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Don’t Expect A Golden Knights Captain Any Time Soon

One of the biggest reasons the Golden Knights don’t have a captain is that this guy won’t let his teammates anoint him as one. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year the Golden Knights were one of just a handful of teams that did not have a player wearing a “C” on the ice. Instead, they opted for what they called a “leadership group” which was a rotating cast of about seven alternate captains.

They went on to have an incredible season on the ice and players still rave about how amazing the group was off it. Plus, they were able to integrate new players starting a few days before the season began with Malcolm Subban, a waiver add in December in Ryan Carpenter, and the trade deadline acquisitions of Ryan Reaves and Tomas Tatar, without a hitch.

Yet, the question still seems to be floating around the organization, who will become the team’s first captain?

The short answer, and the right answer, is no one.

Nothing’s been said. I don’t think anybody is too worried about it. We have a ton of really good leaders. Old guys, young guys, so it’s really a collective group thing and I think everybody in the room is absolutely fine with that. –Deryk Engelland to NHL Network

Before Opening Night last year, the team announced Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Reilly Smith would wear “A’s.” However, throughout the course of the season and into the playoffs Pierre-Edouard Bellemare became a staple as an alternate as well.

With Garrison, Neal, Perron, and Sbisa all gone, there certainly could be some consideration to hand the captaincy over to Engelland. However, the more likely scenario is for the team to add players like Nate Schmidt, Jonathan Marchessault, Cody Eakin or even a newcomer like Paul Stastny or Nick Holden to Smith and Bellemare in the leadership group.

The Golden Knights organization, especially when it comes to symbolic things, are very much believers in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Thus, as Western Conference Champions, don’t expect to see a “C” on any players sweater any time soon.

Although, the argument can be made that it is broke. No team since the 1972 Boston Bruins has won the Stanley Cup without a captain. The Golden Knights were three wins away from bucking that trend, but they didn’t. Personally, I’m skeptical that the lack of a “C” on a jersey was the reason, but hockey players are weird, so who knows what they believe.

4 Golden Knights In Top 100 Of Corsica Player Ratings

Corsica Hockey is one of the best advanced stats websites on the web. They’ve produced a metric that combines stats like Game Score, WAR, and others to make for what they call the “best single number representation of a player’s quality.”

727 NHL players were ranked with 24 Golden Knights making the cut. The top five are Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Alex Ovechkin.

#81 and #71 are #17 and #54 (Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have four players in the top 100 including Jonathan Marchessault (#17/#6LW), Marc-Andre Fleury (#48/#4G), William Karlsson (#54/#18C), and Reilly Smith (#64/#9RW).

The top-rated defenseman for Vegas is Colin Miller coming in at #136 followed by Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore tied at #153.

The next highest Golden Knights after the first line is Paul Stastny at #145. Erik Haula (#214), Alex Tuch (#232), and Tomas Tatar (#313) all rank outside of the top 200.

Malcolm Subban (#726) is the second to last player in the entire rankings ahead of just Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg.

Newly acquired Curtis McKenzie came in at #276, the 11th highest ranked Golden Knight. Daniel Carr (#556) also ranks above five Golden Knights skaters, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (#567), Cody Eakin (#608), Jon Merrill (#618), Ryan Reaves (#628), and William Carrier (#652). The other new player, Nick Holden, tied Deryk Engelland at #356.

For those still waiting on the blockbuster Erik Karlsson trade, the Swedish defenseman came in at #25, the third-rated defenseman behind Brent Burns and Kris Letang. Oh, and the disaster that is Bobby Ryan ranked #295, which would be good for 12th place on the Golden Knights.

Golden Knights First Line: “It Was Not Good Enough For Us”

They scored two goals, but described themselves as rusty and “not good enough.” That’s got to be a scary thought for Washington. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights top line has been one of the best in the league all season, both offensively and defensively. Not only have they been terrorizing defenses all season and into the playoffs but they’ve been incredible shutting down the opposition’s top line throughout as well.

Last night in Game 1 it was all going swimmingly for Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith early. At a point in the 2nd period, their line had a 100% Corsi For rating against 12 of the 17 skaters that they had significant time playing against. Karlsson and Smith each had a goal and the line was controlling play pretty much the entire time they were on the ice.

Then, it changed. The Vegas top line was on the ice for the next two Washington goals (Carlson and Wilson) and was no longer taking it to the Capitals. They ended the game with about a 60% Corsi For, a 0 +/- rating, and feeling like they could have been the reason if that game had slipped away.

Little rusty the 1st period. It was not good enough for us. We can’t be on the ice for two goals like we were. One goal was my fault and definitely we need to be tighter defensively and we’ll be ready for Game 2. -Jonathan Marchessault

Part of the reason for the change was the matchups they were facing. Early in the game a majority of their time was spent against the Capitals top offensive line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson, but as the game wore on the matchups became more random.

It may not seem it because of the star power on the Capitals, but the Golden Knights have the advantage between the two top lines. Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant has the last change in Game 2, he’d be wise to use it to get Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith on the ice as often as possible against Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Wilson.

Luckily for the Golden Knights, the mismatches created an opening for the “fourth” line who played one of its best games of the season.

Vegas’ top line vows to be better in Game 2, if they are and they play most of their minutes against Washington’s top line, the series will likely head to DC at 2-0.

Scoring First Is Great, What Vegas Does With It Is Better

If VGK jumps out ahead of Washington like they did Winnipeg, it might be another quick series. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the Western Conference finals, the team that scored the first goal of the game won all five games. Pretty simple formula. However, it was what Vegas did once they had the first lead of the game that really determined the series. The Jets tied things up in Games 3, 4, and 5, but failed to take ever over a lead. After Game 1, Vegas never allowed Winnipeg to take a lead in the series.

It definitely is a testament to great goaltending. Its something special, especially with all of the big saves. It’s a common effect when Marc has the net. -Reilly Smith

There’s no question Marc-Andre Fleury has been the difference maker for Vegas this postseason, his brilliance has made it easier for teammates do their job.

We played well defensively, our goalie was tremendous. We made the right play at the right time. Time after time the way we play, the right plays happen more often than not. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Against Winnipeg, the Golden Knights played disciplined, made quick decisions moving the puck, and capitalized on forced mistakes. In 300 minutes played against the Jets in the WCF, Vegas had the lead for an astounding 194 minutes.

Game 1: Vegas @ Winnipeg
WPG Time in Lead: 58:55
Tied: 1:05
VGK Time in Lead: 0:00

Game 2: Vegas @ Winnipeg
WPG Time in Lead: 0:00
Tied: 13:23
VGK Time in Lead: 46:37

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Cody Eakin Should Take PK Minutes From Reilly Smith In The Playoffs

Look around, you won’t find a harsher critic of Cody Eakin’s play since he’s joined the Golden Knights than me, but since Reilly Smith has been out with the wrist injury, Eakin has proven his value to a playoff team in a huge way on the penalty kill.

We always knew #21 was good on the PK, but he’s been on another level for a little while now. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights are fully healthy, they use six penalty killers, but like the forward lines and defensive pairings, they are not used equally. Since early in the year, All Star head coach Gerard Gallant has relied upon a pair Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek and another pair of Reilly Smith and William Karlsson to handle most of the load. Cody Eakin has consistently been the next man up to fill in for any of those four who are missing or to play with someone like Ryan Carpenter, Oscar Lindberg, or Erik Haula to round out the six.

In the absence of Smith, Eakin has been tremendous killing penalties with William Karlsson. Last night alone he sprung Karlsson for a shorthanded goal and earlier in the game he took on two defensemen and nearly scored shorthanded himself. There are countless other examples over the past three weeks as well. Simply put, Cody Eakin has looked like the best player on the ice when Vegas is down a man for nearly a month now.

As we head towards the playoffs, I’m suggesting Gallant utilizes Eakin as his top penalty killer with Karlsson or Smith, instead of moving him down the ranks and putting even more responsibility on two of the Golden Knights’ most important offensive weapons, 19 and 71. 

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Three Star Tally

Wild Bill will always be our first star. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Wednesday night was the first time all season the Golden Knights failed to register a single player in the “three stars of the night” rankings in a home game. They’ve done it eight times in road games over the first 70 games of the season.

Now, of course, we know that the three stars really do not mean much as it’s usually a heavily biased vote for the home team, but it does give us at least somewhat of an indication of which players are making the big plays that jump off the page in games. So, here goes…

 3rd2nd1stTotalStar Points
William Karlsson40101432
Marc-Andre Fleury7291838
Reilly Smith4361328
Jonathan Marchessault315920
Erik Haula233817
David Perron7411218
Alex Tuch432916
James Neal6311015
Shea Theodore21147
Ryan Carpenter02137
Nate Schmidt22046
Oscar Dansk00226
Malcolm Subban12035
Colin Miller01125
Deryk Engelland21034
Luca Sbisa21034
Cody Eakin02024
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare11023
Brayden McNabb11023
Tomas Tatar00113
William Carrier00113
City of Las Vegas00113
Tomas Hyka20022
Maxime Lagace20022
Brad Hunt01012
Oscar Lindberg01012
Vadim Shipachyov10011

**Star Points are awarded: 3 for 1st star, 2 for 2nd star, 1 for 3rd star**

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Golden Knights Injury Updates; James Neal, Reilly Smith, Malcolm Subban, Luca Sbisa, William Carrier, Oscar Lindberg

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

James Neal
Injury: Hand/Wrist
Injured on February 26th vs. Kings

Neal has missed 10 of the last 11 games. He played in the Kings game on the road where he left after falling behind the goal, seemingly on the same hand that was injured last year in the playoffs.

He did not travel with the team on the recent five-game road trip, but was seen skating many of the days while the team was away. Neal participated in the most recent morning skate wearing a red no-contact jersey.

James is doing real good. He’s skating today. He’s not playing tonight but we’ll see him in the near future. -Gerard Gallant

Reilly Smith
Injury: Wrist/Shoulder
Injured on March 6th vs. Blue Jackets

Smith left the game after a hit in the 2nd period in Columbus. He remained on the road trip for a short time following the injury before returning to Vegas.

He has not participated in a practice since the injury but was seen putting on skates and pads to take the ice for an individual practice today.

A source indicated to SinBin.vegas that the team initially feared Smith had broken a bone in his hand that could have ended his season, but an MRI confirmed otherwise. The same source put the timeline at about two weeks from the injury following the news of no broken bones.

He is not playing tonight. Day to day. Getting better. -Gallant

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The Golden Knights Have A Healthy Habit Of Stringing Goals Together Quickly

It’s somewhat of an unexplainable phenomenon in sports, specifically in hockey, but it happens and happens a lot for good teams.

Sometimes bounces don’t go your way. Through the first two periods, we had our chances but the puck didn’t cross the line. Then suddenly in the 3rd period, I don’t really know what happened, but boom, we got all of them. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Three goals in a matter of less than five minutes. A deficit to a commanding lead. So what did happen?

I don’t know, maybe altitude change? -Nate Schmidt

He was joking (sort of) about how the training facility at Downtown Summerlin is 1,000 feet higher elevation than T-Mobile Arena. His teammates, and I, thought that concept was nuts, but that’s not uncommon when it comes to Nate.

Moments later though, he offered a much more believable justification, one that was echoed in the locker room.

Once our crowd gets into it and we score right away, it’s really hard for other teams to get back in. It’s kind of a like a hamster wheel it’s hard to stop it once it starts rolling. -Nate Schmidt

Obviously (the home crowd plays a major factor). When you have the crowd yelling at every single chance it makes you want to go on the ice and make something happen and hear those people yelling. They’ve been unbelievable all season, it’s amazing that it looks like this the first year. -Bellemare

It’s entirely possible Schmidt was being serious about the altitude thing. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not out the norm for this team. At home, the Golden Knights have scored goals within five minutes of each other 22 different times this season. They’ve done it in 14 of their 26 home games, and in those 14 games, they’re are 13-1-0. They’ve also scored within two minutes of another goal 12 different times and within 91 seconds three times at T-Mobile Arena this year.

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Revenge On The Mind For The Golden Knights Against Gallant’s Former Team

Remember what these fools did to us? Time to get even Mikey! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s just a part of life for an expansion team that every night it’s going to be someone else’s turn to be going against their old mates.

Though most had the Penguins game circled as the most emotional one on the schedule, the circumstances surrounding tonight’s game may be more motivating for the Golden Knights.

We were winning 2-1 after the 2nd and they came back 3-2. We lost that game. I think we were a little over .500. We lost the game, we were disappointed, but out of nowhere they told us to go back into the room. We didn’t know what was happening. Tom Rowe, the GM, told us they were going to fire Turk and Mike. Everybody was just shocked and so mad because Turk was the kind of coach that a player wants to battle for. That’s one of the reasons we are winning right now, because he want to win for a guy, not because he’s a good coach. Everybody was disappointed, and when I say everybody, I mean everybody. -Jonathan Marchessault

But not only did the Florida Panthers fire head coach Gerard Gallant and assistant Mike Kelly, they left them on the street to hail a cab. It was widely regarded around the league as the wrong way to handle business and it didn’t go unnoticed in the Golden Knights locker room. I asked seven players if they knew about the “taxi picture” and the way it ended in for Gallant in Florida, six of the seven were aware of it and the seventh seemed legitimately peeved when I told him what happened.

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Tough Stretches Continue To Haunt Golden Knights

An all too familiar site in the 3rd period. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After last night’s 6-3 loss to Detroit, Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant continuously talked about playing the full sixty minutes.

Well we had a real tough third period again. It was an awful third period. I thought we played a great game up until then. But in the third period, we struggled. -Gerard Gallant

The third period struggles Gallant spoke about starts with allowing four Detroit goals on twelve shots. The Red Wings down one, came out to win in the third.

They took advantage of the chances and they made us pay. We just didn’t look like we had the jump in the third period for some reason. It was disappointing because I thought we played a great two periods, but you can’t play 40 minutes or you’re not going to beat anyone in this league. We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes and tonight we played 40 minutes again. Transition is a big part of this game and it’s a big part of our team playing well. But tonight we fed their transition in the third period. -Gallant

Reilly Smith’s just chalking it up to being early in the season.

You got to nip those in the bud so they’re not stretched into five minutes or ten minutes. I think a lot of reasons why we, or other teams get into those stretches is because we’re not making a simple pass. Sometimes you’re trying to over complicate and guys are tired, so it starts to snowball. -Reilly Smith

The Vegas snowball began from the faceoff circle. The Golden Knights won only 42% on faceoffs all night, and lost 12 draws in the third period. Detroit maintained possession throughout the whole period which lead to multiple defensive breakdowns from Vegas. So how will Vegas fix tough stretches during a game?

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