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Cody Eakin’s Return Has Sparked Third Line

Speed. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’ve been highly critical of Cody Eakin’s play while in a Golden Knights uniform. I’ve always lauded his defensive and penalty killing efforts, but offensively at times he’s felt like a Shop-Vac to the offensive games of players like Alex Tuch, Ryan Carpenter, Tomas Hyka, Brendan Leipsic, Tomas Tatar, and the many other linemates he played with a year ago.

Well, I’m here to tell you he’s been tremendous since his return from injury four games into the season, and he’s singlehandedly turned a line that was a problem into one that’s often looked dangerous and even netted the game-winning goal in Philadelphia.

Diving into stats and numbers to describe Eakin’s impact will always prove futile (unless talking about faceoffs), and if you know me, you know the word intangibles makes me want to slam my head into a wall. So, in an attempt to actually quantify what Eakin has been doing and to do that, I talked to his linemates.

He plays fast, he plays smart, he’s such a good player on the puck and with his speed and his skills, it’s a lot of fun to play with that guy. In Philly, we were getting a lot of rush chances because we were playing so fast. He always found me with these small passes. It’s easier for me to play with a guy like him who is so good defensively. -Tomas Hyka

He does everything right. With his speed and he’s just relentless with his work ethic. He’s just fast, he plays fast and he plays the way we want to. That’s the identity of our team, playing fast and with speed. Speed just creates turnovers and havoc and pressure. As the centerman of the line, he just carries the line to play that way. -Ryan Carpenter

To give a little more background, as part of my question I explained how the standard description of Eakin tends to always rely on intangibles. I then went into my question asking, “Can you give me a tangible hockey skill Eakin is good at?”

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Posts Have Hurt, But Something Else Has Been More To Blame For The Golden Knights Goal Drought

Through six games of the regular season, the Golden Knights have netted just 11 goals and have yet to score more than two in any game. No matter how you slice it, that’s a problem.

The first excuse you’ll hear is about the posts. Those complaints are legitimate as the Golden Knights are currently tied for the league lead in post hits with eight. Eight more goals would look great, however, that’s horribly unrealistic to expect because post hits happen to everyone. Last year, the Golden Knights hit 57 posts on 5,020 shot attempts. That’s about 1.13% of shot attempts that hit the pipes. In the 393 shot attempts they’ve had this year this year, the numbers say the Golden Knights should have hit the posts 4.46 times. So, we’re only talking 3.54 more goals over six games, and that’s if the pucks go in instead of off the pipes. More likely, and you’ll see why in a second, at least a few of those 3.54 shots were probably lucky to hit the post rather than sail wide.

But that’s only a tiny part of the story. The big part of the story has nothing to do with puck luck or goaltending or anything else, it’s simply that the Golden Knights are not hitting the net enough on their shots. In fact, they rank 2nd in the NHL with 92 missed shots (behind San Jose) and they lead the league in having their shots blocked with 108. That’s 200 shots they have taken that have not made it to the goalie. Last year Vegas averaged about 28 shots blocked or missed last season, this year the number is over 33.

Marchessault will be the first to admit it, he and the Golden Knights need to hit the net more. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jonathan Marchessault leads the NHL in missed shots with 14. Reilly Smith and Shea Theodore both have nine, ranking them in the top 15. Erik Haula and Max Pacioretty each have seven.

Maybe worse is the Golden Knights through percentages. A “through percentage” is the percentage of shots that are taken that actually make it to the goalie. It’s specifically important for defensemen when taking shots from the point. Last year, Nate Schmidt brought up the rear with a through percentage of 40.4% on the season. Sbisa was around 42%, Miller and McNabb at about 45%, Engelland, Merrill, and Hunt near 50%, and Shea Theodore had an excellent 55% through percentage.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS 0 (2-4-0 4 PTS)

Fairly sloppy 1st period ended without a score. Marc-Andre Fleury sprung into action in the 2nd making highlight save after highlight save including two on breakaways. Fleury continued his heroics in the 3rd keeping the Flyers off the board the entire night. Cody Eakin put in a great effort to keep the puck in the zone and then got rewarded with a perfect pass that he put into the top corner. Big win the Golden Knights really needed.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

  • Cody Eakin has energized the 3rd line in a big way.

Three Stars
*** Brian Elliott
** Marc-Andre Fleury
* Cody Eakin

SinBin.vegas Podcast #126: The Sky Is (Not) Falling

The Golden Knights have not gotten off to a good start. We discuss a range of topics including the most important, how this bad start will impact the team’s chances moving forward. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • 1-4-0 to start the season, that’s a problem.
  • The impact the schedule has had on the start
  • Power play woes
  • Steve Brown’s brilliant campaign strategy
  • Tinkering with the lineup

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

itunes                 stitcher-icon-100x100                 

Golden Knights Line Charts

Today we launched a new page on SinBin.vegas called the “Vegas Golden Knights Line Charts” page. The object of the page is to not only act reference point to show the Golden Knights lines from each game but to also display utilization rates for players and positions graphically.

The page is laid out in three sections. The easiest one to understand is the last section, the game-by-game line charts. It’s simply a list of the lineup from every game including healthy scratches and injuries.

The other two sections are a collection of pie charts to show player and line utilization rates. What they show is how often a particular player is used, what positions they’ve been used in, and which players most commonly play on which lines.

The charts and lines will update following each game and can always be found in the menu on the top SinBin.vegas on desktop computers and in the drop-down menu on mobile. Or, you can click here.

Here’s a little taste of what it looks like…

Have fun obsessing over this as much as we have and we apologize in advance to the colorblind.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (1-4-0 2 PTS)

Another road game and another similar story. The Golden Knights played well in the 1st period but did not leave the ice with the lead. Then, multiple breakdowns in the 2nd led to a Phil Kessel hat trick. The Golden Knights got one to get back within two, but couldn’t ever get closer. That’s five games and just one win for Vegas to start off the year. More alarming, they’ve only scored nine goals in the five games.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

  • Unveiling of the “Golden Knights Line Chart” page which tracks not only lineups from every game, but also line and player utilization rates.

Three Stars
*** Casey DeSmith
** Evgeni Malkin
* Phil Kessel

George McPhee Discovers New Wave Beverage At Age 60

How has he never realized this!?! The guy lives in an ice rink! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you thought you drank too much coffee, then you’ll enjoy this great anecdote from NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire. The ‘Between the Benches’ analyst joked about bumping into a fully caffeinated George McPhee at an early Vegas practice in Washington.

You know you’re supposed to go to the rink everyday and learn something new. So, I came to the rink today in Washington and I’m sitting there and it’s dark and I’m by myself. Then all of a sudden this really in shape 60-year-old man sits next to me, George McPhee. Maybe, one of the best dressed general managers in the league, and obviously one of the toughest. He was a nasty piece of business. –Pierre McGuire on TSN 690 Montréal

When an award-winning GM and a high-profile hockey personality are casually sitting together, you’d think they’d be talking about something important. You know, like VGK’s PP deficiencies or highly rated prospects like Erik Brannstrom. Nope, the two spent time together talking about what was in McPhee’s cup.

So he says to me, ‘See what I’m drinking?’ I said no what are drinking George? He goes ‘I’m drinking coffee. In all my years in the league I didn’t start drinking coffee until this year… I feel that it helps my workload.’ I’m not kidding you. I was stunned. -McGuire

Everyday jamokes like me, can’t function without a hot cup of joe, and with all of the pressure being an NHL general manager brings, McGuire was floored by McPhee’s newest (off the ice) discovery.

At sixty! At sixty he just started drinking coffee. -McGuire

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Two Golden Knights Say VGK Played Well, Two Others Completely Disagree; The Divide Is Not Ideal

There hasn’t been nearly enough of this thus far. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are now 1-3-0 in their first four games of the season. Two points in four games is not going to make anyone happy. However, there is a bit of a sense that Vegas has been playing a little better than the scores have indicated at times.

Specifically, last night in Washington, the Golden Knights created plenty of goal scoring chances and got bit by the post a few times. To me, it was a well-played game for Vegas on the road against the best team in hockey. On most nights, especially at home, that level of play will win games, even with the few mistakes that were made. One Golden Knight and the Jack Adams award winner agree.

Maybe the score wasn’t relative to the game that was shown. We had a lot of posts, maybe three or four. We had the puck a lot. I thought it was probably one of our better games so far. It’s a good sign. We are getting chances, we are getting pucks to the net. We’re going to score at some point. -Marc-Andre Fleury

I thought we played a real good game 5-on-5, we got lots of scoring chances, their goalie played real well, so I liked a lot of our game but we gave them too many odd-man rushes and too many power plays. -Gerard Gallant

However, that sentiment was not shared by everyone in the locker room.

I don’t think this was our best game. We played like a team with no identity and if we are going to try and trade chances with the Capitals we aren’t going to win. It wasn’t our best and there are some things we can tighten up and I think awareness is something we can do a much better job with. -Reilly Smith

I just think as a whole we aren’t playing our game. We are taking too many penalties. It’s a long year but we have to figure out things quick. Our goal from this road trip is to be a .500 team and when we are playing like this, that’s not going to happen. We definitely have to work some things out and find our game. -Shea Theodore

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WASHINGTON CAPITALS 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (1-3-0 2 PTS)

Vegas played a much better first two periods out-chancing the Caps. But, like has been the norm through three and a half games the scoreboard did not agree. Washington scored on the power play and then on a quick odd-man rush. Holtby stoned a number of great chances from the Golden Knights top line. Cody Eakin scored a great wraparound goal in his first game of the year. The Golden Knights fought back time and time again but just could not get the game tied. Score looks a lot worse than the game actually was.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals at CapitalOne Arena.

  • Not only are the Golden Knights disjointed on the ice, but they’ve also been disjointed in how they’re feeling about their play.

Three Stars
*** Nicklas Backstrom
** Alex Ovechkin
* Evgeny Kuznetsov

Guest Post: Keep Calm And Carry On

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are Golden Knights fans everywhere, and we love every single one of them. So, today we present you with a Guest Post from across the pond, in the United Kingdom, where Scott Mackay urges his fellow VGK fans not to go crazy over just three games.

Welcome to the NHL, quite possibly the hardest league to win in world sports.

You have to put your body through 82 regular season games to have a chance to see the playoffs and even then you have potentially another 28 games to go. It’s a rollercoaster with ups, downs, sideways and loop the loops. The Golden Knights enjoyed a fairy-tale season and the fairy-tale was rode all the way until the final hurdle. That one just wasn’t our series, it didn’t go our way.

Us Knights fans have been treated to tremendous hockey under the worst circumstances of a year ago and this team became more than a hockey team, smashing records and proving to other fan bases that we are here to stay and more importantly bringing together a community.

At the time of writing, we are 1-2-0. Believe it or not, we have 79 games to go and to see people losing it on Twitter about how much this team ‘sucks’ is really quite worrying. C’mon guys get a grip, I understand that we should have won those games but that’s professional sports, you will win some AND lose some, it’s all part of the rollercoaster. We will be absolutely awful one game and win, we will be amazing another game and lose.

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