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Home Ice Disadvantage?

This picture was a joke when it was taken, it’s not a joke anymore. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the better part of a year and a half, the Golden Knights’ home building has rocked like it’s a playoff game every night. The raucous Vegas crowd aids their team when the Golden Knights are playing sluggish, or down a goal. It’s why home ice advantage can be important.

In Las Vegas it’s made a difference.

VGK Home Record:
2017-18: (29-10-2)
2018-19: (16-6-3)

Several Golden Knights players have spoken about the advantage the atmosphere of the T-Mobile Arena and Vegas fans give them during a game. Players tell us all the time that playing in their home building gets them amped up before and during games. Well, it happens to the opposition as well.

It’s a cool atmosphere to play here. It’s easy to get up for it. We try to play our game and rise to that next level here. -Charlie Coyle, Wild forward

Is it possible that the nightly postseason atmosphere can have a reverse effect?

After their win against the Golden Knights, Wild players admitted they got a boost of energy playing in the T-Mobile Arena’s atmosphere. In fact, it may have helped them get back in the game and eventually win it. Nashville said the same.

It was a good win. Being here in Vegas it added a little extra. I mean it was still cool… You know the first one was a lot of fun but it’s always nice to have some family and friends in town. -Jason Zucker, MIN Forward

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4 Points Out On November 1st Is A Bad Sign For VGK

None of these odds consider the return of #88. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season we brought awareness to one NHL benchmark backed by historical data that can predict which teams make the postseason. The (American) Thanksgiving Day playoff marker is a good measure for a team’s future success. The turkey day study suggests teams that are sitting in a playoff spot by Thanksgiving have a very high chance of competing for the Cup.

A more nail-biting trend is the November 1st, benchmark that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman often brings up. NHL teams four or more points out of a playoff spot by 11/01, have roughly an 18% chance of making the postseason. Since 2005-06, 47 of 58 teams that were 4+ points out of the postseason spot by November 1st, missed the playoffs. That’s a whopping 82% of teams that their fate was determined by the beginning of November. Unfortunately, that’s where the Golden Knights were, and still are as of this moment.

Just keep working at it. It’s the same old cliché every coach says, but that’s what it is. Keep putting pucks there, we are out chancing and more shots than most teams, but we just got to get hungrier. -Gerard Gallant

On November 1st, the Golden Knights had a record of 5-7-1 (11 points), good for seventh in the Pacific Division, and four points out of a playoff spot. Along with Vegas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, and St. Louis also were 4+ points down. 82% means four of those five teams are already eliminated, while one still has a shot.

Last season, Minnesota was the one that made the playoffs after being caught in the post-Halloween vortex.

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Season Heard Round The World

If you’re a sports fan, you know about Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”… okay millennials, here’s the video.

Across the country, morning newspapers led with Thomson’s historic moment. Which brings us to this widely known column printed the day after the series-clinching dinger. It’s been called the “greatest lede ever written.” It was penned in 1951, but it might as well have been written in 2018.

Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.- Red Smith, NY Herald Tribune, October 4, 1951

Right there. That’s the perfect description of the Golden Knights inaugural season. Perfectly crafted in three sentences.

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Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Game 4 Western Conference Finals – Photo Gallery – May 18th, 2018

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Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Game 3 Western Conference Finals – Photo Gallery – May 16th, 2018

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Golden Knights Kind Of Looking Forward To Opening On The Road

The white jerseys are better. Maybe that’s a reason too. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In Round 1 the Golden Knights opened the series with a pair of home games against the Kings. They used a dominant Game 1 performance to take the lead in the series and followed it up with a double overtime thriller to send the series to Los Angeles at 2-0. In Round 2 they once again started at home, again dominating Game 1 but faltering in Game 2 to head to San Jose even.

Now, no matter who the opponent will be, the Golden Knights will head on the road for the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. However, they don’t seem too terribly concerned about the lack of home-ice advantage in the series.

It may not be a bad thing to start on the road this time around. Something a little bit different. We’re going to spend the next few days trying to get ready for that first period in the next game. I’m certainly happy to be here and have the chance to do it. -George McPhee

I think we’ve played really well on the road and at home. I think our record is 4-1 in both places, is it not? So, it doesn’t really make a big difference to us. I’m not once concerned about starting on the road. I’m sort of looking forward to going somewhere. -Gallant

The Golden Knights have indeed lost just once in five tries away from Vegas. That’s even better than their regular season tally of 22-14-5 on the road. They’ve won in many different ways away from T-Mobile Arena as well. Tight checking games, overtime games, closeout games, they’ve faced it all and passed every test (except that one) with flying colors.

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The Most Impressive Stat Of The Playoffs Came On The Road In Game 6

Through two rounds of the playoffs, the Golden Knights lead postseason teams in a few crucial statistics. First and for most, Vegas is tied with Tampa for the most postseason wins with eight. Vegas leads the playoffs with 204 blocked shots and 106 takeaways despite playing the fewest number of games of any playoff team. However, the stat of the postseason may have happened last night in the series-clinching Game 6.

Against a desperate Sharks team, Vegas played smart protecting the puck and maintaining possession all game. Amazingly, the Golden Knights gave away the puck only once in Game 6. One giveaway in a road closeout game. One!

Unsurprisingly, they are the first team this season to complete a game with just one giveaway.

Some argue giveaway/takeaway stats are not truly accurate, but even with the margin of error involved in scoring hockey games, one giveaway is incredible. The definition of a giveaway is when a player’s own actions result in a loss of possession to the opposing team. Think back, can you even remember the one?

Overall, the Golden Knights have hit their giveaway average in four of ten postseason contests.

Fewest Giveaways in a single playoff game (1)
Fewest total Giveaways in Playoffs (83)
Fewest Giveaway average per game (8.3)

Won’t lose many games giving away the puck just once in 60 minutes. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Vegas was so responsible with the puck in Game 6 that San Jose had trouble gaining possession for a majority of the night. To be fair, the Golden Knights only created two takeaways in last night’s closeout game, but that was likely a result of Vegas playing conservatively with a lead while their opponent chased.

If the Golden Knights continue to play error-free hockey, the remaining teams should look out. Surprisingly, Vegas turned the puck over 15 times in Game 5’s victory. Proving the Pacific Conference Champions can win a sloppy game or two… or eight.

(In case you were wondering, Deryk Engelland committed the one giveaway in the game. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of giveaways, keep your eyes out for the next Adam Kutner contest. He’s giving away, see what we did there, two tickets to every Western Conference Finals game, and it’s free to enter. More details soon.)

Perfection Sends Golden Knights To Western Conference Finals

The San Jose Sharks had to have Game 6 to continue their season. The Golden Knights one the other hand knew that even if they faltered in Game 6, they still had Game 7 at T-Mobile Arena in their back pocket. The Sharks were desperate, they had to have this game, and Vegas simply didn’t give them a chance to take it.

It started in the 1st with Marc-Andre Fleury. He was a brick wall shutting down every great opportunity the Sharks had.

We rely on Flower to make a lot of great saves, he’s a spectacular player. When he’s out there hootin’ and hollerin’ and yellin’ and having fun it really calms our guys down and it gets our group going that much more. -Nate Schmidt to NBCSN

He needed some help from the posts a few times, but all in all, Fleury was able to help the Golden Knights through the tough 1st period on the road and send the game to intermission tied.

That is when Vegas took control of the game and refused to let go until they had fired a puck into an empty net and clinched their spot on the next round.

Think of a player who didn’t play well in Game 6. Yeah, that’s right, there’s not one. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The 2nd period was a four-line, three-pairing display of the brand of hockey that had the Golden Knights one game away from the Western Conference Finals in the first place. They were buzzing on the forecheck, they were flying through the neutral zone, they were breaking out of their own zone with ease using speed and simplicity, and when the chances came to score, they didn’t miss them (even though it seemed like Schmidt did on the game’s second goal). The game stayed at 5-on-5 for the entirety of the period, and Vegas feasted on a Pacific Division foe like they have all season.

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Odd Numbered Wins Prove Massive In 7-Game Series, Especially Winning Game 5

7 down, 9 to go! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Game 6 is tonight and the Golden Knights are one win away from the Western Conference finals. Kind of chilling, isn’t it? History shows Game 5 was a whopper of a win for the Golden Knights.

In league history, 267 series have been in scenarios where the higher seeds have a 3-2 series lead.

  • Game 5 winner has a 79% chance of winning that series.
  • Game 5 winner on home ice has 81% chance of winning series
  • Teams trying to close out series in Game 6 are 102-61 (.623)
  • Visiting team up 3-2 has 53% chance of winning Game 6
  • Home teams hosting Game 7 have a 58% series edge

We talked about the importance of winning odd-numbered games. Vegas did their job winning games 1, 3, and 5. Odd games give the winning team control allowing them a chance to take over a series with another win. The Golden Knights faltered in their first two chances, but they have a third tonight.

  • Teams that win Game 1 win the series 69.9% of the time
    • Home teams that win Game 1 win the series 76.7% of the time
  • Teams that win Game 3 win the series 65.0% of the time
    • Away teams that win Game 3 win 71.6% of the time

Oh, and if you were worried about Game 6 going to an overtime period, don’t be. Home teams are 36-45 in sudden death.

We’re no good at prognosticating, but stats say, Nighty Knight San Jose.

Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks: Game 5 – Photo Gallery – May 4th, 2018

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