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Mark Stone Says Top Guys Need To Capitalize And It’s Not Happening Enough Recently

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Mark Stone has three goals and three assists in the last 17 games.

Paul Stastny has three goals and no assists in those same 17 and he’s gone 21 games since his last assist.

William Karlsson hasn’t scored in nine straight games.

That’s three players the Golden Knights expect to score who simply aren’t and especially at home.

For us guys at the top of the lineup, we have to capitalize on our opportunities. -Mark Stone

It’s hard to point at any of those three, or really anyone in the Golden Knights top six and say “that guy is playing poorly.” None of them are and in fact, at times, each of guy in that group has had games where they are Vegas’ best player. However, there’s no question that the team needs more scoring from their best players and it starts with Stone.

I put pressure on myself whether we are winning games or losing games. I need to contribute. Not just points, but on the penalty kill and be good defensively, but of course, I’m an offensive guy, I need to capitalize. -Stone

Last night against the Rangers, the Golden Knights had the game in their grasp. They created 23 scoring chances in the 1st period while allowing just four. 13 of those 23 were considered high-danger by NaturalStatTrick.com and yet, Vegas came away with nothing.

A couple chances the other way and suddenly the Golden Knights were staring at a big 2-0 hole.

You look at some of these games and I’m one of the main guys who could have broken that game open today. Our line had four or five high-end shifts, we need to capitalize on the scoring chances. -Stone

It’s been a problem all season for this team. They are 2nd in the entire NHL in expected goals scored, yet rank 17 in actual goals. They lead the league in scoring chances, yet have just a 50.7% scoring chance goals percentage. They’ve created the 2nd most high-danger chances in the league, yet are shooting just 16.3% on them good for 25th in the NHL.

We’ve got to have that killer instinct to get that first goal and get our croud into it. -Stone

It’s about finishing, and the Golden Knights aren’t doing it enough and according to Stone, it’s on the top guys in the lineup.

Expecting Another Golden December

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Kelly McCrimmon spoke with the media yesterday to formally announce the Chandler Stephenson acquisition. He also mentioned his high expectations for the month of December.

We’re trying to get all little bit of traction. December has for one reason or another traditionally been a really good month for this organization. We’re hopeful we can get a solid footing and play good hockey. -McCrimmon

Vegas’ GM should feel optimistic about the next 13 games in December. A month his players annually shine.

Win Percentage in December
2017: .846 %
2018: .600 %
Overall: .714 %

Point Percentage in December
2017: .923 %
2018: .800 %
Overall: .857 %

Including last night’s game in New Jersey, the Golden Knights have an exceptional franchise record of 22-4-4 in the month of December. Beginning the month 2-0-0 is a good sign their holiday tradition will continue. Vegas plays 13 more games this month including seven at home and only three are against teams in the top 3 in their division.

Historical Breakdown

December 2017
13 Games: 8 Home/5 Road (11–1-1) Record

  • Goals For: 49 Total
  • Goals Against: 33 Total
  • Win Streak: 7 Games
  • OT/SO Games: (4-1)
  • 2+ Goal Wins: 5
  • Pacific Division Points: (8 points)
  • Wins vs Playoff Teams: 8 (Anaheim x 2, LA, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Toronto, Washington)
  • William Karlsson: 10 Points (7 Goals, 3 Assists) +9
  • Jonathan Marchessault: 14 Points (5 Goals, 9 Assists) + 9
  • Reilly Smith: 11 Points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) +10
  • Alex Tuch: 8 Points (3 Goals, 5 Assists) +3
  • Marc-Andre Fleury: (4-0-1) 1.56 GAA, .948 Save%, 8 Goals Allowed
  • Malcolm Subban: (6-0) 2.25 GAA, .920 Save%, 14 Goals Allowed

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Five Golden Knights Players Opening New Restaurant With Wolfgang Puck In January

Alex Tuch, William Karlsson, Deryk Engelland, Reilly Smith and Shea Theodore are teaming up with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck to create a sports bar called “Wolfgang Puck Players Locker.”

The opportunity to be a partner in the first-ever sports restaurant in Vegas is something I couldn’t pass up. I am very excited to work side by side with one of the greatest chefs in the world, Wolfgang Puck. -Alex Tuch

The restaurant is taking over the old “Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill” in Downtown Summerlin in between California Pizza Kitchen and Shake Shack. There will be a brand new menu including “traditional sports fare”as well as an “innovative new beverage program” which will surely include both Engelland and Ryan Reaves’ beers.

We are thrilled to be partnering with members of the Vegas Golden Knights here in Las Vegas, the new hockey capital of the world. We have created a unique and one-of-a-kind sports dining experience around great food and the best players in the NHL! -Wolfgang Puck

The restaurant is being re-designed around a “floor-to-ceiling display of more than 100 custom glass lockers.” Each of the five Golden Knights will have their own dedicated locker.

There will also be two outdoor patios, one dog-friendly, as well as an expansive bar area, and a private dining room named “The Players Lounge” which is expected to host the five VGK owners consistently.

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill will remain open until mid-January, at which time it will undergo a brief, one-week remodel before re-opening its doors as the new Wolfgang Puck Players Locker. Additional details will be announced in the coming months. -Press Release

Territorial Dominance For Marchessault, Karlsson, And Smith

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Through six games, the Golden Knights top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith have six goals and nine assists. They’ve taken 54 shots and tallied a +5 between the three of them with each of the three averaging around 17 minutes of ice-time per night.

All of these numbers are good and well, but they don’t scream dominant. They aren’t scoring at an outrageous pace, they’ve allowed four goals while on the ice together (which is a lot for them in six games), and I’ve even heard discussions around Golden Knights media and fans asking what’s wrong with them.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that line at the moment. In fact, they’ve been so good, that you can point directly to their success as to why the second and fourth lines have been scoring so much this season.

It starts with who the Vegas top line is playing against. Last night Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith spent half their night against the Kings top line (Brown, Kopitar, and Iafallo) and the other half against LA’s second line (Toffoli, Carter, and Lizotte). In all of the previous games, literally all five of them, Vegas’ top line took more minutes against the opposing top line than any other line.

What this does is allows the Golden Knights other top line of Stone, Stastny/Glass, and Pacioretty to feast on opposition’s second and third lines. Thus far, in the four even-strength goals scored by Vegas’ “second” line, just one has come against the other team’s top line. Plus, they’ve drawn four penalties, all against non-first lines.

Even more than who they play against though is where they play against them, and how that sets up the next line. In six games, Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith have posted a 63.7% Corsi (79 shot attempts for, 45 against). They’ve created 41 scoring chances while allowing just 19 (68.3% SCF). And their expected goals for is 4.11 while expected goals against is just 1.44 (74.1% xGF).

Yet, through all of it, they’ve scored four and allowed four. That’s because their PDO is so incredibly brutal through six games. 92.4 is the Vegas PDO number with the top line on the ice, mainly due to the abysmal .833 save percentage that’s been posted with them out there.

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Eakin’s Return Will Shuffle Vegas’ Centers

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

All signs point towards center Cody Eakin resuming the same role tonight he’s performed effectively for the past two seasons. Arguably, one of the better third line centers in the NHL, Eakin’s return to duty is integral to the Golden Knights and their Stanley Cup chase.

He’s a huge player to our team. He works hard, he’s quick and he wins a lot of draws. He’s an easy guy too play with. And on the ice he’s one of the leaders. I gladly welcome him back.-William Karlsson

A healthy Eakin completes Vegas’ depth down the middle. It allows Gerard Gallant to solidify his second line, by reuniting Paul Stastny with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Unfortunately, it could be a harsh reality for young center Cody Glass. Who will either be on the wing or on the bench tonight against Calgary. (If practice Friday was any indication, it’ll be the latter.) (Update: It wasn’t any indication. Glass is headed to the wing.)

That so-called second line can play with each other, they’ve had a lot of success together. For our line, we get matchups that we can play against top lines because Cody [Eakin] can shut them down. It creates transition. -Brandon Pirri

Brandon Pirri will likely play on the third line anchored by Eakin. He quipped about Gerard Gallant’s ‘so-called’ expression, but there’s no question as to what the coach expects from his third line.

He’s so solid defensively and he allows creative guys a little more room to more to make plays. He can make up for the little mistakes here and there. With his speed he can get back and catch those guys. -Pirri

An underrated aspect to Eakin’s game is his speed. He has the ability to break out and create a rush, and quickly get back to defend. Eakin’s two-way play can greatly benefit offensive wingers like Pirri, and eventually Alex Tuch.

He creates a ton of speed, he’s one of the best skaters in the league. He pushes defenses back and creates a gap for guys like me who are looking for high ice a little more. -Pirri

We’ll see how Gallant sets his lineup tonight, but it appears Eakin is playing, and he’s almost certainly centering the third line. Which leaves questions about Glass’ immediate and long-term role this year. I’m sure it’ll be addressed eventually by the coaching staff and front office, but for now, it’s nothing but positive words in press conferences from the head coach and a spot on the wing for #9.

Reilly Smith Says A Longer Offseason Has Its Benefits

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Vegas Golden Knights had 44 more days off this summer then they did after their 2018 Stanley Cup chase. After losing to the Washington Capitals on June 6, 2018, the team wasn’t scheduled to report to training camp until September 13, 2018. Which gave the group 97 offseason days. This time around, the players had 141 days to rest before camp began.

Of course, they would’ve rather been playing, but you have to ask if the team can use that unexpected, extra time off to their advantage? Reilly Smith thinks so.

I think that’s a huge advantage when you do have a longer summer. You get some time off mentally, and time to heal. For your body it’s great to have this extra couple of months and there’s no excuses right now.-Smith

To add to Smith’s point, about half of the players on the 2017-18 team played more games in that season then they did previously at any point in their careers. Some say it’s just an excuse, but I’ll continually point to the numbers. Since 2000, only three franchises have participated in back-to-back Stanley Cup finals; New Jersey (2000/2001), Detroit (2008/2009), Pittsburgh (2008/2009) & (2016/2017).

One Golden Knight that doesn’t believe in any hangover effect is William Karlsson. The top-line center casually disagreed with his linemate.

I don’t think there was a hangover last year. It was a short summer and we were just struggling in the beginning. It’s just hockey.-Karlsson

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William Hill Props, SinBin.vegas Picks – 2019-20

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We are just 21 days away from Opening Night at T-Mobile Arena. Which means, the William Hill mobile sports app is stocked with Golden Knights related bets and props.

Whether you gamble or not, prop bets always give us a rough idea of expectations heading into a new season. This year, William Hill has listed 11 prop bets including eight-player specific bets. Here are my picks on each and every one of them. (Last year I went 6-3.)

Regular Season Points
O/U 101.5 

The Golden Knights had 109 in Year 1 and 93 in Year 2, this year’s total is smack dab in between the two. The biggest question of whether they’ll get there or not will be health. If the Golden Knights are relatively healthy through a majority of the season, they’ll reach 102 without any issue. But, if they lose one of the centers, Stone, Schmidt, or Fleury, they could see some rough stretches that keep them from the century mark. Think back to last season, the first 20 games, the poo stretch before the trade deadline, the way they limped to the end, a lot went wrong, and they still got to 93. I have to believe this year will be at least a bit smoother.

Pick: OVER 101.5

October Points
O/U 17.5 

With the season starting on the 2nd, the October schedule is pretty packed. The Golden Knights play 14 games with eight of them being at home. It’s also a nicely laid out schedule with minimal travel and just one back-to-back. In fact, I listed the last two weeks of October as one of the softest stretches in the entire season schedule. The first two games are going to go a long way to determining whether or not they reach this number, but I don’t expect them to lose both which means they’ll need 16 points in 12 games. The opponents aren’t exactly easy as a whole, but the Golden Knights should come out motivated and that will lead them to a solid 18+ point month.

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How Annoying Are NHL Top Player Lists?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It continues to be that dull time of year, and while we patiently wait for hockey to begin, silly, objective lists dominate the (news) flow. The NHL Network turns into a tabloid, work distraction type outlet like Buzzfeed.

Let’s begin with NHL Network’s Top 20 Center list.

To state the obvious, William Karlsson continues to get stiffed. First he agrees to a team-first, team-friendly extended deal, and then he gets left off the NHL Network’s 2019 Top 20 Center list. It’s immediately confusing because Karlsson made the cut last year, coming in at #17. Ahead of centers like Logan Couture and Sebastian Aho, who are both on 2019’s list.

I don’t know why they do these things. I guess it causes controversy. It’s such a reputation thing. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the pundits think. It matters what the coaching staff thinks, what your teammates think, and where you fit in the salary cap, and what the fans think of you.-Gord Miller, TSN Montreal 690

Now don’t get me wrong, there are many elite centers in the NHL but Karlsson deserves to get a top 20 nod just as much as Couture, Aho, Sean Monahan, and Elias Peterson. Maybe the NHL Network got confused when Karlsson signed a second-line center’s contract.

Next up, the NHL Network’s Top 20 Wings list.

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How Important Were Faceoffs To The 2018-19 Golden Knights?

The importance of winning the faceoff battle has been a three-year reoccurring argument here at SinBin.vegas. In my opinion, it’s all about possession. When a center wins a draw his team has immediate control and should safely get the puck out of their zone. Or create an offensive push towards the opponent’s direction. Whoever wins the possession battle, should dictate the game.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Faceoffs are probably one of the most underrated stats in this league. If you can start off with the puck, your much better off. And you’ll have better scoring chances. – Nate Schmidt

On the other side of the discussion is Europa Ken.

He’s not concerned with a lost draw if Vegas’ forecheck, shooting percentage, and rebound control are positively effective. For the most I agree, but remember a forechecking attack begins with the puck, and there’s a good chance it was possessed by a winning faceoff.

2018-19 Golden Knights Faceoff Percentage Breakdown

  • Record when winning 51% or more Faceoffs: (20-11-2)
  • Record when losing 51% or more Faceoffs: (14-16-3)
  • Record when Faceoff % is 50/50: (9-5-2)

While it’s clear the Golden Knights have a better record when they win more faceoffs, the formula isn’t as simple as you’d think. At first glance the numbers support my argument, but looking deeper, the higher the FO% didn’t guarantee a Vegas victory. In five separate games, Golden Knights’ centers won 60% or more from the dot. Their record was (1-4). Even furthering the madness, Vegas was (2-2) in games they lost more than 60% of draws.

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Analyzing George McPhee’s Comments On Karlsson, Trades, Salary Cap And More

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

George McPhee took to the podium yesterday following the announcement of William Karlsson’s 8-year $5.9M AAV contract extension. He hit on a range of topics surrounding the current state of the team.

We’ve transcribed all of the best parts, and I’ve added a little analysis to each comment.

Well, we are going to have to make a few moves. We’ve planned for that and we’re going through that exercise right now and when we’re done we’ll talk about it and explain it. -McPhee

Further confirmation of what we’ve all pretty much been expecting since that fateful night in San Jose. Moves are coming, they are going to hurt, but in the long run, it should make this roster better. I did some digging as to when it seems like it all might get done, and my feel is by July 4th at the very latest. I think the goal is for it to all be complete by the end of the week, but sometimes trades linger because there are two parties, so it may take a bit longer to wrap it all up.

The Clarkson contract really isn’t the issue that people think it is because you can just replace that salary at the right time. It can get cumbersome for some teams in the middle of the summer but typically it doesn’t matter once you get to the season. -McPhee

LTIR is a powerful tool if you know how to use it and it appears the Golden Knights do. Vegas isn’t paying someone to take that contract off their hands.

(Karlsson’s) contract is consistent with our other core players in terms of value so it worked out. -McPhee

The core is William Karlsson, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, and Marc-Andre Fleury. All are signed through the 2021-22 season (the next three seasons) with many signed well beyond. Karlsson’s contract comes in below Stone, Pacioretty, and Fleury, but above everyone else in the core. Still seems quite undervalued to me, but hey, money ain’t everything.

The great news with (Karlsson) is that if he ever tailed off at the end of that contract he’s still a really useful player because he’s great defensively and you can play him all over the lineup. -McPhee

Nothing new on Karlsson since he really burst onto the scene midway through 2017-18. He’s a stud on both ends of the ice and even if his offensive game fizzles, he’s still going to slow down the other team’s best players and he’s going to kill penalties. Of all the long-term deals Vegas has signed, he’s the one I’m least concerned about working out at the end of it.

One of the reasons we’ve done this is because we’ve tried to utilize what we call the perishable cap space and get a lot of core guys locked up now for a while because we’ll be tight this year on the cap but going forward we’ll be in a really good position. And those guys are really our core players, they are at the right age, and they fit what we are trying to build here and we expect to be a good team for a while as a result. The cap certainty helps, you can plan a lot better and we wanted to use up that inventory, cap space, now to really benefit us in the future and we believe we’re making the right decisions on these players. It’s not easy to put a good team together and keep it together but this is a major step in doing that. -McPhee

Building a winning roster is tough, keeping it is even harder. The strategy the Golden Knights have tried to deploy is to lock up everyone before they reach the ultimate goal so they aren’t stuck with impossible decisions afterward. Look at Chicago, Los Angeles, and now Pittsburgh, it doesn’t look so good anymore, but Washington doesn’t look that way. It’s risky because it may never pay off with the Cup, but if it does, this isn’t a roster that will have to be torn apart after they win.

Realistically our situation in Vegas is really attractive, (players) really like playing here, and the tax implications and cost of living here matters. The players are really savvy, they understand what they’d have to make somewhere else to net what they take home here. I think Karlsson’s contract in most markets would have to be about $7.5 to net what you have here, and that’s in the average NHL market, and in California I think it’s $9.5, but the bottom line is the fit is right and he’s happy and you can’t put a price on that. -McPhee

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