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Three Star Tally

Wild Bill will always be our first star. (Photo Credit: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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