(All odds referenced in this article are pulled from the William Hill Sports Book. The William Hill mobile sports app is the best in the business with prop bets on every VGK game and InPlay betting on all NHL games.)
Whether you are a sports gambler or not, odds tell a great story about how a team performs under many different circumstances. They paint a picture of how a game is supposed to go and give some context about how well (or poorly) a team has played over the course of a season.
The Golden Knights have played 68 games to this point winning 37 and losing 31 as overtime/shootout losses are losses in gambling terms.
A $100 bettor (see end of article for explanation of how this works) would be down $360 if he bet on every Golden Knights game this season.
Vegas has been favored in 55 of the 68 games. That same bettor would be up $305 on the Golden Knights’ 35-20 record as favorites.
The Golden Knights are a dismal 3-10 as underdogs. Their three wins are all as minuscule dogs too, winning at Minnesota (+100), at Philadelphia (-105), and at Tampa Bay (+135). Bet all 13 and you’d be down $665. Vegas went on an eight-game losing streak as underdogs spanning almost 4 months from mid-October to early February (115 days).
However, despite a total road record of just 16-16-1 on the road the Golden Knights make bettors money when they are favored away from home. That’s happened 20 times this season and the Golden Knights are 13-7 earning a total of $345. The worst loss as a road favorite was just -155 at Los Angeles, while the Golden Knights have covered games as large as -185 (@ANA), -170 (@CHI), and -165 three times (@DET, @VAN, @OTT).
There is one other situation in which the Golden Knights pay off.
The Golden Knights are the reigning Western Conference Champions. They were able to achieve this in large part due to their dominance against the Pacific Division. A year ago, Vegas went 20-6-3 against the Pacific en route to claiming the division title. They then defeated the Pacific Division’s Kings and Sharks to reach the Western Conference Final.
This year, the standings look a bit different with the Golden Knights firmly planted in 3rd place with 79 points through 68 games. That’s seven points short of San Jose and 10 off Calgary’s pace. However, like last year (and every year for that matter), the road to the Western Conference Final for Vegas goes through the Pacific. And while the Golden Knights are playing at just a 58.1% points percentage, they are significantly better against their own division.
vs. Pacific 14-5-2 (.714) vs. Metro 9-6-1 (.593) vs. Central 8-8-0 (.500) vs. Atlantic 6-7-2 (.467)
Vegas has a winning record and/or positive goal differential against every team in the division as well.
vs. Anaheim 4-0-0 (+11 GD) vs. Vancouver 2-0-1 (+3 GD) vs. Arizona 2-1-0 (+2 GD) vs. Calgary 2-1-0 (-2 GD) vs. Los Angeles 2-1-1 (o GD) vs. San Jose 1-1-0 (+5 GD) vs. Edmonton 1-1-0 (+2 GD)
In the division, only the Sharks have a better record than the Golden Knights, and Vegas has the ability to flip that script with a pair of games against San Jose on March 18th and 30th.
San Jose 15-4-3 (.750) Vegas 14-5-2 (.714) Calgary 11-7-2 (.600) Arizona 12-9-2 (.565) Los Angeles 8-8-2 (.500) Vancouver 9-10-4 (.478) Edmonton 8-11-2 (.476) Anaheim 7-10-3 (.425)
In two seasons, the Golden Knights record inside the Pacific Division is an incredible 34-11-5 (.730) with a goal differential of +47 (+26 in 17-18 and +21 in 18-19).
The Golden Knights have eight Pacific Division games remaining on the schedule before what is almost certainly a seven-game series against a division foe in the first round and a seven-game series against another one in the second round.
The playoff format is probably going to change at some point, maybe even as soon as next year, but while it remains the way it is, there’s no question it’s advantage Vegas.
A pair of 1st period penalties on the Flames helped the Golden Knights get on the board. Shea Theodore ripped one home with Mark Stone registering his second point in Vegas. Then, Calgary appeared to tie it up but a goalie interference call wiped the goal off the board. A late penalty sent the Golden Knights back on the PP heading into the 2nd. Vegas failed on that one and eventually conceded the lead as well. They would start the 3rd with 100+ seconds of power play time as well and would do nothing with it. A zinger from Deryk Engelland untied it to give Vegas the lead midway through the 3rd. The Flames had a few chances late with the goalie pulled but Marc-Andre Fleury kept them all out.
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Calgary Flames at T-Mobile Arena.
The path to the Western Conference Final goes through the Pacific Division, luckily that’s where VGK plays best.
It’s no secret the acquisition of Mark Stone has made a positive impact on the Golden Knights. They are a perfect 4-0-0 since the trade, have utterly dominated consecutive division opponents, and quite simply they look a lot closer to a Cup contending team than they have all year.
All of it is with Stone barely finding the scoresheet. He has just a single point in four games and it came on a power play assist to William Karlsson.
Stone’s impact goes much deeper than how much he’s scoring and it even goes deeper than even how often his linemates get on the board. What Stone’s acquisition has done has stabilized the Golden Knights top six, while in the process taking some major match-up responsibility off the hands of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith. It’s also put Alex Tuch in a role that allows him to focus more on creating scoring chances for a line that desperately needed help doing so.
It reminds me a lot of Schmidty’s situation when we missed him. I think it put people in places that they weren’t comfortable in. It’s important to have a role on your team and feel comfortable and confident in that role. I think Stoner coming in and kind of giving us that balance through our lineup. It’s not one player that makes a huge difference but it’s one player that kind of puts everyone in a position to succeed and in a role they are comfortable in. -Max Pacioretty
Stone has played a total of 64:39 at even strength for the Golden Knights. Territorially he’s been terrific posting a Corsi For of 58.9%. He’s been on the ice for 40 shots on goal for while just 22 against. The Golden Knights have created 31 goal scoring chances including 16 high danger, which is good for about a chance every other shift, and most importantly he’s been on the ice for three goals while still has not seen one in the Golden Knights net.
But more importantly than all of those great numbers is the competition he has faced. In the four games he’s played, the forwards he’s shared the ice with most have been Elias Pettersson, Rickard Rakell, Alexander Radulov (and Tyler Seguin), and Riley Sheahan. Aside from Florida, he’s faced the best forward on the opposing team every night.
I’d say he’s playing pretty much where we are going to play him. He may play a few more minutes later on, or a few less, I don’t know, but everything’s gone good so far. -Gallant
The Florida game, the one he didn’t match-up most with the opposition’s top forwards, might be the most telling too. Aleksander Barkov was on the ice for all five goals the Panthers scored. When Barkov was on the ice with Stone, not only did Florida not score, but they attempted just one shot, and it was blocked.
Like with many Russian players, the Nikita Gusev contract situation is a difficult one. From how I understand it (and I could be wrong, but I will show my work with all CBA excerpts cited at the end of this article), the Golden Knights have two options with Gusev.
(Note: If you listened to yesterday’s Periscope, I said almost the exact opposite of what I’m saying here. That’s because my understanding of the rules is better today than it was yesterday.)
But before we get to those options, let’s explain a few things first. First off, Nikita Gusev was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2012 but never signed a contract. He was then traded to Vegas as part of the Expansion Draft. Because he never signed that first NHL contract, he remains property of the Golden Knights indefinitely. (Kelly McCrimmon recently confirmed this on the VGK Insider Show) In other words, when Gusev comes to the NHL, he’ll come as a Golden Knight, no matter when it happens.
Next, Gusev was born on July 8th, 1992, making him 26-years-old. Per the CBA Article 9.1 (c), Gusev is required to adhere to the NHL’s “entry-level system” if he signs a contract prior to turning 28. Therefore, if Gusev signs an NHL contract this year (2018-19) or next year (2019-20) he would be forced to sign a one-year contract with a max value of $925,000. (CBA 9.3 a)
There are some performance and signing bonuses possible, which do count against the salary cap, that could allow Gusev to earn an extra $825,000. The signing bonus is probable, which can be up to 10% or $92,500 (CBA 9.3 b). However, most of the performance bonuses are unlikely as Gusev would have to be an extraordinary player to receive them. Such options are 20+ goals, 35+ assists, and .73+ points per game. (CBA Exhibit 5-Performance Bonuses)
So, it’s reasonable to believe Gusev’s entry-level contract will be about $1,000,000 against the Golden Knights cap. Incredibly cheap for a player of his caliber.
Which brings us back to the two options on when the Golden Knights can/will sign him.
Option 1: If Gusev were to sign prior to the Golden Knights season ending this year, he would earn a pro-rated portion of the one-year entry-level contract for as long as he’s with the NHL club. The contract would end when the Golden Knights 2018-19 season concludes, thus it would “burn” his entry-level contract requirement. Gusev would not qualify as an unrestricted free agent (CBA 10.2 a, i). Instead, he would become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and need to sign a new contract with VGK to remain in the NHL. (See CBA 12.1 A)
Option 2: If Gusev waits until after the Golden Knights season ends, he would have to sign the one-year entry-level contract worth a maximum of $925,000. However, when the year is up, he would be 27-years-old and thus qualify as an unrestricted free agent. (See CBA 10.2 a) He could not sign an extension with Vegas until January 1st, 2020, and could choose to reach UFA on July 1st, 2020.
This is where it gets incredibly tricky for the Golden Knights as both options have major benefits but also massive potential drawbacks. I’ll break it down the way I was taught by my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Pope, using a pros and cons list.
Vegas controlled almost all of the 1st period but couldn’t find a way to get one past Jacob Markstrom. But in the 2nd a rocket of a shot by Max Pacioretty got the Golden Knights on the board. Then a rebound put back in by Ryan Carpenter upped the lead to two. Reilly Smith tallied the third of the game and then the only question was whether or not Fleury would secure the shutout. He did making just 19 saves.
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena.
The Gusev story is coming tomorrow. (They are only down 2-1 now)
Photo gallery from the game
A closer look at exactly how Gallant is deploying Mark Stone and how it’s affected the rest of the roster.
Legendary enforcer on the new-age type of enforcer that is Ryan Reaves.
Ken’s Three VGK Stars *** Pierre-Edouard Bellemare ** Ryan Carpenter * Max Pacioretty
No goals, but VGK PP looking very good once again today.