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Golden Knights Results At NHL Awards

Should have been a Selke candidate, could have been a Hart candidate, but the Lady Byng will have to do. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For every Golden Knight, any trophy they win tonight is not the one they really wanted. However, a little hardware for an amazing season never hurt anybody. Vegas has four finalists in four separate categories at the 2018 NHL Awards. William Karlsson is up for Lady Byng (sportsmanship), Deryk Engelland for Mark Messier Leadership Award, Gerard Gallant is a shoe-in for Jack Adams (coach of the year), and George McPhee for GM of the Year.

The other finalists for each award are as follows. (We will update each award with the winner as well as some quotes and whatever else we come across throughout the night)

Lady Byng Trophy

William Karlsson (VGK)
Aleksander Barkov (FLA)
Ryan O’Reilly (BUF)

Winner: William Karlsson

To be honest I’m more nervous, kind of scared. What if I win? I have to go up on the stage, it’s kind of scary. For sure (scarier than playing the Stanley Cup Final). Much more. At least I know what I do on the ice. Going up on the stage and potentially having to speak to a lot of people is a lot scarier. -William Karlsson

It’s very special, just looking back a year ago who would have thought I would have been sitting here nominated for an award, but to win it, it’s been a crazy year. -Karlsson

Messier Leadership Award

Deryk Engelland (VGK)
Wayne Simmonds (PHI)
Blake Wheeler (WPG)

Winner: Deryk Engelland

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Offseason Outlook: Defensemen

Through the course of the playoffs, the surprise unit for the Golden Knights were the defensemen. They completely shut down the Kings, they stifled the Sharks, and they bent but didn’t break against the Jets. Then, in the Stanley Cup Final, it kind of fell apart for the Vegas blueliners.

So, as we head into the offseason the burning question for George McPhee and the Golden Knights front office is whether or not they need to add to bolster their defense or of the missing piece is already on the roster.

Here’s a look at who the Golden Knights currently have under their control.

Nate looks like he’s become a star in the NHL. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Established and Signed
Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, Brad Hunt

While this list contains 310 games played and three players who played all 20 playoff games, there are really only two fully reliable options as full-time starters moving into 2018-19. McNabb and Schmidt are expected to be stalwarts on the Golden Knights blue line this season and moving forward. They may not be paired together again next season, but they’ll certainly be in the top four.

Engelland is a bit of a mystery as he probably had the best season of his career at the age of 35. The question is can he continue playing at that consistent level as he heads into the final few seasons of his career.

Then there are Merrill and Hunt. Hunt is a player that’s bounced around the NHL and AHL and has never really gotten a full-time shot to prove himself. The reason for that is because he’s a bit of a liability defensively due to his size. He’ll have to play well in camp once again to make the roster, but even if he doesn’t, Hunt will be a good option in the event that a puck-moving defenseman becomes unavailable during the season. Merrill is a bit of a different story as he’s more of a defensive-minded player but has the ability to pinch in and help out offensively. The Golden Knights signed Merrill to an extension last season which indicates they believe in him, but it’s still not probable that he’s a 60+ game defenseman next season.

Established and under VGK control
Colin Miller, Shea Theodore

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Matching D-Pairings With Top Offensive Lines Worked In Game 1 For VGK

Schmidt vs. Kopitar. Engelland vs. Carter. Round 1 went to Vegas. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you ask All Star head coach Gerard Gallant if he likes to match lines he usually responds with some sort of quip about how he’s not smart enough to make it happen. Instead, he prefers to roll four lines and attempt to let his guys play their game and force the opponent to match them.

However, on the other side of the ice, it’s a different story. For much of the year Nate Schmidt and his partner (Brayden McNabb or Luca Sbisa) have drawn the best offensive line of the opposing team. Last night was no different as Schmidt/McNabb were on the ice for a majority of their time against the Kopitar, Brown, Iafallo line. The difference for the Golden Knights is that they didn’t just limit the defensive matching to one line, they did it with the Jeff Carter line as well. Deryk Engelland and Shea Theodore were matched up heavily on the Kings second line and did well shutting them down.

Schmidt and McNabb played nearly 13 total minutes against Kopitar and managed a positive Corsi For of 57.69 and only allowed four even strength goal scoring chances in that time. Engelland and Theodore did just as well in the 12 minutes they saw against Carter with a slightly above 50% Corsi For and only two scoring chances against.

You hope you are going to get those matchups as much as possible. It doesn’t happen every time and I’m not a guy who is going to yell at our guys to change right away when you get a non-matchup line. You just do the best you can as coaches. -Gerard Gallant

This matching also has an offensive benefit for the Golden Knights. Colin Miller and Jon Merrill both posted 60+% Corsi For and spent a majority of their ice time in the offensive zone, where Gallant wants them.

All in all, the Golden Knights did well in getting the right players on the ice against the right Kings, and it worked like a charm in Game 1.

Vegas Golden Knights: Pacific Division Champions

Sweet graphic made by our guy Lance Maxwell.

Prior to the game, the Golden Knights retired #58 in honor of the victims of 1 October. Here’s the entire ceremony.

During the game, William Karlsson scored one of the prettiest goals in the NHL this year.

After the game, the Golden Knights awarded their “Inaugural Season Awards.” The winners were:

7th Man Award (Player whose on-ice performance exceeded your expectations this season) – William Karlsson
Vegas Strong Award (Player who was most involved in serving and giving back to the Las Vegas community) – Deryk Engelland
1st Star Award (Player who played best on home-ice) – William Karlsson

Here’s the entire post game ceremony.

On To Washington

You forget about tonight and get ready for the next game. -Gerard Gallant

That’s exactly what the Golden Knights and their fans should do after last night’s 5-2 loss in Minnesota. There’s really no need to get into the details of the game, we all watched it, it wasn’t the Golden Knights night, something that’s rare with this club.

We were a tired team for the first time this year. -Gallant

Vegas only atempted a total of 24 shots on goal against Minnesota. It’s just the fifth time this season the Golden Knights shot 24 shots or less. Vegas is 2-2-1 in those games.

This guy was great though. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Defenseman Shea Theodore led Vegas with five shots on Wild goaltender Devan Dubynk. Last night was the third time Theodore took five or more shots in a game. The 22-year-old had never registered more than four shots in a game prior to this season.

Deryk Engelland led the Golden Knights with 23 minutes of ice time. Put aside last night, the Golden Knights are 3-1-0 when he leads the team in TOI.

Golden Knights All-Star winger James Neal had a rare dud of a game in Minnesota. He had zero shot attempts or shots on net. It was only the second time this season Neal didn’t register a shot. Also, Gallant tinkered with his lines and #18 saw a dip in ice time. For only the tenth time in 51 games, Neal skated less than 15:35 of ice time.

Again, none of these nuggets mean much in the grand scheme of things if you throw out the game, but they are certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward. It was a tough, tiring road loss for the Golden Knights. That was supposed to be the norm for this team, luckily it’s not.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS SIGN DERYK ENGELLAND (D) TO 1 YEAR EXTENSION WORTH $1.5M

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Deryk Engelland Profile On Hometown Hockey

Prior to the Golden Knights win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rogers Hometown Hockey aired a piece on Deryk Engelland. It’s a gem.

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.

Hottest Team In Sports Media: Your Vegas Golden Knights

The World Series begins tonight, the NBA just tipped off, college and pro football are in the thick of their seasons, and still the Vegas Golden Knights are in nightly headlines across the country.

I think it’s outstanding for our organization. That’s what it’s all about. We’re being mentioned for the right reasons. We’re winning hockey games, we’re playing well. The group is really taking off right now. -Gerard Gallant

Like us, I’m sure most Vegas fans have gotten calls and texts from out of town friends and family, praising the Golden Knights blazing start. Average Americans are hearing about the NHL’s hottest team in the most unusual places. National magazines and newspapers, cable news stations, local TV, and social media are all trending for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Yeah, it’s great. I think we came out here and proved a lot of people wrong. It’s been a lot of fun. -Brayden McNabb

The coaches and players are aware of the national attention, but they’re careful to stay humble from the recent fame.

“You read here and there. You watch the NHL channel… yeah it’s good. We gotta keep it going. -Deryk Engelland

Engelland’s attitude is echoed around the locker room. The players are happy about their (6-1) start but they know an 82-game season has its ebbs and flows. Forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare appreciates the attention but prefers to believe it’s about Las Vegas and not the team.

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Hockey Central Praises Vegas, Golden Knights, Engelland

You’ve probably heard us reference Hockey Central a zillion times over the past two years. It can be seen on NHL Network and heard all over North America. Hockey Central is the best daily NHL program offered to fans. George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and Gerard Gallant have all been guests multiple times. On yesterday’s show, hosts Jeff Marek, Nick Kypreos and Doug Maclean spent the early part of the show discussing the emotional night in Las Vegas.

You only have one chance to get it right. They were great. The introductions of players with the heroes… it was the perfect tone last night. -Nick Kypreos, Sportsnet Analyst

The Hockey Central trio genuinely sounded touched by Tuesday nights player introductions, the moment of silence, and Deryk Engelland’s speech. And they weren’t even in the building, just watching on TV.

It was spectacular. The players did a wonderful job. It was terrific to see the heroes, and first responders. It gives them a little bit of healing, which is tough right now in that community. – Doug Maclean, Sportsnet Analyst

Marek brought up Engelland’s moment with the fans and suggested it couldn’t have been delivered by anyone else. MacLean, a former GM and head coach couldn’t agree more. By the way, MacLean promoted Gallant to head coach of the Blue Jackets in 2004.

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