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Analyzing The Golden Knights Through How Often They Ice The Puck

Rule 81: Icing – Should any player of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped.

Icing is a simple rule that is really designed to keep the game moving and avoid the classic soccer “anywhere will do” type of clearance.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It happens multiple times per period and most of the time has little effect on the outcome of a game. In the NHL this season, icing has been called 3,688 times. A goal has been scored within 30 seconds of the ensuing faceoff just 181, or 5%, of the time.

But that doesn’t mean icing should be taken lightly, because it absolutely shouldn’t. How often a team ices a puck themselves and the frequency in which they force their opposition to ice it is an excellent illustration of a team’s success rate in the attacking zones. It puts a numerical value on things like forechecking, exiting the zone, and pressure.

Thanks to the great folks over at MoreHockeyStats.com, we know that the Golden Knights are terrific in some of these categories.

This season, the Golden Knights have forced their opponent to ice the puck 119 times in 29 games, about 4.25 per game. Despite losing 60% of the ensuing draws (see, I’ve been telling you faceoffs don’t matter), the Golden Knights have scored 10 goals, drawn four penalties, and forced the opposing team to ice the puck again 23 times within 30 seconds of the original icing call.

The 10 goals is second in the league behind Anaheim’s 15. In other words, 8.4% of the time a team ices the puck against the Golden Knights, it ends up in the back of their net in 30 seconds or less.

On the flip side, Vegas ices the puck a lot, like, a real lot.

Their 139 icings in 29 games is the third most in the league and 4.8 per game is good for the second highest average in the NHL.

Like when they force the opposition to ice it, the Golden Knights are terrible at winning the ensuing draw, doing it just 36% of the time (VGK’s overall faceoff percentage is 46.6%). Yet, in those 139 icings taken, the Golden Knights have allowed just six goals against within 30 seconds of the infraction. That’s a 4.3% rate, which is slightly better than the league average of 4.9% and way better than the 8.4% they score on when the other team ices it.

Using MoreHockeyStat’s “icing score” metric (read more about that here), the Golden Knights are the second worst team to ice the puck against, while they sit right in the middle of the pack as to the effect it has on them when they do it.

So, what can we learn from all of this? We’ll start with the positives.

When teams ice the puck against the Golden Knights, they pay a heavy price. The overall number of icings forced, where VGK is 11th in the league, shows their forechecking system is effective. The dreaded “double icing” (which should be a penalty, but that’s a topic for another day) reinforces this notion and also shows that the Golden Knights have strong enough depth to take advantage of getting fresh players on the ice against tired ones.

On the other side of the ledger though, the sheer number of icings taken is a troubling underlying statistic for the Golden Knights’ defense. Though it hasn’t hurt them much this season, icing the puck with a frequency near the top of the league, coupled with winning the least number of ensuing faceoffs of anyone is a recipe for disaster.

The VGK defense is fully capable of defending in these situations (what I mean when I say faceoffs don’t matter), but the more often they find themselves in them, the more likely they are to sustain a lapse which leads to a goal or a dangerous chance.

Defending has been an issue all season for the Golden Knights and this is yet another place where they can improve. Better puck support and decision-making will lead to more consistent exits.

Finally, it’s important to note that the Golden Knights are a team that thrives at the stretch pass, which contributes to their high icing numbers. Players like Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud, and Alec Martinez are all excellent at firing passes 100+ feet down the ice to streaking forwards leading to quick rush chances. It’s a huge part of the Vegas attack and well worth the risk of taking an icing if the pass is missed. It’s a risk/reward type play, and for the Golden Knights, the rewards far outweigh the risks.

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13 Comments

  1. FG

    Great stuff Ken. It would be interesting to track number of icings per game and note any trends. I would suspect they have decreased recently. Is it tracked by player?
    Anyone who follows you know your feelings on faceoffs, but situationally they are important. It seems that one of their issues on the PP is a low faceoff win %. It would be interesting to look at that on the PP and PK.

  2. Tim

    Ken speaking of Alex Martinez do you have any idea what’s up. My conspiracy which is getting more likely as the days pass is there going to put him on ice excuse the pun until the playoffs. It’s just strange that he’s never talked about. I mean 50 stitches are something but not the end of the world. As I’ve said if his 5 million because he’s on IR would make a huge difference when Eichel is activated. They’d just have to come up with maybe two and a half million I would guess. That scenario would set us up nicely for the playoffs.

    • George L.

      50 plus stitches to be more “precise”. I wonder if a nerve was severed. A severed nerve would definitely explain longer rehab

      • THE hockey GOD

        @ George, they were talking about concussion last time I checked.

        • Tim

          THG, he may have a concussion, he may also have nerve damage, or it cut into his eye and he has a vision problem, or plastic surgery in any case nothing zero is ever mentioned which leads me to believe somethings up. Bill Foley bought the Knights for 550 million it’s now worth 750 million according to Forbes. To hide Martinez until the playoffs for his 5 million is chump change for Foley. When I was in the army I had a head injury and they put close to 50 stitches / staple in my head. I was up in about in 30 days so I don’t see his problem.

          • THE hockey GOD

            @ Tim, only concussion was mentioned nothing about the other items. If they were mentioned I would have reported it.

            Army back in 1910 did not have NHL concussion protocols.

  3. Arnold Rothstein

    ARnold likes icing, especially on cakes.

    Today, 8 am, LOCK of the DAY.

    AR is working the phones with the back room bookers, pushing the phones really hard. Looking at NY RANGERS plus 112 as of 8 am , take over 5 1/2, then parley both.

    It’s a LOCK JERRY , A LOCK, the parley is just “icing’ on the cake.

    Arnold
    where every bet is a winning one, just as long as
    you don’t “bet your life” or soul against the devil.

    PS “Never bet against a Sicilian when death is on the line”

    • Arnold Rothstein

      above contingent upon no . 27 is out of line up and Brossoit is in the net.

      Larry Brush is English translation, or Larry Bush.

  4. THE hockey GOD

    Jet’s coach resigns. Maurice is available. Maybe his good buddy PDB will pick him up and bring him on as an assistant coach.

  5. Gary

    Fascinating. Looking forward learning about double icing.

    • Like when teams put the puck over the glass in the D-zone, I believe it should be a penalty to ice the puck a second time on the same shift.

      I believe both penalties should be 1 minute in length.

  6. knights fan in minny

    who do you think reaves would likevto get in the corner

  7. Vic

    Need to hear more frequently from Arnold Rothstein. The fixer in the Black Sox scandal had a good reputation for handicapping. That’s why he was called ‘The Brain’.

    Speaking of icings….The frequent missed stretch pass is the main culprit, but also some teams do a good job stopping things up at the red line which causes the VGK to dump it in too early. I’ve also noticed the VGK have had annoying icings while on the dreaded PP. Other teams without a good PP are also guilty. Besides losing endless PP faceoffs (yes it was #71 last night), icing on the PP is not a good sign.

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