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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Category: Team Ops (Page 1 of 67)

Welcome Seattle

**Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.**

The NHL officially grew by one Tuesday as the Emerald City joined the league as its 32nd team, effective for the 2021-22 season. The price tag? A hefty $650 million, 30 percent more than the $500 million Bill Foley paid to bring the Golden Knights into the NHL in 2016.

The Metropolitans or Totems or whatever they’re going to be called (I’m rooting for Totems, the idea of a Let’s Go Mets!” chant in a hockey arena is not what I want to hear) have a tough act to follow and they know it.

The fan base in Washington State has responded in similar fashion to Las Vegas with more than 32,000 deposits for a 17,000-seat building at the once-again refurbished KeyArena. And they’re going to demand the same kind of success the Golden Knights enjoyed in their inaugural season.

Could lightning strike twice? Sure. If Seattle’s Dave Tippett hires the right general manager and the right coach, if the team drafts well in the Expansion Draft and can pull off a few shrewd moves and have a decent amateur draft, yeah, they could have a memorable Year One.

But that’s a lot of if’s.

Frankly, I’m not so sure they can pull it off for a number of reasons.

Let’s start with the rules themselves.

If you recall, the Knights were able to select one player from each of the 30 existing NHL teams. They were also allowed to make side deals where if you didn’t take a certain player from a team, that team would trade you another player and/or a draft pick.

George McPhee skillfully exploited the rules and took a couple of teams to the cleaners, most notably Minnesota and Florida. He got Alex Tuch and Erik Haula from the Wild by agreeing not to take Matt Dumba. He got Reilly Smith from the Panthers along with Jonathan Marchessault.

Ironically, both opposing GMs, Chuck Fletcher in Minnesota and Tom Rowe in Florida, ultimately lost their jobs. (Fletcher resurfaced Monday in Philadelphia as the Flyers’ new GM.)

I’m guessing Fletcher learned his lesson in Minnesota and will be very wary about dealing with Seattle when it comes time for the Flyers to expose their unprotected list. Dale Tallon’s back in charge in Florida and assuming he’s still there two years from now, he’s not going to repeat the mistakes his predecessor made.

And that goes for the other GMs too. You’re not likely to see a lot of side deals made with Seattle. Better to just lose one player and not perpetuate a gaffe.

The exception? GMGM.

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Alex Tuch Is The Driving Force Behind Max Pacioretty’s Offensive Awakening

Without Tuch’s help, Pacioretty has yet to find the net. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Max Pacioretty has been red-hot over the past two weeks. His seven-game point streak just concluded, he’s scored eight goals, and has tallied multiple points in three of the last four Golden Knights games. Finally, Pacioretty is breaking through and displaying the skills and production that was expected of him when he was acquired for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a 2nd round pick.

However, as we do on every goal in the hockey, we need to award an assist for Pacioretty’s turn-around, and it goes to Alex Tuch. A single stat illustrates it best, so we’ll start there.

 TOIGoals ScoredGoals Allowed
67 w/ 89173:36118
67 w/o 89139:0107
89 w/o 6799:0162

The table shows how many goals were scored and how many goals were allowed, at 5-on-5, when Pacioretty and Tuch are on the ice together, and when each has been on the ice without the other. As you can see, there is a significant amount of time on ice for each of the three situations.

Max Pacioretty has not been on the ice for a single Golden Knights goal, at 5-on-5, when Alex Tuch was not also on the ice. However, Tuch has been out there for six without Pacioretty. Also, Max has allowed seven without Tuch, while Tuch has only allowed two without Pacioretty.

Of course, Cody Eakin has had a positive impact on the line as well, but not nearly as much as Tuch. It’s a small sample, but in the 15:31 Pacioretty played with Eakin and not Tuch, the Golden Knights allowed two goals and didn’t score any.

 TOIGoals ScoredGoals Allowed
67 w/ 89173:36118
67 w/o 89139:0107
89 w/o 6799:0162
67 w/ 21 w/o 8915:3102
67 w/ 89 w/ 21141:13106
67 w/o 21 w/o 89123:3105

Sometimes stats are misleading though, especially “on ice” stats that are credited simply for a player being on the ice and not necessarily involved in the play. So, I decided to go through every 5-on-5 goal scored by Pacioretty to see what impact Tuch had on the play. (You can see them all at the end of this article.)

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Pothier: Stastny Should Return To Second Line Immediately

It still may be a couple weeks, but it’s starting to look like Stastny is getting ready to return. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the promising news we uncovered yesterday about Paul Stastny, the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is the same. When he comes back, where does reigning Jack Adams award winning coach Gerard Gallant place him in the lineup when he’s ready to come back?

It’s an age-old question in sports, should a player lose his position because of an injury? Keeping in mind how well his replacement is playing, in most cases, the answer is no.

Injured center Paul Stastny was signed in the offseason to anchor a brand new second line, yet they haven’t played one shift together. Alex Tuch was to graduate to the top-six and play alongside Americans Stastny and Max Pacioretty. The three could’ve been dubbed the “Freedom” line, but unfortunately, injuries got in the way.

The Golden Knights stand at 29 points, and in the middle of the mess that is known as the Pacific Division. Since Stastny’s injury in Game 3 of the season, the team has played roughly .500 (13-12–1) hockey without him. However, the second line has been extremely effective as of late. Since bumping third line center Cody Eakin up in early November due to Erik Haula’s lower-body injury, the Eakin-Tuch-Pacioretty line has 35 points. The second line was arguably one of the biggest factors in Vegas’ late November five-game win streak.

Tough to break-up, I get it.

Eakin’s strong play brings us back to the organization’s vision for this season. He was expected to center the third line again, and make it more consistent than it was last season. That was GM George McPhee’s plan. And so was upgrading their second line center with a talented veteran like Stastny. Injuries essentially delayed the offseason remodel.

Bottom line is, Stastny is valued by this team as their second line center. They paid him as such, and made a high-risk move trading for Pacioretty to compliment his play. The connecting moves were projected to juice up team offense, and still could once Stastny is cleared to play. This was the team’s vision. They told us.

We wanted to try improve our team. That’s why we signed Paul Stastny as a free agent. Why trading for Max Pacioretty was really important for us. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant GM, on 11/19/18

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Nate’s Back, But Who Should He Play With?

Welcome back Nate! Now, save the season. No pressure bud. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nate’s back! But now he needs a partner, and finding the right option not only for Schmidt, but also for the rest of the blueline is easier said than done for the Golden Knights.

Last year eventual Jack Adams winner Gerard Gallant paired Schmidt with either Luca Sbisa or Brayden McNabb for a majority of the season. As the season went on Schmidt played most of his time on the top pair with McNabb. Now, as Schmidt is set to return the question is, should he go back with McNabb or is there a better option?

If the Schmidt/McNabb pair is indeed once again reunited, not much else will change in the lineup. Colin Miller will slide down to play with Nick Holden and Shea Theodore and Deryk Engelland will remain together.

McNabb-Schmidt
Theodore-Engelland
Holden-Miller

However, an argument can be made that Miller and McNabb have been the best and most consistent pair, and maybe they shouldn’t be split up. Thus Schmidt would have to find a new home. Since Nate plays on the right side, there are really only two options for who he can play with, Theodore or Holden.

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The Play That Beat The Ducks

The play of the game. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Unlike baseball where there’s one pitch or football where there’s one play, hockey is not a game that is often decided, or even swung, by an individual moment in a game. However, during the game against Anaheim, Tomas Nosek and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare combined to make a play that flipped the course of that game and if all goes well, could end up changing the course of the season.

It came late in a somewhat sloppily played first period. The Golden Knights had taken a penalty and appeared like they could be headed for the all too familiar fate of falling behind early. The penalty kill begins with Bellemare winning the draw,  Brayden McNabb clears the puck, and the Golden Knights stop the first entry. But then, the Ducks maintain possession for 20 more seconds before setting up a shot from the high slot. It’s wired, Bellemare courageously blocks it, he then finds it first and springs Nosek into open ice. Here, give it a watch.

 

Nosek picks up the puck and drives directly toward the goal drawing a penalty, thus killing off the current penalty and earning Vegas a power play. But it’s not just the block and the breakaway, it’s when it happened in the shift. Penalty kill shifts are meant to be as short as possible, :20-:30 is great for forwards. Once you can safely change, you are supposed to do it. The normal play there would have been to send the puck down and get off the ice, but Nosek dug deep into his gas tank, already :50 seconds into the shift, and went straight to the net. 

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McPhee On Injuries: “We Aren’t Deep Enough Yet To Not Have Everybody In”

Gerard Gallant confirmed this morning Haula is considered “month-to-month.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Injuries are a major part of hockey. Every team goes through them at various times and for various stretches of the season. For the Golden Knights, it’s come early and it’s come in the form of high-end forwards.

Alex Tuch missed the first eight games of the year and Max Pacioretty missed four games at the end of October. Both Pacioretty and Tuch have returned to the lineup, but the two guys they’ve played with on the Vegas second line haven’t been as fortunate. Paul Stastny went out in Game 3 and isn’t expected to return until late December at the earliest, and Erik Haula appears to be out for at least the balance of the calendar year.

Then there’s the suspension which has kept Nate Schmidt out for the first 20 games of the season. All in all, the Golden Knights have yet to play a game with anything resembling a full lineup, and the GM is frustrated.

I’d like to get healthy, for one game. just to see what we are. We just haven’t been. You know we rebuilt our second line and I think they’ve played two and half games together. Stastny’s been out most of the year, Pacioretty was out, Haula’s out, Tuch’s been out. We aren’t deep enough yet to not have everybody in. -George McPhee on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto

All in all, they’ve missed 39 games due to injury and 18 going on 20 due to suspension.

Nate Schmidt – 18 missed (100%)
Paul Stastny – 15 missed (83%)
Alex Tuch – 8 missed (44.%)
Deryk Engelland – 5 missed (28%)
Max Pacioretty – 4 missed (22%)
Erik Haula – 3 missed (17%)
Cody Eakin – 4 missed (22%)
Ryan Carpenter – 1 missed (6%)

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Golden Knights vs. Hurricanes: Must-Win?

Yeah, this is how we feel about the season so far too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We know this term gets thrown around WAY too much, especially when it comes to Game 14 of an 82 game season, but if the emotional leader calls tonight’s game against the Hurricanes a must-win, it must be a must-win.

It’s a big game for us. We definitely need to win. -Jonathan Marchessault

Okay, fine, he didn’t say must-win, but “definitely need to win” is close enough for me. It’s kind of unimaginable, that on November 3rd we’re talking about important games for the Golden Knights, but this is reality when a team is already four points out of a playoff spot and have their bags packed for a four-game road trip to the other side of the continent.

This is a team with expectations. We set the bar high for us. We know it’s going to be harder, but it’s nothing we can’t handle as a group. -Marchessault

It’s not just the two points that the Golden Knights want, it’s more that this team is a franchise that’s experienced nothing but winning, and they are sick of losing.

If you’re ready for a game, they better be must wins. I hope guys think this is a must win game. Not because it is, but every game is a must win. -Gerard Gallant

He said “must-win!” Well, really, he said it is, then said it isn’t, then said it is again. So… I think I like what Marchy said better.

In Florida, Marchessault and Gallant faced a slow start which ultimately costed Gallant his job. While we’re nowhere near that situation here, the bigger point is that Panther team was never able to regain a playoff spot.

This is definitely a slow start. We’re not where we want to be. Nobody is going to feel bad for us. So we got to get out of this hole, keep battling and turn our luck around. -Marchessault

Tonight is the perfect spot for #81 and his teammates to turn things around. Carolina comes in with an acceptable 6-5-2 record, but have lost three straight including an overtime tilt in Arizona last night. Carolina fell into a 3-0 hole in the 1st, only to climb back to tie it, and then lose in OT.

We’ve been told there’s a locker room full of leaders. So I’m sure it’s eating at each and every one of them to come home from their road trip empty-handed. Tonight is a game that could help the Golden Knights set themselves straight. And I’m sure that’s the message Marchessault is spreading around the room.

The Foreword

**Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.**

First of all, let me say I appreciate having a forum to continue to write about the Golden Knights and the NHL. Many thanks to Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier for giving me the opportunity to connect with the followers of SinBin.vegas. And a very special thanks to the Jimmerson Law Firm for sponsoring my column.

You will be hearing from me twice a week — on Wednesday and on Sunday. I will also be on the SinBin podcasts and will participate in other events and promotions with Ken and Jason.

Many of you are wondering what happened to me last summer. I won’t get into the exact details as to why I left the Review-Journal in early July. Let’s just say after 19 years of marriage it was time for both of us to move on.

I had pursued other opportunities, both here in Las Vegas and beyond. Ultimately, I accepted a position last month to be senior editor at GamingToday, which has been around for more than 40 years and am glad to be part of the publication’s new chapter.

Yes, GT deals with hockey, but from a betting perspective. And since I don’t bet on hockey, you won’t see my byline when it comes to wagering on the NHL or the Golden Knights. However, here at SinBin, you will get my observations on the Golden Knights and the NHL.

It will be unfiltered. It will be unbiased. It will be fair.

When the team is deserving of praise, I will be first over the boards to acknowledge it. When they are deserving of criticism, I will deal with that as well.

For those not familiar with my background, here’s the Cliffs Notes version: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York as a Rangers fan. I played roller hockey, switched to ice hockey, captained my high school team and played two years of club hockey at Manhattan College before I left to pursue my Journalism degree at San Jose State.

I have been a New York Islanders fan since their inception in 1972 and my heart belongs to the orange and blue. (No, I wasn’t devastated when John Tavares left in July, though it would have been nice to see him in a Golden Knights sweater.)

In other words, hockey has been part of me for as long as I can remember. And while you don’t have to have played the game to know the game, it doesn’t hurt to have experienced what the Knights do daily, albeit on a far lower level. I remember talking to Nate Schmidt about hockey sticks prior to last Christmas and how I used an all-wood stick throughout my career and how breaking in a pair of new skates required a lot of pain and suffering. When you’ve played, you can relate. Riding a bus. Carrying your gear. The one-of-a-kind stench that comes from sweaty equipment. You never forget.

Not once last year did a Golden Knights player, coach or executive say to me, “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” though I admittedly came close a couple of times with James Neal. And though I hadn’t played in a hockey game that counted in more than 40 years, I was proud of that. Once hockey gets in your blood, it stays there forever.

So now that you know something about me, let me explain why I decided to write a book on the Golden Knights.

Back in January as the team was having unparalleled success on the ice and in the stands playing to above capacity at T-Mobile Arena, I realized what a great story was emerging. Obviously, none of us had any idea how things would turn out, but I came to the realization that the Knights’ story could make for a great book.

I canvassed a couple of my colleagues at the paper and other media members throughout the league and they spoke with one voice — “You have to write that book.”

I had been covering the story from the start and was around the team every day. I asked owner Bill Foley what he thought and he seemed receptive to the idea. Eventually, I would ask him to do the Foreword to the book (more on that later).

My leaving the R-J allowed me time to think, to write, to review the journey of the franchise, shop for a publisher and still have it come out in time for the 2018-19 NHL season.

Normally, it would have been next to impossible to deliver. But thanks to today’s options, an author can go a nontraditional route to get published. I had sent the manuscript to booklocker.com, a company out of St. Petersburg, Florida, and it was accepted. It is a “Publish On Demand” process which means when you order the book, and I hope you will, they receive your order online, print your book and ship it to you the next day. Or if you prefer to get it quicker, there is an ebook version where with a click of a button, the file gets downloaded to your computer, tablet, Kindle, phone, etc. and you’re in business. (The link to buy it is at the end of this column)

There have been three books written on the Golden Knights. The R-J and Sun came out with theirs after the Stanley Cup Final and both are photo-driven supported by copy from stories by reporters from their respective papers. A third book was written by Joe Pane, which I have not yet read. And the Knights are planning to come out with their own book — a high-end, glossy stock book in November.

So why buy my book, “Vegas Born?”

For starters, it is the most comprehensive work on the franchise. It is 284 pages and it goes back to the very beginning when the Maloof brothers approached NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about trying to bring a team to Las Vegas and Bettman introduced them to Bill Foley.

This book also chronicles the entire inaugural season. Every game is mentioned with details and quotes from those games. It also provides insights into the players, coaches, and staff along with how the franchise and the city bonded in the aftermath of the October 1 shootings.

It’s a balanced, unbiased look at the team, written in the same fashion as when I covered the Knights at the R-J. I believe it is worth your time and money and I really think you’ll enjoy it.

I also hope you will enjoy my work in the coming weeks and months for SinBin. Ken and Jason truly love this sport, this team, and this city and I’m glad to be joining them in providing information and insight into the Golden Knights.

The Foreword that never got published

Earlier, I had mentioned that Bill Foley was going to write the Foreword to “Vegas Born.” I have known the man Ken and Jason lovingly call “The Creator” for four years and I thought the best way to start a book about the birth of a franchise was to begin with words from its “heavenly father.” (You like that one Ken?)

Due to a series of circumstances and timing issues beyond anyone’s control, the forward did not make it into the print version of the book. However, luckily, I have a new forum to share Foley’s words, and I couldn’t think of a better way to launch my column on SinBin.vegas than with an original work from the man who brought hockey to Las Vegas, Bill Foley.

Here is the Foreword to “Vegas Born” in its entirety:

When I began pursuing an NHL franchise for the City of Las Vegas in 2014, it was an uncertain journey. There was no guarantee from anyone, and it was going to entail a lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people.

Las Vegas had no major league sports franchises at the time. The city had played host to major sports events over the decades, from the National Finals Rodeo to NASCAR auto races to world championship fights in boxing and mixed martial arts. It had also hosted NHL hockey, NBA basketball and Major League Baseball. But I always believed this was a city that would support something worthwhile, especially when it came to something the people could claim to be their own. And after carefully evaluating the market over a period of time, I decided to move forward with my pursuit of bringing major league pro sports to Las Vegas.

It was going to take time, a lot of money, and even more patience, the latter of which I usually don’t have great quantities of. But as I began the process, I learned that being patient was worth more than the actual money that would be spent on the endeavor.

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Fleury’s Appearance On History Channel’s Counting Cars

Hard to tell who was more excited to meet who. (Photo Credit: History Channel’s Counting Cars)

Marc-Andre Fleury LOVES cars. He’s had Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and now he’s in the market for his first muscle car. Luckily, one of the most popular car reality shows is set in Las Vegas.

Fleury drives his Ferrari into the shop. (Photo Credit: History Chanel’s Counting Cars)

Count’s Kustoms owner Danny Koker’s show Counting Cars aired the episode featuring Fleury yesterday in which he got to see his next car. The car is a customized 1972 Chevelle Convertible.

I just thought it would look cool, so this is the perfect opportunity for me to try it. -Marc-Andre Fleury

Here’s what the car looks like when they were done with it.

500 horsepower! (Photo Credit: History Channel’s Counting Cars)

Fleury says he’s anxiously waiting to get the car as they are still “breaking it in” for him.

All we ask now is you put a big giant Cup in the back seat of her. -Danny Koker

You can see the whole episode here.

Marchessault: “It’s All On Us” – But Was It Really?

Not much went right for the Golden Knights in the opener. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

No doubt about it, last night’s 5-2 loss to Philadelphia was an ugly start to the season.

They played a good game and we played a bad game, and that’s usually a bad mix. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

It’s all on us. The D has the puck and we didn’t give options on the wall, we were far from each other, we didn’t manage the puck well at both blue lines and just bad decisions the whole game. -Jonathan Marchessault

The Golden Knights will toss it away and move on to Minnesota like they normally do. After all, even though it was the first game of the season, it’s still just one game and a lopsided loss is the same as a close loss in the standings.

But the question certainly needs to be asked, how did the Golden Knights look so bad? Was it the Flyers stellar play or mistakes the Golden Knights made, and more importantly, is this something that might continue?

We need to be ready. This was definitely not good enough of an effort. Every night there’s a good hockey team, if we’re not ready we’re going to get spanked like we just did. -Marchessault

From the winning locker room, Philadelphia believed it was a combination of both their strong execution and Vegas’ miscues.

We took advantage of what we got. It was a solid game, we did a good job of creating opportunities. -Wayne Simmonds, Flyers forward

On the Flyers first and second goals, Vegas made costly errors from their defensemen and forwards. Jon Merrill made a timing mistake in the offensive zone which led to an odd-man rush on the first one, and Oscar Lindberg made an egregious backhand dump attempt that Philly picked off and stormed to the net to score the second. Both mistakes led directly to goals.

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