I’m not a huge analytics guy. But when it comes to discussing how good Brayden McNabb has been for the Golden Knights, perhaps I need to Corsi-fy and Fenwick-ish my analysis of the 6-foot-4, 28-year-old defenseman.
Nah. I’ll just trust my own lying eyes.
And what I see is a smart, honest hockey player who works well with his partner, helps out his goalie, makes wise decisions when to join the rush and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body.
In other words, I like Brayden McNabb.
So do his coach and his teammates. He’s exactly what the Golden Knights need at this point of the season and moving forward into the postseason.
He has played in all 66 games. He leads the team in blocked shots (121). He is third on the Knights in hits (168) after Ryan Reaves and Will Carrier. He averages just under 20 minutes a game in time on ice. He is an excellent penalty killer pairing with Deryk Engelland.
He also has three goals and 14 points heading into Sunday’s game against Vancouver at T-Mobile Arena a the Knights continue to try and put some distance between themselves and Arizona for the third spot in the Pacific Division.
I think the longer you’re in this league, you get comfortable with everything. You know the system. You know your teammates. You learn when to join the rush and when to hang back. I’ve become smarter and I don’t take as many chances as I used to when I first got to the league. -McNabb
Gerard Gallant loves honest hockey players, guys he can just send over the boards and not be surprised at what they do. In McNabb, he’s got a player who’s as honest as the day is long.
I don’t know there’s much improvement from last year to be honest with you. He’s done the same job as last year and I loved him last year.
He’s a great penalty killer. He shuts down the other team’s top players and I like what he brings to our group. -Gallant
McNabb admits he’s not perfect. He had a tough stretch in mid-February where he was taking penalties, getting beat in his own end and simply not playing well. But he has turned it around. His last three games have seen a return to making good decisions, staying out of the box and doing his job. Not coincidentally, the Knights have won all three and are solidifying their third spot in the Pacific.
You go through your ups and downs. But for the most part, it’s been pretty good. I think I’ve tried to be consistent and be pretty steady. You learn things as you go. When you’re young, you’re trying to find that. -McNabb
Gallant said McNabb’s decision-making has helped him have a good season.
His hockey IQ is real good and that’s what he takes pride in. When you look at playing a simple game, that’s what he does. He plays the right way most nights and that’s what we love. It’s not too often you see him go end-to-end and score the game-winning goal like we saw the other night (vs. Detroit). We don’t need that from him too often. But it was nice to see that from him. -Gallant
Nate Schmidt, who played with McNabb most of the season until recently being shifted to play with Engelland, said McNabb is the perfect partner.
I love him because I know what I’m going to get out of him every night. He’s such a calming partner to my game. He gives me a good line of communication throughout the entire game. I just like what he’s been doing with the puck, how smart he’s been with it. He’s moving it into areas to help keep us successful. That’s a huge part of how you can be successful. -Schmidt
And if you insist on those analytics numbers, here they are: McNabb’s season Corsi is 51.2 percent (last year it was 51.0 percent). His Fenwick for this year is 51.9 (last year it was 52.1). So he’s on the positive side of his analytics.
Like I said, I’ll trust my own eyes and to me, the Knights have a solid and steady player as one of their top-four defensemen. He’ll be needed if they hope to make a long run in the playoffs.
**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**