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Category: Game Analysis (Page 2 of 4)

Only Similarity In Golden Knights Wins Are Differences

How should we win today boys? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After nine wins including three on the road, six at home, and against a wide variety of teams, I set out to find a pattern. What is the Golden Knights recipe for success? Instead, what I found, there isn’t one, and that’s a good news for Vegas.

Close games, blowouts, high scoring, low scoring, up late, down late, good team, bad team, you name it, Vegas has done it. We even dug deeper to total goals scored, game start times, game length, and even referee/linesmen pairings, and it all showed absolutely nothing.

The truth is the Golden Knights are winning by all forms and styles. They’ve won scoring seven and they’ve also won scoring two goals. VGK has won scoring first, and won scoring last. What I really found out, nine wins adds up to nine different stories.

Wins – @DAL, @ARI, vs ARI, vs BOS, vs BUF, vs STL, vs CHI,  vs COL, @OTT

Wins when scoring 5 or more goals: vs ARI (5), vs BUF (5), vs COL (7), @ OTT (5)

Wins when scoring 3 or fewer goals: @DAL (2), vs ARI (2), vs BOS (3), vs STL (3)

Wins by day of the week: Saturday (3), Tuesday (3), Friday (2), Sunday (1)

Game start times (PST): 11A, 3P, 4P, 5P, 6P, 7P(3), 730P

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Too Much Tinkering?

Gerard Gallant is a huge proponent of the “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. He’s proven it with his lineups over the course of the first 12 games of the season. Following the Golden Knights eight wins, Gallant has made a total of five changes to his line up. Three of the five were made to insert injured players back into the lineup.

Following the Golden Knights eight wins, Gallant has made a total of five changes to his lineup. Following the four losses, 12 changes were made.

Every time the Golden Knights have dropped a game, there has been at least one change to the lineup. One has to ask though if this is too much. Throughout the course of the first 12 games, only the “fourth” line and the Sbisa/Schmidt pairing has remained the same every game. It should come as no surprise that those five players have had some of the most consistent starts to the year.

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What Did Gallant See That We Didn’t?

Let’s first start off with a very important disclaimer. I am not a coach, and I’m not qualified to be a coach, and I probably never will be. Gerard Gallant, on the other hand, is a coach, and was a player, has done it for a long time, so his opinion should probably hold a bit more weight than mine.

I think the guys really battled, against a good, strong Boston team. It was a bounce here and a bounce there that was the difference in the hockey game. I thought it was a real good hockey game that we didn’t get points out of but we probably could’ve. -Gerard Gallant

Maybe we just prefer the higher scoring games? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Gallant seemed pleased with the Golden Knights performance, regardless of the outcome. The Vegas coach liked his club’s effort, especially following two awful finishes in New York. However, Thursday’s “promising” play resulted in a third consecutive Golden Knights defeat. Which leads to my dilemma. Gallant thinks his team played well enough to win, I disagree.

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not calling out effort, instead, I’m calling out strategy, and maybe even skill. The Golden Knights looked like a team struggling to get anything going which hasn’t been common for this team. They skated for long stretches without shots or pressure on Bruin’s goaltender Tuukka Rask. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Jonathan Marchessault, and Alex Tuch were the only forwards to register a 1st period shot. In the middle frame, the Golden Knights turned the puck over four times in a matter of three minutes. Two such giveaways were on a man-advantage situation. And the 3rd period it just never really felt like Vegas’ goal would come because of a lack of chances, and sure enough, it didn’t.

Gallant was noticeably frustrated after Tuesday’s loss to New York. He even went on to call Vegas an expansion team. After Thursday’s 2-1 loss in Boston the head coach had a much more positive message.

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Honest And Angry; A New Side Of Gerard Gallant After Back To Back Losses

“We pissed away points that we should’ve got.” (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A few weeks back, Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant answered my question about Marc-Andre Fleury in a peculiar way.

I can’t tell you the truth all of the time. That’s the way it works, to be honest with you. -Gerard Gallant (October 15th)

Well, that changed after Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the New York Rangers. We got the brutally honest Gallant.

That’s two nights in a row that we pissed away points that we should’ve got. And tonight was a bad one. -Gallant

For the first time in his brief Golden Knights history, Gallant spoke like a ticked off coach on a two-game losing streak. Not an e-word coach content with a hot start. After two consecutive blown leads, a frustrated Gallant spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

We got too many veterans to be learning. We’re a good team, and we’re a better team than that. We’re not a real expansion team, we’re a good hockey team. We play a lot better than that. -Gallant

He wasn’t pointing fingers directly at anyone, but if you are David Perron listening to the coach’s postgame comments, it probably felt like there was a finger pointed right at him. Every time Gallant said penalty, he was talking about Perron. But Gallant wasn’t letting anyone on his team get away with their MSG collapse. Especially, after Monday’s Barclays Center collapse.

We made excuses last night (Monday) and again tonight we sit back defensively and they took it to us. We didn’t respond the right way and sat back instead of trying to attack like we did all game… That’s all on us. We lost the game. -Gallant

To be honest, I like honest Gallant. We’ve never seen this side of the Golden Knights coach. I thought it would take a lot longer before we saw him this furious. In his mind, he’s coaching a playoff contending team, not a first-year organization. Fans against the tank should be thrilled to read Gallant’s comments. Apparently, he’ll never accept pissing away points for better draft odds no matter how badly his GM may want it to happen at some point this year.

The “Vegas Flu” Might Just Be Real

I’m Tyson Barrie, and I might have the Vegas Flu. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Visitors from across the world hop on Nevada bound planes every day to be distracted from their boring lives, but it’s not just bachelorettes and chumps like myself. Professionals and conventioneers flood the Strip as well, but for them, Vegas is supposed to be a place for business, not pleasure. We all know full well though, it’s never strictly a business trip when board meetings are held in luxury casinos.

There’s a lot to distract you here in Vegas as I’m looking out the window now. -Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues GM

Most Many Las Vegas visits are hidden under the guise of a business trip. Why would we assume NHL teams will treat it any differently?

It is a business trip for us. I’m sure the guys will go out for dinner and walk around a little bit. But it’s a 3 p.m.  game tomorrow afternoon and this is a top team in the league right now and playing real well at home with an extremely strong work ethic. So we got to be ready to go tomorrow, there’s no question. -Jared Bednar, Colorado Avalanche Head Coach

After the improbable Golden Knights 6-1 start, it’s fair to ask; are visiting teams really catching the Vegas Flu? Here’s an excerpt from last week’s Chicago Tribune. The columnist suggests the Strip influenza has helped the Golden Knights win total.

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Golden Knights Believe Winning At Home Has A Lot To Do With The Crowd

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

You guys watched the game tonight, look at the fans, they are awesome. It’s going to turn into like last year’s playoffs in Nashville, those fans were crazy and we have the potential to be just as good if not better. -Alex Tuch

High praise, but for a team that’s now 6-1 in a building they’ve called home for less than three weeks, it’s probably warranted.

Home-ice advantage isn’t something every team in the NHL has. In fact, every year about six to 10 teams have a losing record at home. With the Golden Knights spending most of their time at their posh new practice facility in Summerlin, it was almost to be expected that it would take a bit of time for things to feel like home at T-Mobile Arena. Throw in the masses of fans who were coming from Detroit, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Chicago and a case could have been made that the Golden Knights would never have felt at home. Through one homestand, that couldn’t be further from the case.

Obviously, we have a great supporting cast here and every night’s been great, the atmosphere is great. The fans are very supportive, and yeah it helps it’s kind of that extra man on the ice. -Erik Haula

When you score a goal and the crowd jumps in or if you get scored on and the crowd tries to pick you back up with a “Go Knights Go” chant, it helps a lot. -Tuch

It might be the “Vegas Flu” opposing teams are catching (we’ve got an article coming on that too) but even if that’s the case, Golden Knights fans have made an impact on their new team, and the team has responded.

Everything about the energy from the crowd, from the way we’ve been responding to that energy too. -David Perron

I hear a lot of cheering. It’s nonstop. The atmosphere is like a playoff game. I was fortunate enough to be the assistant coach in Montreal for a couple of years when we were in the playoffs. Every game here seems like a playoff game. The atmosphere is unbelievable for our team. -Gerard Gallant

There were a lot of reasons many believe Vegas would be good at home, but not many of them involved a rabid hockey-crazed fan base that can’t get enough. Las Vegas has that, and pretty much every person reading this has been a part of it. Pat yourself on the backs people, part of this start is because of you.

Gallant Not Concerned About 3 PM Start; Actually Thinks Players Will Prefer It

Wait, what time is it again? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Happy Nevada Day! No better way to celebrate this joyous occasion like playing a hockey game at 3 PM and throwing off any rhythm the 7-1 Golden Knights have gotten themselves into over the past six games of this homestand. Am I right!?!

There’s no question it’s a concern for the Golden Knights who are getting set to wrap up the final game of what’s been an historic and in many ways unbelievable start to the season. However, head coach Gerard Gallant doesn’t see it as a potential disadvantage for his players, in fact, he sees just the opposite.

They’ve played them before, everybody’s played some games at 2 o’clock, 1 o’clock. I think guys like them because they don’t have to come for a morning skate. They stay home, they get prepared and they come to the rink. As a former player, I enjoyed playing those afternoon games, and I think most of the guys do. -Gerard Gallant

It’s an interesting point, and in fact, I found myself with a bit more time to have a life this morning due to the lack of morning skate. So I certainly understand the point, however, change is always a concern, especially for a team as hot as the Golden Knights.

3 PM start, white jerseys/gloves, and likely a minor change to the pregame ceremonies could certainly lend to a bit of a different atmosphere in the rink this afternoon. Thus far, nothing has seemed to get in the way of the Golden Knights, so it’s safe to assume this won’t either, but hey what’s the point of if we don’t freak you out about something before it ever happens.

3 Moments = 1 Win For The Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Hockey games are 60 minutes long, we all know this because coaches, players, and management tell us in every answer no matter the question. However, sometimes there are tiny moments inside of games that stand out amongst the rest of the game, and the winners of those moments, win the game.

Hey everyone, look how good we are! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That was the case last night at T-Mobile Arena when the Golden Knights upset one of the NHL’s best, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Moment #1 (17:27 left in the 1st Period – VGK 0 CHI 1): The Blackhawks took a 2-minute tripping penalty 3:01 into the first period. 32 seconds later, a spill at the blue line by Nate Schmidt sent the Blackhawks a break and they scored a shorthanded goal. 3:33 into the game, the best team the Golden Knights have faced all season had just flipped the script on a power play and were in position to take control of the hockey game, much to the delight of about 70% of the crowd. Heck, I even tweeted this…

But the Golden Knights still had nearly 90 seconds on that power play, one that instantly became “Moment #1” of the game. They didn’t necessarily need to score, but they had to rescue the game over the next five minutes to keep the belief (especially of the goalie making his first career start) that they could still win. 21 seconds later, a shot from the point by Colin Miller gets tipped by William Karlsson, and the game was tied. There was a collective deep breath from the entire team. The game was back even, and the inevitable spiral appeared to be put back on delay.

Moment #2 (2:00 left in the 2nd Period – VGK 2 CHI 1): Brayden McNabb had just laid a monster hit on Nick Schmaltz. (Here’s the hit.) Weenie Ryan Hartman got mad and violently slashed McNabb and then grabbed him by the neck because he touched a Blackhawk too hard. That earned Weenie Hartman four minutes in the box, and the Golden Knights had a great opportunity to take a 3-1 lead late in the 2nd.

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Chicago Blackhawks Quotes On Red Hot Golden Knights

Wait, aren’t expansion teams supposed to stink? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Most felt St. Louis and Chicago would be a good litmus test for the Golden Knights, and let’s be honest, plenty of us thought Vegas would lose both games. Even the most optimistic Golden Knights fan couldn’t have envisioned a pair of wins, but now the test is over, and the Golden Knights proved us all wrong. A pair of wins while limiting two of the best offenses to four goals, in 124 minutes of play. Not too shabby.

It’s still too early to make predictions, but based on the first eight games, the team currently constructed can (and probably should) contend for a playoff spot all year. Potential future roster moves could derail the postseason, but for now, this team is playing better than anyone in the NHL, and that’s not an exaggeration. The Chicago Blackhawks left the T-Mobile ice defeated, but impressed by the new franchise.

Good team, very hard working. You know obviously they are excited so and they are playing almost playoff like hockey. They have guys coming down, blocking shots, playing with energy and playing off of their crowd quite a bit. –Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks forward

Toews describes the style of play Gerard Gallant has pushed since training camp. The Golden Knights are exciting, hard-working, energetic, and despite how corny and cliche we think it is when Turk says it, fun.

I give them credit. They had a lot of structure in their game. Not a lot of time, not a lot of space. They might have been quicker in certain areas. I thought we were in a great spot, killing that four minute the penalty, but they scored the big goal and it took the momentum away from us. -Joel Quenneville, Chicago Head Coach

The word ‘structure’ must tickle Gallant with pride. It’s a huge compliment when a future Hall of Fame coach calls a three and half week-old team structured. In one word, Quenneville is suggesting the Golden Knights have bought into the system.

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Luca Sbisa: Superstar Shadow

The antidote. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s common in the NFL. Dez Bryant vs. Josh Norman, Julio Jones vs. Patrick Peterson, or Larry Fitzgerald vs. Richard Sherman. Top wide receiver vs. shut down cornerback.

Often times in the NHL teams have their defensive stalwarts, but not always are they asked to do what top cornerbacks in the NFL are expected to do. Here in Vegas, the Golden Knights have that, his name is Luca Sbisa, but we can’t go with the football term, so we’re dubbing him the “superstar shadow.”

Coach was pretty much saying every time he’s on the ice you’ve got to be out there. Wherever he lines up on the draw, make sure you are next to him. -Luca Sbisa

That was what Sbisa had to say about Vladamir Tarasenko, but he’s been doing it for a few games now. Look at his TOI numbers against the opposition’s scoring superstar the last three games.

OpponentTotal TOIPlayer ShadowedTOI vs. Shadow
St. Louis18:48Vladamir Tarasenko12:46
Buffalo21:00Evander Kane15:43
Boston19:07Brad Marchand13:33

That’s one of his roles. He plays against the top lines a lot and against the top players. That’s a role that he likes and he’s done a pretty good job of it. -Gerard Gallant

At even strength against those three top players, while Sbisa is on the ice, the Golden Knights have allowed just one goal in three games. Think about that for a second. 25 minutes and 51 seconds against Vladimir Tarasenko, Evander Kane, and Brad Marchand, and Luca Sbisa has held them to ONE even strength goal. That, is a recipe for success.

Next up is Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks. Normally this should give the Golden Knights nightmares, but with Luca Sbisa: Superstar Shadow on our side, Gerard Gallant and VGK fans can rest easy and start dreaming of a 7-1 start.

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