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Timeout vs. Challenge; Gallant Prefers The Latter

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

To begin all NHL games both teams are awarded one timeout. They can use it at any time during the game except after an icing. Most coaches use it to set up a play late in a game or to give the top power-play unit a rest if they’ve been on the ice for a while and the coach wants to keep them out there.

However, there’s one other use for the timeout and it’s a big one. In the event a team wants to challenge a play for goalie interference, they must risk their timeout. If you don’t have your timeout, you can’t request a challenge.

Thus, holding on to that one timeout can be crucial, especially in a game in which a team is leading.

That’s why I don’t use it a lot. I want to really save it because if goals are scored on an interference you really want to save it. If I think we need it because our defensemen on the ice are exhausted and Gilly (defense coach Ryan McGill) wants to keep them out there then I’ll use it but it’s tough because you’d hate to see a tying goal go in when there’s a goalie interference that you might be able to challenge (and you don’t have the timeout). -Gerard Gallant

The purpose of the timeout in hockey has essentially changed.

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When Gerard Gallant And The Golden Knights Pull Their Goalie Compared To Rest Of NHL

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Thanks to some awesome data compilation by Meghan Hall (@MeghanMHall) of the Balls and Sticks Podcast we finally have some solid context on goalie pulls and the Golden Knights. (Here’s the website to find all the data, it’s one of the coolest workbooks I’ve seen all year.)

The Golden Knights have pulled the goalie a total of 21 times this season. They’ve been “successful” (at least tying the game) just one time and it happened to be on the first attempt of the season. Since Max Pacioretty’s goal on October 6th, Gerard Gallant has pulled his goalie 20 times and his team has not scored a single goal. In that time they’ve allowed 11 total empty netters, conceding at least one in 10 of the 20 games.

However, this is not horribly uncommon as 10 of the NHL’s 31 teams have just one successful goalie pull this year. Plus, four teams (Arizona, New York Islanders, Dallas, Pittsburgh) have all yet to tie or win a game after pulling their goalie.

That means 45% of the NHL has just one or fewer successful goalie pulls. However, that doesn’t mean the success rate of the goalie pull is poor. Actually, 14.6% of one goal games result in a tie game when the goalie is sent to the bench. Calgary, Minnesota, and New Jersey are the best at it, each successfully tying the game four times.

When down by one goal, the league average of the goalie is pulled is 1:43. Vegas is the fifth most aggressive team when it comes to time, pulling the goalie on average with 1:58 left on the clock. The most aggressive team is Toronto, pulling the goalie on average at around 2:28 left in the game.

The Golden Knights average pulling their goalie with 2:01 left on the clock in all situations. The earliest Gallant has removed the goalie was at the 3:13 mark, in the March 10th game at Calgary (down two), while the latest was with :49 vs. Montreal on November 10th (down one). Just nine of the 21 times has Gallant done it outside of 1:30 to 2:30 left.

Other teams have been far more adventurous. Tampa Bay once pulled the goalie with 9:47 to go, Dallas did it with 7:48, and Nashville recently tried it with 6:09 left. There have been more than 100 instances this season in which a goalie has been pulled earlier than the earliest Gallant has pulled VGK’s goalie.

With the goalie out, Vegas is about average at keeping the puck from going in their own net. They’ve allowed 11 empty net goals in the 21 goalie pulls. That’s good for 14th in the league. Calgary is the best allowing just four, while Dallas is the worst giving up 16.

All in all, pulling the goalie hasn’t been great for the Golden Knights, but you certainly can’t say Gerard Gallant isn’t trying.

Which Players Do The Golden Knights Miss Most (And Least) When They Are Out

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On December 13th, 2017 the Golden Knights claimed Ryan Carpenter on waivers from the San Jose Sharks. It took him almost a month, until January 5th to finally get in his first game. Since, he’s become a staple in Gerard Gallant’s lineup… much to the chagrin of many in the fan base.

Carpenter has just 13 points in 50 games this season and is a -8 in the plus/minus category. He’s among the worst on the team in just about every statistical category, yet when asked Gallant never has anything but good things to say about #40.

Carpenter is the same for me every night, pretty much. He is a solid player, he doesn’t make many mistakes. He does the right thing with the puck all the time, so we had very few turnovers tonight and he is a part of that. He did a good job on our penalty kill, so really liked his game -Gallant

He is one of the best in giveaways, just coughing the puck up 15 times in 630 minutes on the ice, and there’s no question he’s a strong penalty killer.

But let me throw another group of numbers into the mix. Whether it’s related to Carpenter or not, the Golden Knights are miserable without him. They are a pathetic 2-11-1 without Carpenter in the lineup and score just 2.21 goals while allowing 3.57 when he’s in the press box.

Here is a breakdown of all 19 players who are currently on the roster that have missed games. The numbers shown are how the Golden Knights perform without the designated player.

 RecordPts%GF/GGAGF%
Bellemare1-0-01.002.001.0066.7
Carpenter2-11-1.1792.213.5738.3
Carrier7-8-1.4692.693.0646.7
Eakin1-3-0.2502.003.2538.1
Haula27-18-4.5923.162.8652.5
Lindberg15-12-2.5522.862.5952.5
Nosek6-3-0.6673.782.8956.7
Pacioretty8-2-3.7313.312.5456.6
Reaves1-0-01.004.003.0057.1
Smith3-4-0.4293.003.0050.0
Stastny17-12-1.5833.102.7752.8
Tuch4-4-0.5002.252.6346.2
Pirri2-1-0.6673.672.6757.9
Zykov7-7-1.5002.933.1348.4
Engelland4-2-1.6433.432.7155.8
Holden4-7-0.3642.553.1844.4
Merrill14-6-2.6823.552.6856.9
Schmidt8-11-1.4252.502.9046.3
Theodore1-0-01.003.002.0060.0

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Gallant Opens Up On Decision Making Process In Shootout

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the clock struck 0:00 in overtime it was time for the Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant to make some tough decisions. Per NHL rules, when a game heads into the shootout, the home team is given the choice of shooting first or second.

Somebody told me we were 63% when we go first when Fleury’s in the net. So, I like 63 better than the other odds. Next game I might change it. But truthfully, over my career as a coach, I switch it up. It doesn’t matter to me. Some guys will want to go first all the time, I think most teams do, but I switch it up, I really do. -Gallant

Gallant reiterated that he doesn’t think it really matters, so he kind of just goes off his gut feeling for that night.

If you score there is (an advantage of going first). -Gallant

The Golden Knights have been in four shootouts this season and 11 in franchise history. They’ve gone first four times and won just one of them. They’ve gone second the other seven and have won five.

Four of them occurred at home, where Gallant is given the choice. He’s chosen to go first in three of the four, winning just one, while electing to go second once, which he also lost.

11/6/17 – @TOR – 2nd – Loss – Lagace
12/5/17 – ANA – 1st – Win – Subban
12/8/17 – @NSH – 2nd – Win – Subban
12/12/17 – CAR – 1st – Loss – Fleury
3/10/18 – @BUF – 2nd – Win – Fleury
3/24/18 @COL – 1st – Loss – Fleury
4/3/18 – @VAN – 2nd – Win – Subban

10/6/18 – @MIN – 2nd – Win – Fleury
10/24/ 18 – VAN – 2nd – Loss – Fleury
2/5/19 – @TBL – 2nd – Win – Fleury
2/20/19 – BOS – 1st – Loss – Fleury

(Have to assume the 63% Gallant is talking about is over the course of Fleury’s career. But who has time to look that up? Not me.)

Not sure exactly when this was published, but according to a study, going first or second in the shootout has not been statistically significant in the outcome. At the time of the study. 50.5% of teams that went second went on to win, hardly an advantage at all.

Last night Gallant went with Brandon Pirri, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, Shea Theodore, and Oscar Lindberg as his six shooters.

I’ll let him explain the thought process on that one.

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How Often Do The Golden Knights Coaches Talk About Changing Lines?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you are anything like me, every conversation you get into about hockey ends up turning into a pseudo coaches meeting where you consider all the different line combinations and what might be better than what the team is doing right now.

We’re fans though, that’s what fans do. Guess, second guess, armchair quarterback, and criticize when the team isn’t winning. But how often do the Golden Knights coaches actually talk about switching up the lines?

45 minutes this morning. We were going over the lines and that. We do it a lot. I mean obviously when you are winning you just keep rolling the same lines but when you’re not winning and you want to change some things you (go through) who will work with who and what will fit. Sometimes you overthink it but for the most part that’s what our job is, trying to get the best line combinations out there. -Gallant

Tonight, Gallant and Co. will run the lines out the same way they’ve started the last two games.

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Pirri-Stastny-Tuch
Pacioretty-Eakin-Lindberg
Nosek-Bellemare-Reaves

If you ask me, it’s time to break up the top line. I’ve thrown out ideas such as matching up Marchessault with Reaves, swapping Stastny and Karlsson, or even completely dismantling the top line onto three separate lines.

Gallant isn’t known for radical line changes, but that doesn’t mean they never come up in their daily discussions.

Not too often. Very seldom. I mean we’ve been pretty fortunate for the last year and a half that things are going pretty good. So when you hit a rough patch you try to say the same but sometimes you have to switch up the lines a little. -Gallant

The Golden Knights are searching for answers. They’ve found them temporarily here and there (see Nashville, Detroit, and Tampa) but all in all, they haven’t found the perfect combination.

We know now though that the discussions are happening. If the losing keeps up, it’s only a matter of time before we see something a bit more drastic than what we’ve seen already.

Gallant Happy With Third Line; “Want Them To Keep Doing What They Are Doing”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the buzz around the Golden Knights is almost squarely focused on the third line. It’s a line with only one stable piece, the center, Cody Eakin, and filled with imperfect wingers such as Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, Tomas Nosek, Ryan Carpenter, and Oscar Lindberg.

Most, including all three who write on this website, believe for the Golden Knights to reach the top of the mountain, something needs to change with that line. Whether it’s an addition from within, a piece added at the deadline, or reinforcements from the current top six, here at SinBin.vegas, we see the third line as the primary weakness for the Golden Knights.

The head coach, who happens to be the reigning Jack Adams award winner, does not agree.

I want them to keep doing what they are doing. People make a big deal of it that supposedly they don’t score enough. I don’t. We’ve got guys who can put the puck in the back of the net. Those guys have to come out and play their roles. I love a lot about our hockey team, I’m not too concerned at all. -Gerard Gallant

Gallant, speaking on the VGK Insider Show with Frank Harnish and Ryan The Hockey Guy on Fox Sports 98.9 FM, says he thinks his team is just fine offensively, even with the third line as currently constructed.

Well you know what, I think people overreact a little bit saying ‘oh this line needs to be better’ or ‘you’ve got to make that line better.’

I’m not worried about scoring. I know we’ve got the scoring in there. I’m worried about team chemistry and making sure we’ve got the right players playing at the right time. -Gallant

In fact, he went on to make an even bolder statement, declaring this year’s team as good as last year’s.

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Scoring First Not What It Used To Be For Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season was an absolute walk in the park for Golden Knights fans. I think we can all admit that now after going through this season’s roller coaster of emotions. Sure, Vegas is a top contender for the Stanley Cup again but it’s been much more stressful for Golden Knights fans.

We’ve got to find a way to get out of this slump and get back on the winning side by working hard, doing little things, simple things and playing our game in a fast way, good compete level and we should be alright. -Marc Andre Fleury

The Golden Knights are still on pace for a playoff invite but this current four-game skid has frustrated many. Including the team.

Well they better be frustrated because they’ve got to play better. They’ve got to play harder and work harder. It’s all about winning hockey games. -Gerard Gallant

One glaring concern for this season’s Golden Knights squad is their inability to win games after scoring first. Last season Vegas was 34-5-2 when they scored first, this season their record is an ordinary 17-10-3 in 54 games played.

The Golden Knights are tied for the second most regulation losses when leading opponents 1-0.

Regulation Losses When Scoring First
Ottawa 11
Vegas 10
New Jersey 10
Pittsburgh 10
Edmonton 9

To make it look even uglier, the Golden Knights are 22nd in the NHL with a mediocre (.567) win% when scoring first. Last season Vegas was second in win% (.829), just ahead of the Washington’s (.811) and right behind Tampa Bay’s (.837) when scoring first. This year, the Golden Knights have the worst win% of any playoff contender in the Western Conference.

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Are The Golden Knights Better Than Last Year?

Last year? We’re better, I think we’re a better team. -Jonathan Marchessault

Best inaugural season ever, 109 points, 29-10-2 at home, Pacific Division Champions, Western Conference Champions, you know it all, I just type it because it’s fun to remember, so let’s keep going…

They won eight of the first nine in franchise history and never lost more than three in a row until the final four games of the year. They had a 13-game point streak mostly during a 12-1-1 month of December. They put up five five-game win streaks including two in the playoffs and went 13-3 in the first 16 playoff games.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

What I’m trying to say is the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights were damn good, yet, one of their best players is not afraid to say this team is better.

And, he’s probably right.

I went around the locker room asking players and the head coach the exact same question. “Do you think your team now is as good as they were at any point last year?”

Many guys kind of danced around the question saying last year is last year, but you could tell, the insinuation that this team is as good, if not better, wasn’t a crazy thought.

I like this team. The parity around the league is good, there’s no easy night, but I always feel confident that we have a good chance to win. -Marc-Andre Fleury

We have a lot of similarities and we are striving to play as well as we did last year, are we there yet, I don’t know.  -Bellemare

The most direct, before I spoke to Marchessault, was from Alex Tuch, who didn’t hesitate when he said. “Yeah, I really do believe so.” He couldn’t really put into words how or why (mainly because he didn’t want to disparage anyone from last year’s team, understandably), but you could tell he believed it.

Then there was the head coach.

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Don’t Touch The New Top Six

Say hello to a new top six. Marchessault-Karlsson-Tuch & Pirri-Stastny-Smith. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It took until Game 8 of the Golden Knights inaugural season to find the combination of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith, but once the eventual Jack Adams award winner Gerard Gallant found it, he rode it for all it was worth.

The oft-described “top line” of the Golden Knights took the league by storm scoring a combined 92 goals, 213 points, and an insane +116 rating. They found themselves in the debate as the best line in hockey and helped power an expansion team to a division and conference title.

But then, in the matter of literally a second, the line was broken up.

It was a gut feeling and wanted to change things up a little bit. -Gerard Gallant

Coach comes and tells you, Tuchy you’re going with Marchy and Karly and Smitty is going to go with your line. -Alex Tuch

I told Pirri just keep playing the same because we were playing well. -Paul Stastny

Down 2-1 in the game, Gallant swapped Tuch and Smith creating a line of Karlsson, Tuch, and Marchessault, and another of Stastny, Smith, and Pirri. From then on, the Golden Knights completely took over the game.

Vegas dominated possession, scored three straight goals (and another that was taken off due to an offside challenge) and completed a come back from a two-goal deficit to win their 6th straight home game.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We just wanted to change it up a little bit, fortunately for us, it worked. -Gallant

When you have a lot of depth at forward you can kind of juggle lines a little bit, there’s a fine line of doing it to much, but sometimes you need a little spark and that kind of just got a spark for the whole team. -Stastny

It’s not like it’s a demotion or anything, any line you can play on with this team is pretty special. It brought us a lot of momentum and energy to our game. -Smith

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Gallant Says He Learned Something New On How He’s Handled Oscar Lindberg

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Gerard Gallant has been a coach in the NHL for 445 games, winning 222 of them. He’s been the head man of three different teams, won the Jack Adams Award, and brought his team to within three wins of lifting the Stanley Cup. Yet, heading into game 446, he’s still figuring things out.

I look back at how (Oscar Lindberg) missed a bunch of games in a row and I said to him in the last week or so that you know what, I probably shouldn’t have done it that way. I don’t like doing it that way, sitting a player that long, but that’s the way it happened and moving forward I probably wouldn’t do that again. I’ll probably give a guy a chance a lot quicker to get back in the lineup. You look at those situations and you learn something new every day. -Gerard Gallant

Prior to his re-insertion into the lineup on 12/4 against Washington, Oscar Lindberg had been a healthy scratch for six straight games. Before that, he played in two but was scratched for the previous nine. All in all, Lindberg has sat out of 20 of the Golden Knights 36 games and before the current seven-game stretch of being in the lineup, he hadn’t played more than four in straight all season.

We recently wrote about how Lindberg’s strong play has forced Gallant to make a few lineup moves, but the revelation that he doesn’t like the idea of sitting a player out that long is interesting to say the least, especially when you consider the fact that Lindberg has played well under the circumstances.

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