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Category: Personnel (Page 1 of 16)

Alex Tuch Was Once Ranked 12th In The World At Video Game NHL

Hopefully one day he’ll be 12th in the world in the actual NHL too. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may be hard to believe, but there was a time not too long ago when Alex Tuch was a better virtual hockey player than he was a real one. It was a time when Tuch was leading the Boston College Eagles to the Frozen Four having been drafted 18th overall two years prior.

The time was 2016, when Alex Tuch, along with two fellow NHL prospects, ranked among the best players at EA Sports NHL 16.

Me and a few buddies in college, we were 12th in the world in online play. -Alex Tuch

Those buddies are Thatcher Demko, 36th overall pick in 2016 by Vancouver and starting goalie for the Utica Comets, and Austin Cangelosi, undrafted free agent currently in the New Jersey Devils system. They were two of the six top scorers and the starting goalie for one of the best NCAA hockey teams in the country, and they were even better on XBox.

Either one of us played or two of us played together. We worked our rank up and had about 400 games played. We would play when we had down time or didn’t have games. -Tuch

He doesn’t, however, attribute much of his video game success to his success on the real ice saying the video game doesn’t really teach much about the actual game. That being said, he did take at least one thing away from the hundreds of hours dominating nerds through the TV.

I had a breakaway in the game that I actually used last year. Backhand, forehand, backhand, it always worked in NHL (the video game) so I used it in a game. -Tuch

It’s what college kids do, play hockey, go to class, and play video games. -Tuch

And if you are Alex Tuch, you kick ass at all three. Well, at least two. I have no idea how he did in class, but frankly, who really cares when he’s putting up 30 points in his rookie season… in the real NHL.

Golden Knights Injury Updates; James Neal, Reilly Smith, Malcolm Subban, Luca Sbisa, William Carrier, Oscar Lindberg

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

James Neal
Injury: Hand/Wrist
Injured on February 26th vs. Kings

Neal has missed 10 of the last 11 games. He played in the Kings game on the road where he left after falling behind the goal, seemingly on the same hand that was injured last year in the playoffs.

He did not travel with the team on the recent five-game road trip, but was seen skating many of the days while the team was away. Neal participated in the most recent morning skate wearing a red no-contact jersey.

James is doing real good. He’s skating today. He’s not playing tonight but we’ll see him in the near future. -Gerard Gallant

Reilly Smith
Injury: Wrist/Shoulder
Injured on March 6th vs. Blue Jackets

Smith left the game after a hit in the 2nd period in Columbus. He remained on the road trip for a short time following the injury before returning to Vegas.

He has not participated in a practice since the injury but was seen putting on skates and pads to take the ice for an individual practice today.

A source indicated to that the team initially feared Smith had broken a bone in his hand that could have ended his season, but an MRI confirmed otherwise. The same source put the timeline at about two weeks from the injury following the news of no broken bones.

He is not playing tonight. Day to day. Getting better. -Gallant

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Cody Eakin Is An Excellent 3rd Line Center

Send all Cody Eakin Fan Club membership applications to (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s not many of us out there, but the Cody Eakin apologists are accepting more members after his spectacular two goal night. We’ve heard it all season long, Eakin makes too many mistakes, at times he’s out of position, and he can’t finish offensively. It’s what a lot of bottom line players hear from fans. Being a third-line center is a thankless job. Which is why fans need to realize they have a pretty good one in Eakin.

Eakin leads the Golden Knights with a 52.5% faceoff win percentage (150 faceoff minimum) and 424 faceoff wins. He’s tied for third with 51 takeaways, and is 12th on the team with 24 giveaways. While 23 points might not seem much to fans, Eakin is close to his career average. He’s creating .35 points per game, and his career average is .39 PPG.

When you compare Eakin to other playoff team third-line centers, you realize just how effective he really is. (I used NBC’s to help determine true third-line centers.)

Points for third-line centers

TB- Tyler Johnson 47
ANA- Adam Henrique 41
PIT- Derek Brassard 40
WPG- Bryan Little 37
SJS- Tomas Hertl 35
TOR- Tyler Bozak 33
WAS- Lars Eller 32
PHI- Valtteri Filppula 30
MIN- Charlie Coyle 28
DAL- Radek Faksa 27
VGK- Cody Eakin 23
NAS- Nick Bonino 21
COL- JT Compher 20
CBJ- Mark Letestu 20
NJD- Pavel Zacha 19
BOS- Sean Kuraly 11
LAK- Torrey Mitchell 10

Eakin is right in the juicy middle with 23 points. Johnson, Henrique, and Brassard are on teams with really strong depth down the middle. They’re not third-line centers on any other team, which makes Eakin’s 23 points better than average.

Faceoff win % for third-line centers

WPG- Little 56.7 %
NAS- Bonino 53.8%
TOR- Bozak 53%
VGK- Eakin 52.5%
MIN- Coyle 52.4%

One of Eakin’s best attributes is his work on the faceoff dot. He is one of the leaders in FO% amongst depth centers. If that isn’t impressive enough, Eakin leads all comparable third-line centers with 51 takeaways.

Coaches set their lineups based on more than just the score sheet. All Star head coach Gerard Gallant plays Eakin almost 15 minutes per game expecting the center to perform his role. Winning face offs, killing penalties, pressuring defenses and occasionally scoring is Eakin’s gameday assignment. Which is why he’s a lock to be in the lineup every night. Gallant trusts and believes in his third-line center.

And it paid off in Detroit.

Reaves, Gallant Mentioned In NHLPA Player’s Poll

3rd!?! C’mon NHL. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Once a year the NHL Player’s Association conducts a poll in which they ask multiple questions to current NHL players. Questions asked ranged from fastest current skater to best defenseman of all time.

Two Golden Knights were mentioned in the poll including one of the largest vote totals of any category. That distinction went to new Golden Knight, Ryan Reaves, in the category of “toughest player.”

The other Golden Knight was All Star head coach Gerard Gallant.

Gallant received 31 votes from the 267 players who voted in the poll.

Slightly surprisingly, maybe depending on when the poll was conducted (between preseason and January), T-Mobile Arena was not listed in the results for best arena, best ice, or best fans.

To see the rest of the results, click here.

Where To Play Tomas Tatar When Everyone’s Healthy

Since being acquired from the Detroit Red Wings, Tomas Tatar has played in four games. He has one goal, seven shots on goal, a -5 rating, and an average ice time of 15:36. The team is 1-3-0 in those four games.

Now, before we go killing the new guy, let’s start by pointing out that he’s played on four different lines, all with significantly different characteristics. Tatar has played with Hyka and Eakin, Perron and Haula, Tuch and Eakin, and Carpenter and Eakin. To this point, none of them have been a match, but of course, we are judging each on a single game.

The fact of the matter is that Tomas Tatar is not coming out of the lineup anytime. He’s far too talented on the power play, way too fast, and has too much skill to be taken out of the lineup in favor of a Tomas Hyka, Oscar Lindberg or William Carrier.

So, much like we did with Alex Tuch back in November, this is an exercise in finding Tatar the right linemates to help him thrive, and in turn, create a third scoring line heading into the playoffs.

The initial plan when Tatar was brought in was for him to slot into the Leipsic/Lindberg/Hyka third line wing slot. The main question though is whether or not he will fit with Tuch. In just a short time together, Tuch and Tatar have not been a match. Their Corsi For % is just 35%, they’ve allowed eight shots on goal while just creating one, and have yet to create much by way of scoring chances. In fact, for a majority of the game in which they played together, they were hemmed in their own end.

James Neal: Third Line Winger? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If Tuch and Tatar are not a fit together, that means one of them must make their way onto the Haula/Perron/Neal line. In James Neal’s absence, Tuch has quietly become a force on the second line. He was moved up when Neal went out in the first Kings game, and it took a little while for them to gel. But when it did, they’ve become a versatile offensive line that has put up big advanced stat numbers since. Against Columbus, that line outshot the Blue Jackets 15-3 and accounted for the Golden Knights only goal.

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News And Notes From VGK vs CBJ

These two weren’t playing together, but they both played well. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Bounce Back for D

  • Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland played a big role shutting down the Devils young, quick forwards.
    • McNabb TOI – 24:55, 11 Hits, 11 Defensive Zone Starts, -1 Rating
    • Engelland TOI – 24:27, 3 Hits, 10 Defensive Zone Starts, +1 Rating, 1 Goal
  • Golden Knights allowed less than 10 “High Danger” scoring chances for the first time in their last six games.

Ending the Losing Streak

The victory ended the Golden Knights three-game skid. Along with eight other teams, Vegas hasn’t dropped four straight games this season. All eight teams are playoff contenders.

Minnesota: (1) 3 game losing streak
Nashville: (1) 3 game losing streak
Tampa: (1) 3 game losing streak
Winnipeg: (1) 3 game losing streak
Washington: (2) 3 game losing streaks
Dallas: (3) 3 game losing streaks
Pittsburgh: (3) 3 game losing streaks
Vegas: (3) 3 game losing streaks

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Erik Karlsson And Bobby Ryan React To Possibility Of Being Traded To Vegas

“Our owner bought us a ping pong table. Yours wouldn’t even pay for an Uber ride.” -Probably Luca Sbisa

There were nothing but smiles in the visiting locker room last night at T-Mobile Arena. The Ottawa Senators battled for 60 minutes to beat the Golden Knights 5-4. The victory pushed the Senators to 22 wins and 52 points with just 19 games to play. That is, in a single word, bad. Which is probably why the Sens front office listened to any and all offers at the trade deadline. Including one from Vegas GM George McPhee, who inquired about their Norris winning defenseman.

That’s part of the business. I really didn’t know what really transpired or happened behind the scene. (The Golden Knights) were obviously one of the teams that was thrown out there a lot. They’re a good team and they were pushing for it, so nothing unexpected. -Erik Karlsson, OTT Captain

Karlsson was responding to a question I asked about his reaction when he heard about the Vegas chatter. The superstar Swede went on to discuss why free agents would seriously consider playing in Las Vegas.

It’s a great city and they have a great team. Their general manager McPhee, is a really good general manager and he’s been around for a long time. I think he’s going to build a good team, not only for now but the future as well. It’s definitely an attractive city. -Karlsson

Also rumored to be part of the Karlsson swap was Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan. Senators GM Pierre Dorion was attempting to unload Ryan’s $7.5M per season contract to whomever desired Karlsson. Possibly the reason why a deal with the Golden Knights fell through. I asked Ryan about his trade deadline anxiety.

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Tatar Move Serves Now And Later

Insurance for the future, and help for now? That’s the perfect package for McPhee. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

By now fans have to believe in George McPhee’s vision. He’s presented a first-place team, a projected Jack Adams winning coach, and an aggressive front office mentality. While the sensational headlines were all about Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, the Vegas GM worked on an important last-minute insurance deal.

Newly acquired winger Tomas Tatar wasn’t a replacement for not landing Karlsson. Instead, McPhee traded for a player who could help win now and later. Later being the key.

Tatar comes in, that all but solidifies that James Neal is not coming back. -Nick Kypreos, Sportsnet

McPhee was in a real win-win situation. He elected to make three deadline deals but could’ve easily stood pat.

We were very aggressive. We were buyers at this deadline. We had many discussions with many teams over the past three weeks and explored a lot of things but as we decried today we are very happy with what we accomplished and how we improved. -McPhee

In my eyes, McPhee’s stock rose even higher after the Tatar deal and the Karlsson rumors. I’m not saying his efforts weren’t genuine but you couldn’t have pitched a better marketing plan.

The Ottawa Senators will tell you ‘no they were not close to a deal.’ Whatever offer was on the table from the Vegas Golden Knights … was not sufficient and wasn’t close to what Ottawa would consider acceptable doing a deal. -Bob McKenzie, TSN

Some analysts were puzzled when they heard McPhee had given up three draft picks to receive Tatar. However, when you calculate age, production and term, a player like Tatar was more valuable to the organization, especially when the team is facing tough decisions this summer.

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May Not Agree With The Moves, But Have To Trust The Golden Knights

When you ask anyone with a hockey brain why the Golden Knights have been so good this year, the word “balance” will inevitably come up. Balance insinuates that all four lines and all three pairings have played a major role to the success Vegas has experienced to this point.

This team has done a lot of winning, but they’re going to have to do a lot more to prove George McPhee right. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That success has come to the tune of 86 points in 61 games, an 11 point lead in the Pacific Division, and a season-long tussle with the Lightning for the best record in the entire NHL. The Golden Knights are the best team in the Pacific Division, and if they aren’t the best in the league, they are right up there among them.

You can point towards George McPhee and front office building the team, All Star coach Gerard Gallant for pulling the right strings to get them to mesh together, and/or the players for taking that chip on their shoulder and coming together to become a force in the NHL quickly. But no matter which way you point, you’re pointing to a winner.

So when the deadline rolled around, it was reasonable to think the Golden Knights would stand pat with their first place roster and focus on the next game at hand (I learned that statement from Turk). Then, they didn’t.

I don’t think that we need to do anything really, but if there are opportunities to make the club a little bit better – one percent, two percent, three percent – you do it if it’s not going to affect chemistry and if you’re not going to take anything out of the lineup. -George McPhee

Wait, I thought Reaves was supposed to be the fighter? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights acquired Ryan Reaves, a 6’1″ 225 pound mammoth of a man most known for his toughness, grit, and physical presence on the ice. McPhee craftily gave up nothing but The Creator’s money to make this happen. Then McPhee went out and added Tomas Tatar, a consistent 20+ goal scorer from the Detroit Red Wings for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pick.

In theory, the team got better, but it’s the last part of McPhee’s statement that brings up a legitimate concern.

Tatar and Reaves are going to play. That means players like Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, William Carrier, Tomas Hyka, Oscar Lindberg or others will be forced out of the lineup.

We’re obviously very confident with our group but it’s up to George (McPhee) to do what he wants. Obviously, I think that everyone’s aware of the chemistry that can be changed if you add too many guys or the wrong piece. You’ve seen it with teams in the previous years. Last year they added (Martin) Hanzal in Minnesota and we (St. Louis) knocked them out in the first round. A guy like Haula, who I thought was playing really well on the third line, he gets bumped down to the fourth line, it changes his role. You understand teams trying to get better but in my opinion, you’ve got to make sure the guys who got you there have to be the guys that keep driving the bus. -David Perron

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Quotes From McPhee, Gallant, And Players On The Trade Deadline

Hopefully Tatar and Haula can move past the hit that caused this tussle. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We went into the deadline wanting to improve our team and we did that. We had surplus picks and a lot of cap space and we used them to do these deals. We still have surplus picks and surplus cap space. -George McPhee

We’ve known (they are all in for us) for a long time. They kind of gave us a game plan of what the next three years look like for the organization, but things change quickly. For us, no one thought we were going to be anywhere near where we are right now. You’ve got to adapt so the people upstairs they are the brains behind everything, they are the ones pulling the strings. As players, we know that we have something good going and we are going to keep challenging. -Luca Sbisa

We’ve believed in them all year long. They’ve played very very well so far. We wanted to keep them together to see what they could accomplish. If we could help them, we wanted to, and we believe we did that, and we didn’t take anything out of our lineup to do that. -McPhee

We’re pretty tight. We started from scratch and the chemistry worked right away. It’ll be fine. It’s just one guy. Everyone will take him in and I’m sure it’ll be fine. -Marc-Andre Fleury

(Tatar)’s a real quality person. We did our homework on that and we did our homework on Ryan Reaves. Tatar is very excited to be here, so there will be no chemistry issues, in fact I think it enhances our locker room. -McPhee

(Tatar)’s a younger player, he’s only 27. He’s quick, he’s competitive, and he can score. -McPhee

We just want him to fit in with our group. He’s a character guy, he’s a veteran guy and he can help our team win. I think you guys know from day one that I try to play four lines as much as I can. If they are playing well everybody’s going to play, so obviously if he’s playing he’s going to play more than four minutes. -Gallant

Especially since I’ve been the guy that’s gotten pushed out the last couple years, it’s difficult at first, it’s hard to see the big picture of what can happen. As we saw last year a lot of things happened for me and I ended up getting to play when guys hurt, so you need that kind of depth. -Nate Schmidt

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