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Vegas Point Streak Overshadowed by OT Losses

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the most part, fans only care about wins and losses, but they must remember an NHL season is a marathon, not a race. I know, blah, blah, blah.

Over the past five games, the Golden Knights have won just two of them. Many fans are up in arms screaming about blown leads, consistency, and scoring issues, but they should be happy with that stretch as their team earned at least one point in five straight games. Look at it as a competitive team finding a way to earn a point, even in a losing effort. Last night in Toronto was a perfect example of a well-earned point.

Somehow the Golden Knights found themselves in a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation against one of the better offensively skilled clubs in the league. With their backup goaltender in net, let’s face it the odds were stacked against them. Vegas held a team that averages 3.35 goals per game to one score in 60 minutes. Even more notable was the Golden Knights penalty killers allowed only one goal in six power play opportunities. That lone Leafs goal was scored 48 minutes into the game. The Golden Knights defensive plan, on purpose or not, worked and earned them a point.

A loss isn’t a loss in the NHL. Overtime losses are half a win, and that’s how I’m looking at the Toronto game. Same goes for Vegas’ overtime losses against Montreal and Winnipeg even though those are understandably tougher pills to swallow. Sure you can look at Vegas’ three OTL’s as late-game failures or you can see it as a step closer to a playoff berth.

This season, the Golden Knights have earned an average of 1.23 points per game. That’s a pace that would give Vegas 102 points by the end of the regular season. Remember, no team with at least 100 points has missed the playoffs. Over the past five games of “inconsistent” play, they’ve racked up seven points, which is good for 115 over an 82 game season.

Everyone, including the head coach, knows the Golden Knights have more to give, yet here they sit right in the thick of the playoff chase early in the season. Their PDO is 97.9, which is the 5th worst in the NHL. (For those new to PDO, read this.) They’ve scored seven fewer goals than the “expected goal” rates show and yet they’ve overcome it. The other teams with negative actual goal vs expected goal rates have all struggled mightily (SJS, DET, NJD, LAK). And, they have the league’s 4th worst shooting percentage at even-strength at just 6.47%. The last two years that number was 7.75% and 8.38%.

Put all of that together, and it all points to the same thing. The best has yet to come for the Golden Knights.

Of course, we can’t sit here and celebrate overtime losses for the whole season because eventually, they will have to start earning two points a night rather than one. But as long as they keep pace, an occasional OTL isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s getting them closer to the century mark.

It might sound too simple, and something you’d hear from a coach, but it’s true. Good teams find a way to earn a point. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve heard a coach say that.

Golden Knights Stats and Trends For October

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the first month of the season, the Golden Knights went (8-5-1) standing in 3rd place in the Pacific Division. Vegas finished October with 17 points and held a (+5) in goal differential. For the most part it was a good opening 31 days for Vegas but clearly they have a lot more to prove in November.

Here are some statistics I find crucial to a successful season, and some interesting trends the team built over the opening month.

Vital Statistics

Primary Assists

  1. Pacioretty: 6
  2. Karlsson, Marchessault: 5
  3. Stone: 4
  4. Theodore: 3
  5. Glass, Smith, McNabb, Carrier: 2
  6. Eakin, Stastny, Nosek, Pirri, Engelland, Holden, Schmidt: 1

First VGK Goal of the Game

  1. Stone: 4
  2. Karlsson, Statsny: 2
  3. Carrier, Theodore, Nosek, Smith, Marchessault, Holden: 1

Game Winning Goals

  1. Stastny: 2
  2. Smith, Marchessault, Carrier, Roy: 1

Power Play Goals

  1. Stastny: 4
  2. Stone: 3
  3. Pacioretty: 2
  4. Karlsson, Marchessault, Holden: 1

Shootout Goals

  1. Theodore, Marchessault: 2
  2. Pirri: 1

Points Per Game (Top 10)

  1. Stone: 1.21
  2. *Tuch, Roy: 1.00
  3. Pacioretty, Karlsson: 0.86
  4. Smith: 0.79
  5. Stastny: 0.64
  6. Marchessault: 0.57
  7. Glass, Schmidt: 0.50
  8. Theodore: 0.36
  9. Nosek, Carrier: 0.28
  10. Holden: 0.21

Power Play Points

  1. Pacioretty, Stone: 7
  2. Stastny: 6
  3. Theodore, Glass, Marchessault: 3
  4. Karlsson: 2
  5. Smith, Holden, Hague: 1

Shootout Goals

  1. Theodore, Marchessault: 2
  2. Pirri: 1

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T-Mobile Arena Aiding Golden Knights To Massive League Lead In Team Stat

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Every NHL arena has a group of five people who sit in the press box collecting “advanced” stats. They’re tracking things like time-on-ice, shots on goal, missed shots, blocks, faceoff wins and losses, hits, takeaways, giveaways, penalties, among others.

At T-Mobile Arena, they sit in the booth press box and they are constantly yelling out things like “Block by 15!” or “Hit! 28 on 44,” as they enter the information into the NHL’s proprietary data tracking system.

Because these people are humans, there tend to be discrepancies in how certain stats are judged. Though the league has strict set standards, in practice there will be differences from rink to rink. What qualifies as a hit? Who won the stalemate faceoff? Was that shot actually blocked? There are humans making these decisions, and they are doing it in a split second while the action is going on.

One of those discrepancies has seemingly aided the Golden Knights to lead the league in a stat that is one of the few which allows us to quantify defense.

The stat is takeaways, and after 11 games the Golden Knights lead the league by 30. Vegas has 121 takeaways, while the next closest is Colorado with 91. Toronto has 88, and Calgary 87. Comparing it to the bottom of the league, Buffalo brings up the rear with 40, or a difference of seven takeaways per game from Vegas.

There’s no question the Golden Knights are proficient at stealing the puck from opponents. Mark Stone is arguably the best in the league at it. Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, Shea Theodore, and Brayden McNabb are all good at it too. But, the stat really comes into focus when you compare Vegas’ takeaways at home vs on the road.

Home
vs SJS 15
vs BOS 15
vs CGY 14
vs NSH 18
vs OTT 19

Away
at SJS 9
at ARI 4
at LAK 3
at PIT 8
at PHI 6
at CHI 10

The Golden Knights average 16.2 takeaways per game on home ice. They average just 6.7 on the road. That’s nearly 10 takeaways per game difference between home and road. Something is clearly amiss.

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Territorial Dominance For Marchessault, Karlsson, And Smith

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Through six games, the Golden Knights top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith have six goals and nine assists. They’ve taken 54 shots and tallied a +5 between the three of them with each of the three averaging around 17 minutes of ice-time per night.

All of these numbers are good and well, but they don’t scream dominant. They aren’t scoring at an outrageous pace, they’ve allowed four goals while on the ice together (which is a lot for them in six games), and I’ve even heard discussions around Golden Knights media and fans asking what’s wrong with them.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that line at the moment. In fact, they’ve been so good, that you can point directly to their success as to why the second and fourth lines have been scoring so much this season.

It starts with who the Vegas top line is playing against. Last night Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith spent half their night against the Kings top line (Brown, Kopitar, and Iafallo) and the other half against LA’s second line (Toffoli, Carter, and Lizotte). In all of the previous games, literally all five of them, Vegas’ top line took more minutes against the opposing top line than any other line.

What this does is allows the Golden Knights other top line of Stone, Stastny/Glass, and Pacioretty to feast on opposition’s second and third lines. Thus far, in the four even-strength goals scored by Vegas’ “second” line, just one has come against the other team’s top line. Plus, they’ve drawn four penalties, all against non-first lines.

Even more than who they play against though is where they play against them, and how that sets up the next line. In six games, Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith have posted a 63.7% Corsi (79 shot attempts for, 45 against). They’ve created 41 scoring chances while allowing just 19 (68.3% SCF). And their expected goals for is 4.11 while expected goals against is just 1.44 (74.1% xGF).

Yet, through all of it, they’ve scored four and allowed four. That’s because their PDO is so incredibly brutal through six games. 92.4 is the Vegas PDO number with the top line on the ice, mainly due to the abysmal .833 save percentage that’s been posted with them out there.

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Results Against Boston Bruins Haven’t Been Pretty

Thank goodness Brandon is coming to the game tonight because this is the best Bruins picture we’ve got in the archives. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Through two years of games the Golden Knights have seen every team in the NHL at least four times. The Boston Bruins, tonight’s opponent, are one of the top five team’s the Golden Knights have struggled most against. They’ve tallied a 1-2-1 record, lost three straight with the only win coming almost exactly two years ago (10/15/17).

I dug into the stats a bit to try and figure out why, and there really isn’t one formula. There are a few common variables though that have popped up in the losses.

Protecting The House

This is fairly common in most NHL games, but it seems to be exaggerated for Golden Knights games against the Bruins. When the Bruins get shot attempts in tight on the goalie, Vegas struggles. Just look at the shot charts of the first four games, and try to pick out which one the Golden Knights won.

vs. Boston – 10/15/17

at Boston – 11/2/17

at Boston – 11/11/18

vs Boston – 2/20/19

Vegas won the first of these four, lost the middle two, and lost in shootout in the fourth.

As you can tell, when the Golden Knights keep the Bruins away from the front of the net, they have success. When they don’t, the Bruins feast on goals in tight. Five of the Bruins seven even-strength goals have come directly in front of the net and they’ve only scored one from outside of “the house” (and it was close).

In the only game Vegas won, the Bruins did not register a single high-danger chance at 5-on-5 the entire game. That’s 42:50 of clean hockey in front of the goalie (which was Malcolm Subban in that game).

Power Play

The Golden Knights have yet to score a single power play goal against the Bruins. Vegas is a miserable 0 for 13 against Boston with the man advantage. They’ve created plenty of chances, registering 23 shots on goal in the 13 power plays and racking up 22 scoring chances, but only six have come in a high-danger spot on the ice. Plus, in three of the four games, they came up with one or zero high-danger PP chances.

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Launch Of SinBin.vegas/William Hill VGK Historical Odds Page

Not everyone is into sports betting, we understand that, but all sports fans all should know that betting lines give some of the most accurate information as to how a game is expected to play out. If a team is a massive underdog and wins, it’s a big deal, even if you weren’t there to bet and collect the money that comes with it.

That’s why we’ve put together the “History Of Vegas Golden Knights Odds” page that will forever live on SinBin.vegas and will be updated following each and every Golden Knights game.

The page includes odds from every regular season and playoff game in team history. It also shows betting trends such as how the Golden Knights perform “as home favorites” or “on the first game of a 3+ game homestand.”

Finally, the page shows how much money a $100 bettor would have made if he/she bet on every single Golden Knights game ever.

All odds are compiled using lines from the William Hill Race and Sports Book, official sponsor of SinBin.vegas.


All historical Golden Knights odds are compiled from William Hill Race and Sports Book closing lines. The William Hill Race and Sportsbook is an official sponsor of SinBin.vegas.

**A $100 bettor is defined for the purpose of this page as a player who bets $100 on every game in which the Golden Knights are an underdog, and whatever amount it takes to win $100 if the Golden Knights are a favorite. (Ex. If VGK is -340, the bettor bets $340. If VGK is +180, the bettor bets $100.) All values in parentheses are taking into account a $100 bettor betting all games in the category.**

Regular Season Trends

$100 bettor profit/loss
All Time: 94-70 ($310)
(18-19): 43-39 (-$1370)
(17-18): 51-31 ($1680)

at Home
All-Time: 53-29 ($120)
2018-19: 24-17 (-$815)
2017-18: 29-12 ($935)

on Road
All-Time: 41-41 ($190)
2018-19: 19-22 (-$555)
2017-18: 22-19 ($745)

as Home Favorite
All-Time: 43-27 (-$825)
2018-19: 23-15 (-$695)
2017-18: 20-12 (-$130)

as Home Underdog
All-Time: 7-0 ($865)
2018-19: 0-0 ($0)
2017-18: 7-0 ($865)

as Road Favorite
All-Time: 19-13 ($385)
2018-19: 14-10 ($260)
2017-18: 5-3 ($125)

See the rest of the page, including historical odds from every Golden Knights game here!

Is William Carrier Worth More To Another NHL Team?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before William Carrier was a Golden Knight, he was up and down with the Buffalo Sabres and the AHL’s Rochester Americans. When he did get the call, Carrier would skate with some of the Sabres’ elite. In 2016-17, Carrier had 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 41 games. Two of those goals were assisted by 2019 Conn Smyth winner Ryan O’Reilly. The 24-year-old also shared the ice with league star Jack Eichel for a number of games.

William Carrier has impressed many with his offensive zone awareness, elusiveness, and contribution in his own end this year with the Sabres as well as the Amerks. Carrier notched his first NHL goal on a tip-in past… Marc-André Fleury. Carrier has been put on the Sabres top line and counted on as being the gritty playmaker for Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo.-Max Marko, Dobbers Prospects 2016

Since his arrival in Vegas, Carrier has been fast, aggressive, and a handful on the ice for opponents. But he’s never been anywhere near the first line, spending every game in a Golden Knights uniform playing on a fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Tomas Nosek, and Ryan Reaves. Which made TSN’s Travis Yost ask if Carrier would play a bigger role on another organization. One that wasn’t as deep.

Where do you differentiate between players who are abject drags on performance versus players who might be uniquely challenged playing on otherwise stacked teams?- Travis Yost, TSN.com

Yost’s results show VGK’s goal differential was -0.8 per 60 minutes TOI for Carrier. It essentially theorizes for every 60 minutes combined Carrier plays (equal to about nine games), the Golden Knights allow almost a goal more than they score at even strength. As we’ve watched, those numbers don’t meet what the eye test says about Carrier. He’s not scoring a lot of goals, but he and his fourth line are certainly killing the Golden Knights every time they are out there as these numbers suggest.

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The Golden Knights Must Reduce Fleury’s Workload

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

TSN’s Travis Yost wrote an article this week that suggests more and more NHL teams are using a two goaltender system. Franchises are searching for steady backups to win some games while giving their starters a chance to recharge.

Behaviourally, we’ve seen teams start to shift some of the minutes onto their second goaltender. Last season, the average NHL team used their No. 1 goalie in about 60 percent of the total minutes: down almost 10 percent from where it was a decade or so ago. -Travis Yost, TSN

Last season goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury started 74% of regular-season games for the Golden Knights. He played 3635 minutes, also 74%. Fleury registered the fourth-most minutes in the league and was tied for the fifth-most starts.

Minutes

Carey Price – 3880
Devan Dubnyk – 3855
Connor Hellebuyck – 3704
Marc-Andre Fleury – 3635
Jacob Markstrom – 3599

Starts

Devan Dubnyk – 66
Carey Price – 64
Connor Hellebuyck – 62
Martin Jones – 62
Marc-Andre Fleury – 61
Sergei Bobrovsky – 61
Frederik Anderson – 60
Jacob Markstrom – 60

Yost found that goaltenders ten years ago were starting 8% more games on average. However, in 2019 Fleury was still in the crease more than the average goaltender in 2009. As most clubs were trending towards more rest for their starters, the Golden Knights relied heavily on their trusty ole backstop.

The position has changed. Teams are still on the hunt for superstar goaltenders, but teams are also becoming increasingly conscious about workload, burnout rates and the heightened risk of injuries for their primary puck stoppers. Add that to an increased understanding that goaltenders struggle when playing in back-to-back situations – the NHL schedule still sees a dozen or more of these per team each year – and you have a real incentive for strategic rest.-Yost, TSN

The question going forward is how will Vegas handle Fleury’s workload in 2019-20?

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New Rule Could Affect Golden Knights Challenge Strategy

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Following the disaster that was the officiating in the 2019 playoffs, the NHL has expanded their challenge system to include a third category beyond goalie interference and offside.

Coach’s Challenge of goal calls on the ice that follow plays in the Offensive Zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage, but did not. This change will allow Challenges of plays that may involve pucks that hit the spectator netting, pucks that are high-sticked to a teammate in the offensive zone, pucks that have gone out of play but are subsequently touched in the offensive zone and hand passes that precede without a play stoppage and ultimately conclude in the scoring of a goal. -NHL Public Relations

The addition of the new challenge also changed the rules on the penalty for incorrect challenges. Previously, a failed goalie interference challenge would result in the loss of a timeout and a failed offside challenge would result in a 2-minute delay of game penalty.

Now, all three challenges are subject to the minor penalty if they are unsuccessful. Thus, timeouts now return to being just timeouts, and teams are never ineligible to challenge a play. However, the penalty gets stiffer with multiple failed challenges.

Teams will be permitted to exercise a Coach’s Challenge at any time, but with escalating “consequences” for unsuccessful Challenges. The consequences of unsuccessful Coach’s Challenges will be made consistent across all three Categories of Coach’s Challenges: (1) minor penalty for Delaying the Game on a Club’s first unsuccessful Coach’s Challenge; and (2) double minor penalty for Delaying the Game for each additional Coach’s Challenge that is unsuccessful. -NHL Public Relations

That brings us to the Golden Knights, who do not exactly have a sterling record challenging goals.

Gerard Gallant has initiated 24 goalie interference challenges as head coach of the Golden Knights. He’s been successful in just three. He went 2 for 13 last year and 1 for 11 in 2017-18.

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How Important Were Faceoffs To The 2018-19 Golden Knights?

The importance of winning the faceoff battle has been a three-year reoccurring argument here at SinBin.vegas. In my opinion, it’s all about possession. When a center wins a draw his team has immediate control and should safely get the puck out of their zone. Or create an offensive push towards the opponent’s direction. Whoever wins the possession battle, should dictate the game.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Faceoffs are probably one of the most underrated stats in this league. If you can start off with the puck, your much better off. And you’ll have better scoring chances. – Nate Schmidt

On the other side of the discussion is Europa Ken.

He’s not concerned with a lost draw if Vegas’ forecheck, shooting percentage, and rebound control are positively effective. For the most I agree, but remember a forechecking attack begins with the puck, and there’s a good chance it was possessed by a winning faceoff.

2018-19 Golden Knights Faceoff Percentage Breakdown

  • Record when winning 51% or more Faceoffs: (20-11-2)
  • Record when losing 51% or more Faceoffs: (14-16-3)
  • Record when Faceoff % is 50/50: (9-5-2)

While it’s clear the Golden Knights have a better record when they win more faceoffs, the formula isn’t as simple as you’d think. At first glance the numbers support my argument, but looking deeper, the higher the FO% didn’t guarantee a Vegas victory. In five separate games, Golden Knights’ centers won 60% or more from the dot. Their record was (1-4). Even furthering the madness, Vegas was (2-2) in games they lost more than 60% of draws.

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