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Tag: Colin Miller

Gerard Gallant: In-Game Line Switcher

I like you, I just don’t like playing with you. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the course of the first 13 games of the season, the Golden Knights set their lines and ran with them during a game. Barring special teams or injury, the four forward lines and three defensive pairings stayed the game all 60 minutes of the game.

That was until Monday night in Toronto.

After a rough 1st period in which Vegas let in three goals and got destroyed in possession, Gallant had seen enough from two of his defensive pairings and decided to switch it up.

The original pairings were Nate Schmidt/Luca Sbisa, Deryk Engelland/Brayden McNabb, and Shea Theodore/Colin Miller. He stuck with Schmidt/Sbisa throughout the entire game, but after an early 2nd period penalty, McNabb and Theodore were switched.

From that moment on, the Golden Knights outscored the Maple Leafs 2-0, outshot them 11-7 at even strength, and seemed to control the action for the remainder of the game. When all was said and done with the game, McNabb played more minutes with Miller than he did Engelland, and from the naked eye, both “new” defensive pairings were better than the original ones.

The Engelland goal was created by a Theodore stretch pass (and a terrible Toronto line change). Miller and McNabb had a 70% Corsi For Percentage and were on the ice together for one of the three Golden Knights goals, and Shea Theodore probably played his best game as a Golden Knight with his new linemate.

When Vegas is at it’s best, they are playing a much more offensive style game. They create turnovers through forechecking and in the neutral zone and then quickly make things happen in the offensive zone (see the gif above). When Engelland’s playing with Theodore, Miller with McNabb, and Schmidt with Sbisa, the Golden Knights always have a defenseman on the ice that has offensive capability. It allows them to play the style of game that’s worked at all times rather than really going for it with one pairing and backing off with another.

The switch may have been made because of the score, but the results were staggering. Right back at it tonight, keep your eyes peeled on how Gallant lines em up to start the game. I have a feeling we’ve seen the end of 3/5 and 6/27… cause 3/6 and 5/27 are much better. It just took a little while longer to figure it out than it should have.

Golden Knights/Bruins Storyline Round Up

Hey Subbs, want to go dominate these bums that let us go? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Miller and Subban Get Even

After the 3–1 victory over Boston, the first guy to congratulate and hug Malcolm Subban was defenseman Colin Miller. Former teammates in Boston and Providence, beating their previous organization must’ve been a great feeling for both.

Regardless of who it is against, we’re just trying to get the win. It’s our former team but we’re not out to get anyone. We’re just trying to focus and play our game. I think he (Miller) was more happy that I got my first win. – Malcolm Subban

Watch the end of the game, it’s clear Subban and Miller were pumped to win. You could tell from the start, the defenseman was amped, and up for the challenge. Miller unloaded 8 shot attempts, and 3 shots on net. He played 18:25 of TOI, on 26 shifts.

“Fourth” Line Effort

They may not get the same attention, but the Golden Knights fourth line deserves just as much as the first line. I should stop calling Pierre-Eduard Bellemare, William Carrier, and Tomas Nosek the fourth line. Gerard Gallant told us at his postgame press conference that he doesn’t count his lines. He would say he’s continuously been impressed by the line that plays the least.

They worked their asses off and competed hard and played hard. That’s what they do every night. I really like them. They’re a solid line. They aren’t going to score a lot of goals, but they do the right thing most times. -Gerard Gallant

Doing the right thing includes, winning face offs, blocking shots, penalty killing, breaking up plays, and getting pucks on net. That’s exactly what this line is doing. Bellemare won a total of 7 draws (64%) and in the defensive zone, Belly went 3 for 5 (60%) on faceoffs. Carrier played physical and added body checks, blocked shots and takeaways. Plus, he got pucks on net creating pressure on Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Tossed out centers

On Sunday, five different Golden Knights (Eakin, Perron, Lindberg, Karlsson, Bellemare) were thrown out of the faceoff circle by an official. In one sequence, the refs tossed Cody Eakin and David Perron on the same draw leading to a two-minute delay of game penalty. Eakin and Perron’s linemate James Neal was obviously frustrated and pleaded to the ref. Ultimately, Perron went on to serve the two-minute minor. Center William Karlsson also had faceoff frustrations after being thrown out and having another official overrule the other.

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Colin Out To Prove Boston Exposed The Wrong Miller

We like this Miller better anyways. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Cody Eakin and Tomas Nosek have been through it, and now it’s Colin Miller’s turn to play against his old teammates.

Yeah it should be fun. I’m looking forward to playing that game for sure. I think every guy that came from whatever organization looks forward to playing their old team. -Colin Miller

In June, Vegas happily plucked Miller from the Bruin’s unprotected list. The 24-year-old played 103 games for Boston averaging 15:48 of TOI per game, and totaling 29 points. He was mostly paired with Boston defenseman Kevan Miller, who most fans thought should’ve been exposed by Bruins management.

Fellow restricted free agent Colin Miller has top-four potential, and thus efforts to retain his services should have taken precedence over the efforts to keep the less talented (Kevan) Miller. -Stanley Cup of Chowder

Boston’s front office decided against making a pre-expansion deal with George McPhee and ended up exposing Colin Miller. As for the Golden Knights, they were ecstatic to attain a young, right-handed defenseman with a world of talent. The type of player no general manager wants to lose.

You knew they had targeted three players on our team that we felt they would target, and unfortunately we’re losing a good, young player… We thought highly of Colin. He was part of a big trade for us and we wish him well moving forward. We thank for him doing his part with the organization. We lost a good player. -Don Sweeney, Bruins GM

Both sides will agree, Miller is a very skilled defenseman and hasn’t hit his NHL potential yet. The Bruins were incredibly happy to receive Miller in a trade that sent Milan Lucic to Los Angeles. However, under former Bruins coach Claude Julien, Miller’s shifts and minutes fluctuated and was even a healthy scratch on a few occasions. Once Bruce Cassidy took over, Miller’s opportunities increased.

I don’t think it’s anything personal, but you know, I think everyone plays with a chip on their shoulder. They want to prove their worth. -Miller

The bottom line is Miller and the Golden Knights are happy with the end result. Now, five games into the season, Corsi Colin will get a chance to remind Boston of their bad decision. Expect a strong game from the former B’s defenseman. Miller is aware Boston made a mistake, he’s just too nice of a guy to say so. Maybe VGK fans can remind the Bruins for him. Heck, I’ll even join in on the chant. “Thanks for Colin. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.”

Colin Miller, One Of Many Offensive Minded VGK Defenseman

Ever wondered if players check their own stats? What about if players check their own advanced stats? Of course you haven’t. And players, yeah they don’t give a crap about analytics. Just ask Golden Knights defenseman, Colin Miller.

Are you aware of your Corsi and Fenwick numbers? -SinBin.vegas

Not really. I’ve heard a little bit about them. Am I good or bad? -Miller

You are like the king of it. -SinBin.vegas

Oh nice, well that’s good. I just try to get the shots through as often as I can. -Miller

You know with Corsi they don’t even need to get through. -SinBin.vegas

Oh, good, so I can just rip em at the glass? -Miller

Bet this shot got through. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Colin Miller: Corsi For- 60.34%
Nate Schmidt: Corsi For- 53.48%
Reilly Smith: Corsi For- 52.47%
James Neal: Corsi For- 52.20%

(If you don’t remember what in the hell these numbers mean, go back and read our Advanced Stats for VGK Dummies article on Corsi For %.)

Miller is however fully aware of the style of game he plays. He doesn’t need an advanced stat measuring shot attempts to prove himself. Vegas knows his skill and will need Miller’s offensive involvement this season and beyond. We asked the 24-year-old if he thought his role would expand with the Golden Knights.

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Right Handed Defensemen Lacking On Roster Full Of Defensemen

Much has been made about the total number of defensemen under Vegas Golden Knights control and how it may affect trades, waivers, scratches, and more. But there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s time we point it out.

The Golden Knights have 14 defensemen under contract (including Nate Schmidt). One of them is Erik Brannstrom, who we expect to head back to Sweden rather than stay with in Vegas with the NHL club. Of the 13 who are staying in Vegas or Chicago, a whopping three shoot right handed.

Now, don’t go freaking out too much, teams have utilized defensive pairings of two left handers before, but the handedness (that a word?) of the players on the roster may be able to give us some hints on what may happen in the future.

Colin Miller, Deryk Engelland, and Chris Casto are the three right handed blueliners. Miller was likely to be among the top two pairings no matter what, but this basically confirms it. It’s Engelland and Casto that make things a bit more interesting.

We’ve always assumed Engelland would be either a third line defenseman or even a healthy scratch as his strongest talents lie in checking, fighting, and general badassery. However, being right handed may be his ticket to significant minutes at least early on in the season for the Golden Knights.

That brings us to Casto, a player initially expected to have a guaranteed ticket to Chicago. He’s spent the last three seasons in the AHL with the Providence Bruins including last year when he played in all 16 playoff games. An undrafted free agent signed by Boston in 2013, he’s yet to appear in an NHL game. He’ll be competing with the likes of Luca Sbisa, Jason Garrison, Clayton Stoner, Jon Merrill, and Griffin Reinhart, but the fact remains he’s got a “hand” up on the competition.

Finally, remember the name Matt Dumba? The 22-year-old budding superstar from  Minnesota the Golden Knights passed over for Alex Tuch and Erik Haula? Yeah, you guessed it, he’s right handed too. Whoops?

Camp is still about a month and a half out, and roster movement is likely before we reach October 6th, but the fact remains, one side of the boat is a bit heavier than the other, and it may be an issue down the stream.

Advanced Stats For VGK Dummies: Corsi For Percentage

Now that the Golden Knights have players, and will soon begin playing actual games and accruing statistics, we felt like now was a good time to learn the roster, by dumbing down different advanced statistics in the NHL.

Everyone understands goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and time on ice, but for many hockey fans words like Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, and zone starts send off the instant “too much info, ignore and move on” signal. Since the Golden Knights are probably going to be bad, and the standard stats are likely to all have asterisks next to them with people saying “well someone has to score the goals,” we think it’s best if we use the downtime of July and August to take the stigma away from advanced stats, and get a feel for who the Golden Knights actual have on the roster.

Up first, Corsi and Corsi For Percentage.

Corsi is a statistic that measures the true number of shots a player takes during a game. It was created by an Edmonton Oilers blogger when he heard a GM mention the term “shot differential” but not have concrete numbers to back it up. So, like any good Internet user, he put in the research, came up with the numbers, and created a stat that’s now widely used in the NHL. So what is it exactly?

Corsi = Shots on Goal + Missed Shots + Blocked Shots Against 

It’s fairly simple, it’s just all shot attempts. Corsi can be measured for a team or for an individual. For a team, it’s simply all shot attempts. For an individual, it’s all shot attempts by the team while that player is on the ice. So, for every shot, the team gets +1 on their Corsi rating, and five players get +1 on their individual Corsi rating.

Obviously that stat means nothing if not put in context with what the other team is doing. So, each player has a “Corsi For” and a “Corsi Against” rating. Corsi Against is simply a Corsi rating for the other team while a player is on the ice.

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Breaking Down McPhee’s Expansion Draft Interview With Sportsnet

Since Wednesday when the Golden Knights made their 30 selections from the Expansion Draft and subsequent transactions, GM George McPhee hasn’t been answering a ton of questions, especially with local media. Luckily, the guys from Prime Time Sports had McPhee on the phone for 20 minutes and asked a lot of the unasked questions.

Since there’s so much in the interview (and a few others), we transcribed the most important quotes and offered our analysis on what it means about the Expansion Draft, upcoming trades, and the future of the Golden Knights. Here it is.

(There were) only one or two teams we didn’t get a deal with that we thought they would want to have a deal to protect their roster. -McPhee

Analysis: Best guesses would be Ottawa, Nashville, Montreal, and/or Washington. Clearly seeing both Ottawa and Montreal going back after Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin proves they were unable to reach a deal during the Expansion Draft. Washington makes sense because most expected Philipp Grubauer to be selected and Vegas ended up taking Nate Schmidt. A deal may have been talked about and never reached… and/or McPhee wanted to stick it to Washington. Nashville lost James Neal, hard to believe they were okay to just let that happen.

The rules were better for us, but we were dealing with some things that hadn’t been dealt with in the past like free agents. It didn’t make a lot of sense for us to claim free agents when they were going to be free in two weeks. Unless it was a throw away pick. -McPhee

Analysis: Wait, what? So what was Deryk Engelland? He hinted at it a bit in a previous presser to a SinBin.vegas question saying there were some things to not like about Calgary’s list, but this really cements it. Calgary had nothing else at all to claim in the eyes of McPhee, so they went ahead and essentially threw the pick away by signing a player they certainly would have gotten on July 1st. (Engelland’s surprise to getting handed a contract during the Expansion Draft further confirms this.)

There were some teams where if you just looked at their situation there weren’t many ways out. If we didn’t do a deal with them, and they traded a player and lost a player, then they lose and we lose too. We thought it was better to get a deal done rather than claim the second best player or third best player.

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No Tradebacks! Wait, No, Tradebacks Are Fine

Must select one player from every team, must select at least 17 forwards, must reach at least 60% of the salary cap, must select at least 20 players under contract, cannot buy players out until the end of 2017-18 season, and no trade backs until January 1st, 2018.

Those were just a few of the regulations the Golden Knights had to follow during the Expansion Draft. They were widely reported by hockey media before the draft (here and here are two of the best sources) and then the NHL put out a rules list the day Vegas was awarded a team. Reported by many was the rule prohibiting the Golden Knights from trading a player back to their original team. However, when the NHL released their rules, it was nowhere to be found.

Now, it appears that rule was on the books, but it had an important caveat.

LeBrun tweeted this prior to the Marc Methot trade, and then later confirmed McPhee did indeed have discussions with the Senators on trading the blueliner back to Ottawa. Of course, it did not happen.

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Expansion Draft Created Supply Outweighing Demand For Defenseman

Since the moment the Expansion Draft rules were released George McPhee found himself on a thin balance beam. One one side there’s the allure of picking the best 30 players available and stockpiling NHL ready talent that can not only win on the ice but also bring in high-level assets via trade. On the other side, there were ransoms being thrown out to lay off certain players, take on bad contracts, or completely give a team a pass in the Expansion Draft.

McPhee knew this was a difficult dance the whole way. They ran mock drafts and they saw what type of team they could put on the ice in year one. They had conversations with opposing GMs to see exactly how rich those ransoms were to turn a blind eye towards certain teams. And every chance he had, McPhee talked about the importance of staying upright on that balance beam.

Well now the Expansion Draft is over, the Entry Draft has come and gone, and free agency begins in less than a week, and at the moment McPhee and the Golden Knights are trying to maintain their balance, but there’s a clear wobble in the direction of taking on too many NHL contracts, specifically defenseman.

On June 21st the Golden Knights selected 14 defensemen. They ranged in talent from clear Top-4 to borderline NHLer, but all 14 were on NHL contracts. Vegas had created a surplus and it was time to start cashing in via trade.

A day after the draft a pair of defensemen were sent away. Trevor van Riemsdyk brought in a 2nd round pick from the Hurricanes and David Schlemko netted a 5th from Montreal. On its face, fine returns to begin trimming off the surplus of blueliners. But like in any form of commerce, demand must meet supply. Initially, it appeared that demand was high and the Golden Knights held the supply to make the most out of their 15 picks. But then Friday came and went, Saturday, Sunday, and it wasn’t until late Monday that the next defenseman was shipped away.

Marc Methot, the undisputed best talent of all the defensemen selected in the draft was sent to Dallas. The return, a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a goalie prospect the Golden Knights chose not to select 12 times while on the clock in Chicago.

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