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Category: Personnel (Page 1 of 13)

Maxime Lagace Saved The Golden Knights Season

Often times Brian Blessing of Vegas Hockey Hotline fame rings my phone in what eventually becomes a 45+ minute conversation about various Golden Knights related topics. Normally it’s just complaints over the saltiness of the press box peanuts or disagreements over intermission entertainment (don’t care what he says, this video is glorious), but last night he brought up a point so good it needed to be fully researched and shared.

See that in his glove? It’s the Golden Knights season. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury has been activated off IR which caused the Golden Knights to send backup to the backup to the backup goalie Maxime Lagace back to the AHL. Lagace has started 13 of the Golden Knights 29 games. The team’s record in those games is 6-6-1. More importantly, Maxime Lagace has started 11 of the Golden Knights 16 road games. The team is 4-6-1 in those games.

Let me remind you, Maxime Lagace is the Golden Knights fourth goalie, he has played in all but five of the Golden Knights road games, and the team’s away record is 8-7-1 and their overall record is 19-9-1.

Was Max Lagace great for the Golden Knights? No he was not. But what he definitely was not either, was terrible… like he probably should have been. Normally when a team loses their starting goalie they try and tread water until he returns. When a team loses their second goalie they are just hoping to win a game here and there. We don’t even know what happens when teams lose their third goalie because it hasn’t happened in decades.

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How To Split The Starts With Fleury And Subban

After the Expansion Draft most believed the Golden Knights best position was goalie. The combination of Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard would be able to keep Vegas in most games, even when they were being badly outplayed.

At least that’s what we thought.

Now a rash of injuries, a roster move, and 28 games into the season, the Golden Knights are back in a similar position of strength between the pipes, but in a much different situation. Since being claimed off waivers from the Boston Bruins, Malcolm Subban has done nothing but impress in the net. He’s 7-2-0 as a starter with a save percentage of .924. Subban is also 2-0 in shootout and has saved all nine attempts he’s faced.

Don’t worry, I’m not advocating for benching Fleury. Trading him though… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Meanwhile, Fleury appears to be within days of his return and it’s long been considered that it’s his goal when he gets back. The question needs to be asked though, should it be?

There’s no question Fleury is the better goalie at this point in his career. He has three Stanley Cups, 375 career wins, 44 shutouts, and was pretty darn good before the injury (3-1, .925 SV%). But he’s also 33-years-old, coming off what we believe to be his third concussion.

There’s also a future to consider. Fleury’s cap hit is $5.75 million per year for the next two before he becomes a free agent. Subban, on the other hand, is 23-years old, flourishing in his first extended opportunity at the NHL level, and still has two years left on his entry-level contract ($650,000 AAV).

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Marc-Andre Fleury Returns To Full Practice

Remember this guy? He’s getting really close. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We are now just one step away from Marc-Andre Fleury making his return to the ice after missing nearly two months with a concussion.

It was great being back on the ice with my teammates for a full practice today. I am hopeful that I can join the team for game action soon. We have been playing well and I am looking forward to getting back and doing what I can to help the team win. -Fleury

Fleury cleared his neurological exams last week and today he made his return to the ice as a full participant in the team’s final practice before heading to Nashville and Dallas.

The guys are excited to see him out there in a full practice. It’s good to see him out there for his sake. He’s been out a long time and to get back out with the boys, there’s nothing better than that. I know it’s one step at a time but it’s good to get him back out with the group so he’s happy. -Gerard Gallant

Fleury is traveling with the team as the Golden Knights are taking their “Dad’s Trip,” but he is not expected to be activated off the IR for either game.

Following this road trip the Golden Knights return home for a five-game homestand. We likely won’t get any word on the exact date he’ll be back in the net, but there’s no doubt that December 14th game against his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, looks like the target.

Theodore Getting Increased Role On Power Play

Step aside Nate, I’ve got this. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After a season starting stint in the AHL followed by a bit of a rocky start with the Golden Knights, Shea Theodore is starting to look like the player we’ve expected to see. With it has come increased time on ice overall, but specifically a much larger role in the power play.

The Golden Knights deploy two different power play units, one with three forwards and a defenseman, the other with four forwards and just one defenseman. Nate Schmidt has been that single defenseman for months, but with Theodore, Vegas now has another (more?) capable defenseman to lead the power play rush.

I feel like our shots generated and our momentum coming from a power play has been good. -Shea Theodore

Theodore’s quick adjustment must make coach Gerard Gallant feel like he’s walking in socks and sandals all the time.

It really doesn’t matter. It more depends on what hand guys are shooting. As far as comfortability of moving the puck and how much time you have. -Theodore

Wednesday in Anaheim, Theodore played 20:44 of total time on ice. He played two minutes on the power play and two minutes on the penalty kill. The more telling number was TOI leader Nate Schmidt’s zero PP shifts. Which carried over from the Kings game when #88 only played 0:17 seconds of PP time. There’s a trend happening and it’s based all on trust. Gallant is finally able to use another player to lead the PP, and relieve his defensive workhorse. Having Theodore lead the PP allows Schmidt to continue his shutdown skills and keep his minutes under 25 minutes a game.

A lot of the times the d-men back there, we’re not picking up points but we’re behind a lot of the plays when it comes to breaking out the puck. We’re really coming into our own game, and trying to contribute to this offense. -Theodore

Theodore is starting to play like a veteran and talks like one too. If the team continues to play well, Gallant will be able to develop players and win games. I’m sure the head coach is thinking to himself, go ahead George trade away the team, my young guys will get us to the promise land.

Shea-H-L No More

Shea Theodore, a man who makes growing a mustache look hard. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s safe to say the next time Shea Theodore is in Chicago it’ll be to play against the Blackhawks. Well, okay fine, with this club you can never say never, but we are pretty sure this time. The young defenseman is thrilled to be up with Vegas for good, and is working hard to adjust from the Shea-H-L to the NHL.

It’s all about instincts and what instincts I have, when to join the rush, where my shift is at. Usually if your late in your shift you’re not going to want to join the rush. Once I get more confident and start playing those minutes and build the confidence with the coaching staff that’s when I’m at my best. -Shea Theodore

Coach Gerard Gallant and his staff haven’t asked Theodore to change his style of play. They’re encouraging him to to push the puck offensively and allow him to follow his instincts. Which is why Gallant smartly paired Theodore with veteran defenseman Deryk Engelland.

I thought it was great. I thought we communicated well all night. We’re a pretty good pair out there, I thought it showed in the game. We had a lot of defensive zone breakups, that we were able to move the puck and join the rush. -Theodore

Theodore agreed that Engelland compliments his play on the ice.

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In-Depth Scouting Reports, Another Hidden Benefit Of An Expansion Team

Who knows how to stop this McDavid guy? Anybody? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We spent months going over all the roadblocks that stand in the way of a brand new team entering an established league and going through an expansion draft. Then the season began and we started to see the other side of the coin. Being a new team has plenty of benefits, from being unknown to the rest of the league, to increased opportunity, to what may be the most important, lack of pressure.

Nate Schmidt unveiled a new hidden benefit to us during a quick media scrum. It’s one that will seem obvious after you read this, but nonetheless, it’s a clear benefit that most teams do not have.

There are certain guys that we see up and down the lineup that maybe half the guys on our team who have played in the Western Conference didn’t know, you only play them once or twice a year. So we are able to say (for example), Oscar (Lindberg), look at player A on line 2 (of the New York Rangers), tell me a little about him, and bam we’ve instantly got a scouting report. -Nate Schmidt

The Golden Knights are now 10-5-1 and have been in every single game thus far this season.

That’s the beauty of it, it happens every game. You never really have a lineup where you don’t know anybody on the other team because we’ve got guys everywhere. -Schmidt

It’s obviously stronger when there’s a player who was actually on the roster a year ago, but Schmidt’s point goes beyond that. Vegas has guys who have spent their whole career in the Western Conference, they have guys who have spent long periods in the Eastern Conference as well. Digging deeper, the Golden Knights actually have a tenured player from every single division in the NHL, so as Schmidt says, there shouldn’t ever be a night where they are caught off guard.

The history of expansion teams (basically the fact that they all sucked) led most experts, and us, to focus on the challenges that lied ahead for the Golden Knights in their first season, but this team and their success has now opened our eyes to quite a few things on the other side of the fence.

The Golden Knights appear to be an anomaly, but the way these guys talk about the unintended benefits that come with being the NHL’s newest team, they’ve got me wondering, why the hell did other the other expansion teams stink? Being an expansion team should be easy.

It’s really not, but it sure has been for the Golden Knights, and there’s really no reason to think that’s going to change any time soon.

Closing The Book On The Story That Was Vadim Shipachyov

We have to use a bunch of pictures in this post…(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On May 4th, 2017 the Vegas Golden Knights signed the 2nd player in franchise history and their first on a one-way NHL contract. Seven months later that very same player retired from world’s best league after playing in three regular season games, totaling less than 32 minutes on the ice, and scoring only a single goal.

Just like that, the Vadim Shipachyov era in Las Vegas, and the NHL, is over.

He was a player many believed would be the most talented offensive player on the Golden Knights roster this season. A player that was supposed to be a top six forward, a power play wizard, and was even expected at the time he was signed to chip in on the penalty kill.

As it turned out, he was none of that.

He just wanted to go home. -George McPhee

Because this is the last time…(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the end, the Golden Knights lose virtually nothing in the deal.

So case closed. Poka Shippy. (It means goodbye in Russian… I think). Time to shift the focus back to what’s important, the players who are still here in Las Vegas, and a team that’s 9-5-1, gearing up for a home game against the Winnipeg Jets. Right?

Nah. It’s not that simple. You can’t be THAT wrong about someone and simply write it off as “he’s a good guy and it just didn’t work out for us and for him here.” That doesn’t work for me. This whole situation isn’t about what was lost, and I’m certainly not buying McPhee’s “good news.”

The good news is the contract is off the books and a roster spot was opened up. -McPhee

That’s not why Vadim Shipachyov was brought over from the KHL to the NHL. It was to use him as an asset to help the Golden Knights become better in the future.

One of the greatest expenses you will ever have in your life is opportunity cost. Warren Buffet

We’ll probably ever get…(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That’s right, I just dropped a Warren Buffet quote in an article about a whiny Russian hockey player. When you come down from the shock of realizing that the guy who runs a website that can’t even get a .com actually paid enough attention in macroeconomics class to understand the principle of opportunity cost, chew on that quote for a second, cause that’s what’s really lost in the whole Shipachyov story.

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#88 In Your Program, #1 In Your Defensive Pairings

I don’t know how to put this, but… I’m kind of a big deal. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are many storylines this season, but one in particular is overlooked only because of his steady play. Golden Knights like Colin Miller, William Karlsson, William Carrier and others are on pace for career seasons. Heck, even Tomas Nosek has already doubled his career total in goals. Statistical career-paces are nice, but Nate Schmidt transforming into a trusted, top-pairing defenseman is the bigger story.

Heading into this season, Schmidt was stuck on bottom-pair for the Washington Capitals, which is why he was available to the Golden Knights. His scouting report highlighted his strong skating and puck moving ability. Something Vegas fans now get to watch 23 minutes a game.

2017 Averages: 29 Shifts, 22:31 ATOI
2016 Averages: 17 Shifts, 15:29 ATOI
2015 Averages: 22 Shifts, 18:04 ATOI
2014 Averages: 16 Shifts, 13:53 ATOI

I openly admit, I’m a sucker for shift statistics and time on ice. TOI numbers indicate the trust a coach will have in an individual player. After 15 games in the books, it’s clear Gerard Gallant heavily relies on Schmidt’s consistency. Due to his usage increase, #88 has turned into a top defenseman for the Golden Knights. Here are Schmidt’s game logs for this season.

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Marc-Andre Fleury Returns To The Ice At City National Arena

It’s been almost a month (October 13th) since Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury took a knee to the face which sent him to the IR with a concussion.

Today, he returned to the ice at the Golden Knights practice facility.

(Stick tap to Michael Mevorah for sharing the pictures.)

Previously, Gerard Gallant said that it would be “4 to 5 days” after Fleury returned to the ice that he would be ready to play in a game.

Couple this news with a tweet claiming Dylan Ferguson is expected to return for the Kamloops Blazers games on Friday and Saturday, and it looks promising that Fleury will come off IR soon, maybe as soon as for Friday night’s game vs. the Winnipeg Jets.

The Golden Knights return to the ice for a full practice tomorrow and with a press conference with Gallant following.

Stay tuned for more info over the next few days, but it certainly looks like Fleury is getting close.

Let Shea Play

For the Golden Knights there’s a constant delicate balance between trying to do what you can to win now while still keeping an eye on the future to fulfill The Creator’s dreams of “Playoffs by three, Cup by six.”

Sometimes, however, there are situations that serve both purposes simultaneously. That’s the case for Shea Theodore, who has now been with the team for six games, yet only played in three of them.

Put Leave me in coach, I’m as good as Brad. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Theodore is widely considered the Golden Knights most talented defenseman, but that’s not to say he’s a finished product in the NHL. His ability to get shots through from the point, his skating, and his puck moving are all massive upside traits for the 22-year-old, but he does have some trouble deep in his own end, he’s not quite physical enough at times, and he tends to make risky plays that lead to odd-man rushes.

This being said, Theodore is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces moving forward for the Golden Knights. Yet, he’s only dressed for three of the six games since being recalled to the Golden Knights, has played just 45 total minutes in the three games, and saw his power play time (where he’s at his best) disappear in his most recent appearance.

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