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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Jason Pothier Page 2 of 36

Ex-VGK Players Miss Vegas More Than You’d Expect

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Players will move on from the Vegas Golden Knights each offseason. It’s just a part of hockey. The crumby business side of things. But one roster, one group of misfits, that became the 2017-18 Western Conference championship team will never move on from Las Vegas or the hearts of Golden Knights fans.

This past week, former Vegas players Luca Sbisa and Tomas Tatar made their first appearances back to Vegas since their painful Game 5 loss in the Stanley Cup finals.

It’s funny, this building is wild, it’s crazy. It felt like a playoff game again. -Luca Sbisa, Islanders defenseman

After their brief return to their old place of business the two players were all smiles happy to bump into their old teammates, coaches, trainers, and heck even us.

A lot of memories. A lot of relationships that I keep in touch with. I love those guys over there, but it’s always fun to play against them. -Sbisa

With limited action this season, the former Knight normally isn’t requested by the media after a game. But when I requested him, he came out with a warm smile on his face. Glad to have the old gang of misfit reporters, like myself, to chat and reminisce about last season.

It’s different. I’ve never stepped foot in this dressing room. Obviously, I was used to the other side. Definitely nice when we touched down here, I felt like I was just going to drive to home. Instead I went to the hotel. -Sbisa

Like the entire 2017-18 roster, Sbisa is proud of his accomplishments with the Golden Knights. The d-man was a steady player when healthy, and an outstanding person off the ice.

It’s hard to be mad about whatever happened here, it was just a great run and we all enjoyed it. – Tomas Tatar, Canadiens forward

Like Sbisa, Montreal forward Tomas Tatar spoke highly of his experience in Vegas, although short, and called it one of the best moments of his career.

It’s always nice to be back. As soon as we landed it reminded me of a lot of good things. Like you said that run that we had, even though I came late, it’s a memorable thing and that other locker room is a great group of guys. I miss them that’s for sure. They were really nice to me and you just give a little extra effort when you are playing your old team and I enjoyed it. -Tatar

One former teammate that welcomed Tatar and Sbisa with open ice hits was the big and lovable Ryan Reaves. Both players had brief tie-ups with #75 in their separate games against Vegas. Perhaps just a few love taps.

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Stastny’s Calming Veteran Play

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Some will call it a small sample size but in his short return, center Paul Stastny has been everything we expected, and maybe even more.

In his three games back from injury, Statsny’s presence has added another layer of calmness on the ice. His approach to slow down the game has helped his linemates to be in the right position for success. Sure, we saw him briefly to start the season, but the team was working through chemistry issues when then the veteran was injured in game three. On Sunday morning, in game 35, Stastny led the second line and his team to an overtime victory.

We made a couple mistakes, but I think once we talked about it and kind of corrected it, then I think we started playing more free and supporting each other and getting the puck more. -Paul Stastny

In New York, Stastny showed great awareness, making great defensive and neutral zone plays to advance the puck. Most notably, Alex Tuch’s nasty stall-shot OT winner, assisted by Stastny. The veteran center scored his first VGK goal on a gorgeous pass by Max Pacioretty earlier in the game. The trio had five combined points to lead the offense at Madison Square Garden.

Averaging 6’2, and weighing in at a combined 621 lbs. the Golden Knights second line, when healthy, is a handful.

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16-2-0 When Scoring At Least Three Goals

3 goals = 2 points (Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

There’s a common saying in hockey that says, “you can’t win in the NHL if you don’t score three times.” Obviously it’s not entirely true as you technically can win 1-0 or 2-1, however, the point of the sentiment is that if a team can’t score three goals consistently, they have little to no chance to be successful.

To start the year, the Golden Knights scored three or more just twice in the first 10 games and a measly eight times in the first 20. They also won only eight of those first 20 games. Since Game 20, when Nate Schmidt returned from suspension, Vegas has tallied three or more nine times in 13 games.

Rather than saying you can’t win if you don’t score three, Golden Knights fans should be thinking the team can’t lose if they score three. With the win in Brooklyn over the Islanders, Vegas pushed its record to 16-2-0 when scoring three or more goals.

One of the biggest reasons for the return to getting to three has been the production the Golden Knights have gotten from all four lines. It’s not just up to the 1st line or the 2nd line to contribute multiple goals a game, instead, the 3rd has had a goal scorer in each of the last three games and in 11 of the last 12 a goal has been scored from someone outside of the top six.

16-2-0 means winning 88% of the time. For Vegas, three is the total of goals the team aims for nightly. Call it Vegas’ lucky number.

Vegas Offensive Stats:
• 98 Total Goals (11th)
• 2.97 Goals For Per Game (17th)
• 18 Wins (6th)
• 37 Points (12th

One of the best ways for the Golden Knights to get to three goals is to score a power play goal. In their last 10 games, they’ve scored a PP goal in eight of them and won all eight; the two they didn’t score, they lost. Over the course of the year, the Golden Knights are 14-5-0 when they score a power play goal.

The offense has picked up significantly with the return of Nate to the lineup. They are now scoring at a 3.77 goals per game clip where during Schmidt’s suspension that number was just 2.50.

It’s not all that abnormal in the NHL, but for the Golden Knights, it’s very simple. Score three, add two to their record.

2nd Period “Magic”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights scored twice in the second period giving them a two-goal lead, and eventually the win. The complete opposite of what occurred on Saturday in LA.

The win was very important. You don’t want to have a losing streak going, so to bounce back after a loss is huge and we’ll take this to New York. -William Karlsson

This season, Vegas has played so-so in second periods. After Sunday’s victory against Dallas, the Golden Knights moved to -6 in the 2nd (33 goals for, 39 goals against). It’s their worst period as they are +1 in the 1st, +8 in the 3rd, and +2 in overtime, but what’s more important is how often the results of the game mirror the 2nd period score.

Overall, the Golden Knights have been outscored 12 times this season in the second period. Their record is 2-10-0 in those games. Not good right?

But when Vegas outscores opponents in the 2nd period, their record is 12-1-0, and are unblemished at 12-0-0 when they lead heading into the second intermission.

It’s somewhat of a stark contrast from a year ago when the first goal was seemingly the most important number. This year, when the Golden Knights score first, they are just 11-6-1, while a year ago they went 34-5-2. However, they’ve actually been able to overcome the early deficit about the same as they did a year ago. This year they’ve gone 6-8-0 (0.429 Points %) when allowing the first goal as opposed to 17-19-5 (0.476 Points %)

It’s not by a lack of effort, the Golden Knights have outshot opponents 362 to 328 in the second period. Including, last night’s 12-7 edge over the Stars.

So it’s pretty clear scoring in the 2nd is essential to the Golden Knights future success. Which is why outscoring Dallas last night in the second period was a positive sign for Vegas. Especially, coming off a 5-1 clunker in LA, where the Kings scored two second period goals in their victory. At this point in the season, 2nd period success has directly translated into Golden Knights wins or loses.

It’s pretty simple, if Vegas wins the battle of the 2nd period they win the game (12-0-0). And when they lose the 2nd period, chances are they’ll lose the game (2-10). That’s real 2nd period magic.


Opponents Outscore VGK in Second Period (2-10-0)

10/04 vs Philadelphia (Loss)
Vegas allows three second period goals

10/08 @ Buffalo (Loss)
Sabres score three second period goals

10/11 @ Pittsburgh (Loss)
Penguins score three second period goals

10/26 vs Tampa (Loss)
Tampa scored one second period goal

10/30 @ Nashville (Loss)
Nashville scored two second period goals

11/01 @ St. Louis (Loss)
Blues score three second period goals
Vegas scored one second period goal

11/10 vs Montreal (Loss)
Canadiens scored three second period goals
Vegas scored one second period goals

11/16 vs St. Louis (Loss)
Blues scored three second period goals

11/19 @ Calgary (Loss)
Calgary scored two second period goals

12/04 vs Washington (Win)
Washington scored one second period goal

12/06 vs Chicago (Win)
Hawks scored two second period goals

12/08 @ LA (Loss)
Kings scored two second period goals

VGK Outscores Opponents in Second Period (12-1-0)

10/16 vs Buffalo (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goal

10/20 vs Anaheim (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goal

10/28 vs Ottawa (Win)
Vegas scored two second period goals
Ottawa score one second period goal

11/03 vs Carolina (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goal

11/14 vs Anaheim(Win)
Vegas scored three second period goals

11/18 vs Edmonton(Win)
Vegas scored three second period goals

11/21 @ Arizona (Win-OT)
Vegas scored two second period goals

11/23 vs Calgary (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goal

11/24 vs San Jose (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goal

11/27 @ Chicago (Win)
Vegas scored three second period goals
Hawks scored two second period goals

11/29 @ Vancouver (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goal

12/01 @ Edmonton (Loss)
Vegas scored one second period goal

12/09 vs Dallas (Win)
Vegas scored one second period goals

Pothier: Stastny Should Return To Second Line Immediately

It still may be a couple weeks, but it’s starting to look like Stastny is getting ready to return. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the promising news we uncovered yesterday about Paul Stastny, the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is the same. When he comes back, where does reigning Jack Adams award winning coach Gerard Gallant place him in the lineup when he’s ready to come back?

It’s an age-old question in sports, should a player lose his position because of an injury? Keeping in mind how well his replacement is playing, in most cases, the answer is no.

Injured center Paul Stastny was signed in the offseason to anchor a brand new second line, yet they haven’t played one shift together. Alex Tuch was to graduate to the top-six and play alongside Americans Stastny and Max Pacioretty. The three could’ve been dubbed the “Freedom” line, but unfortunately, injuries got in the way.

The Golden Knights stand at 29 points, and in the middle of the mess that is known as the Pacific Division. Since Stastny’s injury in Game 3 of the season, the team has played roughly .500 (13-12–1) hockey without him. However, the second line has been extremely effective as of late. Since bumping third line center Cody Eakin up in early November due to Erik Haula’s lower-body injury, the Eakin-Tuch-Pacioretty line has 35 points. The second line was arguably one of the biggest factors in Vegas’ late November five-game win streak.

Tough to break-up, I get it.

Eakin’s strong play brings us back to the organization’s vision for this season. He was expected to center the third line again, and make it more consistent than it was last season. That was GM George McPhee’s plan. And so was upgrading their second line center with a talented veteran like Stastny. Injuries essentially delayed the offseason remodel.

Bottom line is, Stastny is valued by this team as their second line center. They paid him as such, and made a high-risk move trading for Pacioretty to compliment his play. The connecting moves were projected to juice up team offense, and still could once Stastny is cleared to play. This was the team’s vision. They told us.

We wanted to try improve our team. That’s why we signed Paul Stastny as a free agent. Why trading for Max Pacioretty was really important for us. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant GM, on 11/19/18

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The Second Line That Saved Christmas

It took a little while to get going, but Alex Tuch, Max Pacioretty, and Cody Eakin are on fire now. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the holiday season began, Vegas Golden Knights fans didn’t have much to be thankful for, or so it seemed.

On Halloween, things were starting to get scary. Vegas was 5-6-1, with only 11 points and five spots out of the playoffs. Early season trends were beginning to look like the worst could come true. Remember the panic on November 1st?

NHL teams four or more points out of a playoff spot by 11/01, have roughly an 18% chance of making the postseason. Since 2005-06, 47 of 58 teams that were 4+ points out of the postseason spot by November 1st, missed the playoffs. That’s a whopping 82% of teams that their fate was determined by the beginning of November. –SinBin.vegas article on 11/05/18

And then came the East Coast trip that brutalized the Golden Knights. Vegas lost three of four on the road and came back home in seventh place in the division. Ken was losing his mind, many fans were on board with him, and legitimate concern was starting to creep in that maybe this team just isn’t that good.

Things looked bleak. Up until the second line began to warm up.

November 14: Vegas 5-0 vs Anaheim

  • Second line w/ 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists)
  • Eakin: Even-strength goal, Shorthanded goal
  • Tuch scores 1st Period Game-winning PP goal
  • Pacioretty assists Tuch’s GWG

November 18: Vegas 6-3 at Edmonton

  • Second line w/ 3 points (2 goals, 1 Assist)
  • Eakin scored shorthanded goal
  • Pacioretty with second period Go-ahead goal
  • Tuch assists Pacioretty’s Go-ahead goal

November 19: Vegas 3-2 @ Arizona

  • Second line w/ 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
  • Pacioretty scored 2nd Period Go-ahead goal, and OT winner
  • Tuch and Eakin assist Pacioretty’s Go-ahead goal

November 23: Vegas 2-0 vs. Calgary

  • Second line w/ 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)
  • Tuch scored 1st Period Game-wining goal
  • Eakin and Pacioretty assist on Tuch’s GWG

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Pacific Division Analysts Believe Old (Last Year) VGK Are Back

Now imagine if the 1st line returns to complete form… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After going 6-2-0 over their last eight games and “blowing out” an opponent on national TV, the Vegas Golden Knights are back on everyone’s radar screen.

During that period, the Golden Knights defeated five divisional opponents. Something NHL analyst Craig Button believes will end up hurting teams below Vegas in the Pacific standings.

As you get more games under your belt, you run out of games on the other side. It becomes really hard to make up ground in this league. The Vegas Golden Knights are looking like a real strong team, much like the team they were last year. –Craig Button on TSN Edmonton

The TSN analyst suggests Vegas is back on track to compete for the conference. Same goes for analyst Ray Ferraro, who expects Vegas to be in contention for back-to-back division crowns.

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Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon Spills Some Truth On Flames Pregame Show

Deep down, I’m sure they’re panicking a little too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been a tough start for the Golden Knights and everyone is aware. Players are scratching their heads, fans are panicking, and some are flipping their lids. Heck, I can’t even keep Ken under control (but honestly, he’s not wrong in his premise).

With only 19 points in 22 games, the pressure is starting to build, but the Golden Knights front office remains cool and collected despite the sluggish start.

We’re working our way through, like a lot of teams go through in different times of the year. We had a tough schedule, we’ve had some injuries, some of the things everybody deals with over the course of an 82-game season. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant GM

During the Flames pregame show, Vegas assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discussed his team’s disappointing first quarter of the season. While concerned, the second man in charge wasn’t shocked by the Golden Knights early struggles.

We’ve encountered some bad luck obviously, Nate Schmidt being out of the lineup for the first twenty games was a key loss for us. We’re trying to stay in the pack and give ourselves a chance to make a move here as we get a little bit healthier. -McCrimmon

Of course, it’s not the start the Golden Knights front office expected but they still feel confident in their club, and they are definitely not feeling the heat from the fans and whack-job bloggers writers who cover the team.

Well, when you’ve been to the Stanley Cup Final, teams use that as a measuring stick that following year. We’re getting everyone’s best game, that’s fine in the long run. I don’t think we’ve had any tremendous pressure put on us from our fans or the media. Like you might more so in a Canadian market. We put a lot pressure on ourselves. It’s hard league to win in and we’re working extremely hard to get our share of victories to make sure we’re in the playoffs. -McCrimmon

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4 Points Out On November 1st Is A Bad Sign For VGK

None of these odds consider the return of #88. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season we brought awareness to one NHL benchmark backed by historical data that can predict which teams make the postseason. The (American) Thanksgiving Day playoff marker is a good measure for a team’s future success. The turkey day study suggests teams that are sitting in a playoff spot by Thanksgiving have a very high chance of competing for the Cup.

A more nail-biting trend is the November 1st, benchmark that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman often brings up. NHL teams four or more points out of a playoff spot by 11/01, have roughly an 18% chance of making the postseason. Since 2005-06, 47 of 58 teams that were 4+ points out of the postseason spot by November 1st, missed the playoffs. That’s a whopping 82% of teams that their fate was determined by the beginning of November. Unfortunately, that’s where the Golden Knights were, and still are as of this moment.

Just keep working at it. It’s the same old cliché every coach says, but that’s what it is. Keep putting pucks there, we are out chancing and more shots than most teams, but we just got to get hungrier. -Gerard Gallant

On November 1st, the Golden Knights had a record of 5-7-1 (11 points), good for seventh in the Pacific Division, and four points out of a playoff spot. Along with Vegas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, and St. Louis also were 4+ points down. 82% means four of those five teams are already eliminated, while one still has a shot.

Last season, Minnesota was the one that made the playoffs after being caught in the post-Halloween vortex.

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Golden Knights vs. Hurricanes: Must-Win?

Yeah, this is how we feel about the season so far too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We know this term gets thrown around WAY too much, especially when it comes to Game 14 of an 82 game season, but if the emotional leader calls tonight’s game against the Hurricanes a must-win, it must be a must-win.

It’s a big game for us. We definitely need to win. -Jonathan Marchessault

Okay, fine, he didn’t say must-win, but “definitely need to win” is close enough for me. It’s kind of unimaginable, that on November 3rd we’re talking about important games for the Golden Knights, but this is reality when a team is already four points out of a playoff spot and have their bags packed for a four-game road trip to the other side of the continent.

This is a team with expectations. We set the bar high for us. We know it’s going to be harder, but it’s nothing we can’t handle as a group. -Marchessault

It’s not just the two points that the Golden Knights want, it’s more that this team is a franchise that’s experienced nothing but winning, and they are sick of losing.

If you’re ready for a game, they better be must wins. I hope guys think this is a must win game. Not because it is, but every game is a must win. -Gerard Gallant

He said “must-win!” Well, really, he said it is, then said it isn’t, then said it is again. So… I think I like what Marchy said better.

In Florida, Marchessault and Gallant faced a slow start which ultimately costed Gallant his job. While we’re nowhere near that situation here, the bigger point is that Panther team was never able to regain a playoff spot.

This is definitely a slow start. We’re not where we want to be. Nobody is going to feel bad for us. So we got to get out of this hole, keep battling and turn our luck around. -Marchessault

Tonight is the perfect spot for #81 and his teammates to turn things around. Carolina comes in with an acceptable 6-5-2 record, but have lost three straight including an overtime tilt in Arizona last night. Carolina fell into a 3-0 hole in the 1st, only to climb back to tie it, and then lose in OT.

We’ve been told there’s a locker room full of leaders. So I’m sure it’s eating at each and every one of them to come home from their road trip empty-handed. Tonight is a game that could help the Golden Knights set themselves straight. And I’m sure that’s the message Marchessault is spreading around the room.

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