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.
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.
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.
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
-100% PK -50% PP -Boston 1st line gets 0 points -Halak allows a soft goal
That should be a recipe for success. It wasn't and the Golden Knights now have a lot to think about over the next 10 days.
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.
Recap: The Golden Knights were searching for their first win streak of 2020 on the road in Montreal. The 1st period didn’t go as planned as the Canadiens scored 3 goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Down three, Vegas chipped away in the middle frame. Jonathan Marchessault scored on a beautiful feed by linemate Reilly Smith. Paul Stastny added a gritty goal later to get his team within one. After two Vegas trailed 3-2.
Montreal would take a two goal lead midway through the 3rd period. Vegas would battle back, allowing Max Pacioretty to add his 21st of the year with under two minutes remaining. Reilly Smith showed his heroics tying the game with 7 seconds left taking the game in to overtime.
After some good chances by both teams, the game was sent to a shootout. Each team scored on their first tries but Montreal would score one more to take the two points winning 5-4 in SO.
Vegas’ record drops to 25-19-7 and lose their first game (in OT) under new coach Pete DeBoer. The Golden Knights travel to Boston to play their last game before the break. Faceoff against the Bruins is scheduled for 4PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: Yet again, the Golden Knights fell into the all to familiar 3-0 hole. This time, they didn’t play terribly in the first period, but the chances they created wouldn’t be scored on while most of the ones Montreal did were. DeBoer pointed to execution and said the team didn’t deserve to be down 3-0 after one. I’d agree, but there’s no doubt that’s getting old. The response in the latter 40 minutes was good but not terrific. There were still a number of breakdowns leading to odd-man rushes the other way. They needed two goals with their goalie pulled to force overtime and then got dominated in OT. Vegas created just one chance in OT and the Habs created about eight. Another failed poke check cost the Golden Knights the extra point in shootout. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre
We’ll try to figure out what exactly the Golden Knights were looking to institute.
Ken’s Three VGK Stars *** Reilly Smith ** Paul Stastny * Jonathan Marchessault
Nonetheless, that's a great point all things considered.
But DeBoer said he was hesitant to adopt too many changes too quickly fearing information overload.
My biggest fear coming in was to overwhelm them with information, which slows you down, you’re thinking too much. So when I initially came in and got the job I said I’m not going to do that. –DeBoer on SLGND Podcast
DeBoer has been a head coach in the NHL, for a long time, 12 years to be exact, but he’s never taken over a team in the middle of the season. So, he’s leaned on the advice of his friends who have, one of which being Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice.
In doing so, DeBoer decided it would be best to use the first three games to observe. After one game and one practice, there’s already by a shift.
I’ve given them a little bit more than maybe I’d planned a couple days ago because the group has impressed me with their intelligence and their ability to pick up on some things, so that’s something that’s moving on the fly. –DeBoer on VGK Insider Show
Over the course of the first three years, the Golden Knights systems have remained essentially the same. Under Gerard Gallant, line changes were common, but the style of play never changed.
Save for one key moment earlier this season when the Golden Knights introduced their new zone defensive scheme (VGKD 2.0). According to all accounts, that system change was implemented in a single day and without ever even practicing it on the ice. It wasn’t perfect but they were able to put it into action and ended up winning the first game using it in Nashville.
Imagine what the Golden Knights would look like right now if the first season went the way everyone projected. If they played like an expansion team usually does and finished at or near the bottom of the standings. A lot would look different, but the men behind the bench would still be familiar.
The Golden Knights overachieved in every sense of the word in their first season. They won more games than they were supposed to, they went further in the playoffs than anyone could have ever imagined, and they created a culture of success.
In just one season, the most magical season not to result in a championship in sports history, the Golden Knights went from an organization willing and able to be patient to one with a “Cup or Bust” mentality every single year.
When most players learned they were headed to Vegas in the Expansion Draft, they didn’t know what to expect. Despite whether the player was established, under-utilized, or had not even broken through into the NHL yet, there was a semblance of hesitation with all of them. They’d heard the stories of barren buildings, unknowledgeable fans, and tons and tons of losses. With Vegas, they didn’t know what to expect and there were plenty of reasons to expect the worst as opposed to the best.
Less than a year later, Vegas became a destination. Following every game players would rave about the building, the atmosphere, and the relentlessness of the team on the ice. The first offseason, James Neal, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, and Luca Sbisa all expressed a genuine desire to stay in Vegas. Paul Stastny inked a deal after Vegas knocked his team out of the playoffs a few months before. And then the big one, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Max Pacioretty, agreed to sign a long term deal before even stepping foot in the city allowing the Golden Knights to pull off a blockbuster trade right before the second season began.
Every new player, and especially Pacioretty, ranted about the rest of the league’s growing perception of Las Vegas. In less than a year, it went from an unknown to one of, if not the most, desirable destination in the NHL.
That led to players like William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, and Nate Schmidt to all take fairly friendly deals to stay. It helped keep Marc-Andre Fleury, who could have gone anywhere he wished, in Vegas for the long haul. And again, it led to another trade and sign of Mark Stone, who hasn’t shut up about how much he loves Vegas since.
Success led to more success which led to expectations and those expectations were what ultimately sent Gallant and Kelly packing.
They were handed a group of players, an empty locker room, and a blank canvas and they spun it into what it is now, a team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations year over year. They got the most out of a group of players every other team in the league decided were expendable and in doing it, they allowed the front office to capitalize and add more and more talent to the mix.
Without the success in Year 1, there would be no Pacioretty, no Stone, no Stastny, and probably no Fleury.
The building wouldn’t be known as the most electric in the league.
The locker room wouldn’t be viewed as one every player in the league would gladly accept becoming a part of.
And the worst of all, the job of the head coach wouldn’t be so desirable that a recently fired Pete DeBoer sitting next to a pool in Florida with his family would accept the position so fast that he didn’t even have time to find a suit before getting on the plane to take the job.
Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly were instrumental in creating a winning culture and lofty expectations. They ultimately ended up becoming the first to pay for it as well.
No matter what comes of the rest of this regular season, the postseason, and the future including this core of players, while credit will be given to just about everyone else first, Gallant and Kelly will always deserve their fair share.
Their names won’t be on the Cup if the Golden Knights ever win it. They won’t be at the parade down Las Vegas Boulevard. But their contributions to the Golden Knights franchise should never be undervalued.
Recap: The Pete DeBoer era got off to an incredibly quick start in Ottawa. Paul Stastny gave the new coach his first lead :24 seconds into the game. Marc-Andre Fleury stood tall in the opening period stopping all 10 of the Senators shot.
The 2nd period featured a couple of dangerous chances for both teams but goaltending and team defense kept it scoreless. Mark Stone doubled up the lead with his 17th goal of the season. Vegas held a 2-0 edge in Ottawa after 40 minutes of play.
The Golden Knights took over the game in the 3rd period getting goals from Chandler Stephenson and Ryan Reaves. Ottawa would add two of their own but Vegas would close out the game 4-2. Snapping their four game losing streak.
Vegas’ record improves to 25-19-6 and win their first game under new coach Pete DeBoer. The Golden Knights continue their road trip and next face the Montreal Canadiens. Game is scheduled to start at 4P. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: A goal in the first minute always makes a game a lot easier on the team that scores it. Vegas really needed a lead, especially after all that’s transpired the last few days. They kept the foot on the pedal for most of the 1st and 2nd but weren’t able to bury any more until late in the 2nd. From there, they continued playing well but a few breakdowns in their own end could have really cost them if not for the tremendous goaltending from Fleury. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre
Something about Pete DeBoer probably
Ken’s Three VGK Stars *** Paul Stastny ** Marc-Andre Fleury * Mark Stone
Every coach in Golden Knights history has won his first game.
I think every coach has some tweaks and some beliefs they want to instill. Coming in mid-season it’s going to be a little slower process and take some time. -Pete DeBoer
DeBoer has been tasked with taking over a team that knows it’s good but haven’t quite been able to sustain it consistently. The Golden Knights started out the season with two big wins against DeBoer’s Sharks, then dropped 15 of their next 24. Next, they hit a hot streak winning 13 of 19, but things quickly took a turn for the worse with Vegas losing four straight, costing Gerard Gallant his job.
Now, DeBoer is in charge and he has to figure out how much needs to be changed and where he needs to implement those changes.
From a systems point of view, there will be some tweaks but this is a well-coached team, I’m not coming in here to change everything. -DeBoer
Those tweaks will come eventually, but don’t expect to see them in the next three games.
We’ve got to take it a little bit slower for me. These games until the break I’m going to use to get to know the guys and the team. The players, I want them to play, show me what you can do, what you are capable of, and hopefully coming out of the break we can start to establish some of those things. -DeBoer
However, DeBoer did outline a few things he says he won’t wait for, those he calls, “non-negotiables.”
I was a coach have some non-negotiable things we’re going to stress and that’s attacking and playing north, stopping and defending hard, tracking back, keeping our shifts short, playing four lines. Those are the non-negotiable items for me that we’re going to try and instill right away. -DeBoer
For the most part, it’s all standard coach speak and things the Golden Knights were already doing with Gallant. But, there’s one “item” among the non-negotiables that will require a change from Vegas’ players.
“Keeping our shifts short.”
The average shift length of all players in the NHL is 45.5 seconds. 47.1 seconds for defensemen and 44.6 seconds for forwards. (as of 1/21/20)
Under Gallant Golden Knights came in way above the averages, while DeBoer’s Sharks teams have been below.
Vegas’ shifts are on average over five seconds longer than San Jose’s and four seconds longer than the league. The difference mostly comes down to forwards, where the Golden Knights 49.1 seconds per shift. While Gallant was at the helm, that was tied with Washington for the highest in the league. (Games through 1/14/20)