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Tag: Gerard Gallant (Page 1 of 5)

“Get To 97 Points, That Was The Goal”

Playoffs baby! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the win last night the Golden Knights improved to 46-21-5 on the season, good for 97 points with 10 games to go. They still haven’t clinched a playoff berth officially, and the Pacific Division hats remain boxed up, but according to All Star head coach Gerard Gallant, the objective of the regular season has been completed.

It’s good any time you win a hockey game and it’s a big win tonight. Get to 97 points, that was the goal. It didn’t start out pretty but at the end of the day we played a real good second and third period and that was a key for us. -Gallant

Think about it, an expansion team who was projected by just about everybody (including this ridiculously biased website) to finish near the bottom of the league came into the season with a goal of reaching 97 points, and they hit it, with three weeks of games left on their schedule.

Since the league went to 82 games and 16 playoff teams, no team with at least 97 points has ever been left out of the playoffs.

Officially, the Golden Knights are seven points away from clinching a playoff berth, still needing to eliminate two Pacific teams or three Western Conference teams. (You can read more about that here) But as far as we’re concerned, playoff hockey is coming to Vegas. Just don’t tell Turk quite yet…

You said 97 points was the goal for the season, so am I allowed to say playoffs yet?

You can say it but there’s no “x” beside our name right now, so that’s the key. -Gallant

So I am allowed to say it?

Getting closer to it. -Gallant

Close enough, we’re doing it…

The Golden Knights are going to the playoffs!!!

Cushion Effect; Were The Golden Knights Too Far Ahead To Stay Focused?

Frustration seemed to bring the best out of the Golden Knights. That’s a good sign moving forward. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A former NHL player told us it’s easy for top teams to get comfortable at this time of year. He said it’s really easy to feel that way when a team is leading their division by double digits. The cushion effect theory certainly seemed to be coming true over the last handful of Vegas games.

On March 13th, the Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division by 12 points. Before puck drop on Sunday, VGK’s lead was cut in half.

We weren’t happy with the way we played over the last couple weeks. We had some real good games in there. We had some games where I thought we played okay and lost… I thought tonight’s game was really important. -Gerard Gallant after the game Sunday

That was All Star head coach Gallant after his squad woke up from their slumber. Prior to the game, the word of choice was urgency.

For me, we have to have a little more urgency in our game. We’re playing okay, we’re playing fine but there’s got to be a little more urgency. -Gallant prior to the game on Sunday

We brought up the idea of the standings cushion being a possible reason for the lapse. Gallant was on board.

I understand it. You look at the standings and say ‘you know what, we’re in a good spot right now’ but we got to look past that and get ready for every game. I think if every player can pick up his game two percent that’s all we need. -Gallant

After their microscopic rut, the Golden Knights are back on track but one win against the Sharks and that cushion would be back to 10. Not saying we want them them lose game in the near future, just after seeing the way they responded when the urgency returned to the game last night, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing if San Jose keeps breathing down the Golden Knights’ necks from here til April.

The Golden Knights Don’t Pick Their Starting Lineup Like You Probably Think They Do

Ever been sitting in the seats at T-Mobile listening to the names announced in the starting lineup or been sitting at home watching the faces scroll across the top of the screen and thought to yourself, why are these players in the starting lineup tonight?

Normally, you would simply assume that the best players start the game to allow them to get the most playing time, but in hockey that’s not always the case. With the Golden Knights, the nearly every player on the team has drawn into the starting lineup at some time or another. There’s no question the top line is Smith, Karlsson, and Marchessault, but sometimes Carrier, Bellemare, and Nosek hear their names announced as starters.

The guy in the net is really the only name that matters. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The standard explanation for this is that there would be a strategical advantage to start a certain line and certain defensive pairing. Normally that would be to match up the lines against what the opponents put on the ice.

It’s a lesser-known fact in the NHL, but at every stoppage of play the away team chooses their players first and then the home team gets to react and pick their players (except for icings when all players on the infracting team must remain on the ice). So, for the starting lineup, the away team picks, and then the home team gets to pick to match.

However, with All Star head coach Gerard Gallant, he goes with a bit of a different method.

Sometimes it’s to reward guys for a real good game the game before. Sometimes it’s coach’s superstition. Marchessault’s line won four or five games in a row so you just start them. And then some night’s it’s who the other team starts. When you are the home team you sorta look at who they are starting. Some coaches match real hard, I’m not a big hard matcher.  -Gerard Gallant

He literally doesn’t care.

To be honest with you though it’s a coin toss for me. -Gallant

So the next time you think, why the heck is that guy in there to start the game, just know…

It’s insignificant. -Gallant

Reaves, Gallant Mentioned In NHLPA Player’s Poll

3rd!?! C’mon NHL. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Once a year the NHL Player’s Association conducts a poll in which they ask multiple questions to current NHL players. Questions asked ranged from fastest current skater to best defenseman of all time.

Two Golden Knights were mentioned in the poll including one of the largest vote totals of any category. That distinction went to new Golden Knight, Ryan Reaves, in the category of “toughest player.”

The other Golden Knight was All Star head coach Gerard Gallant.

Gallant received 31 votes from the 267 players who voted in the poll.

Slightly surprisingly, maybe depending on when the poll was conducted (between preseason and January), T-Mobile Arena was not listed in the results for best arena, best ice, or best fans.

To see the rest of the results, click here.

Defense Slipping Majorly At Home

Brutally Honest Marchy might be my favorite Marchy. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Friday night the Golden Knights were without Nate Schmidt and Luca Sbisa. Shea Theodore returned to the lineup, but he had missed the previous six games. Those are facts, but those also could be viewed as excuses for a team that’s had players in and out of their blue line for the entire season. Only recently though have they seen their goal against average balloon, especially at home.

It looked like it made a huge difference tonight. Other guys get chances to play and they’ve dominated all year long. I’m disappointed with the way a lot of guys played tonight. We didn’t compete hard enough. -Gerard Gallant

That statement came after a game in which the Golden Knights allowed five goals to the Ottawa Senators, a team that averages just 2.75 goals a game and an embarrassing 2.18 goals per game on the road.

It’s just another example of the recent downturn defensively the Golden Knights have experienced in their own building.

  • First 24 home games
    • 2.21 Goals Against Average
    • Allowed 3+ goals: 9 times
      • 1 out of every 2.66 games
  • Last 9 home games
    • 3.00 Goals Against Average
    • Allowed 3+ goals: 6 times
      • 1 out of every 1.5 games

It’s become a real problem and it’s one that must be corrected soon as the “goals for” column tends to dry up a bit in the playoffs.

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Bottom Six; What’s The Right Combination?

Step right up, pick three, any three!

The Golden Knights have hit a bit of a rough patch injury-wise, especially when it comes to the third and fourth lines. Over the course of the last month or so we’ve seen pretty much everyone play with everyone else.

Now, Tomas Nosek is set to return, which means for the first time in a while All Star head coach Gerrard Gallant will have to make decisions along the bottom six.

The plan for tonight is to run out the lines of Alex Tuch/Cody Eakin/Oscar Lindberg and Ryan Carpenter/Pierre-Edouard Bellemare/Tomas Nosek. Thus breaking up the recently successful Tuch/Bellemare/Carpenter line.

Everyone has their own opinions on who should be playing with whom, so we decided it’s time to put some numbers to the opinions. Have fun with this one…

13 w/ 21314:1349.1950.88111450.00
13 w/ 2465:4246.2745.452442.03
13 w/ 400:550.000.00000.00
13 w/ 4129:5150.8550.002055.17
13 w/ 9224:2845.8327.270057.14
21 w/ 24170:1650.1754.612749.14
21 w/ 403:3954.5533.330042.86
21 w/ 4120:0640.9147.621045.00
21 w/ 9227:4846.6747.060051.61
24 w/ 4011:4650.0063.640060.00
24 w/ 41173:4056.8860.484462.25
24 w/ 92115:0450.4554.243556.31
40 w/ 4158:1957.8055.933459.62
40 w/ 928:51 52.1761.540054.55
41 w/ 92301:4052.7752.0191056.76
13 w/ 21 w/ 89245:5150.3152.8191052.85
13 w/ 21 w/ 2447:2743.4842.591430.95
40 w/ 41 w/ 8930:5164.5273.533171.43
21 w/ 24 w/ 89104:3653.2561.841258.82
24 w/ 41 w/ 9294:4254.0259.302363.29

Numerically, the most successful line offensively is the Tuch/Bellemare/Carpenter line, but the sample size is rather small. That being said, the line Gallant is going with, Tuch/Eakin/Lindberg has been very good in possession, but the scoring has yet to come (just one goal in 104:36).

This will be the first time Nosek, Carpenter, and Bellemare have been together, but any time Nosek and Bellemare have been very good, especially considering a majority of their zone starts are in the neutral or defensive zone.

Play around with that chart, and see what you can find. Personally, I’d like to see Tuch/Bellemare/Carpenter and Lindberg/Eakin/Nosek, but what do I know, I’m not the front-runner for the Jack Adams award.

Coaches Vote: Gallant Unanimous Coach Of The Year; VGK Picked To Win Cup By One Coach

The Bobfather of TSN conducted a poll of all 31 coaches in the NHL asking questions such as player of the year, coach of the year, conference champions and more.

Pst, they already sent me the Jack Adams Trophy. Don’t tell Bettman. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The poll was dominated for the most part by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but there was only one category in which it was a complete sweep. All 30 other coaches voted for Gallant as Coach of the Year to this point. He was not allowed to vote for himself, which we know he wouldn’t have anyway. TSN’s report did not indicate who he voted for.

The Golden Knights received seven votes as Western Conference champions and were one of just six teams (TB, NSH, BOS, PIT, WPG) to receive a vote as Stanley Cup champions.

The full article and complete results can be found here.


Turning Point Of The Season

When was the exact moment the Golden Knights went from an expansion team expected to finish in last place to a dominant force in the Western Conference with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations?

Coach says the night they got whipped 8-2 by the Edmonton Oilers.

That game showed us a lot about our hockey team. I could be wrong but after that game, I think we won five in a row. The guys really showed a lot of character. Sometimes in a game like that you go the other way, but I think our guys rallied around each other and said ‘we’re better than that.’ That was a turning point in the season for me.

He’s not wrong, they did win the next five games, and since that drubbing, the Golden Knights are 19-4-1, before it they were 10-6-1.

Prior to that game they had allowed 3.18 goals per game, that number is 2.46 since. They averaged 29.47 shots, it’s 34.79 since. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

What’s your turning point? Post it in the comments… (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Coach is right, that game turned the season around statistically, but it had a more profound impact on the mental aspect of the team.

That was the first time all year they had really been blown off the ice. It happened on the road, to a desperate team captained by the best player in the world, with a fourth (and eventually fifth) string goalie in the Golden Knights net. It clearly was an aberration and there was no reason to view it any differently, but according to their coach, the Golden Knights did anyway.

They came out and played a great game two nights later in Vancouver, then followed it up with four more wins against the Pacific Division, and haven’t stopped rolling yet.

I could argue for the pair of games in Nashville and Dallas or the win over the Lightning here in Vegas. The win against Winnipeg after the rough homestand or the back-to-backs in southern California. There are a lot of options of when you could say the Golden Knights season turned, but it’s hard to argue with Turk on this one, so I won’t.

Now let’s just hope the second meeting with the Oilers doesn’t turn it again.

Playoffs On The Mind

Let’s face it, the Golden Knights are going to the playoffs. You know it, I know it, every player in the locker room knows it, and despite his best efforts, Gerard Gallant knows it.

You two, Turk would like to see you in his office. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen) 

They lead the Western Conference on New Year’s Eve, have won seven straight games, are on a 12 game point streak, and just completed the month of December at 11-1-1 with wins over Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Washington, Anaheim, and Toronto.

Multiple players mentioned how the team is improving every day, especially when looking back on where they were a few months ago when they lost in Toronto. Then, one Golden Knight, who shall remain nameless for reasons you will soon find out, said this.

We cannot stop. How can you get satisfied with just playing the regular season and winning, that’s nothing. Look at plenty of teams that just make the playoffs every year and they can’t pass the first or second round. It’s awesome obviously, but the real teams show up in the playoffs. For us I think it’s time to start thinking about it and being ready for that for sure. -Anonymous Golden Knight

Then this happened in Gallant’s post-game press conference.

Today is the first time I heard the word “playoffs” mentioned by any player in the locker room. At what point do you start looking towards that and shaping the team towards that.

Who said that? -Gallant

I’m not going to tell you.

You said it? -Gallant

No… I’m not telling you.

Honestly, we aren’t worried about the playoffs. Playoffs will worry about themselves in April. When I find out who that guy is I’m going to fine him. -Gallant

I’ll never tell him who it was.

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Primed For A Pre-Holiday Letdown?

When the Golden Knights returned from their successful trip to Nashville and Dallas, coach Gerard Gallant was definitely a bit concerned about the five-game homestand centered around the Christmas break.

Sometimes around the holidays, your focus is somewhere else. We talk about that, let’s make sure we are focused on these next five games and then the holidays start. You’ve got kids and families around for the holidays. Sometimes it’s easier to be on the road. We’ve just got to make sure we are focused. -Gerard Gallant on December 11th

Human nature sucks sometimes. Tonight has a real good chance to be one of those times. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Well, they must have been focused because the Golden Knights have put together a stretch of three wins in the first four games and have racked up seven of the eight possible points along the way.

But there’s still one game left on this homestand and it may just be the stiffest test of all of them. Washington plays the style of game that Vegas has struggled with. They take care of the puck in their own end, they are strong in transition, and when they get set up in the offensive zone they are lethal.

A 3-1-1 homestand would certainly not be viewed as anything but a major success considering the opponents the Golden Knights have faced. However, for most players and coaches normally when asked about stretches of games coaches and players tend to resort to the old cliche of “the next game.” That wasn’t so much the case, much to my surprise, for Gallant looking ahead to this one.

I admitted to you, we had five games before the break and they were all home games. I probably said let’s do real well here and right now we’re doing real well, we’re 3-0-1 in those five games. I want to win that next game, it’s an important game, but we’ve had a great stretch with this five game run no matter what happens. (extended pause) But I want to win it! -Gerard Gallant

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