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Eakin’s Return Will Shuffle Vegas’ Centers

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All signs point towards center Cody Eakin resuming the same role tonight he’s performed effectively for the past two seasons. Arguably, one of the better third line centers in the NHL, Eakin’s return to duty is integral to the Golden Knights and their Stanley Cup chase.

He’s a huge player to our team. He works hard, he’s quick and he wins a lot of draws. He’s an easy guy too play with. And on the ice he’s one of the leaders. I gladly welcome him back.-William Karlsson

A healthy Eakin completes Vegas’ depth down the middle. It allows Gerard Gallant to solidify his second line, by reuniting Paul Stastny with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Unfortunately, it could be a harsh reality for young center Cody Glass. Who will either be on the wing or on the bench tonight against Calgary. (If practice Friday was any indication, it’ll be the latter.) (Update: It wasn’t any indication. Glass is headed to the wing.)

That so-called second line can play with each other, they’ve had a lot of success together. For our line, we get matchups that we can play against top lines because Cody [Eakin] can shut them down. It creates transition. -Brandon Pirri

Brandon Pirri will likely play on the third line anchored by Eakin. He quipped about Gerard Gallant’s ‘so-called’ expression, but there’s no question as to what the coach expects from his third line.

He’s so solid defensively and he allows creative guys a little more room to more to make plays. He can make up for the little mistakes here and there. With his speed he can get back and catch those guys. -Pirri

An underrated aspect to Eakin’s game is his speed. He has the ability to break out and create a rush, and quickly get back to defend. Eakin’s two-way play can greatly benefit offensive wingers like Pirri, and eventually Alex Tuch.

He creates a ton of speed, he’s one of the best skaters in the league. He pushes defenses back and creates a gap for guys like me who are looking for high ice a little more. -Pirri

We’ll see how Gallant sets his lineup tonight, but it appears Eakin is playing, and he’s almost certainly centering the third line. Which leaves questions about Glass’ immediate and long-term role this year. I’m sure it’ll be addressed eventually by the coaching staff and front office, but for now, it’s nothing but positive words in press conferences from the head coach and a spot on the wing for #9.

William Hill Props, SinBin.vegas Picks – 2019-20

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We are just 21 days away from Opening Night at T-Mobile Arena. Which means, the William Hill mobile sports app is stocked with Golden Knights related bets and props.

Whether you gamble or not, prop bets always give us a rough idea of expectations heading into a new season. This year, William Hill has listed 11 prop bets including eight-player specific bets. Here are my picks on each and every one of them. (Last year I went 6-3.)

Regular Season Points
O/U 101.5 

The Golden Knights had 109 in Year 1 and 93 in Year 2, this year’s total is smack dab in between the two. The biggest question of whether they’ll get there or not will be health. If the Golden Knights are relatively healthy through a majority of the season, they’ll reach 102 without any issue. But, if they lose one of the centers, Stone, Schmidt, or Fleury, they could see some rough stretches that keep them from the century mark. Think back to last season, the first 20 games, the poo stretch before the trade deadline, the way they limped to the end, a lot went wrong, and they still got to 93. I have to believe this year will be at least a bit smoother.

Pick: OVER 101.5

October Points
O/U 17.5 

With the season starting on the 2nd, the October schedule is pretty packed. The Golden Knights play 14 games with eight of them being at home. It’s also a nicely laid out schedule with minimal travel and just one back-to-back. In fact, I listed the last two weeks of October as one of the softest stretches in the entire season schedule. The first two games are going to go a long way to determining whether or not they reach this number, but I don’t expect them to lose both which means they’ll need 16 points in 12 games. The opponents aren’t exactly easy as a whole, but the Golden Knights should come out motivated and that will lead them to a solid 18+ point month.

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Sorry Cody, You’re Not A Checking Forward

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Cody Glass just wants to play. He’s told us for three straight summers now, his goal is to play in the NHL. ASAP.

The question is, where would he play?

It’s the NHL, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play defense if I have to. -Glass

Earlier this summer, Glass said he’s grown, and he’s ready to make the leap from juniors/minors to the NHL. However, in his third NHL training camp, his age, size, nor maturity will decide his path. It will be up to the Golden Knights management to choose between an established NHL body and giving their young center a chance to flourish.

But again, where will he play?

To be anywhere on the Vegas roster it would be unbelievable. You need to find that role and you need to play it. So, if they want me to be a checking forward, I’ll do my best to be a checking forward. -Glass

You have to love Glass’ eagerness to make the club, but let’s be serious, Vegas didn’t draft a center sixth overall to be a checking forward. That role is best filled by guys like Tomas Nosek, or William Carrier. The Golden Knights have higher expectations for a two-way, top ten drafted center.

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Cody Eakin Explains What He Was Thinking As He “Shoved” Joe Pavelski In Game 7

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It’s over, it’s done with, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it now. But the fact of the matter is that #NotAMajor will forever be a part of the Vegas Golden Knights’ story, and with that means any time anyone of significance talks about, it’s news.

Recently, Cody Eakin sat down with Gary Lawless as part of the SLGND Podcast’s offseason “Interview Series.” The interview as a whole is fascinating, but the portion about the penalty in Game 7 was particularly interesting. Eakin explained exactly what he was thinking as the entire play went down.

Draws are the game within the game. When you can start with the puck it’s easier to have the puck and play with it than to chase it. So when you lose a draw you want to make sure you aren’t losing it easily and cleanly and I kind of lost it cleanly. So I was going to make sure and give him a shove and let him know the next one isn’t going to be as easy to win. -Eakin

You can see exactly what he’s thinking as he described it as you watch the play. The draw is lost clean, so he goes out of his way to give Joe Pavelski a shove.

Over the course of the past few months, the play has kind of morphed in the mids of fans from “that’s not a major,” to “that’s not a penalty” to “he did nothing wrong.” Well, it’s hard to hear what Eakin said, see the play, and not believe he did something wrong.

I would consider it a shove, a cross-check has more intent to injure, you’re looking to leave a bruise, to hurt someone kind of. That’s why you get a penalty for it. I would call it a shove and after that, it was just unfortunate. -Eakin

Clearly, Eakin’s intent was not to cause the result Pavelski endured, however, he did mean to hurt him.

It’s a moment of truth from Eakin that shows just how tense playoff games really are. Eakin went on to explain how he was focused on getting out to the point as both Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson were on the ice.

Personally, I still can’t blame Eakin for the outcome of Game 7, I’ll still point at the horrendous refereeing and the abysmal penalty killing. However, I do feel like I have a clearer picture of what happened that fateful night.

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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Cody Eakin Sustainability Study

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights center Cody Eakin had quite the year for Vegas. In his 8th season the 28-year-old Manitoban added career highs in Goals (22), Goals Created (17), Points (41), Points Per Game (.53), Plus/Minus (+19), Shooting % (18.3), and Point Shares (5.2). Vegas benefited greatly by Eakin’s substantial offensive upgrade from 2017–18.

Plain and simple, everyone is quietly asking the same question; Can Eakin do it again next season?

Eakin’s first standout season was in 2013-14 as a member of the Dallas Stars. He totaled 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) averaging 17:20 minutes of ice time per game. Eakin’s strong campaign carried over to the following season with Dallas.

In 2014-15, Eakin again performed up to his abilities, even sprinkling in a few more points. The center collected 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) averaging 17:12 TOI. Eakin added another 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 2015-16, tallying a total of 110 points (51 goals, 59 assists) in three consecutive seasons. Consistent numbers for a middle six center. And by the way I never mentioned his reliability killing a penalty.

After a couple of dim seasons offensively in 2016-17 with Dallas, and 2017-18 with Vegas, Eakin cracked 40 points for the second time in his career. So, the answer is yes. Yes, Cody Eakin can repeat his success from last season, but will he?

One mindless and obvious element to my prediction is that Eakin is playing for his next contract. After the 2019-2020 season, the veteran will become an unrestricted free agent and his $3.85M cap hit will come off the books. Players tend to perform well in contract years (see pretty much ever VGK player in 2017-18), and I expect the same from #21.

Taking a look at next season’s roster, we’ll have to assume Eakin will be playing with two highly skilled offensive players. Nikita Gusev or Erik Haula could join Alex Tuch and form one of the deepest third lines in hockey centered by Eakin. No matter what the combination ends up being, it’ll be the most talent he’s anchored in Vegas. Which is why it’s hard to believe Eakin wouldn’t repeat his success from last season.

Then again he could get bumped to the fourth line, or even more drastic, get traded. In that case burn my prediction and this article altogether.

(See, we can write a whole article about Cody Eakin without referencing a certain penalty. I knew we could do it!)

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

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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

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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

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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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