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Tag: Power Play

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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Golden Knights Stats and Trends For October

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the first month of the season, the Golden Knights went (8-5-1) standing in 3rd place in the Pacific Division. Vegas finished October with 17 points and held a (+5) in goal differential. For the most part it was a good opening 31 days for Vegas but clearly they have a lot more to prove in November.

Here are some statistics I find crucial to a successful season, and some interesting trends the team built over the opening month.

Vital Statistics

Primary Assists

  1. Pacioretty: 6
  2. Karlsson, Marchessault: 5
  3. Stone: 4
  4. Theodore: 3
  5. Glass, Smith, McNabb, Carrier: 2
  6. Eakin, Stastny, Nosek, Pirri, Engelland, Holden, Schmidt: 1

First VGK Goal of the Game

  1. Stone: 4
  2. Karlsson, Statsny: 2
  3. Carrier, Theodore, Nosek, Smith, Marchessault, Holden: 1

Game Winning Goals

  1. Stastny: 2
  2. Smith, Marchessault, Carrier, Roy: 1

Power Play Goals

  1. Stastny: 4
  2. Stone: 3
  3. Pacioretty: 2
  4. Karlsson, Marchessault, Holden: 1

Shootout Goals

  1. Theodore, Marchessault: 2
  2. Pirri: 1

Points Per Game (Top 10)

  1. Stone: 1.21
  2. *Tuch, Roy: 1.00
  3. Pacioretty, Karlsson: 0.86
  4. Smith: 0.79
  5. Stastny: 0.64
  6. Marchessault: 0.57
  7. Glass, Schmidt: 0.50
  8. Theodore: 0.36
  9. Nosek, Carrier: 0.28
  10. Holden: 0.21

Power Play Points

  1. Pacioretty, Stone: 7
  2. Stastny: 6
  3. Theodore, Glass, Marchessault: 3
  4. Karlsson: 2
  5. Smith, Holden, Hague: 1

Shootout Goals

  1. Theodore, Marchessault: 2
  2. Pirri: 1

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New Wrinkle On Power Play Providing Extra Element

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights power play was much maligned last year. They finished the season 25th in the NHL, converting on just 16.8% of their chances.

To make matters worse, it didn’t improve with the addition of one of the most dangerous power play weapons in team history, Mark Stone. After the deadline, Vegas hit on just 7 of 45 power-play opportunities or 15.6%. They picked it up dramatically in the postseason, running at a 27.5% clip, but it was all against the same team, and it fell off a cliff in Games 6 and 7 when they went 0 for 5 and gave up a shorthanded game-winner.

This year, the Golden Knights have connected on 6 of their 20, 30%, which has them in 6th place in the NHL through 6 games.

Last game in Los Angeles, the power play looked unstoppable, going 3 for 3 and creating opportunities consistently. I set out to figure out what, if any, differences there were on the power play between now and last year (especially in the playoffs when the personnel was most similar).

The first thing to focus on is the entry. Vegas consistently uses a drop pass which leads to a puck carrier with speed brinign the puck through the neutral zone. He then brings it in himself or drops it off to one of the two wingers standings at the blue line. The Golden Knights strayed from this entry for a bit in the playoffs, but returned to it by the end of the series. So, for the most part, that’s completely unchanged.

The units are not far off from what they were against the Sharks in the postseason. The better unit includes Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Paul Stastny, Shea Theodore. The other unit includes Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson. The difference that Cody Glass in now in for Alex Tuch on the first unit, and Nic Hague and Valentin Zykov are in for Colin Miller and Cody Eakin on the second.

What this has done has created a small difference in the default layout the Golden Knights use once they enter the zone and are completely set up. It’s literally the only difference I can find, but there does seem to be a contrast in how the units operate due to the change.

To illustrate it, we head to the grease board!

Power Play setup last year with Tuch

Power Play setup this year with Glass

As you can see, the only difference is where Glass and Tuch play. Tuch is set up directly in front of the net with the idea of screening the goalie and picking up rebounds, while Glass is under the goal line as an extra passing option.

The main difference is the options that are presented for the two guys in the circles when they have the puck (Pacioretty and Stone).

Last year with Tuch

This year with Glass

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Scoring Goals, The Only Thing Wrong With VGK PP

One of VGK’s best PP guys has been struggling to score, but the chances have been there. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are one for their last 24 on the power play. They matched their longest stretch of the season by not scoring a PP goal in six straight games and have dropped to 12th in the league at 18.8% on the season.

So, the obvious question is, what’s going wrong that’s keeping the Golden Knights from converting?

The answer, and please don’t want to hurt me when you read this, is nothing. The power play has actually been quite good except for the end product. They’ve been successfully entering the zone with regularity, they’ve won a majority of face-offs, they’ve spent most of their man-advantage time in the offensive zone, and they’ve created a ton of chances, many Grade A+.

In the 24 power play opportunities, the Golden Knights have created 46 scoring chances, 24 of them high danger (according to NaturalStatTrick.com). That’s almost two chances per PP and at least one of them either in the blue paint or right around it.

I watched all 24 power plays and counted just two that I would consider below average. More than 15 were what I consider good or great.

Here are four examples of great chances that aren’t converted into goals.

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An Attempt To Explain The Worst Power Play In The League

The PP that led to this goal was a beaut. Unfortunately, it’s one of just two all year. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s the question that’s going through the mind of every Vegas fan nine games into the season, what in the flying (expletive) is wrong with the Golden Knights power play?

We are getting better on the power play. Obviously it’s difficult when you are mixing guys in and out, guys have been hurt and come back from injury. I thought tonight we had a couple chances to score, I had one Hyka had one, so I thought it’s getting better. You want power play to be a difference. -Max Pacioretty

We’re not talking about it too much, we just try to bear down and work harder every day. We work on it a lot and I think it’ll come over time. We just have to work out a few kinks in the breakout and a little bit different work in the zone. Couple more pucks on net and need more traffic in front. Sometimes the puck just doesn’t bounce your way. -Alex Tuch

Just one of those things, just get back to basics. We had lots of chances, so it’s not like we didn’t have chances or anything. We just have to put the puck in the net we’ve got to put it in the net. There’s no reason to think we took a step back though. -Brad Hunt

The Golden Knights are now 2 for 28 on the power play good for a miserable 7.1%. That number would lead any sane human being to believe there’s something majorly wrong with what Vegas is doing when playing a man up. However, every player and coach seems to disagree. So, we dove into the numbers to see if there’s something wrong with the process or not.

We start with one of the most important stats when it comes to scoring goals, how often are you getting chances? According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Vegas has 37 scoring chances on the 28 power play attempts. For comparison we picked teams at the top, in the middle, and near the bottom of the pack in power play success.

#1 Washington – 38.7% – 31 opportunities/35 scoring chances
#4 Winnipeg – 32.1% – 28 opportunities/34 scoring chances
#13 Detroit – 24.1% – 29 opportunities/29 scoring chances
#25 Chicago – 12.9% – 31 opportunities/41 scoring chances
#31 Vegas – 7.1% – 28 opportunities/37 scoring chances

The chances are indeed there. Digging deeper, the high danger and Grade-A scoring chances and are even pretty darn good for the Golden Knights. Yet, the puck will just not go in.

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Brad Hunt + Colin Miller = Power Play Goals

Here at SinBin.vegas we’ve purposely shied away from freaking out about the disastrous Golden Knights power play over the last month or so. The reason behind our hesitancy was the simple fact that it wasn’t affecting whether or not Vegas would win the game. However, over the past two games, things have changed in the results column, but seemingly not much changed on the ice.

Hunt said he was so excited after his goal that he almost fell celebrating. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights were 0 for 19 with a man advantage from January 4th to the 19th. They were 1 for 32 if you go back to December 23rd. Then over the past two games, Vegas struck four times in seven opportunities. Among those four goals, Brad Hunt has one goal and two assists and Colin Miller has one goal and one assist. That’s five points on the power play between two players.

The eye test told me that Hunt’s return to the ice was sparking Miller’s offense, as well as the rest of the Golden Knights. However, upon a deeper dive into the numbers, the Hunt-effect has really only been seen when Vegas is a man up. But when Hunt is on the ice during the power play, boy does it make a difference. Look.

  • Colin Miller has played 67:07 of power play time without Brad Hunt. In that time, the Golden Knights have scored 3 goals on 53 shots.
    • Goal every 22:21
    • 0.79 shots per minute
  • Colin Miller has played 60:09 of power play time with Brad Hunt. In that time, the Golden Knights have scored 9 goals on 61 shots.
    • Goal every 6:41
    • 1.01 shots per minute
  • The Golden Knights have played 129:41 of power play time with neither Miller nor Hunt on the ice. In that time, they scored 12 times on 104 shots.
    • Goal every 10:49
    • 0.80 shots per minute

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Who Plays When On Special Teams?

The Golden Knights power play king. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights continue to be one of the most disciplined teams in the NHL. Vegas is one of the least penalized teams allowing 7.5 penalty minutes per game (PIM). Players have committed the fourth least PIMs in the league, and opponents have only 82 Power Play opportunities against (PPOA) the Golden Knights. For comparison sake, Nashville has allowed 114 PPOA.

When it comes to shorthanded (SH) situations, Gerard Gallant relies heavily on six players. Four out of the top five penalty killers are defensemen. Deryk Engelland clearly leads the group with 71:15 total SHTOI. Forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin and William Karlsson are also called upon to kill penalties for Gallant.

PlayerTotal SH TOIAVG SH TOI
Deryk Engelland71:152:51
Luca Sbisa59:133:07
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare57:382:13
Brayden McNabb55:582:26
Nate Schmidt54:102:05
Reilly Smith52:522:02
Cody Eakin47:401:50
William Karlsson47:141:49
Tomas Nosek26:001:05
Oscar Lindberg25:001:00
Colin Miller13:260:31
Erik Haula9:100:25
Shea Theodore6:000:30

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0 For 16 On The Power Play

At Friday’s practice, the Golden Knights spent a majority of their time working on the power play, specifically five on four. Obviously, we thought it was because Vegas was unsuccessful on their last 16 PP chances, but when asked, head coach Gerard Gallant disagreed.

It was planned, three or four days ago. So it wasn’t because we were 0 for 7 last night. -Gerard Gallant

The key word after Thursday’s preseason loss to Colorado was “simplify.”

We have to find our niche and simplify and have that five on five mentality. Sometimes when you’re unfamiliar you have to simplify and shoot the puck instead of making the extra pass.- Cody Eakin

Gallant agrees.

We tried to make the fancy plays, the crossing plays, and we weren’t shooting the puck. The last two or three power plays we started getting some point shots through and getting some rebounds. When you do that and establish a point shot, some of those seams open up later on. But it was slow, we weren’t attacking a lot on the power play. -Gallant

Gallant mentioned making the fancy play, or the extra, unnecessary pass. Eakin used the word cute to describe the same thing. And, Reilly Smith used another synonym.

In preseason you want to work on it, and try and make pretty plays. You do have to practice good habits, and sometimes just get the puck to he net and get those ugly goals. You’re not always going to have pretty ones. -Reilly Smith

This didn’t happen on the power play. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

So let’s sum this up. Cute + Fancy + Pretty = 0 for 16.

Simple + Ugly = Goals

While, it’s only preseason, and man-advantages are opportunities for teams to work on things, going scoreless on 16 straight power plays is a bad trend heading into the regular season.

Only in hockey can words like cute, fancy, or pretty imply something bad. Weirdos.

Power Play Scoring Must Pick Up From Career Numbers

Power-Play
/ˈpou(ə)r plā/
noun

A situation in hockey where one team has a greater number of players on the ice because the opposing team has a player or players are in the penalty box Sin Bin, giving the team a scoring advantage.

It’s no secret, NHL teams that have success on the power play, usually end up in the playoffs. Eight of the top ten most efficient PP units made the postseason. Tampa was one of the teams to miss the playoffs, but only by one point. For example, take last season’s Stanley Cup champion. They were 3rd in PP% at 23.1% and 2nd in PP goals with 60.

With playoff expectations low in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights coaching staff will have all season to find the right PP combinations. It could be frustrating for Gerard Gallant but that’s why he has Assistant Coach Mike Kelly. We’ll get to him later…

Offensively, PP goals can be a way to neutralize an opponent. Inferior teams can compete further in a game when they win the penalty battle. Let’s get serious, this is the NHL, stars get the calls, and unfortunately, Vegas’ only star is between the pipes, which likely means the Golden Knights will be down a man more often than they’re up one. But, if they can make the most of their PP opportunities, it could help pick up a few wins or overtime losses.

2017 Top NHL PP Percentage:

Sabres 24.5% Missed playoffs
Maple Leafs 23.8% First round exit
Penguins 23.1% Cup Champions
Capitals 23.1% Second round exit
Oilers 22.9% Second round exit
Lightning 22.8% Missed playoffs
Bruins 21.7% First round exit
Blues 21.3% Second round exit
Wild 21.0% First round exit
Rangers 20.3% Second round exit

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