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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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Power Play Not A Concern For Golden Knights Players And Coach

The only power play goal in VGK history. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Finally, we can all stop holding our breath. The Golden Knights scored their first Power Play goal in franchise history.

It’s really no reason to celebrate due to the 13 straight failures, but getting one on the board is positive reinforcement for the players. Despite the low numbers (1-14 PP, 7.14 PP %) the Golden Knights have played well on man advantage situations. Remember, both Nate Schmidt‘s game-tying goal in Arizona and James Neal‘s first in Dallas were in 6-on-5 situations.

I think we’ve improved definitely. I think our execution can be much better. We lose pucks that we shouldn’t right now, and that prevents you from having more zone time. There’s always puck luck, but we need to create our own luck. –David Perron

Perron is the perfect example. He leads the team in power play time on ice (4:25 per game), plus he’s tied for the most shots (11) and assists (2) on the team as well. However, the Perronster (yeah, we’re going with it) hasn’t lit the lamp yet. But it’s not from a lack of trying.

I do think when you shoot the puck, it loosens things up and breaks them down a little more. I want to score goals, I want to shoot the puck. I do feel like I’ve shot a lot, I got to keep doing that because they’ll go in eventually. -Perron

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Jonathan Marchessault And Reilly Smith Talk About Linemate Vadim Shipachyov

These three were inseparable… until George McPhee separated them. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Throughout all of training camp and in every preseason game in which they played, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Vadim Shipachyov played together. So when Shupavhyov was left off the roster to open the season, Marchessault and Smith were impacted as much as anyone. We spoke to Marchessault about the situation, how much he’s talked to Shipachyov, and much more.

It’s a little different, I’m guessing they kept us together during preseason just to kind of get the chemistry going. It’s obviously a weird scenario, there’s nothing you can do. I don’t think a lot of people know what’s going on or what’s going to happen, there’s a lot of question marks around it. -Reilly Smith

I’m not going to put any words for him but I know if I was in his shoes it would be a little bit of a frustrating experience. -Smith

Me and Shippy and Smitty were actually watching our video trying to get better trying to learn how to play together and then the season starts and Shippy is not there. So obviously it’s inconvenient, but that’s part of hockey there’s not much stability and that’s out of our control. -Marchessault

Golden Knights Name Six, Yes Six, Alternate Captains

Screw it, let’s just make em all alternates. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

I know it’s unique, but then again everything about the NHL in Las Vegas is unique. The Golden Knights announced yesterday, that they’ll be going with a leadership core of six players. Normally, a team will award one Captain and two Alternate Captains. Vegas will have three home Alternate Captains and three different road Alternate Captains. The six leaders are; Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Reilly Smith.

It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty exciting. You don’t need a letter on your jersey to be a leader. It’s an opportunity to do everything right on and off the ice and be a professional. I’m excited to to be part of that group. -David Perron

It’s definitely an honor. We have a great group of guys here . All of those other guys named will put a great leadership group together. Helps the young guys and guide this team. -James Neal

Getting picked for that is special but at the same time, there a lot of good quality guys, with some character on this team. -Luca Sbisa

It’s a great honor to wear it, but the guys in this room, there is a lot more leaders than just the guys that have the A’s on. Everyone in this room leads in their own little, certain ways. Which brings us closer and tighter as a group. -Deryk Engelland

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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.

Smith-Shipachyov-Marchessault Line Finally Finding Success

In only a week, Gallant can’t duck my questions anymore. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since training camp began Reilly Smith, Vadim Shipachyov, and Jonathan Marchessault have been playing on a line together. Despite Gerard Gallant giving non-committal answers to my numerous questions, it’s safe to assume this will be the Golden Knights top line heading into the regular season.

Maybe one of the reasons for Gallant’s unwillingness to just say “Ken, shut up, yes it is the first line,” is that the three of them weren’t really showing much by way of results on the ice in the games they played together. That changed to start the second period last night.

Today was a better game for us. We made more plays, got more time on the puck, and were close to each other. It was a good game for us, but there’s still room for improvement. -Jonathan Marchessault

To begin that second period Shipachyov, Smith, and Marchessault were on the ice together for a 2+ minute shift in which they controlled the puck and had multiple scoring chances. Then on their next shift, they finally broke through when Smith sent a pass to Shipachyov right in front of the net, he could have shot, but in classic Shippy fashion he passed it out to Colin Miller who ripped it into the back of the net.

I thought they played well. For the most part, they had some scoring chances and I thought they played hard and worked together as a line. -Gallant

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Quick Thoughts – Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche 9/19/17

  • Even more impressive than the three goals in the first eight minutes was the play of Oscar Dansk after coming in to begin the 3rd period. Dansk made 18 saves without allowing a goal and made a few special ones in a row during a power play.  -Ken
    • Note: After reviewing the game Dansk actually entered with 8:59 left in the second while VGK were on a power play. Official stats from the game are incorrect. He allowed the one goal the Golden Knights gave up. Nonetheless, one 5 on 3 goal doesn’t change the fact that he was still excellent between the pipes.
  • The VGK Alternate Captains on Tuesday night were; Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, and Reilly Smith. Each logged heavy minutes and made significant contributions in both zones. Garrison was very active offensively, collecting two assists in the first period. Smith added an assist and led the offense with 17:23 TOI. Early in the third period, Captain Concierge Engelland broke up an aggressive Avs attack. With under ten minutes to go, Engelland made a crucial neutral zone stop, allowing for a much-needed shift change. -Jason
  • Vadim Shipachyov really struggled on face-offs. He was thrown out of many draws (which is a much bigger deal now with the new stupid delay of game penalty) and the ones he did take were not pretty. Shipachyov lost six face-offs, mostly against Nathan MacKinnon before he finally got one. He finished 2-7 in the circle. -Ken
  • The Golden Knights have committed 19 penalties in two preseason games. That’s almost two full periods with a man in the box. On Tuesday, the officials called six slashing penalties. The Golden Knights committed four slashing minors in Colorado, and one in Vancouver. We’ve been warned about a crackdown after a few dangerous incidents last season, looks like they are going a bit overboard with it to make a point in the preseason. -Jason
  • Alex Tuch stood out passing the puck. He assisted on the first goal with an excellent pass to Brad Hunt from below the goal line. There were multiple other examples of Tuch’s passing throughout the game as well. Couple that with his willingness to shoot and his physicality and he absolutely looked like he belonged on the NHL roster. -Ken
  • During the second intermission report, an Avalanche TV analyst suggested the NHL needs more personality. He thinks, the league should allow players the chance to customize their equipment. Of course, it would look cool, but wouldn’t it distract the players on the ice? It’s much easier to separate goaltenders. Plus, it’s better to add flair to an otherwise boring mask. Adding more personal art will confuse players, coaches, refs, and fans. Watch, instead the league will add sponsor patches and call it personality. -Jason
  • There were a total of 14 power plays during the game which led to every Golden Knight except Tomas Hyka to get time on both the power play and the penalty kill. While it’s great to get chances a man up, a man down, and in this game multiple times two men up or down, Gallant would probably prefer more 5v5 time to evaluate his players. -Ken

Time For Marchessault To Stake His Claim To The Top Line

Jonathan Marchessault at training camp at City National Arena. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Against my better judgment, I’m here to single out another player before tonight’s preseason game in Colorado. Just as I predicted Tomas Hyka’s domination in El Segundo and Tyler Wong came through for me with a hat trick in Vancouver, this time, it’s Jonathan Marchessault.

Marchessault is going to play on the top line for the Golden Knights against the Avalanche playing alongside Vadim Shipachyov and former teammate Reilly Smith.

That very possibly could be a line (in the regular season) but we’ll see how the chemistry looks and how they work together. It’s gonna take some time. I hope it works out, they are all good players. -Gerard Gallant

Where Marchessault fits in that line is clear.

He’s a shooter, so I’ll try to get him the puck as much as I can. -Reilly Smith

That should make for two guys trying to get the puck to Marchessault. Throughout camp, the skill that’s jumped off the ice for Shipachyov has been his passing. His ability to throw saucer passes basically through defenseman is almost mesmerizing and his rapport with Marchessault seems to be growing by the day.

Multiple times during morning skate at City National Arena, Marchessault and Shipachyov were seen messing around with each other including the moment Shipachyov entered the ice. He immediately skated over and sprayed Marchessault who was on a knee tying his laces. Marchessault laughed and spent much of the rest of the practice celebrating goals he scored on passes from Shipachyov or Smith.

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Fantasy Hockey, Drafting Golden Knights

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy put out a list of the top 50 players this season in fantasy hockey. Not surprisingly to anyone, there’s not a single Golden Knight represented amongst the league’s elite. In fact, NHL.com’s rankings don’t even have a Vegas representative in the top 100, with James Neal checking in at 114.

Having looked at the Golden Knights scoring history, and considering many other factors, we’re projecting Vegas to score between 175-225 goals this season. They’ll probably allow closer to 250. Nonetheless, that’s 200 goals and approximately 350 or so assists that need to find a home here in Vegas. So let’s take a look at where we would rank the Golden Knights in a standard fantasy hockey league.

Best Options

Vadim Shipachyov: Even if Shippy isn’t quite the scorer he was in the KHL, he still should rack up the assists playing with Neal and his ice time will be plentiful as the likely top line center. The Golden Knights should really ride him to get a feel for what they’ve got as he’s one of the most intriguing pieces for the future of the franchise. 25 goals and 40 assists aren’t outrageous predictions at all for Shipachyov, and if his game translates like it might, he could be a top 20 center that you can draft in the 100-150 range. Plus, if the league has faceoff wins, he’s gonna get a bunch of those.

James Neal: I’ll go with NHL.com here and agree that Neal is the safest pick of all. He’s tallied 50 or more points in eight of his 10 seasons in the league and will certainly be leaned on much more heavily in Vegas to score than he was in Nashville, Pittsburgh, or Dallas. The question is how long he remains with the Golden Knights. If he’s putting up a monster season, expect his name to be all over the trade rumors, and in fantasy, that means you need to unload him before VGK does.

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4 Goals, 8 Points, 3 Games: The Reilly Smith To Vegas Story

The Vegas Golden Knights have 43 players under team control as we head toward training camp. Of the 43, there’s just one player with a contract extended beyond the team’s third year in existence, and that player is Reilly Smith.

The 26-year-old winger was acquired via trade during the Expansion Draft from the Florida Panthers. But it wasn’t an expansion trade like the ones including Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, or Nikita Gusev, instead, the Golden Knights and Panthers made a straight player-for-pick deal that involved absolutely no Expansion Draft considerations.

Vegas Golden Knights receive:
Reilly Smith

Florida Panthers receive:
2018 4th Round Pick

Smith’s contract is a bit of an albatross when you consider his production a year ago. 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) is hardly enough to warrant a five-year deal worth $25M with a modified no trade clause. But, the season prior, he scored 25 goals, tallied another 25 assists, posted a +19 rating, and a CF% of 52.5%.

Many figured the reason for selecting the best player off the Panthers expansion list, Jonathan Marchessault, and trading for Smith was a directive from head coach Gerard Gallant. But, in the case of Smith, there’s a distinct connection to George McPhee that may have played an even bigger part than the simple “he played well for our coach” idea.

During the 2015-16 NHL playoffs, Reilly Smith was a member of the Florida Panthers, playing on the second line with Jussi Jokinen and Nick Bjugstad. Their opponent in the first round, the New York Islanders.

The series was won by the Isles in 6, but during Games 1, 2, and 3, Smith scored four goals, had four assists, and a +7 rating. In a pretty good offensive career to this point, the first three games of the 2015-16 postseason are undoubtedly the shining moment in Smith’s six-year career.

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