With their third straight loss and tenth loss in their last 13 games, Vegas fans are scurrying for answers. Sure, the Golden Knights have four OT losses in that span but overall it’s been some disappointing hockey.
What is it that bothers fans most? We asked them last night during our Facebook game thread. There were many answers, but here are a handful I found best measures the true temperature of the Golden Knights fanbase.
1. Defensive play. 2. Inconsistent scoring. 3. Lack of desire at times
There is no finish, instead we take dumb penalties and give up soft goals.
They make every other team’s goalie look like a wizard.
1. Scoring is inconsistent. 2. Defense needs help. 3. Top 6 tends to disappear
No cohesive play, no urgency and let’s face it… Subban is a liability.
As you can see, inconsistency on offense and defensive inefficiency is a common theme among fans. Urgency, or lack thereof, was a noun many fans used to describe their favorite club.
Sports are a black and white business. Every night, you either win or you lose, there is no in-between.
And while that’s 100% true, and will always be in an individual game, an NHL season isn’t as binary.
An NHL season consists of 82 games to determine which 16 teams get a chance to continue competing in a completely separate season to select a champion. 52% of teams in the league are deemed good enough while the other 48% are eliminated, and it’s determined by the collection of results over six months of play.
No one loss ends a team’s season, and no one win earns a team a place in the playoffs. And thus, every team loses… a lot. Even the best of the best lose, all the time.
This isn’t news to anyone who follows sports, but to Golden Knights fans it can often get lost in the mix. Not because Vegas fans are new to hockey or because they are naive to the way the NHL works, but because of they don’t have the experience of it happening with this particular team.
Deep down, every person who roots for the Golden Knights knows there will never be another season quite like that the first one, but until there’s another example, that season stands as the shining example of what greatness looks like.
In that season the Golden Knights started out with three straight wins and won seven of their first eight. They never lost more than three in a row and only failed to earn points in three straight games twice. They won 29 of their 41 home games and fell at home in consecutive games just three times. They had a playoff berth sewn up by January, clinched in mid March, and no one really challenged them for the Pacific Division crown once they reached first place for good in December.
The season was perfect.
So perfect that there was a 93-minute documentary film created to celebrate it.
Comparing any season to that one is ridiculous because that season was just that, ridiculous.
But expecting the Golden Knights fan base to do anything else is just as ridiculous. The year they were great in the regular season, they went to the Stanley Cup Final. The year they were okay in the regular season, they were eliminated in the first round. That’s the way it feels like it must happen because that’s the only way it’s happened in the past.
This is a sushi reference. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Las Vegas is one of the world’s best places to find amazing food. From Michelin star restaurants on the Strip to hole-in-the-wall options on the outskirts of town, if you are a foodie, there’s more than enough for you in Vegas.
Professional athletes tend to be some of the best barometers when it comes to food. Think about it, they have to keep their bodies in perfect shape, they eat out at restaurants all the time because they are on the road a lot, and pretty much all of them are millionaires so money is no object when it comes to dinner.
So, I went around the locker room and asked one simple question, “what’s your favorite restaurant in Vegas?”
Not surprisingly, most of the answers were high-end restaurants on the Strip, but there were a few hidden gems off the Strip, specifically in the Summerlin area.
For privacy reasons, and because we don’t need any restaurant owners getting mad at players for not picking their place, I’ve decided to list only the names of the restaurants and not who picked them. I spoke to a total of 15 players for this article, but I did not force them to pick only one restaurant. They are listed in order of how often they were named by a player, including the #1 restaurant on the list which was named by FIVE different guys. (I also linked to the menus by clicking each restaurant name so you can drool while reading this.)
Mainly a seafood and sushi place, Catch has all sorts of options including steaks, skewers, and a few incredible desserts. Catch also has locations in Los Angeles and New York. One defenseman said they love to eat at the one in Manhattan in NYC, but he prefers the location at Aria because “it’s not as bougee.”
Five separate Golden Knights mentioned Catch including one forward who said he special orders the toro nigiri which is a raw piece of tuna belly that he claimed is to die for.
A Japanese restaurant most known for its sushi, Zuma was named by three different Golden Knights. There could be a little recency bias here as the pre-season team meal was held here and it wooed two of the rookies. However, as you’ll see later, I had a lot to talk about with the guys about Zuma, and no one backed down when saying it’s one of the best in any city they’ve been to.
The world-famous Italian steakhouse at The D is a VGK favorite, especially since the owner of the hotel is a diehard Golden Knights fan (look at him going nuts on the glass right above Martin Jones in this picture). Mentioned by two different Golden Knights, one goalie told me he eats something different every time he goes there and each dish is better than the last.
You’ll have to walk through a pawn shop to get to this one, but according to multiple VGK forwards, it’s the best in the city. An upscale American restaurant that serves classics in unexpected ways is a favorite for players because of the variety. One forward told me he’s had sushi, pasta, and a prime steak all in the same meal.
For the first time in franchise history, all seven Golden Knights preseason games are being shown on TV. Last year just two were broadcast and the first year it was hard to even get any because of #CoxBlocked.
However, this year, KTNV stepped up to broadcast them all and it’s paying off in a big way in regards to ratings.
Just four games into the preseason, three games have pulled in at least a 4.6 rating and the same three garnered at least an eight share. That means 8% of televisions that were turned on in the Las Vegas area were watching a meaningless exhibition game. Here are all four game’s numbers.
vs. Arizona – 2.8 Rating / 5 Share at Colorado – 4.9 Rating / 9 Share at Los Angeles – 5.0 Rating / 9 Share at San Jose – 4.6 Rating / 8 Share
Of course, the numbers are better for the road games as 17,767 fans were in the building watching the home game. The three road games average a 4.8 rating and a 8.7 share. If that was to continue for the entire regular season, it would rank in the top three in the NHL for TV ratings.
And these are preseason games!
There are three preseason games left, all at home, and then it’s time for the one that counts on October 2nd on NBCSN.
Who knows what the outcome of the game will be (the Golden Knights better win), but one thing that is for sure, a ridiculous amount of people in the Vegas valley will be watching.
We are just 21 days away from Opening Night at T-Mobile Arena. Which means, the William Hill mobile sports app is stocked with Golden Knights related bets and props.
Whether you gamble or not, prop bets always give us a rough idea of expectations heading into a new season. This year, William Hill has listed 11 prop bets including eight-player specific bets. Here are my picks on each and every one of them. (Last year I went 6-3.)
Regular Season Points O/U 101.5
The Golden Knights had 109 in Year 1 and 93 in Year 2, this year’s total is smack dab in between the two. The biggest question of whether they’ll get there or not will be health. If the Golden Knights are relatively healthy through a majority of the season, they’ll reach 102 without any issue. But, if they lose one of the centers, Stone, Schmidt, or Fleury, they could see some rough stretches that keep them from the century mark. Think back to last season, the first 20 games, the poo stretch before the trade deadline, the way they limped to the end, a lot went wrong, and they still got to 93. I have to believe this year will be at least a bit smoother.
Pick: OVER 101.5
October Points O/U 17.5
With the season starting on the 2nd, the October schedule is pretty packed. The Golden Knights play 14 games with eight of them being at home. It’s also a nicely laid out schedule with minimal travel and just one back-to-back. In fact, I listed the last two weeks of October as one of the softest stretches in the entire season schedule. The first two games are going to go a long way to determining whether or not they reach this number, but I don’t expect them to lose both which means they’ll need 16 points in 12 games. The opponents aren’t exactly easy as a whole, but the Golden Knights should come out motivated and that will lead them to a solid 18+ point month.
I think it's a little much, just because I believe it's necessarily the main goal for VGK this season. Betting odds are always going to be skewed towards VGK though due to the money that comes in on them. https://t.co/cPRZzYn2jh
Fair question and I don't really have an answer. RFA's without arbitration rights always have the potential to take a while because of the lack of leverage the player holds. I'd be surprised if he misses camp though because he needs to be there to win a job. https://t.co/hPkKhUb1Fv
I don't buy that for a second. No one would probably give fair value for them (meaning McPhee would have probably gotten fleeced in the deals) but if they really wanted them out of here, they wouldn't be here. https://t.co/a73wWpy8Fi
It continues to be that dull time of year, and while we patiently wait for hockey to begin, silly, objective lists dominate the (news) flow. The NHL Network turns into a tabloid, work distraction type outlet like Buzzfeed.
Let’s begin with NHL Network’s Top 20 Center list.
To state the obvious, William Karlsson continues to get stiffed. First he agrees to a team-first, team-friendly extended deal, and then he gets left off the NHL Network’s 2019 Top 20 Center list. It’s immediately confusing because Karlsson made the cut last year, coming in at #17. Ahead of centers like Logan Couture and Sebastian Aho, who are both on 2019’s list.
I don’t know why they do these things. I guess it causes controversy. It’s such a reputation thing. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the pundits think. It matters what the coaching staff thinks, what your teammates think, and where you fit in the salary cap, and what the fans think of you.-Gord Miller, TSN Montreal 690
Now don’t get me wrong, there are many elite centers in the NHL but Karlsson deserves to get a top 20 nod just as much as Couture, Aho, Sean Monahan, and Elias Peterson. Maybe the NHL Network got confused when Karlsson signed a second-line center’s contract.
2019 marked the first time in the history of the NHL that a playoff game was played following the elimination of the Vegas Golden Knights.
(It almost makes it sound cool that the Golden Knights were eliminated. No? Oh well, I tried.)
Conventional wisdom would say that once Vegas’ team was gone from the playoffs, especially with the way it happened, that the market would shut their TV’s off from the rest of the postseason. However, the proved to be far from the case.
Las Vegas ranked 9th in the country for the top markets across the entire Stanley Cup Final drawing a 4.4 rating (meaning 4.4% of Vegas households were watched the games).
Top 10 Markets across the Stanley Cup Final on NBC/NBCSN
St. Louis 28.7
Kansas City 5.6
Ft. Myers 4.5
Las Vegas 4.4
Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final came in as the most watched non-Golden Knights game in city history, pulling in a 7.6 rating, also ranked 9th in the United States.
As for Golden Knights games, the ratings were incredibly impressive once again, blowing all other competing shows out of the water.
Now that the wait is over and fan favorite Deryk Engelland signed his new contract to stay in Las Vegas, it’s time to discuss his future impact. First off, let’s note that Engelland will receive less money in 2019-2020 but will have a chance to make up for it.
Deryk Engelland has re-signed with the Golden Knights for the league minimum of $700,000 with performance bonuses which could reach as high as $1.5 millon.
At 37-years-old you’d assume his overall presence would begin to drop off. After all, his time on ice dwindled from 20:17 ATOI in 2017-18, to 19:53 ATOI in 2018-19. I’m being sarcastic, that’s not much of a difference. Same can be said for his penalty kill minutes, it’s virtually equal to VGK’s first season and I could argue he was as good if not better in 2018-19.
Just take a look at Engelland’s 2019 Postseason penalty killing performance.
Game 1: 4:26 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/5 San Jose Power Plays
Game 2: 9:19 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/8 San Jose Power Plays
Game 3: 4:16 PK Minutes (Team Leader), 1 Goal/3 Power Plays
Game 4: 4:31 PK Minutes, 0 Goals/4 San Jose Power Plays
Game 5: 3:15 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/3 San Jose Power Plays
Game 6: 2:45 PK Minutes, 0 Goals/2 San Jose Power Plays
Game 7: 7:56 PK Minutes (Game Leader), *4 Goals/9 San Jose Power Plays
Total: 36:28 PK Minutes, 5 Goals/34 Power Plays, 0.13 San Jose PPG when Engelland was on the ice.
*You all know why there’s an asterisk
So just on defensive special teams alone, Engelland’s return is a positive one. However, the issue could be on even-strength. How will the Golden Knights coaching staff deploy the elder statesmen this season? Is it possible Jon Merrill, Nick Holden(if still on the roster), or Rookie d-men see more time on 5v5 than in 2018-19. That direction would balance Engelland’s minutes under 18-19 minutes a game. Which could be more beneficial for the team.
A big part of my game is killing penalties-Deryk Engelland
Another element to Engelland’s 2019-2020 usage will be who he is paired up with. Over the past two seasons, it’s been a consistent dose of Engelland and Shea Theodore. I’d assume with the uncertainty of the younger defenseman, that pairing would remain the same to start training camp and the season. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way, and frankly I don’t think it will. With the possibility of a rookie in the lineup nightly, Vegas may want to break in the young blueliner with an experienced, reliable defenseman like Engelland. It worked for Theodore.
In a perfect world, Engelland would see less even-strength minutes and continue to be a rock on the penalty kill. Keep in mind the Golden Knights paid him less money to stay which could be a sign the organization sees Engelland playing a lesser role this season. Or it’s just another shrewd business move by the front office.
Either way, subtracting 5v5 minutes means fresher legs on the PK. It’s an easy, obvious approach to distribute minutes and get the most out of the 37-year-old in 2019-2020. It’s almost too obvious if a half-wit like me can figure it out. Clearly he’s valued and trusted on the ice by the coaching staff which would lead you to believe they expect the same #5 out there. And how can you fault them after two successful seasons with Vegas?
To go back to Russia. VGK would then forfeit his rights in a year and he could come back as a UFA. He holds about as much power as you can as an RFA. It's not an ideal situation for VGK, but they put themselves here. https://t.co/J61oshb3oQ
If they trade Gusev and sign another scorer, my head might explode. Why give up Gusev and Haula and then use that money to bring in someone else? The whole trading Gusev and Haula thing doesn't add up to me which is why I still don't think it's happening. https://t.co/iIKHBFydbn