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Expecting Another Golden December

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Kelly McCrimmon spoke with the media yesterday to formally announce the Chandler Stephenson acquisition. He also mentioned his high expectations for the month of December.

We’re trying to get all little bit of traction. December has for one reason or another traditionally been a really good month for this organization. We’re hopeful we can get a solid footing and play good hockey. -McCrimmon

Vegas’ GM should feel optimistic about the next 13 games in December. A month his players annually shine.

Win Percentage in December
2017: .846 %
2018: .600 %
Overall: .714 %

Point Percentage in December
2017: .923 %
2018: .800 %
Overall: .857 %

Including last night’s game in New Jersey, the Golden Knights have an exceptional franchise record of 22-4-4 in the month of December. Beginning the month 2-0-0 is a good sign their holiday tradition will continue. Vegas plays 13 more games this month including seven at home and only three are against teams in the top 3 in their division.

Historical Breakdown

December 2017
13 Games: 8 Home/5 Road (11–1-1) Record

  • Goals For: 49 Total
  • Goals Against: 33 Total
  • Win Streak: 7 Games
  • OT/SO Games: (4-1)
  • 2+ Goal Wins: 5
  • Pacific Division Points: (8 points)
  • Wins vs Playoff Teams: 8 (Anaheim x 2, LA, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Toronto, Washington)
  • William Karlsson: 10 Points (7 Goals, 3 Assists) +9
  • Jonathan Marchessault: 14 Points (5 Goals, 9 Assists) + 9
  • Reilly Smith: 11 Points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) +10
  • Alex Tuch: 8 Points (3 Goals, 5 Assists) +3
  • Marc-Andre Fleury: (4-0-1) 1.56 GAA, .948 Save%, 8 Goals Allowed
  • Malcolm Subban: (6-0) 2.25 GAA, .920 Save%, 14 Goals Allowed

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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 History Before And After Breaks Suggest Success

The Golden Knights have a mini-break this week with their next game being on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Last year, they had seven separate occasions of three or more days off. Vegas went 7-6-1 on games directly before and after those breaks. In 2017-18, the Golden Knights had five occasions and were 7-2-1.

2017-18: Before and After Break Record
7-2-1 Overall
4-1-0 Games Before Break
3-1-1 Games After Break

2018-19: Before and After Break Record
7-6-1 Overall
2-4-1 Games Before Break
5-1-1 Games After Break

Some look at the extra rest as a good thing, others will argue the timing could possibly disrupt any momentum from Vegas’ dominant performance last night against Anaheim. Either way, the Golden Knights will use the lay off to their advantage.

Yeah I think so. We’ll practice Monday and take Tuesday off. So we’ll have a good hard practice on Monday, hopefully they’ll smile in the practice and make it fun. If not, I’ll be grumpy. -Gerard Gallant

Veteran Max Pacioretty can appreciate the extra rest but also puts the responsibility on individual players. He stresses each member of the team is a professional and should spend their time wisely.

Approach it as a player. Do the right things, make sure your body is ready to play the next game. Everybody responds differently to different types of preparation. At this point in our career, most guys know how to handle a couple of days here between games. It’s important to make the right decisions. -Pacioretty

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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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Pacioretty Understands How Glass Is Feeling With Final Cuts Coming

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s fair to say Cody Glass is in limbo. The young center is clearly ready for NHL action but chances are the organization will send Glass to the AHL. Not ideal for an already patient prospect, but with Vegas’ center depth, it’s been the reality for him for the past two years and appears to be once again this year.

Years back another highly-rated NHL prospect was in the same situation as Glass.

Yeah my first year. They even told me when they sent me down that ‘you deserve to be here, but we just didn’t have room for you.’ -Max Pacioretty

Pacioretty was selected 22nd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2007 NHL Draft. The following training camp, in 2008, that he found himself on the roster bubble.

Then I went down and I started off the season slow.-Pacioretty

Pacioretty was eventually pulled up that season and ended up playing almost half of a season with Montreal. He would go on to finish the year with 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 34 games.

Whether you make the team out of training camp or not, there’s going to be so much made of the guys who do make and the guys that get sent down. All that can change in a matter of days, hours, minutes. So don’t get stuck on that decision and don’t let it affect the way you play. Whether you’re up or down take each day as a day to get better.-Pacioretty

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Veterans Embracing Opportunity To Help Along Talented Rookies

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been a productive preseason for the Golden Knights. The team is undefeated in four exhibition games while using a mix of reliable veterans and rising rookies. Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty, and Brandon Pirri have all skated on lines with younger players eager to make a mark. It can be a challenge at times due to their inexperience, but for the most part, the veterans seem to embrace their role in helping rookies take the next step.

I don’t think it’s a challenge, I think it’s fun. I’ve noticed that a few of the younger guys, this year they’re playing with more confidence and they’re playing better. Which helps their confidence a lot.-Brandon Pirri

Pirri formed a strong relationship with the young defenseman during his time with the Chicago Wolves last year. He says the deep AHL playoff run made a world of difference in the development of guys like Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, and Jake Bischoff.

They are very mature. They were doing NHL things in the American Hockey League. In the American League it’s more like preseason hockey, but towards the end it’s real hockey. -Pirri

Marchessault understands the pressure young prospects can feel during camp and preseason games having been in their shoes many times during his career.

It’s all about helping them. Ultimately, they want to make the team so you go out there and try to make them look good. You try and give your best effort, talk to them, and build their confidence. I know what it’s like. -Marchessault

Max Pacioretty has four preseason goals, two of them were assisted by Cody Glass. #67 enjoys playing with prospects and tries to organically help them along the way.

It needs to be genuine. If you see something that can help, rather than saying something to say something, it goes a long way. They’re good hockey players at this level. There’s things they can teach me. -Pacioretty

Overall it seems to be quite enjoyable for all of the established players. Playing on lines with players from the pipeline reminds them of their first camp experiences, and allows them an opportunity to give advice and show leadership.

Reilly Smith Says A Longer Offseason Has Its Benefits

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Vegas Golden Knights had 44 more days off this summer then they did after their 2018 Stanley Cup chase. After losing to the Washington Capitals on June 6, 2018, the team wasn’t scheduled to report to training camp until September 13, 2018. Which gave the group 97 offseason days. This time around, the players had 141 days to rest before camp began.

Of course, they would’ve rather been playing, but you have to ask if the team can use that unexpected, extra time off to their advantage? Reilly Smith thinks so.

I think that’s a huge advantage when you do have a longer summer. You get some time off mentally, and time to heal. For your body it’s great to have this extra couple of months and there’s no excuses right now.-Smith

To add to Smith’s point, about half of the players on the 2017-18 team played more games in that season then they did previously at any point in their careers. Some say it’s just an excuse, but I’ll continually point to the numbers. Since 2000, only three franchises have participated in back-to-back Stanley Cup finals; New Jersey (2000/2001), Detroit (2008/2009), Pittsburgh (2008/2009) & (2016/2017).

One Golden Knight that doesn’t believe in any hangover effect is William Karlsson. The top-line center casually disagreed with his linemate.

I don’t think there was a hangover last year. It was a short summer and we were just struggling in the beginning. It’s just hockey.-Karlsson

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Golden Knights Veterans Share Stories From Their First NHL Camps

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights won their first preseason game of the 2019-2020 campaign with a mix of veterans and rookies. Vets like Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith took the game over mid-first period and led the Knights to an easy 6-2 victory.

Things weren’t always that easy for Pacioretty, Smith or other VGK players. Just like their younger teammates, they had to adjust to the speed and the high competition level at their first NHL camps.

I was in New York, and it was tough. -Jonathan Marchessault

Marchessault participated in several NHL team camps but his first was with the New York Rangers. Where he got to share the ice with one of his favorite NHL players.

Marian Gaborik. I remember I was playing on a line with him. Hell of a player. Growing up he was one of my favorite players. It was fun to see him out there.- Marchessault

 

When Pacioretty attended his first NHL camp, it was like the Wild West.

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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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Two Golden Knights Make SI’s 2019-2020 Fantasy Bust List

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Again with the lists. This time, fantasy experts took their shot at predicting players that will drop in production and be this season’s busts. A few Golden Knights were unfortunately selected in Sports Illustrated’s newest list of fantasy flunkies.

One of the first players SI cautions fantasy GM’s to steer clear from is Vegas’ left-handed sniper.

Max Pacioretty (Golden Knights) ESPN: 67 | NHL: 68 | CBS: 81
Let’s get this out of the way: Max Pacioretty went berserk in the playoffs, scoring five goals in seven games, and he dominated when playing with Mark Stone and Paul Stastny. That as much as anything is fueling the hope that Pacioretty will become a 30-goal scorer again. Turning 31 in November, Pacioretty hasn’t surpassed 22 goals and has missed 34 games in the last two seasons. He’s no longer a threat to record lofty shot totals, making his floor lower than other players in his range.-Sportsnet

The next Golden Knight to skip in your fantasy draft according to SI, could be considered VGK’s most reliable player.

Marc-Andre Fleury (Golden Knights) ESPN: 68 | NHL: 24 | CBS: 22

How many more good years can Vegas get out of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is turning 35 this year, while also expecting him to carry the lionshare of the workload? While the departure of defenseman Colin Miller isn’t a death blow to Vegas’s defense, it also doesn’t do Flower any favors. His career has been revitalized since joining the Golden Knights (64 wins, 2.40 goals against average, .919 save percentage) and his potential “bust” label is based more on his longevity than his ability. Avoid reaching for Fleury in early rounds when his value should be much safer as a second-tier goalie.-Sportsnet

Albeit a soft critique from Sports Illustrated, but beyond his age, I doubt Golden Knights fans agree with their reasoning. Las Vegas loved watching Colin Miller rip shots on net, but let’s be honest, his departure won’t hurt Fleury. It’s fair to be concerned with the 34-year-old goalie’s workload but I’m assuming the coaching staff has a preservation plan in place for 2019-2020.

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