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Tough Stretches Continue To Haunt Golden Knights

An all too familiar site in the 3rd period. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After last night’s 6-3 loss to Detroit, Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant continuously talked about playing the full sixty minutes.

Well we had a real tough third period again. It was an awful third period. I thought we played a great game up until then. But in the third period, we struggled. -Gerard Gallant

The third period struggles Gallant spoke about starts with allowing four Detroit goals on twelve shots. The Red Wings down one, came out to win in the third.

They took advantage of the chances and they made us pay. We just didn’t look like we had the jump in the third period for some reason. It was disappointing because I thought we played a great two periods, but you can’t play 40 minutes or you’re not going to beat anyone in this league. We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes and tonight we played 40 minutes again. Transition is a big part of this game and it’s a big part of our team playing well. But tonight we fed their transition in the third period. -Gallant

Reilly Smith’s just chalking it up to being early in the season.

You got to nip those in the bud so they’re not stretched into five minutes or ten minutes. I think a lot of reasons why we, or other teams get into those stretches is because we’re not making a simple pass. Sometimes you’re trying to over complicate and guys are tired, so it starts to snowball. -Reilly Smith

The Vegas snowball began from the faceoff circle. The Golden Knights won only 42% on faceoffs all night, and lost 12 draws in the third period. Detroit maintained possession throughout the whole period which lead to multiple defensive breakdowns from Vegas. So how will Vegas fix tough stretches during a game?

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Power Play Not A Concern For Golden Knights Players And Coach

The only power play goal in VGK history. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Finally, we can all stop holding our breath. The Golden Knights scored their first Power Play goal in franchise history.

It’s really no reason to celebrate due to the 13 straight failures, but getting one on the board is positive reinforcement for the players. Despite the low numbers (1-14 PP, 7.14 PP %) the Golden Knights have played well on man advantage situations. Remember, both Nate Schmidt‘s game-tying goal in Arizona and James Neal‘s first in Dallas were in 6-on-5 situations.

I think we’ve improved definitely. I think our execution can be much better. We lose pucks that we shouldn’t right now, and that prevents you from having more zone time. There’s always puck luck, but we need to create our own luck. –David Perron

Perron is the perfect example. He leads the team in power play time on ice (4:25 per game), plus he’s tied for the most shots (11) and assists (2) on the team as well. However, the Perronster (yeah, we’re going with it) hasn’t lit the lamp yet. But it’s not from a lack of trying.

I do think when you shoot the puck, it loosens things up and breaks them down a little more. I want to score goals, I want to shoot the puck. I do feel like I’ve shot a lot, I got to keep doing that because they’ll go in eventually. -Perron

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Gallant Pulling All The Right Strings

Defenseman Nate Schmidt may have tied the game with his late third-period goal, but let’s give Gerard Gallant the assist. With 2:18 left in the game, and the puck frozen in Arizona’s zone, the Golden Knights coach called a timeout and pulled his goalie. About a minute later, the lovable Schmidt scored on a rebound to tie it up. Gallant would never take credit, but his instinct to pull Marc-Andre Fleury “early” was the right decision.

I’d do it every time. You got to face that in their zone. You want to make sure you get the six on five down there. Some people think its early, I don’t think it’s early. -Gallant

Two minutes left in the game, may not seem early to some, but just a decade ago NHL coaches on average pulled their goaltenders with 1:15 left. Gallant’s decision to go for it was a combination of an offensive zone faceoff, time remaining, and confidence in his players.

If you’re down one goal and you feel good about your team, the way they’re playing. You win the face off in their zone, why wait because you might not get that chance again. I figured let’s go for it, and it worked tonight. -Gallant

Schmidt and James Neal (again) were the stars on the stat sheet, but Gallant’s decision deserves to be noted. His late-game coaching adjustments have worked out well two nights in a row. So, raise you’re brunch Bellini’s to the Golden Knights head coach. Wait, what am I talking about? SinBinners don’t eat Sunday brunch. Raise your happy hour IPA instead, and keep the party going.

Not Going To Be Pretty, But That’s The Blueprint To VGK Success

46 shots against, five penalties, and 0 for 7 on the power play… on the road, against a team that will likely be contending for a Stanley Cup this season. That’s not how you normally go about winning an NHL game, but that’s exactly what the Golden Knights did, and it’s something Golden Knights fans should probably get used to.

2-1 work. Amiright? (Photo Credit: Jason Pothier, SinBin.vegas)

No no no, I’m not saying this team is going to shock the world, make the playoffs, and win the “Cup in One.” What I’m saying is that if the Golden Knights want to be a competitive team night in and night out, sometimes it’s going to take individual efforts like tonight.

I don’t want to be giving up 40 some shots. I thought we competed and battled hard and Fleury stole that hockey game. -Gallant

Other times it’s going to take a bit of luck and good fortune.

Let’s hope not. But some games will go that way. –Reilly Smith

But often it’s going to be ugly. Quite frankly, Vegas isn’t going to have the best players on the ice in most games. If they are going to stay in games, and even steal some like they did tonight, it’s going to take a bit of magic, or as hockey players call it, a bunch of cliches.

We’ve got to play a team game, all 20 guys out there have to go to battle for one another. Keep it simple. Battle battle battle for one another, and just outwork teams. –Deryk Engelland

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10 Golden Knights Were At Cosmopolitan During Incident

Erik Haula gives details of the experience of the players who were locked down at Cosmopolitan during the shooting at Mandalay Bay.

We were at the restaurant until about 1:30, we weren’t out of the casino until about 3 AM. Our security guys came and picked us got us and brought us home. We got home at around 4:30 AM.

There had been reports everywhere. We were on the third floor, so a lot of people were trying to get up to where we were. Then we were trying to figure out if something was going on where we were. Everyone was told to get to the back and they locked down the restaurant. At that point it was pretty much just hunker down until we knew more. -Nate Schmidt

It was pretty scary. There was a window so went out and looked toward Mandalay Bay and MGM and everything was shut down there was no one. Couple people walking around the streets that couldn’t even get in the hotels for safety. A couple guys were trying to get down to join us for dinner and they ended up having to turn around and go back. They were stuck in traffic and luckily those guys were able to get out of there before everything hit the fan. -Alex Tuch

In total 10 players and a few of their girlfriends/wives were at the restaurant during the incident. A few other players indicated that they were at home at the time and coach Gerard Gallant was picking his daughter up from the airport.

All Golden Knights players, coaches, and staff are accounted for and safe.

Interviews from Deryk Engelland, Nate Schmidt, Brad Hunt, Alex Tuch, Colin Miller, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill recounting Sunday night.

0 For 16 On The Power Play

At Friday’s practice, the Golden Knights spent a majority of their time working on the power play, specifically five on four. Obviously, we thought it was because Vegas was unsuccessful on their last 16 PP chances, but when asked, head coach Gerard Gallant disagreed.

It was planned, three or four days ago. So it wasn’t because we were 0 for 7 last night. -Gerard Gallant

The key word after Thursday’s preseason loss to Colorado was “simplify.”

We have to find our niche and simplify and have that five on five mentality. Sometimes when you’re unfamiliar you have to simplify and shoot the puck instead of making the extra pass.- Cody Eakin

Gallant agrees.

We tried to make the fancy plays, the crossing plays, and we weren’t shooting the puck. The last two or three power plays we started getting some point shots through and getting some rebounds. When you do that and establish a point shot, some of those seams open up later on. But it was slow, we weren’t attacking a lot on the power play. -Gallant

Gallant mentioned making the fancy play, or the extra, unnecessary pass. Eakin used the word cute to describe the same thing. And, Reilly Smith used another synonym.

In preseason you want to work on it, and try and make pretty plays. You do have to practice good habits, and sometimes just get the puck to he net and get those ugly goals. You’re not always going to have pretty ones. -Reilly Smith

This didn’t happen on the power play. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

So let’s sum this up. Cute + Fancy + Pretty = 0 for 16.

Simple + Ugly = Goals

While, it’s only preseason, and man-advantages are opportunities for teams to work on things, going scoreless on 16 straight power plays is a bad trend heading into the regular season.

Only in hockey can words like cute, fancy, or pretty imply something bad. Weirdos.

The E Word Means Excuses

Don’t you go dropping the “E” word on us all the time Turk. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last two preseason games have not been pretty on the ice for the Golden Knights. Tuesday they lost to the Ontario Reign masquerading as the Los Angeles Kings, and last night they got beat up over stretches by a team that finished last season with 48 points.

Normally when we’ve talked to coach Gerard Gallant after games we get reports on certain players, lines, special teams, or any other specific facet of the game. But last night he dropped a term we haven’t heard from him before, and while he’s 100% correct, the “E” word is an excuse.

We’re an expansion team. We’re going to work hard and try to get better every day. We’re going to let in 5-on-5 goals, that’s what every team does. We’ve got to work hard and battle hard. We made a few mistakes tonight on two of the goals and we’ll try to correct them, but that’s hockey. -Gallant

This is the part where you gasp. Ready, go! (LOUD GASPING NOISE)

Expansion team. When asked about struggling at even strength, he said they are an expansion team.

Now, of course, SinBin.vegas goes there all the time, we kind of think this team will stink this year, but this was the first time since the players have been in town Gallant used the term “expansion team” as an excuse for a loss.

Again, I reiterate, he’s not wrong, this is an expansion team. They are going to struggle with chemistry, timing, speed, skill, size, and in many ways simply being the lesser talented team on the ice, but to hear it as an umbrella excuse had my ears perked up higher than my Yorkie dogs.

Is this going to be a recurring theme every time they lose?

“What was wrong with the power play tonight?
“Well, we’re an expansion team, it’s going to be like this sometimes.”

“Why can’t you seem to get the puck out of your own end?”
“We’re an expansion team, we’ll just need to work harder.”

Or was this simply a slip of the tongue following a meaningless preseason game from a coach that’s not known to make excuses. Guess we’ll have to wait and see, but believe me, if it becomes a trend, it’s going to get annoying real quick.

Shipachyov Struggles In Faceoff Circle In First NHL Game

Shippy, stop losing draws! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL has made it very clear to begin the preseason that they’re done with cheating in the faceoff circle. So much so they’ve instructed officials to really crack down on faceoff violations. And, if two players get thrown out of the same draw, it’s an automatic delay of game penalty.

The rules are the same as they’ve always been, but the league’s decision to actually enforce them with more regularity was apparent in the Golden Knights second preseason game in Colorado.

We had 12 forwards dress and 11 of them took faceoffs. So that goes to show you. A lot of guys got thrown out and got frustrated. -Gerard Gallant

The Golden Knights also took two minor penalties for having multiple players tossed from faceoffs, including one which led to the 5 on 3 Colorado scored on.

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Time For Marchessault To Stake His Claim To The Top Line

Jonathan Marchessault at training camp at City National Arena. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Against my better judgment, I’m here to single out another player before tonight’s preseason game in Colorado. Just as I predicted Tomas Hyka’s domination in El Segundo and Tyler Wong came through for me with a hat trick in Vancouver, this time, it’s Jonathan Marchessault.

Marchessault is going to play on the top line for the Golden Knights against the Avalanche playing alongside Vadim Shipachyov and former teammate Reilly Smith.

That very possibly could be a line (in the regular season) but we’ll see how the chemistry looks and how they work together. It’s gonna take some time. I hope it works out, they are all good players. -Gerard Gallant

Where Marchessault fits in that line is clear.

He’s a shooter, so I’ll try to get him the puck as much as I can. -Reilly Smith

That should make for two guys trying to get the puck to Marchessault. Throughout camp, the skill that’s jumped off the ice for Shipachyov has been his passing. His ability to throw saucer passes basically through defenseman is almost mesmerizing and his rapport with Marchessault seems to be growing by the day.

Multiple times during morning skate at City National Arena, Marchessault and Shipachyov were seen messing around with each other including the moment Shipachyov entered the ice. He immediately skated over and sprayed Marchessault who was on a knee tying his laces. Marchessault laughed and spent much of the rest of the practice celebrating goals he scored on passes from Shipachyov or Smith.

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Power Play Scoring Must Pick Up From Career Numbers

Power-Play
/ˈpou(ə)r plā/
noun

A situation in hockey where one team has a greater number of players on the ice because the opposing team has a player or players are in the penalty box Sin Bin, giving the team a scoring advantage.

It’s no secret, NHL teams that have success on the power play, usually end up in the playoffs. Eight of the top ten most efficient PP units made the postseason. Tampa was one of the teams to miss the playoffs, but only by one point. For example, take last season’s Stanley Cup champion. They were 3rd in PP% at 23.1% and 2nd in PP goals with 60.

With playoff expectations low in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights coaching staff will have all season to find the right PP combinations. It could be frustrating for Gerard Gallant but that’s why he has Assistant Coach Mike Kelly. We’ll get to him later…

Offensively, PP goals can be a way to neutralize an opponent. Inferior teams can compete further in a game when they win the penalty battle. Let’s get serious, this is the NHL, stars get the calls, and unfortunately, Vegas’ only star is between the pipes, which likely means the Golden Knights will be down a man more often than they’re up one. But, if they can make the most of their PP opportunities, it could help pick up a few wins or overtime losses.

2017 Top NHL PP Percentage:

Sabres 24.5% Missed playoffs
Maple Leafs 23.8% First round exit
Penguins 23.1% Cup Champions
Capitals 23.1% Second round exit
Oilers 22.9% Second round exit
Lightning 22.8% Missed playoffs
Bruins 21.7% First round exit
Blues 21.3% Second round exit
Wild 21.0% First round exit
Rangers 20.3% Second round exit

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