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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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35: The Golden Knights Magic Number

The Golden Knights returned from a perfect two-game road trip, keeping their winning streak alive at four games. Overall, they’re 4-1-0 in December. Although three of the four games were decided in overtime, Vegas has come away with eight points out of a possible 10, including two impressive wins in Nashville and Dallas.

Hockey is so simple sometimes. Just shoot it 35 times. Boom. Winner. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One reason could be the rising shot totals the Golden Knights are launching. During their four-game win streak, the team has 39 shots on goal or more in every game. To start the stretch, Vegas slapped, snapped and wristed 45 SOG on Arizona. Next game, Anaheim’s John Gibson faced 43 VGK shots in a losing effort. On the road, Vegas tallied 39 SOG per game against both Dallas and Nashville. These four are a part of the just seven times the Golden Knights have 39+ SOG this season. But when they do shoot 39+ times, they win.

Game 2 @ Arizona: 42 SOG (VGK wins 2-1 OT)
Game 19 vs LA: 40 SOG (VGK wins 4-2)
Game 20 @ Anaheim: 49 SOG (VGK wins 4-2)
Game 26 vs Arizona: 45 SOG (VGK wins 3-2 OT)
Game 27 vs Anaheim: 43 SOG (VGK wins 4-3 OT)
Game 28 @ Nashville: 39 SOG (VGK wins 4-3 OT)
Game 29 @ Dallas: 39 SOG (VGK wins 5-3)

To further the point of how important shot totals are for the Golden Knights, check this out. In every single one of Vegas’ ten losses, they’ve recorded less than 35 shots.

Game 4 vs Detroit: 27 SOG (VGK loses 6-3)
Game 10 @ NYI: 34 SOG (VGK loses 6-3)
Game 11 @ NYR: 34 SOG (VGK loses 6-4)
Game 12 @ Boston: 29 SOG (VGK loses 2-1)
Game 14 @ Toronto: 28 SOG (VGK loses 4-3 SO)
Game 15 @ Montreal: 31 SOG (VGK loses 3-2)
Game 17 @ Edmonton: 24 SOG (VGK loses 8-2)
Game 23 vs. Dallas: 34 SOG (VGK loses 3-0)
Game 24 @ Minnesota: 31 SOG (VGK loses 4-2)
Game 25 @ Winnipeg: 31 SOG (VGK loses 7-4)

When breaking down just shots on goal, common sense says the more shots, the better chance of winning. However, statistically, that’s not always the case. For example, Montreal, Florida, and Edmonton are all in the top ten for total team shots (VGK is 13), and none of them sit in a playoff position in their conference. The Florida Panthers are 2-6-2 when getting 39 or more SOG.

Through 29 games, there has been a direct correlation between SOG and W/L for the Golden Knights. In two worst games of the year (by score differential), at Edmonton and home against Detroit, Vegas fired just 24 and 27 shots.

If they want to continue to win consistently, they’ll need to keep the shot numbers consistently above 35. That or just keep bringing the dads along.

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY (G) ACTIVATED FROM IR; MAXIME LAGACE (G) SENT TO AHL

The transaction signals that Fleury is scheduled to start the Golden Knights next game, home against Carolina.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 (19-9-1 39 PTS) DALLAS STARS 3

2nd period magic returns as the Golden Knights jump out to a 4-2 lead using a three goal 2nd. Dallas was able to get the next goal, but a late empty-netter by Erik Haula seals the deal for the Golden Knights. That’s four wins in a row and an incredible road trip to Nashville and Dallas.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

  • 35 shots = Win for the Golden Knights
  • 12 road games with a backup goalie, don’t underestimate that.

Three Stars
*** Jason Spezza
** Reilly Smith
* David Perron

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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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 (18-9-1 37 PTS) NASHVILLE PREDATORS 3 – SO (1-0)

Golden Knights jump out early with a goal in the 1st and the first in the 2nd but surrender the next three to go down 3-2. With Subban out of the net, Vegas had chance after chance after chance, but couldn’t get one to go. Finally on a great pass from Colin Miller, Erik Haula tied the game inside the final minute. No score in OT led to an incredible shootout in which Malcolm Subban saved six for six. It’s three straight wins for the Golden Knights and a huge road win to start the two-game “Dad’s Trip.”

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights at Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

  • Let’s talk about using Subban when Fleury comes back.

Three Stars
*** Reilly Smith
** Nick Bonino
* Victor Arvidsson

DAVID PERRON (F) ACTIVATED FROM IR; EXPECTED TO PLAY AGAINST NASHVILLE

After missing the previous six games with an upper-body injury, one of the Golden Knights best wingers returns to the lineup tonight. David Perron will slot back into the lineup with Erik Haula and James Neal and he’ll play on of the of the two Golden Knights power play units.

The Golden Knights did not need to make a corresponding move as William Carrier was placed on IR the same day as Perron and Vegas only recalled one player, Stefan Matteau.

Vegas Paved The Way For Seattle

Well that didn’t take long. Not only is The Creator no longer the newest owner in the NHL, he may not even own the newest team soon enough.

Absent of some really cataclysmic thing that happens with the rink, or the owners, or some extraneous thing we’re not aware of, the 32nd team in the league will be Seattle. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Vancouver

Now that the cat is out of the bag, let’s bring up the obvious. The Golden Knights early success helped speed up the Seattle process for the NHL.

Vegas is a wonderful sales pitch. -Darren Dreger, TSN 1050 Toronto

Of course it is. The Golden Knights have 35 points after 27 games, and they’re 11-2-0 at home. Potential owners in Seattle are salivating with the early return happening in Las Vegas. Future NHL owner Jerry Bruckheimer (who tried multiple times to put a team in Vegas) hasn’t been this excited since he read the script for Con Air.

It feels like (NHL) are almost tripping over themselves to get to the door to make the next move. There’s an excitement to Seattle. They’ve long coveted this market. -Ray Ferraro, TSN Vancouver

The NHL favored Southern Nevada over Quebec City because of its uniqueness and financial security. Las Vegas has its strong tourism industry, and Seattle has its strong tech industry. In the eyes of the league, the demographics of each city make for lucrative NHL markets.

The league forever, even before Vegas was an idea… even if the league will never admit this, I can tell you, the league has always been intrigued with Seattle. -Pierre LeBrun, TSN Ottawa

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‘Tis The Season: Time To Enjoy Family, Friends, And… Playoff Probabilities?

Remember when this sign was kind of a joke? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are currently sitting comfortably in second place in a lackluster Pacific Division. Sure, Anaheim Coach Randy Carlyle thinks some of it could be luck, but a 9-1-0 divisional record is more than a few friendly bounces. Outside of the Pacific, Vegas is 8-8-1 which makes the Golden Knights divisional record that more important.

Arizona is the only team out of the race, but the rest of the Pacific considers themselves in contention, which could create a dogfight for 3-4 open postseason spots, San Jose, Anaheim, Calgary, and Edmonton are all unhappy with their records but they’re far from giving up. Especially when they’re looking up at Vancouver and some expansion team.

HockeyReference.com’s group of hockey prophets continue to predict the postseason future of the league. HR’s Playoff Probability Report runs 1,000 simulations and spits out the results.

Playoff Probability %

Los Angeles 93.9%
Vegas 80.9%
San Jose 62.6%
Vancouver 54.1%
Calgary 30.8%
Anaheim 24.1%
Edmonton 9.9%
Arizona 0.2%

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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.

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