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Rest And Relaxation; What To Do With These Final Three Games

“You’ve got to trust your players.” -Gallant on resting guys down the stretch (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have clinched a playoff berth and they’ve won the Pacific Division. With that comes a guarantee of home-ice in the first two series with just the Western Conference and Stanley Cup Finals seeding up for grabs.

Vegas currently sits second in the Western Conference and fourth in the NHL. They likely aren’t catching Nashville, Boston, or Tampa, and only have to fend off Winnipeg to hang on to the fourth position. However, even if Winnipeg passes the Golden Knights, the only impact it could have is if those two teams face in the Western Conference Finals. So, the Golden Knight essentially have three games that mean little to nothing in the scope of the season.

You’ve got stay fresh, you’ve got to make sure you are ready to go. It’s been a long season for some guys and we’ve had some maintenance days and that’s all part of the business going through. You trust your players to do the right things. Some guys need some practice and need some jump and some guys need some days off. -Gerard Gallant

The Golden Knights have multiple injured players, Reilly Smith, Luca Sbisa, William Carrier, and David Perron that could use the games to get back into game form. They have a college free agent in Zach Whitecloud who has never hit the NHL ice, and they have 11 players who have played in 70 or more games this season.

 GPTOIATOI
Colin Miller79153019:22
William Karlsson79147818:42
Cody Eakin78112614:26
Deryk Engelland76154020:16
Jonathan Marchessault76133317:33
Nate Schmidt75166722:14
Alex Tuch75113615:09
Erik Haula74128917:25
Brayden McNabb73146720:06
David Perron70124717:49
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare7085712:15

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Depth Scoring Major Factor In VGK Offensive Success

There are many reasons for the Golden Knights offensive success. Let’s start with the number of Vegas players having career years (it’s basically all of them). Secondly, younger players are quickly blossoming with more ice time and room to grow (see Karlsson, Tuch, Haula, Theodore, Schmidt, Miller, etc). Lastly, the Golden Knights are one of few teams getting help from their bottom six forwards, something we call “depth scoring.”

The goals aren’t all coming from Wild Bill, and that’s one of the big reasons why this team is good. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 48 games, Vegas has scored the third most goals (162) this season. Even more impressive is VGK’s (3.38) goals per game, which is also ranked third behind Tampa Bay (3.53) and the NY Islanders (3.39).

All Star coach Gerard Gallant is blessed to have the depth scoring his team has. Nine Golden Knights have more than 20 points. Only nine other NHL teams can claim that.

NY Rangers (11) Players
Nashville: (10) Players
Tampa: (10) Players
Toronto: (10) Players
Winnipeg: (10) Players
Vegas: (9) Players
Boston: (9) Players
Dallas: (9) Players
San Jose: (9) Players

To go even deeper, the Golden Knights have 16 players with 10+ Points. Only Chicago, Colorado, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Toronto, Washington, and Winnipeg can claim that.

Of course, we’re all aware of the offensive success from their top two lines. Erik Haula, James Neal and David Perron have done their job scoring 50 this season. VGK’s second top trio of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith have totaled a remarkable 56 goals. The other 56 tallies were scored by defensemen and bottom line forwards.

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Brad Hunt + Colin Miller = Power Play Goals

Here at SinBin.vegas we’ve purposely shied away from freaking out about the disastrous Golden Knights power play over the last month or so. The reason behind our hesitancy was the simple fact that it wasn’t affecting whether or not Vegas would win the game. However, over the past two games, things have changed in the results column, but seemingly not much changed on the ice.

Hunt said he was so excited after his goal that he almost fell celebrating. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights were 0 for 19 with a man advantage from January 4th to the 19th. They were 1 for 32 if you go back to December 23rd. Then over the past two games, Vegas struck four times in seven opportunities. Among those four goals, Brad Hunt has one goal and two assists and Colin Miller has one goal and one assist. That’s five points on the power play between two players.

The eye test told me that Hunt’s return to the ice was sparking Miller’s offense, as well as the rest of the Golden Knights. However, upon a deeper dive into the numbers, the Hunt-effect has really only been seen when Vegas is a man up. But when Hunt is on the ice during the power play, boy does it make a difference. Look.

  • Colin Miller has played 67:07 of power play time without Brad Hunt. In that time, the Golden Knights have scored 3 goals on 53 shots.
    • Goal every 22:21
    • 0.79 shots per minute
  • Colin Miller has played 60:09 of power play time with Brad Hunt. In that time, the Golden Knights have scored 9 goals on 61 shots.
    • Goal every 6:41
    • 1.01 shots per minute
  • The Golden Knights have played 129:41 of power play time with neither Miller nor Hunt on the ice. In that time, they scored 12 times on 104 shots.
    • Goal every 10:49
    • 0.80 shots per minute

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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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