 3.57- Playoff Position
  5. Washington 3.55- Playoff Position
  6. Boston 3.31- Playoff Position
  7. Pittsburgh 3.30- Playoff Position
  8. Nashville 3.30- Out of Playoffs
  9. NY Rangers 3.29- Out of Playoffs
  10. Vancouver 3.24- Out of Playoffs

***17th Vegas 3.04- Playoff Position***

Vegas is averaging just below the league average of 3.05 goals scored per game. Only three other Western conference teams projected to participate in the playoffs score less. However, all three have a better win% and give up less than Vegas.

  • Vegas 3.04 Goals For/3.04 Goals Against
  • Arizona 2.76 Goals For/2.65 Goals Against
  • Calgary 2.60 Goals For/2.94 Goals Against
  • Dallas 2.56 Goals For/2.46 Goals Against

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SinBin.vegas Podcast #184: Fragile Identity

Heading into the bye week we chat about how the coaching change has gone so far as well as what will happen moving forward. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • The holes in the roster continue to exist despite the change
  • Re-identifying the identity
  • Marchessault for captain?
  • If not, then what?
  • Whether it’s the right decision or not, the timing is still troublesome
  • A theory on how exactly it all went down

And much more…

We are on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

BOSTON BRUINS 3 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (25-20-7 57 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights couldn’t have gotten off to a better start in Boston. Mark Stone gave his team a 1-0 lead 1:24 into the game. The Bruins would tie the game ten minutes later, ending the 1st period locked up 1-1.

Penalties plagued the Golden Knights in the early periods, allowing 5 power plays in the first 40 minutes. However, Vegas would work through the penalty kill, and regain the lead with a Power Play goal by Nic Hague. The 21-year-old gave his team the 2-1 edge on his first career NHL goal.

The Bruins came out hot to start the 3rd period and tied the game early on. Boston would take the lead 3-2 in the middle of the period. Vegas would get a few chances late in the period but wouldn’t convert the tying goal. The Bruins handed Vegas a 3-2 loss.

Vegas’ record drops to 25-20-7 and sit in the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The team will take a ten-day break and next hit the ice on January 31st in Carolina. Game time is scheduled for 430P. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A little help from a soft goal got the Golden Knights off on the right foot, but penalty trouble derailed any extended success in the first two periods. All in all the Golden Knights didn’t play a terrible game, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to beat one of the league’s best teams on the road.  (Analysis by Ken)


Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Boston Bruins at TD Garden

  • Bye week stories including, number origin stories, preview of the Player’s Locker, and my personal favorite, fishing tips from William Carrier.

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Nate Schmidt
** Nic Hague
* Mark Stone

Is Shea Theodore The Next Defensive Workhorse For Pete DeBoer?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When Pete DeBoer was hired by the Golden Knights many of us had questions. One in particular was; will Shea Theodore’s role (higher TOI, tougher assignments, heavier workload, etc.) increase?

Thankfully, David Schoen of the RJ asked DeBoer yesterday after practice in Boston following Theodore’s heavy workload on Saturday.

https://twitter.com/DavidSchoenLVRJ/status/1219421411518898176

With a small sample size of only two games, it’s still premature to read into Theodore’s game logs too deeply, however his ice time was higher. Albeit, one ended in overtime.

Shea Theodore Average Time on Ice per Game

  • Games 1-49: 21:13 ATOI
  • Games 50-51: 25:44 ATOI

Remember, while coaching in San Jose, DeBoer relied heavily on his two talented mobile defensemen. In all situations.

Brent Burns averages 2018-2020:

  • 24:58 TOI
  • 18:55 Even-Strength
  • 2:51 Power Play
  • 2:31 Shorthanded

Karlsson averages: 2018-2020

  • 24:30 TOI
  • 19:02 Even-Strength
  • 3:07 Power Play
  • 2:41 Shorthanded

Of course, they’re established All-Star defenseman, but Theodore has the ability to log heavy minutes and play the workhorse role for his new coach.

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The First Of The Tweaks: Penalty Killing With Puck Pressure

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the calendar flipped to 2020 the Golden Knights penalty kill has been… how do I put this politely?… a steaming pile of horse… let’s just say it’s been bad, very very bad.

Vegas had allowed a power play goal in seven straight games, they had killed off just nine of 18 over a seven-game stretch, and thanks to some research from AT&T Sportsnet, we know they ranked dead last in killing penalties over Gerard Gallant’s final seven games. It’s probably not the only reason, but there’s no question the Golden Knights poor penalty kill lent a hand in his firing.

In comes Pete DeBoer, who just two years ago was the coach of the NHL’s 2nd best penalty kill unit. In DeBoer’s four full seasons in San Jose, the Sharks killed penalties at a rate of 81.7% and his teams never finished the year below 80%. Vegas currently sits in 22nd place at 78.9% and their 52.6% over the last eight games is downright appalling.

One of the first things DeBoer worked on with the Golden Knights was making a change to their style of penalty killing. In fact, using just a few practices and likely some video work, there are two already significant changes that have been implemented in the way the Golden Knights kill penalties. Both were used against Montreal and both involve puck pressure.

Well, for the first change, it’s actually a lack of pressure.

Under Gallant, the Golden Knights would always send at least one forechecker, sometimes two, into the attacking zone to rush the opposing team’s breakout. It was an aggressive style of penalty killing hoping to force a mistake up the ice and lead to an easy shorthanded chance. The drawback to this style is that if the breakout beats the forecheckers, the Golden Knights are heavily outnumbered at the blue line leading to easy, sometimes even unchallenged, zone entries.

Under DeBoer, the Golden Knights will not send any forecheckers up when killing penalties. Instead, they’ll deploy three players across the blue line and one slightly further up to force challenged entries (which looks like this or this). This was a staple in the Sharks penalty killing system under DeBoer, and in the game against Montreal, the Golden Knights used it to successfully kill the one penalty they took.

Here’s how that looks in action.

Eakin does not chase into the offensive zone. Instead, he circles back to set up in the neutral zone.

The moment Smith loses the puck, he backs out and resets to the neutral zone.

The idea under DeBoer’s system is to make the entry across the blue line as difficult as possible while foregoing any chance to steal the puck in the offensive zone and score a cheap shorthanded goal.

But, of course, eventually the team on the man advantage will gain the zone. That’s where the second change in system comes in.

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Carp: Despite His Struggles, Golden Knights Missing Wild Bill

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Seeing Peter DeBoer behind the Golden Knights’ bench Thursday in Ottawa wasn’t the only shock to the system. Not seeing William Karlsson on the ice may have been a bigger shock.

After all, Karlsson had never missed a game in his NHL career. He was the one reliable factor the Knights had, whether it was Gerard Gallant or DeBoer coaching him. We’ve been so accustomed to seeing No. 71 on the top line for the most part that we probably have never given it a second thought.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But Karlsson’s out with an upper-body injury. He’s listed as week-to-week, which in Knight-speak means we might not see Wild Bill for quite a while. And that’s not a good thing in terms of the team’s short-term success.

We all know Karlsson’s been struggling offensively. You need only look at his game log to know he has had a tough season when it comes to putting the puck in the net. He has just 10 goals and last lit the lamp back on Dec. 13 against Dallas. Yet despite his lack of alacrity for scoring goals, his 34 points ranks him fourth overall, behind Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Reilly Smith. He has managed to still contribute offensively despite his goal-scoring struggles.

Chandler Stephenson is doing a serviceable job as Karlsson’s replacement. He’s been a great acquisition for the Knights as he has shown tremendous versatility and an ability to fit in wherever whichever coach, first Gallant, now DeBoer plays him. But Karlsson is an important part of this system and to be without him for any significant length of time is not to Vegas’ advantage.

Let’s start with the fact he is responsible in the defensive end of the ice. He is +4 overall and averages just over 19 minutes of ice time per appearance. He wins battles at both ends of the rink and he’ll block a shot or use his stick to break up a pass.

He has developed into a very good penalty killer. And while the Knights’ overall PK hasn’t been great (they’re tied for 21st in the NHL at 78.9 percent), Karlsson has teamed with Smith to do a nice job.

He’s also been good in the face-off circle this year. In the 49 games he has played to date, Karlsson is winning 51.2 percent of his draws. He has never been above 50 percent in his career. In his first year with the Knights, he was 48 percent. Last year, it dropped to 47 percent. So that’s a marked improvement.

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