Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Jason Pothier (Page 1 of 26)

Cushion Effect; Were The Golden Knights Too Far Ahead To Stay Focused?

Frustration seemed to bring the best out of the Golden Knights. That’s a good sign moving forward. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A former NHL player told us it’s easy for top teams to get comfortable at this time of year. He said it’s really easy to feel that way when a team is leading their division by double digits. The cushion effect theory certainly seemed to be coming true over the last handful of Vegas games.

On March 13th, the Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division by 12 points. Before puck drop on Sunday, VGK’s lead was cut in half.

We weren’t happy with the way we played over the last couple weeks. We had some real good games in there. We had some games where I thought we played okay and lost… I thought tonight’s game was really important. -Gerard Gallant after the game Sunday

That was All Star head coach Gallant after his squad woke up from their slumber. Prior to the game, the word of choice was urgency.

For me, we have to have a little more urgency in our game. We’re playing okay, we’re playing fine but there’s got to be a little more urgency. -Gallant prior to the game on Sunday

We brought up the idea of the standings cushion being a possible reason for the lapse. Gallant was on board.

I understand it. You look at the standings and say ‘you know what, we’re in a good spot right now’ but we got to look past that and get ready for every game. I think if every player can pick up his game two percent that’s all we need. -Gallant

After their microscopic rut, the Golden Knights are back on track but one win against the Sharks and that cushion would be back to 10. Not saying we want them them lose game in the near future, just after seeing the way they responded when the urgency returned to the game last night, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing if San Jose keeps breathing down the Golden Knights’ necks from here til April.

Goals Coming From Unlikely Places During James Neal’s Absence

After last night’s victory in Philadelphia, the Golden Knights are 6-4-0 without 40-point producing forward James Neal. At times during the 10-game intermittent stretch, Vegas has struggled to put the puck in the net. For instance, the Golden Knights have been shutout or held to one goal nine games this season, three of them have been in Neal’s absence.

Carpy Deuces chipped in with a big one last night. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Without Neal, the Golden Knights have scored 31 goals in those 10 games. Forwards Alex Tuch, Ryan Carpenter and Cody Eakin stepped up offensively for Vegas. Plus, all three Tomas’s lit the lamp, and the blue line added some help on the scoreboard as well over this span.

VGK “Bottom-6″/Defenseman Goals During Neal’s Absence

02/19: Lost 2-0 vs. Anaheim

02/21: Won 7-3 vs. Calgary
Goals by Ryan Carpenter, Alex Tuch, Luca Sbisa, Tomas Nosek, Cody Eakin

02/23: Won 6-3 vs. Vancouver
Goals by Tomas Hyka, Tomas Nosek

02/27: Lost 4-1 vs. LA

03/02: Lost 5-4 vs. Ottawa
Goals by Colin Miller, Carpenter

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Cody Eakin Is An Excellent 3rd Line Center

Send all Cody Eakin Fan Club membership applications to (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s not many of us out there, but the Cody Eakin apologists are accepting more members after his spectacular two goal night. We’ve heard it all season long, Eakin makes too many mistakes, at times he’s out of position, and he can’t finish offensively. It’s what a lot of bottom line players hear from fans. Being a third-line center is a thankless job. Which is why fans need to realize they have a pretty good one in Eakin.

Eakin leads the Golden Knights with a 52.5% faceoff win percentage (150 faceoff minimum) and 424 faceoff wins. He’s tied for third with 51 takeaways, and is 12th on the team with 24 giveaways. While 23 points might not seem much to fans, Eakin is close to his career average. He’s creating .35 points per game, and his career average is .39 PPG.

When you compare Eakin to other playoff team third-line centers, you realize just how effective he really is. (I used NBC’s to help determine true third-line centers.)

Points for third-line centers

TB- Tyler Johnson 47
ANA- Adam Henrique 41
PIT- Derek Brassard 40
WPG- Bryan Little 37
SJS- Tomas Hertl 35
TOR- Tyler Bozak 33
WAS- Lars Eller 32
PHI- Valtteri Filppula 30
MIN- Charlie Coyle 28
DAL- Radek Faksa 27
VGK- Cody Eakin 23
NAS- Nick Bonino 21
COL- JT Compher 20
CBJ- Mark Letestu 20
NJD- Pavel Zacha 19
BOS- Sean Kuraly 11
LAK- Torrey Mitchell 10

Eakin is right in the juicy middle with 23 points. Johnson, Henrique, and Brassard are on teams with really strong depth down the middle. They’re not third-line centers on any other team, which makes Eakin’s 23 points better than average.

Faceoff win % for third-line centers

WPG- Little 56.7 %
NAS- Bonino 53.8%
TOR- Bozak 53%
VGK- Eakin 52.5%
MIN- Coyle 52.4%

One of Eakin’s best attributes is his work on the faceoff dot. He is one of the leaders in FO% amongst depth centers. If that isn’t impressive enough, Eakin leads all comparable third-line centers with 51 takeaways.

Coaches set their lineups based on more than just the score sheet. All Star head coach Gerard Gallant plays Eakin almost 15 minutes per game expecting the center to perform his role. Winning face offs, killing penalties, pressuring defenses and occasionally scoring is Eakin’s gameday assignment. Which is why he’s a lock to be in the lineup every night. Gallant trusts and believes in his third-line center.

And it paid off in Detroit.

Three Undrafted College Free Agents That Should Be On VGK’s Radar

Many college hockey programs finished their seasons this week, which means it’s entry-level contract time and all NCAA players are free to sign pro-level contracts. In most cases the player would sign with the team that drafted him and team get assigned to an AHL affiliate. When it comes to undrafted players, they have the option to sign with any team that makes an offer. Just take a look at what Pittsburgh does every March.

Hey you two, don’t forget about the NCAA guys! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Penguins never back away from NCAA players in the draft and on the free agent market. Last season, Pittsburgh signed coveted Northeastern University forward Zach Aston-Reese. He was immediately sent to the AHL but was given the opportunity to play this season, totaling 6 points (4G, 2A) in 10 games before he got hurt last month. They did the same with Connor Sheary after his senior season at UMass-Amhert wrapped up in 2014. See Thomas Di Pauli and Ethan Prow for a couple more examples.

We suggested this last year, and it didn’t happen, but that’s not going to stop us from suggesting it once again this season.

Here are a few defenseman that could help the Golden Knights organizational depth. Remember, Vegas splits an AHL team and they need more bodies in the system.

Mattias Goransson: UMass-Lowell
22-years-old/6’3/Left Defenseman

If Vegas is concerned about the lack of depth on the blue line, they could target the highly skilled Goransson. The Swede is effective shutting down forwards, moving the puck and starting rushes. Mostly he’s a stay at home defenseman, and scouts rave about Goransson’s gap control. Opposing players mention how aware they were of his presence on the ice. At 6’3, Goransson has NHL blueline size combined with NHL skill. If I were ever a GM, I’d take a risk on any Swedish defenseman.

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News And Notes From VGK vs CBJ

These two weren’t playing together, but they both played well. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Bounce Back for D

  • Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland played a big role shutting down the Devils young, quick forwards.
    • McNabb TOI – 24:55, 11 Hits, 11 Defensive Zone Starts, -1 Rating
    • Engelland TOI – 24:27, 3 Hits, 10 Defensive Zone Starts, +1 Rating, 1 Goal
  • Golden Knights allowed less than 10 “High Danger” scoring chances for the first time in their last six games.

Ending the Losing Streak

The victory ended the Golden Knights three-game skid. Along with eight other teams, Vegas hasn’t dropped four straight games this season. All eight teams are playoff contenders.

Minnesota: (1) 3 game losing streak
Nashville: (1) 3 game losing streak
Tampa: (1) 3 game losing streak
Winnipeg: (1) 3 game losing streak
Washington: (2) 3 game losing streaks
Dallas: (3) 3 game losing streaks
Pittsburgh: (3) 3 game losing streaks
Vegas: (3) 3 game losing streaks

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Erik Karlsson And Bobby Ryan React To Possibility Of Being Traded To Vegas

“Our owner bought us a ping pong table. Yours wouldn’t even pay for an Uber ride.” -Probably Luca Sbisa

There were nothing but smiles in the visiting locker room last night at T-Mobile Arena. The Ottawa Senators battled for 60 minutes to beat the Golden Knights 5-4. The victory pushed the Senators to 22 wins and 52 points with just 19 games to play. That is, in a single word, bad. Which is probably why the Sens front office listened to any and all offers at the trade deadline. Including one from Vegas GM George McPhee, who inquired about their Norris winning defenseman.

That’s part of the business. I really didn’t know what really transpired or happened behind the scene. (The Golden Knights) were obviously one of the teams that was thrown out there a lot. They’re a good team and they were pushing for it, so nothing unexpected. -Erik Karlsson, OTT Captain

Karlsson was responding to a question I asked about his reaction when he heard about the Vegas chatter. The superstar Swede went on to discuss why free agents would seriously consider playing in Las Vegas.

It’s a great city and they have a great team. Their general manager McPhee, is a really good general manager and he’s been around for a long time. I think he’s going to build a good team, not only for now but the future as well. It’s definitely an attractive city. -Karlsson

Also rumored to be part of the Karlsson swap was Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan. Senators GM Pierre Dorion was attempting to unload Ryan’s $7.5M per season contract to whomever desired Karlsson. Possibly the reason why a deal with the Golden Knights fell through. I asked Ryan about his trade deadline anxiety.

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Tatar Move Serves Now And Later

Insurance for the future, and help for now? That’s the perfect package for McPhee. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

By now fans have to believe in George McPhee’s vision. He’s presented a first-place team, a projected Jack Adams winning coach, and an aggressive front office mentality. While the sensational headlines were all about Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, the Vegas GM worked on an important last-minute insurance deal.

Newly acquired winger Tomas Tatar wasn’t a replacement for not landing Karlsson. Instead, McPhee traded for a player who could help win now and later. Later being the key.

Tatar comes in, that all but solidifies that James Neal is not coming back. -Nick Kypreos, Sportsnet

McPhee was in a real win-win situation. He elected to make three deadline deals but could’ve easily stood pat.

We were very aggressive. We were buyers at this deadline. We had many discussions with many teams over the past three weeks and explored a lot of things but as we decried today we are very happy with what we accomplished and how we improved. -McPhee

In my eyes, McPhee’s stock rose even higher after the Tatar deal and the Karlsson rumors. I’m not saying his efforts weren’t genuine but you couldn’t have pitched a better marketing plan.

The Ottawa Senators will tell you ‘no they were not close to a deal.’ Whatever offer was on the table from the Vegas Golden Knights … was not sufficient and wasn’t close to what Ottawa would consider acceptable doing a deal. -Bob McKenzie, TSN

Some analysts were puzzled when they heard McPhee had given up three draft picks to receive Tatar. However, when you calculate age, production and term, a player like Tatar was more valuable to the organization, especially when the team is facing tough decisions this summer.

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Six Degrees Of Separation To Ryan Reaves

I’m sure these guys will prefer him beating up other guys now that he’s a Golden Knight.

Ryan Reaves is the new guy on the Golden Knights locker room, but he’s not exactly a new face for many on Vegas’ roster.

James Neal

Reaves was drafted the same year as Neal. Neal went 33rd overall to Dallas, Reaves was selected 156th by St. Louis. These two mostly know each other from playing in the Central division for many years. In this clip, Neal stays patient from a rushing Reaves and lands a big shoulder check.

David Perron

Reaves and Perron played in St. Louis together from 2010-2013 and then again in 2016-2017. Reaves shows his hand-eye skill with this nice deflection for a goal in 2013… on Marc-Andre Fleury. Deryk Engelland was also on the ice for Pittsburgh picking up a minus -1 on Reaves tip. James Neal and David Perron were also in the lineups that night.

Deryk Engelland

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Luca Sbisa Hates Shootout

In this picture, Lehkonen is the metaphor for the shootout. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 2010, Luca Sbisa competed in the Winter Olympic Games for Team Switzerland. Sbisa and his Swiss mates finished in 8th place at the Vancouver games. Switzerland played three games that went to overtime, winning two and losing one. Two of the three were decided by shootouts.

After Wednesday night’s Golden Knights victory over the Flames, some of the guys in the winning locker room turned on the epic Women’s hockey gold medal game.

I was getting changed, and OT just ended so I knew they were going to a shootout. I left. I didn’t want too see it. -Luca Sbisa

I had to ask Sbisa if he was kidding. He wasn’t.

It’s not fair, you battle so hard. Obviously, when you’re on the winning side it’s great but the other team is upset because they fought so hard. -Sbisa

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Upper Deck Vegas Golden Knights Team Set Now Available

Earlier this season, we posted Upper Deck’s new Young Guns insert set featuring Vegas forward Alex Tuch.

With a limited number of Vegas players printed, UD explained to us that more VGK cards would be produced as the year went on. Well, the waiting is over. Upper Deck hooked up local fans with a 2018 Golden Knights Inaugural Season 15-player team set.

Oscar Dansk, Cody Eakin, Deryk Engelland, Erik Haula (twice), William Karlsson, Brendan Leipsic, Oscar Lindberg, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, Nate Schmidt, Malcolm Subban, and Shea Theodore all made Upper Deck’s Inaugural Images commemorative set. Unfortunately, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare didn’t make the cut.

I mentioned Haula has two cards in the set, which is sort of true. The new UD Golden Knights commemorative set even comes with an error card. How awesome is that? Those of us who collected cards in the late 80’s all remember the highly coveted Billy Ripken error card.

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