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Cody Eakin Talks About What He Went Through Following The Major That Wasn’t

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It took nearly two full days, but finally, it was time.

Moments before heading into his final meeting with the media, Gerard Gallant spoke to Cody Eakin for the first time following the penalty that changed the series against the San Jose Sharks.

We left him alone. To be totally honest with you, I talked to him five minutes ago in the lunchroom and I said, ‘Cody’ and he said ‘Turk, I’m fine.’ -Gallant

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Eakin was given a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct, therefore ending the night for him, and eventually sinking the Golden Knights season. The NHL has since admitted the call was incorrect by informing, separately, George McPhee and The Creator via phone. They’ve pulled the referees who made the call from the playoffs, ending their seasons as well, and the process of changing the rules on how a penalty like that will be handled in the future are already underway.

He said ‘I know I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m fine.’ He said ‘I can move on and go from that.’ So, you know, you felt bad for Cody but he’s fine and he’s ready to go. And again, nobody is blaming Cody Eakin, obviously. -Gallant

And while no one is blaming Eakin, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to live through what can only be described as one of the worst nightmares the sport of hockey has ever dolled out to an individual player.

Actually when they called me out of the box I thought, okay they reviewed it and realized it wasn’t a penalty and I was going back to the bench, but they said no you are gone.

They said get off the ice and that’s pretty much all that was said. There were no arguments or disagreements because really at the time I wasn’t quite sure what happened. I saw him on the ice but I know I didn’t cross-check him in the face or make him bleed personally. It was just accidental, so when he was on the ice bleeding I was kinda shocked I said what the heck just happened. -Eakin

That was pretty much the response of everyone on the in the arena, including the officials. What the heck just happened?

The only thing everyone knew was the San Jose Sharks Captain was laying on the ice, out cold, bleeding from the head and his only participation in the play was a face-off. He must have been seriously injured by Eakin, it’s the only thing that makes sense with this outcome, or at least that’s what the referees thought.

Everyone now knows that’s not what happened. But the referees went off script, didn’t follow the protocol laid out in the NHL Rulebook, made up a penalty they thought must have happened. It changed a series, the future of two franchises, and the night (and probably life) of Cody Eakin.

So I went right to the room where the extra guys were watching it. I watched the replay and figured out pretty quickly exactly what happened. I watched it about 20 times and then went to the locker room, sat there, and watched the rest of the game. -Eakin

What happened was a standard cross-check following a faceoff, which happens on just about every faceoff in the NHL. The result caused a player to lose his balance and incidental contact with Paul Stastny caused Joe Pavelski to fall dangerously onto the ice and hit his head. It’s not a major penalty, it’s probably not even a minor, it’s more so an unfortunate play in an intense Game 7 that is taking place on a surface made of ice, which at times can be slippery.

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Locker Room Clean-Out Day Highlights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the final media availability of the season nearly every Golden Knights player spoke to the media. We also had extended press conferences with The Creator, George McPhee, and Gerard Gallant.

Of course, there will probably be 50 stories on this site based off many of the comments on this day, but we wanted to share some of the highlights from the day.

(If you would like to listen to every second of the nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes of locker room interviews that we participated in, go here or to our podcast feed.)

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Game 7 Mentality For Game 6 Reality

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Although it’s not an elimination game for Vegas, many players are mentally preparing as if tonight’s contest is a series-deciding Game 7.

We’ve got to play like it’s our last one.-Cody Eakin

Yesterday, several Golden Knights expressed having a Game 7 mindset. Jonathan Marchessault has been a part of every clinching game in franchise history. The forward knows how crucial it is advancing in less than seven games. Something Vegas never faced during last season’s Cup chase.

This has to be the biggest game of the series. We need to close it out. It’s hard to do but we need to want it more than them. -Jonathan Marchessault

Golden Knights veteran Max Pacioretty has played in a handful of deep series over his eleven-year career. His focus for tonight’s game is the same as if it were an elimination game.

There’s really no excuse when you come home and you have a day off, and then a practice day the next day. No matter what, you should feel one hundred percent. You get a day off you really need to use it to your advantage. Sure, both teams have it but at the same time we feel that being at home in front of our crowd… we’ve found ways to get them to be the difference maker in home games. -Max Pacioretty

Eakin is only concerned about winning because he’s aware of the edge San Jose would gain if they were to force a Game 7.

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Aren’t You Glad Cody Eakin Stayed In Vegas?

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

The Golden Knights are currently holding voting for their Seventh Player Award which goes to the player who exceeded expectations.

Fans can go online to the team’s website and cast their vote for one of four finalists.

Considering some of those who will be voting wanted him gone before the season began, can there be a better choice than Cody Eakin?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The 27-year-old center from Winnipeg is having the best season of his NHL career. Going into tonight’s game against Colorado in Denver, Eakin has 20 goals, 18 assists, and 38 points playing primarily on the third line for Gerard Gallant. He is a superb penalty killer, arguably Vegas’ best faceoff man and is extremely responsible in his own end of the ice. He is the quintessential “200-foot player” Gallant always talks about.

Eakin is one of four nominees, along with defenseman Jon Merrill, and forwards Ryan Reaves and Brandon Pirri. I can make a strong case for Merrill too as he was another Knight that many thought didn’t deserve to wear the steel grey and black sweater. But Merrill is also having a career year and has had a terrific second half of the season on the VGK blue line after struggling early in the season when he was getting more ice time while Nate Schmidt served his 20-game suspension.

Reaves has also performed admirably. He leads the NHL in hits and has nine goals, the most of his career. You can certainly make a case for Reaves.

Pirri got called up, was hot early but has tailed off the last month or so.

The popularity contest the team is running aside, Eakin has not only been one of the most improved players on the Golden Knights, you can make a case he has been the team’s Most Valuable Player, though it would be hard not to look at Marc-Andre Fleury as the MVP given what he has done this season.

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Gallant Happy With Third Line; “Want Them To Keep Doing What They Are Doing”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the buzz around the Golden Knights is almost squarely focused on the third line. It’s a line with only one stable piece, the center, Cody Eakin, and filled with imperfect wingers such as Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, Tomas Nosek, Ryan Carpenter, and Oscar Lindberg.

Most, including all three who write on this website, believe for the Golden Knights to reach the top of the mountain, something needs to change with that line. Whether it’s an addition from within, a piece added at the deadline, or reinforcements from the current top six, here at SinBin.vegas, we see the third line as the primary weakness for the Golden Knights.

The head coach, who happens to be the reigning Jack Adams award winner, does not agree.

I want them to keep doing what they are doing. People make a big deal of it that supposedly they don’t score enough. I don’t. We’ve got guys who can put the puck in the back of the net. Those guys have to come out and play their roles. I love a lot about our hockey team, I’m not too concerned at all. -Gerard Gallant

Gallant, speaking on the VGK Insider Show with Frank Harnish and Ryan The Hockey Guy on Fox Sports 98.9 FM, says he thinks his team is just fine offensively, even with the third line as currently constructed.

Well you know what, I think people overreact a little bit saying ‘oh this line needs to be better’ or ‘you’ve got to make that line better.’

I’m not worried about scoring. I know we’ve got the scoring in there. I’m worried about team chemistry and making sure we’ve got the right players playing at the right time. -Gallant

In fact, he went on to make an even bolder statement, declaring this year’s team as good as last year’s.

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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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The Second Line That Saved Christmas

It took a little while to get going, but Alex Tuch, Max Pacioretty, and Cody Eakin are on fire now. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the holiday season began, Vegas Golden Knights fans didn’t have much to be thankful for, or so it seemed.

On Halloween, things were starting to get scary. Vegas was 5-6-1, with only 11 points and five spots out of the playoffs. Early season trends were beginning to look like the worst could come true. Remember the panic on November 1st?

NHL teams four or more points out of a playoff spot by 11/01, have roughly an 18% chance of making the postseason. Since 2005-06, 47 of 58 teams that were 4+ points out of the postseason spot by November 1st, missed the playoffs. That’s a whopping 82% of teams that their fate was determined by the beginning of November. –SinBin.vegas article on 11/05/18

And then came the East Coast trip that brutalized the Golden Knights. Vegas lost three of four on the road and came back home in seventh place in the division. Ken was losing his mind, many fans were on board with him, and legitimate concern was starting to creep in that maybe this team just isn’t that good.

Things looked bleak. Up until the second line began to warm up.

November 14: Vegas 5-0 vs Anaheim

  • Second line w/ 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists)
  • Eakin: Even-strength goal, Shorthanded goal
  • Tuch scores 1st Period Game-winning PP goal
  • Pacioretty assists Tuch’s GWG

November 18: Vegas 6-3 at Edmonton

  • Second line w/ 3 points (2 goals, 1 Assist)
  • Eakin scored shorthanded goal
  • Pacioretty with second period Go-ahead goal
  • Tuch assists Pacioretty’s Go-ahead goal

November 19: Vegas 3-2 @ Arizona

  • Second line w/ 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
  • Pacioretty scored 2nd Period Go-ahead goal, and OT winner
  • Tuch and Eakin assist Pacioretty’s Go-ahead goal

November 23: Vegas 2-0 vs. Calgary

  • Second line w/ 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)
  • Tuch scored 1st Period Game-wining goal
  • Eakin and Pacioretty assist on Tuch’s GWG

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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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Cody Eakin Should Take PK Minutes From Reilly Smith In The Playoffs

Look around, you won’t find a harsher critic of Cody Eakin’s play since he’s joined the Golden Knights than me, but since Reilly Smith has been out with the wrist injury, Eakin has proven his value to a playoff team in a huge way on the penalty kill.

We always knew #21 was good on the PK, but he’s been on another level for a little while now. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights are fully healthy, they use six penalty killers, but like the forward lines and defensive pairings, they are not used equally. Since early in the year, All Star head coach Gerard Gallant has relied upon a pair Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek and another pair of Reilly Smith and William Karlsson to handle most of the load. Cody Eakin has consistently been the next man up to fill in for any of those four who are missing or to play with someone like Ryan Carpenter, Oscar Lindberg, or Erik Haula to round out the six.

In the absence of Smith, Eakin has been tremendous killing penalties with William Karlsson. Last night alone he sprung Karlsson for a shorthanded goal and earlier in the game he took on two defensemen and nearly scored shorthanded himself. There are countless other examples over the past three weeks as well. Simply put, Cody Eakin has looked like the best player on the ice when Vegas is down a man for nearly a month now.

As we head towards the playoffs, I’m suggesting Gallant utilizes Eakin as his top penalty killer with Karlsson or Smith, instead of moving him down the ranks and putting even more responsibility on two of the Golden Knights’ most important offensive weapons, 19 and 71. 

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Goals Coming From Unlikely Places During James Neal’s Absence

After last night’s victory in Philadelphia, the Golden Knights are 6-4-0 without 40-point producing forward James Neal. At times during the 10-game intermittent stretch, Vegas has struggled to put the puck in the net. For instance, the Golden Knights have been shutout or held to one goal nine games this season, three of them have been in Neal’s absence.

Carpy Deuces chipped in with a big one last night. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Without Neal, the Golden Knights have scored 31 goals in those 10 games. Forwards Alex Tuch, Ryan Carpenter and Cody Eakin stepped up offensively for Vegas. Plus, all three Tomas’s lit the lamp, and the blue line added some help on the scoreboard as well over this span.

VGK “Bottom-6″/Defenseman Goals During Neal’s Absence

02/19: Lost 2-0 vs. Anaheim

02/21: Won 7-3 vs. Calgary
Goals by Ryan Carpenter, Alex Tuch, Luca Sbisa, Tomas Nosek, Cody Eakin

02/23: Won 6-3 vs. Vancouver
Goals by Tomas Hyka, Tomas Nosek

02/27: Lost 4-1 vs. LA

03/02: Lost 5-4 vs. Ottawa
Goals by Colin Miller, Carpenter

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