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Buy, Sell, Or Hold, Pacioretty Trusts VGK To Make The Right Call

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL trade deadline is a week away and it could be another active one for the Golden Knights. Since their first trade deadline in 2018, Vegas hasn’t been shy adding players to their already competitive roster. The first season Ryan Reaves and Tomas Tatar were acquired to give the coaching staff extra skill and muscle. On last year’s deadline day, the Golden Knights traded and signed Mark Stone who quickly became the face of the franchise. Needless to say, the players and fans are anticipating the front office to be calling and texting other general managers.

 I’ve been on every end of that situation, buying and selling, or standing put. In terms of rumors you don’t hear too many playing in Vegas as opposed to playing in a Canadian city. On trade deadline having the TV on in here, you heard about the possibility of getting a guy like Mark Stone. I’m sure once we get closer to the day maybe we’ll hear a little more. In terms of what we hear with outside noise, we don’t as a player in Vegas and that’s a nice thing. -Pacioretty

Max Pacioretty has seen his share of deadlines come and go in his 12-year career. The 31-year-old has been on both sides of the scale, teams that were buyers and teams that were sellers. Even for a veteran the trade deadline period can be a bit stressful, knowing a teammate or potentially himself could be dealt to another club.

It’s a pretty crappy feeling when you get the day off and you’re all hanging out, which has happened to me, and everyone has got their phones on. Seeing guys drop like flies getting traded to other teams because your team is selling. That’s the worst feeling in the world and you never want to be in that position.- Pacioretty

That isn’t the case for Vegas, nor has it been in team history. Pacioretty and his teammates expect the Golden Knights to be heavily involved, even if a trade doesn’t materialize.

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On A Set Play Vegas Comes Through In The Clutch

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was the play of the game, if not one of the biggest plays of the season (feels like we’ve said that a lot, hopefully this one actually sticks). Having given up a 3-1 lead, Vegas could have easily skated out the period and secured at least a point in Carolina. However, the Hurricanes gave the Golden Knights one more chance to come away with a win. And that’s exactly what they did.

The late-game power play allowed Vegas to execute a perfectly set up game-winning goal. The beautifully designed tic-tac-toe sequence by Shea Theodore, Paul Statsny and Alex Tuch clinched a wild game for the Golden Knights. Not only was it a big goal for Tuch, but for the new coaching staff as well.

It was a good play by Theo and Stas, something we were kind of looking to do and we were able to execute. I just put my stick on the ice and made sure I hit the net. -Alex Tuch

The play began with a faceoff won by Stastny, purposely to his left, which Mark Stone jumped on and fed out to Theodore. Instead of taking his own shot, giving the puck back to Stone or Max Pacioretty to his right, the defenseman walked the blue line with the puck, opened up the seam and then used a little shot pass to feed the puck through an incredibly tight window to Stastny.

Theodore’s stutter-step/fake shot shifted the defense and goaltender just enough to find an open passing lane to Stastny who was waiting on one side of the net.

Knowing the puck was coming to him, he quickly directed the pass across the crease and on to the stick of Tuch, who tapped in the game-winner.

From the initial pass by Stone, to Theodore’s shot fake, to Stastny’s quick touch pass, each player knew exactly where the others would be. You’ll even notice Pacioretty charging in behind Tuch ready to scoop up any rebounds in case the puck was blocked. Or perhaps as a secondary option. Either way, all five players did their job and the execution paid off.

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Mark Stone Says Top Guys Need To Capitalize And It’s Not Happening Enough Recently

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Mark Stone has three goals and three assists in the last 17 games.

Paul Stastny has three goals and no assists in those same 17 and he’s gone 21 games since his last assist.

William Karlsson hasn’t scored in nine straight games.

That’s three players the Golden Knights expect to score who simply aren’t and especially at home.

For us guys at the top of the lineup, we have to capitalize on our opportunities. -Mark Stone

It’s hard to point at any of those three, or really anyone in the Golden Knights top six and say “that guy is playing poorly.” None of them are and in fact, at times, each of guy in that group has had games where they are Vegas’ best player. However, there’s no question that the team needs more scoring from their best players and it starts with Stone.

I put pressure on myself whether we are winning games or losing games. I need to contribute. Not just points, but on the penalty kill and be good defensively, but of course, I’m an offensive guy, I need to capitalize. -Stone

Last night against the Rangers, the Golden Knights had the game in their grasp. They created 23 scoring chances in the 1st period while allowing just four. 13 of those 23 were considered high-danger by NaturalStatTrick.com and yet, Vegas came away with nothing.

A couple chances the other way and suddenly the Golden Knights were staring at a big 2-0 hole.

You look at some of these games and I’m one of the main guys who could have broken that game open today. Our line had four or five high-end shifts, we need to capitalize on the scoring chances. -Stone

It’s been a problem all season for this team. They are 2nd in the entire NHL in expected goals scored, yet rank 17 in actual goals. They lead the league in scoring chances, yet have just a 50.7% scoring chance goals percentage. They’ve created the 2nd most high-danger chances in the league, yet are shooting just 16.3% on them good for 25th in the NHL.

We’ve got to have that killer instinct to get that first goal and get our croud into it. -Stone

It’s about finishing, and the Golden Knights aren’t doing it enough and according to Stone, it’s on the top guys in the lineup.

Golden Knights Have To Start “Trying To Dominate,” Especially At Home

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last time the Golden Knights won at home was 17 days ago. The last time they’ve won two in a row at home was 211 days ago when they won Games 3 and 4 of the series against the Sharks.

Over the course of the first season and a half for the Golden Knights, no matter what else was going on, they could always rely on their ability to win at home. They went an unbelievable 29-10-2 at T-Mobile Arena in 2017-18 and backed it up by starting 16-4-3 at home to start 2018-19. But since, it’s been a bit of a struggle.

They finished last year at 10-6-2 before dropping a crucial Game 6 at home leading to a first-round exit. This year they’ve actually lost more games inside of T-Mobile Arena than they’ve won, posting a 4-3-2 record.

If you dig into the stats, you’ll see they’ve been scoring fewer goals, shooting much less, and for the most part not controlling the flow of the game even close to as often as they used to.

I don’t think it’s anything with personal or the style of play or anything like that. I just honestly think it’s a mentality thing. We’ve got to play a little bit harder, little bit chippier. We’ve got to really want to dominate teams. I think we are going out to just try and win, we want to go out and try to dominate. It makes winning that much easier and I think it makes everyone around us better. -Alex Tuch

Tuch has been watching from the sidelines for all but four periods this season, and he’s seeing exactly what most everyone else is seeing. While he was speaking about the team in general, in my opinion, his comments translate to the team’s play at home even more than on the road.

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Golden Knights Award Campaigns

I was watching TV last night when I saw an ad for a candidate running for President in 2020.  That got me thinking. We’re already a month into the NHL season, should we start the campaign for Golden Knights to win individual awards?

I was still lukewarm on the idea, seeing as Vegas has only played 13 games and the awards show is seven months away. But then, my mind was instantly changed.

A second ad for Tom Steyer!

I figured if Tom is already trying to get my vote in November of 2020, it’s fair for me to start talking/writing about Mark Stone winning the Hart, Cody Glass for Calder, or Valentin Zykov for Masterton (he’s got about as much a chance as Tom 2020, right?)

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Hart Trophy – Most Valuable Player
VGK Candidate: Mark Stone

Stone currently sits in 9th place in both goals and points through the first month of the season. Of course, in order to win the Hart, he’ll need to jump into the top five at the very least, but a 100+ point effort from one of the league’s best defensive forwards would definitely warrant consideration. If Stone can keep on this pace, he’ll be pushing the century mark and he’ll likely be doing it for a team that’s running away with the Pacific Division by March. Honestly, it will probably take an injury or two to a few of the main candidates, but the longer Stone stays in the top 10 in points, the stronger the candidacy will get.

Vezina Trophy – Top Goaltender
VGK Candidate: Marc-Andre Fleury

Fleury currently leads the league in wins, minutes, saves, and point shares for goalies. He’s posted a .928 save percentage and 2.30 goals against average, both of which are better than the numbers Andrei Vasilevskiy put up en route to his Vezina last year. Fleury has made a countless number of incredible saves and is the main reason the Golden Knights are 8-5-0 rather than 5-8-0. Vegas seems once again primed to run him out there 60+ times this season which means he should be at or near the top in every statistical category for goalies when the season is over. It’s literally the only thing he hasn’t done in his career. Hopefully this is the year.

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Cody Glass Stands Tall On Line With Max Pacioretty And Mark Stone

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday afternoon Cody Glass tried going through the same routine he always does on game day. On the day of his first career NHL game though, one particular piece of that routine was going to be tough.

After Morning Skate: I usually pregame nap, so that’ll probably be a little bit hard this afternoon. I’m just very excited. -Glass

After the game: Terrible. I couldn’t sleep. It was one of those sleeps where my eyes were closed but I still still wide awake.

Not only was Glass getting ready to play his first NHL game, he was set to become the first draft pick in Golden Knights history to suit up in a game, and to raise the stakes, his name was listed on the lineup card in between Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty as the 2nd line center.

It was a hell of an ask for a 20-year-old rookie who doesn’t even have a fraction of a professional season under his belt. There’s a ton of responsibility that comes with playing up the lineup with incredibly high-end talents like Stone and Pacioretty, and it takes a lot of confidence in a coach to make the call to put him there, especially on opening night against the team’s fiercest rival.

After one game, it was a rousing success.

Glass saw nearly 10 minutes of even-strength ice time with Stone and Pacioretty and didn’t share the ice with any other line for a full shift at any time during the game. Aside from a few defensive zone draws (literally one or two) that were taken by Paul Stastny, Glass centered the 2nd line the entire night posting a goal and not allowing one themselves.

Whenever that kid goes out on the ice he just goes out there, sees a play and makes it. You don’t see too many young guys with that mentality. I’ve never seen one to be honest and that’s what makes him so special and while he’ll keep improving. -Pacioretty

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William Hill Props, SinBin.vegas Picks – 2019-20

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We are just 21 days away from Opening Night at T-Mobile Arena. Which means, the William Hill mobile sports app is stocked with Golden Knights related bets and props.

Whether you gamble or not, prop bets always give us a rough idea of expectations heading into a new season. This year, William Hill has listed 11 prop bets including eight-player specific bets. Here are my picks on each and every one of them. (Last year I went 6-3.)

Regular Season Points
O/U 101.5 

The Golden Knights had 109 in Year 1 and 93 in Year 2, this year’s total is smack dab in between the two. The biggest question of whether they’ll get there or not will be health. If the Golden Knights are relatively healthy through a majority of the season, they’ll reach 102 without any issue. But, if they lose one of the centers, Stone, Schmidt, or Fleury, they could see some rough stretches that keep them from the century mark. Think back to last season, the first 20 games, the poo stretch before the trade deadline, the way they limped to the end, a lot went wrong, and they still got to 93. I have to believe this year will be at least a bit smoother.

Pick: OVER 101.5

October Points
O/U 17.5 

With the season starting on the 2nd, the October schedule is pretty packed. The Golden Knights play 14 games with eight of them being at home. It’s also a nicely laid out schedule with minimal travel and just one back-to-back. In fact, I listed the last two weeks of October as one of the softest stretches in the entire season schedule. The first two games are going to go a long way to determining whether or not they reach this number, but I don’t expect them to lose both which means they’ll need 16 points in 12 games. The opponents aren’t exactly easy as a whole, but the Golden Knights should come out motivated and that will lead them to a solid 18+ point month.

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Is William Carrier Worth More To Another NHL Team?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before William Carrier was a Golden Knight, he was up and down with the Buffalo Sabres and the AHL’s Rochester Americans. When he did get the call, Carrier would skate with some of the Sabres’ elite. In 2016-17, Carrier had 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 41 games. Two of those goals were assisted by 2019 Conn Smyth winner Ryan O’Reilly. The 24-year-old also shared the ice with league star Jack Eichel for a number of games.

William Carrier has impressed many with his offensive zone awareness, elusiveness, and contribution in his own end this year with the Sabres as well as the Amerks. Carrier notched his first NHL goal on a tip-in past… Marc-André Fleury. Carrier has been put on the Sabres top line and counted on as being the gritty playmaker for Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo.-Max Marko, Dobbers Prospects 2016

Since his arrival in Vegas, Carrier has been fast, aggressive, and a handful on the ice for opponents. But he’s never been anywhere near the first line, spending every game in a Golden Knights uniform playing on a fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Tomas Nosek, and Ryan Reaves. Which made TSN’s Travis Yost ask if Carrier would play a bigger role on another organization. One that wasn’t as deep.

Where do you differentiate between players who are abject drags on performance versus players who might be uniquely challenged playing on otherwise stacked teams?- Travis Yost, TSN.com

Yost’s results show VGK’s goal differential was -0.8 per 60 minutes TOI for Carrier. It essentially theorizes for every 60 minutes combined Carrier plays (equal to about nine games), the Golden Knights allow almost a goal more than they score at even strength. As we’ve watched, those numbers don’t meet what the eye test says about Carrier. He’s not scoring a lot of goals, but he and his fourth line are certainly killing the Golden Knights every time they are out there as these numbers suggest.

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Mark Stone Is So Good The Golden Knights Shouldn’t Play Him (In A Certain Situation)

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights traded for Mark Stone, they acquired the best player on the roster. He’s the best scorer, he’s the best forechecker, he’s the best on the power play, he’s the best defensive forward, quite simply, he’s just the best.

What that should mean is that he should lead all forwards, and maybe all skaters, in ice time this season. He’s dominant in all situations and the Golden Knights can benefit out there no matter what’s going on in the game with Stone on the ice.

However, I’m here to suggest Gerard Gallant and the coaching staff use some restraint in running up Stone’s minutes during the regular season.

Mark Stone has never averaged more than 21 minutes per game over the course of his seven-year career. That being said, in the past two seasons his minute load has expanded majorly. The last two years with the Senators, Stone eclipsed the 20-minute mark in 77 of 117 games. In Vegas though, Stone only crossed 20 minutes in two of his 18 regular season games (and didn’t do it in any of the seven playoff games before OT), and he’s never exceeded 22:00 in Vegas (aside from the 2OT and OT games in the playoffs).

A part of the increase has been due to penalty killing time. In Vegas, Stone averaged just 0:25 of time on the kill. In Ottawa, he saw the ice for 1:19 and 1:11 each of the past two seasons. That’s almost a full extra minute of incredibly excruciating time on the ice.

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How Annoying Are NHL Top Player Lists?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It continues to be that dull time of year, and while we patiently wait for hockey to begin, silly, objective lists dominate the (news) flow. The NHL Network turns into a tabloid, work distraction type outlet like Buzzfeed.

Let’s begin with NHL Network’s Top 20 Center list.

To state the obvious, William Karlsson continues to get stiffed. First he agrees to a team-first, team-friendly extended deal, and then he gets left off the NHL Network’s 2019 Top 20 Center list. It’s immediately confusing because Karlsson made the cut last year, coming in at #17. Ahead of centers like Logan Couture and Sebastian Aho, who are both on 2019’s list.

I don’t know why they do these things. I guess it causes controversy. It’s such a reputation thing. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the pundits think. It matters what the coaching staff thinks, what your teammates think, and where you fit in the salary cap, and what the fans think of you.-Gord Miller, TSN Montreal 690

Now don’t get me wrong, there are many elite centers in the NHL but Karlsson deserves to get a top 20 nod just as much as Couture, Aho, Sean Monahan, and Elias Peterson. Maybe the NHL Network got confused when Karlsson signed a second-line center’s contract.

Next up, the NHL Network’s Top 20 Wings list.

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