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Tag: Gerard Gallant (Page 1 of 4)

Second Time Through Telling Story Of Golden Knights Sustainability

One third of the season is gone and the first 27 games couldn’t have gone too much better for the Golden Knights. However, over the course of those games, Vegas has only seen five teams multiple times. In the next 27, they play former opponents for a second or third time 17 times.

So you don’t buy that there’s no book on your team?

Not a chance. No. When people talk about our team they know that we are a team that’s quick and we compete. -Gallant

Why can’t they all be like the Coyotes? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Arizona Coyotes
Win 2-1 (OT)
Win 5-2
Win 4-2
Win 3-2 (OT)

Anaheim Ducks
Win 4-2
Win 4-3 (SO)

Boston Bruins
Win 3-1
Loss 2-1

Dallas Stars
Win 2-1
Loss 3-0

Winnipeg Jets
Win 5-2
Loss 7-4

Last night’s game was a big one in showing how opposing teams would respond to their second crack at the Golden Knights. It was hard to take much out of the Arizona games because, well, Arizona tends to lose most games no matter how they are played.

However, with Dallas and Winnipeg, the second games were played similarly to the first. With Dallas, Vegas had a tough time getting out in transition, they didn’t get a lot of shot attempts, and the Stars controlled the game. In the first game, the Golden Knights were able to overcome it. In the second game, they were not. Against Winnipeg, Vegas played their style of north-and-south hockey which gave them a jump on the Jets and they were able to ride the hot start to the finish line. The second time against Winnipeg, the 1st period went that way, and there were moments throughout the 2nd and 3rd, but when all was said and done, the Jets came out on top.

Then there’s Boston. The two games were nearly identical with the home team winning each one. They are by no means the style of game Vegas wants to play, but the two games are further proof that the second time through, the games tend to go the same as the first.

The first game in Anaheim was one of the Golden Knights’ best. They were flying around in all three zones, created tons of scoring chances, and were even able to overcome an incredibly hot goalie and a deficit to fight back and get the win they deserved. Last night, it appeared to be going the same way in the 1st, but it came to a screeching halt out of intermission.

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Too Much Rest Cost The Golden Knights In Edmonton; So Says Gerard Gallant

The Golden Knights have had the luxury of a relatively spread out schedule to this point in the season. During the seven-game homestand to begin the year Vegas had 11 days in which they were not playing a game. They took full advantage of a majority of those days by practicing.

NO BREAKS! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On the long road trip they had just three days off between the six games. When the Golden Knights came home for the Friday game against the Jets, which they dominated, they had a decision to make about practice days, off days, and when to travel.

With three days in between the game against Winnipeg and the one in Edmonton, the Golden Knights opted for an off-ice training session on Saturday, a complete off day on Sunday, and a practice in Vegas before traveling to Edmonton on Monday. After seeing the dismal performance in Edmonton, Gerard Gallant’s now second guessing that schedule.

You go back and think, ‘did we do the right thing?’ You are trying to rest your team and get them ready, maybe it was the wrong decision. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but we looked flat tonight. -Gerard Gallant

It’s the first time all year (including training camp) the Golden Knights did not hit the ice in back-to-back days, despite having multiple opportunities to do so with the early spread out schedule. Looking forward, the next chance the schedule could possibly permit for consecutive days off the ice is from December 20th to the 27th when they play just one home game before heading off to the LA/Anaheim back-to-back. They’ll likely have Christmas off, but it doesn’t sound like there will be many more off days in the Golden Knights’ future.

As a coach, you think about those decisions you make. We had two days off the ice and then we had a practice day yesterday. Maybe that’ll be the last time we have two days off the ice at one time. -Gallant

It’s certainly an interesting thought to come to mind for a coach after his team put forth their worst effort of the year. Whether the training schedule was the reason will never truly be determined, but the next time the team feels they deserve an extra day off the ice, they’ll likely be reminded of November 14th in Edmonton.

Attack The Defensive Blue Line

Last night’s game told two tales. One in which the Golden Knights sat back and played a scared game, another when in which they attacked and played the way that’s earned them 19 points in 14 games and a top three position in the Western Conference.

Attack!!! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One specific difference jumped off the page while watching the game; the defensive blue line. Likely out of respect for the ridiculous team speed the Maple Leafs posses, Vegas was a bit more hesitant to challenge Toronto at the blue line. Instead, they sat back and tried to defend after the line was gained.

It didn’t work.

Here are three examples of it…

Those were all in the 1st period. Then, Gallant made the decision to swap out two of his defensive pairings, but he also made the choice to play a lot more aggressively at the blue line.

Here are the examples of what that looks like.

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Gerard Gallant: In-Game Line Switcher

I like you, I just don’t like playing with you. (Photo Credit: 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.

Too Much Tinkering?

Gerard Gallant is a huge proponent of the “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. He’s proven it with his lineups over the course of the first 12 games of the season. Following the Golden Knights eight wins, Gallant has made a total of five changes to his line up. Three of the five were made to insert injured players back into the lineup.

Following the Golden Knights eight wins, Gallant has made a total of five changes to his lineup. Following the four losses, 12 changes were made.

Every time the Golden Knights have dropped a game, there has been at least one change to the lineup. One has to ask though if this is too much. Throughout the course of the first 12 games, only the “fourth” line and the Sbisa/Schmidt pairing has remained the same every game. It should come as no surprise that those five players have had some of the most consistent starts to the year.

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What Did Gallant See That We Didn’t?

Let’s first start off with a very important disclaimer. I am not a coach, and I’m not qualified to be a coach, and I probably never will be. Gerard Gallant, on the other hand, is a coach, and was a player, has done it for a long time, so his opinion should probably hold a bit more weight than mine.

I think the guys really battled, against a good, strong Boston team. It was a bounce here and a bounce there that was the difference in the hockey game. I thought it was a real good hockey game that we didn’t get points out of but we probably could’ve. -Gerard Gallant

Maybe we just prefer the higher scoring games? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Gallant seemed pleased with the Golden Knights performance, regardless of the outcome. The Vegas coach liked his club’s effort, especially following two awful finishes in New York. However, Thursday’s “promising” play resulted in a third consecutive Golden Knights defeat. Which leads to my dilemma. Gallant thinks his team played well enough to win, I disagree.

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not calling out effort, instead, I’m calling out strategy, and maybe even skill. The Golden Knights looked like a team struggling to get anything going which hasn’t been common for this team. They skated for long stretches without shots or pressure on Bruin’s goaltender Tuukka Rask. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Jonathan Marchessault, and Alex Tuch were the only forwards to register a 1st period shot. In the middle frame, the Golden Knights turned the puck over four times in a matter of three minutes. Two such giveaways were on a man-advantage situation. And the 3rd period it just never really felt like Vegas’ goal would come because of a lack of chances, and sure enough, it didn’t.

Gallant was noticeably frustrated after Tuesday’s loss to New York. He even went on to call Vegas an expansion team. After Thursday’s 2-1 loss in Boston the head coach had a much more positive message.

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3rd Period Woes Continue For Golden Knights

Can’t we just call it a night after 2? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

During the 8-1 start to the season, all of the talk was on how great the Golden Knights were playing, especially during the 2nd period. After the game against Colorado, the Golden Knights had a +13 goal differential in the 2nd period of their first nine games. It led the league by six goals in that specific period and it was the highest differential for any team in any period.

Then, they went to New York, lost to the Islanders and Rangers, and the strong 2nd periods are forgotten while the focus shifted to the disaster that is the 3rd.

at Dallas0-12
at Arizona-101
St. Louis-12-1
at NY Islanders1-1-2
at NY Rangers11-4

The obvious question is why is this happening, and rather than channel our inner Turk, we’re going to try and figure it out.

What makes you guys so good in the second period?
No idea. Seriously. -Gerard Gallant

The first piece to the 3rd period nightmare puzzle is a little thing called circumstance.

  • 10/10 vs. Arizona – Golden Knights lead by 4 heading into the 3rd (-1)
  • 10/13 vs. Detroit – Marc-Andre Fleury remains in game after getting concussed midway through the 2nd (-4)
  • 10/13 vs. Boston – Bruins score with :30 left on clock in 6v5 situation (0)
  • 10/17 vs. Buffalo – Golden Knights lead by 3, give up goals on 6v4, 5v3, and 6v5 situations (-2)
  • 10/21 vs. St. Louis – Malcolm Subban injured with 10:00 left in game. Oscar Dansk makes first career NHL appearance (-1)
  • 10/30 at NY Islanders – Oscar Dansk injured late in 2nd, Maxime Lagace makes first career appearance in tie game on the road (-2)
  • 10/31 at NY Rangers – David Perron takes 4-minute penalty, Rangers score one during the PP, add another empty-netter late (-4)

A lot has gone down late in 2nd periods and into 3rd periods for the Golden Knights, namely injuries and leads. If you remove the concussion game, and this last one at Madison Square Garden, Vegas is at an even differential in the 3rd. However, circumstance doesn’t tell the whole story. Check out the shots/Corsi numbers.

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Honest And Angry; A New Side Of Gerard Gallant After Back To Back Losses

“We pissed away points that we should’ve got.” (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A few weeks back, Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant answered my question about Marc-Andre Fleury in a peculiar way.

I can’t tell you the truth all of the time. That’s the way it works, to be honest with you. -Gerard Gallant (October 15th)

Well, that changed after Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the New York Rangers. We got the brutally honest Gallant.

That’s two nights in a row that we pissed away points that we should’ve got. And tonight was a bad one. -Gallant

For the first time in his brief Golden Knights history, Gallant spoke like a ticked off coach on a two-game losing streak. Not an e-word coach content with a hot start. After two consecutive blown leads, a frustrated Gallant spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

We got too many veterans to be learning. We’re a good team, and we’re a better team than that. We’re not a real expansion team, we’re a good hockey team. We play a lot better than that. -Gallant

He wasn’t pointing fingers directly at anyone, but if you are David Perron listening to the coach’s postgame comments, it probably felt like there was a finger pointed right at him. Every time Gallant said penalty, he was talking about Perron. But Gallant wasn’t letting anyone on his team get away with their MSG collapse. Especially, after Monday’s Barclays Center collapse.

We made excuses last night (Monday) and again tonight we sit back defensively and they took it to us. We didn’t respond the right way and sat back instead of trying to attack like we did all game… That’s all on us. We lost the game. -Gallant

To be honest, I like honest Gallant. We’ve never seen this side of the Golden Knights coach. I thought it would take a lot longer before we saw him this furious. In his mind, he’s coaching a playoff contending team, not a first-year organization. Fans against the tank should be thrilled to read Gallant’s comments. Apparently, he’ll never accept pissing away points for better draft odds no matter how badly his GM may want it to happen at some point this year.

Using The “E-Word” As a Motivator

Expansion team. That’s what the Golden Knights are and will continue to be throughout this entire season, but there are many ways to frame those two words.

They can be used in a historical context.

They can be used as an excuse, as Gerard Gallant did after a preseason loss to the Kings.

“We’re an expansion team. We’re going to work hard and try to get better every day. -Gerard Gallant

Or, as they were tonight, they can be used as a kick in the ass for a team that has thrown away back-to-back games, and have a coach who isn’t happy about it.

We played a great two periods. Until that penalty, we were in control of the game and playing well. They scored a goal to make it 4-3, and the rest of the period we looked like an expansion team. That’s what happened. They took it to us. -Gallant

Gallant was as unhappy as we’ve ever seen him. He watched his team squander a 4-2 third-period lead due to stupid penalties, turnovers, and a lack of the aggressiveness that got them the lead in the first place.

I think I like angry Turk. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The e-word tonight was a slap in the face to the players who have taken that expansion team status and raised the bar to something much better. Gallant threw the e-word out there tonight to fire up his team after a pair of ugly losses.

Previously, those two words were almost a curse word in my book. I’ve been waiting for Gallant to use it as an excuse at every turn of the season. Today, he did the exact opposite. He used it as a motivator, and that’s exactly what it should be.

That’s two nights in a row we pissed away points. -Gallant

The Golden Knights are an expansion team, no matter what anyone says, but that doesn’t mean they have to play like one, and Turk isn’t going to let them do it without them hearing about it.

I love it.

Gallant Not Concerned About 3 PM Start; Actually Thinks Players Will Prefer It

Wait, what time is it again? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Happy Nevada Day! No better way to celebrate this joyous occasion like playing a hockey game at 3 PM and throwing off any rhythm the 7-1 Golden Knights have gotten themselves into over the past six games of this homestand. Am I right!?!

There’s no question it’s a concern for the Golden Knights who are getting set to wrap up the final game of what’s been an historic and in many ways unbelievable start to the season. However, head coach Gerard Gallant doesn’t see it as a potential disadvantage for his players, in fact, he sees just the opposite.

They’ve played them before, everybody’s played some games at 2 o’clock, 1 o’clock. I think guys like them because they don’t have to come for a morning skate. They stay home, they get prepared and they come to the rink. As a former player, I enjoyed playing those afternoon games, and I think most of the guys do. -Gerard Gallant

It’s an interesting point, and in fact, I found myself with a bit more time to have a life this morning due to the lack of morning skate. So I certainly understand the point, however, change is always a concern, especially for a team as hot as the Golden Knights.

3 PM start, white jerseys/gloves, and likely a minor change to the pregame ceremonies could certainly lend to a bit of a different atmosphere in the rink this afternoon. Thus far, nothing has seemed to get in the way of the Golden Knights, so it’s safe to assume this won’t either, but hey what’s the point of if we don’t freak you out about something before it ever happens.

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