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Author: Jason Pothier Page 1 of 42

Golden Knights Prospect Excited For A Chance To Play For Team Canada

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Golden Knights prospect Peter Diliberatore recently received some positive news from Team Canada. The young defenseman was invited back to Canada’s select camp, to possibly represent his home nation in the upcoming World Junior Championships.

The sophomore from Quinnipiac University has played every game this season and is fifth in scoring for the Bobcats. Last season, Diliberatore was named to the 2018-19 ECAC Rookie team and was fourth in NCAA hockey with a +22 plus/minus rating. Earlier this week, Diliberatore appeared on The Pipeline Show with Guy Flaming.

I didn’t really have set goals on points or anything. I wanted to make a statement in the lineup and play every game… I asked questions all around, see what I can do to get more playing time. Whether it was PK, or power play. -Diliberatore on The Pipeline Show

The Golden Knights 2018 6th round pick (180th overall) comes off very even-keeled and realistic with his young career from college, to Team Canada, and all the way to Vegas.

It’s a small, quiet school but at the same time I knew they were good at developing players to get to the next level. I thought that’s kind of where I need to fit in and be in where I can play right away, and not have to wait and sit out or anytime like that. -Diliberatore on The Pipeline Show

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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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Vegas Handles Arizona’s “Mucky” Style Of Play

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After their 2-1 loss in shootouts, the Arizona Coyotes spoke positively about their performance.

We played a good hockey game. We had to kill six penalties, we only had one power play. We deserved better. I’m proud of the guys. They played hard. -Rick Tocchet, Arizona Coach

The Coyotes have been one of the best teams this season in limiting opponents’ goals. They deployed the same strategy yesterday in Vegas. Holding the Golden Knights to one regulation goal was exactly what Arizona intended.

You have to make them defend. They got a lot of skill up front. You get those skill guys playing defense and eventually they’ll make some mistakes and a little bit more tired going up ice. We did a good job staying on top of them. -Jason Demers, Arizona Defenseman

Over the past two seasons, the Golden Knights have essentially owned the Coyotes compiling a record of 6-3-0 over 9 games. This season, Arizona came in with a different philosophy. One that would give them a better chance against the bigger, more skilled Vegas club.

We know they’re so quick and offensively very strong. The best way to play them is to make it a mucky game and make them play defense. I think we’ve learned to just play them and play them hard. I think we’ve done a good job of staying on top of them this season. -Jason Demers

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Fans Express Their Displeasure On Facebook

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With their third straight loss and tenth loss in their last 13 games, Vegas fans are scurrying for answers. Sure, the Golden Knights have four OT losses in that span but overall it’s been some disappointing hockey.

What is it that bothers fans most? We asked them last night during our Facebook game thread. There were many answers, but here are a handful I found best measures the true temperature of the Golden Knights fanbase.

1. Defensive play. 2. Inconsistent scoring. 3. Lack of desire at times

There is no finish, instead we take dumb penalties and give up soft goals.

They make every other team’s goalie look like a wizard.

1. Scoring is inconsistent. 2. Defense needs help. 3. Top 6 tends to disappear

No cohesive play, no urgency and let’s face it… Subban is a liability.

As you can see, inconsistency on offense and defensive inefficiency is a common theme among fans. Urgency, or lack thereof, was a noun many fans used to describe their favorite club.

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Logan Couture: “We’re Not Going To Out-Skill Them”

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San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture isn’t being offered free drinks in this town any time soon. Neither will his coach Pete DeBoer, but they’re not bitter. Couture had no issues complimenting the level of skill in Las Vegas.

We’re not going to out-skill them. Their lineup compared to ours has a little bit more skill up front. -Logan Couture

After their 2-1 OT victory against the Golden Knights, Couture explained why the win felt better than most.

For sure. We only dressed eleven… then we were down to ten forwards and six d, and found a way. I thought we kind of defended, just defended the last ten minutes to try and get that to overtime. -Couture

The Sharks captain scored the OT winner, picking up their first points against Vegas this season. Couture knows the Golden Knights lineup better than most NHL players. In eleven regular season games, Couture has 8 points (4 Goals, 4 Assists) with a plus/minus of -10. Also, add in the 13 postseason games and it’s fairly obvious he’s aware of his opponent.

Anytime we play these guys it’s going to be tough. They’re a very good team. At the end of the year they’re going to be near the top of the division. -Couture

He’s on a shortlist of players Golden Knights fans like to heckle most but overall it doesn’t cloud his vision. Same goes for the Sharks coach.

Big character win for us. A lot of things stacked against us with done of the injuries in the lineup. Obviously, with what’s happened the last couple of times we’ve been here.- DeBoer

DeBoer referenced the past poor performances his team has had in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of fire in this rivalry, but the biggest reason it’s such a great rivalry is that both teams are so good, and when they are chirping at each other, they aren’t afraid to say it.

Fans Unfairly Blaming Gallant Should Watch Toronto’s Fallout

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It was a small percent of the fanbase but there were some questioning the coaching ability of Gerard Gallant over the past two weeks. The 2018 Jack Adams award winner has accrued a record of 104-65-17 as the Golden Knights head coach. That’s a .605 points percentage, ranking Gallant among the league’s best over that period. Not to mention his .593 postseason win percentage and 16 combined wins in two playoff runs. Tonight’s visitor, the Toronto Maple Leafs and their head coach are an entirely different story. One that should quiet any Gallant doubters.

Toronto head coach Mike Babcock is highly respected, highly paid, and has one of the most talented rosters in the NHL. He’s also currently on the hot seat.

Babcock is in his fifth season, and under his watch, the Maple Leafs have failed in the postseason never making it out of the first round. This season, Toronto has started slow, put up some stinkers, and according to the fanbase, underachieved.

Fan votes shouldn’t impact an organization’s decision, but it’s a pretty strong indicator of current temperature in Leafs Nation. In reality, there are other elements. Toronto GM Kyle Dubas didn’t hire Babcock, he acquired players that aren’t connecting with the coach, and already has his replacement in the AHL. None of those scenarios exist here in Vegas.

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First 20 Games Isn’t Like Last Season’s Start

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Gerard Gallant doesn’t sugar coat. He hasn’t in the past and he didn’t after the first 20 games of this season. So far, he isn’t impressed with his team’s start.

No not really. I feel we haven’t played as good this year. Last year we were missing some key people and we were treading water a little bit and then we took off at the 20 game mark last year. No, this year I think we haven’t played as well in every game and a little more inconsistent. -Gallant

It’s way, way too early to panic. Vegas’ roster is incredibly talented and the team will have plenty of time to perfect their game before the postseason. However, if we’re calling out poor play, the first quarter of the season left a lot to be desired. Sure, Vegas has four more points through 20 games this season, but there are areas of concern.

↑ Up from last year
↓ Down from last year

VGK 2019-20 First 20 Games: 9-8-3 (21 Points) ↑

55 Goals For ↑/61 Goals Allowed ↓
-5 Goal Differential ↑
9 Games of 2 or less Goals Scored (2-6-1) ↑
5-4-2 in games against Playoff teams ↑
4-4-1 in games against Non Playoff teams ↓
6 Victories by 2 or more goals ↑
6 Losses by 2 or more goals ↑
3-2-3 in one goal games ↓
Longest win streak: 2 ↓
Longest losing steak: 4 ↓

VGK 2018-19 First 20 Games: (8-11-1) 17 Points

50 Goals For/56 Goals Allowed
-6 Goal Differential
12 Games of 2 or less Goals Scored (2-9-1)
(1-8) in games against Playoff teams
(7-3-1) in games against Non Playoff teams
5 Victories by 2 or more goals
9 Losses by 2 or more goals
(3-2-1) in one goal games
Longest win streak: 3 games
Longest losing steak: 3 games

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Vegas Point Streak Overshadowed by OT Losses

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For the most part, fans only care about wins and losses, but they must remember an NHL season is a marathon, not a race. I know, blah, blah, blah.

Over the past five games, the Golden Knights have won just two of them. Many fans are up in arms screaming about blown leads, consistency, and scoring issues, but they should be happy with that stretch as their team earned at least one point in five straight games. Look at it as a competitive team finding a way to earn a point, even in a losing effort. Last night in Toronto was a perfect example of a well-earned point.

Somehow the Golden Knights found themselves in a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation against one of the better offensively skilled clubs in the league. With their backup goaltender in net, let’s face it the odds were stacked against them. Vegas held a team that averages 3.35 goals per game to one score in 60 minutes. Even more notable was the Golden Knights penalty killers allowed only one goal in six power play opportunities. That lone Leafs goal was scored 48 minutes into the game. The Golden Knights defensive plan, on purpose or not, worked and earned them a point.

A loss isn’t a loss in the NHL. Overtime losses are half a win, and that’s how I’m looking at the Toronto game. Same goes for Vegas’ overtime losses against Montreal and Winnipeg even though those are understandably tougher pills to swallow. Sure you can look at Vegas’ three OTL’s as late-game failures or you can see it as a step closer to a playoff berth.

This season, the Golden Knights have earned an average of 1.23 points per game. That’s a pace that would give Vegas 102 points by the end of the regular season. Remember, no team with at least 100 points has missed the playoffs. Over the past five games of “inconsistent” play, they’ve racked up seven points, which is good for 115 over an 82 game season.

Everyone, including the head coach, knows the Golden Knights have more to give, yet here they sit right in the thick of the playoff chase early in the season. Their PDO is 97.9, which is the 5th worst in the NHL. (For those new to PDO, read this.) They’ve scored seven fewer goals than the “expected goal” rates show and yet they’ve overcome it. The other teams with negative actual goal vs expected goal rates have all struggled mightily (SJS, DET, NJD, LAK). And, they have the league’s 4th worst shooting percentage at even-strength at just 6.47%. The last two years that number was 7.75% and 8.38%.

Put all of that together, and it all points to the same thing. The best has yet to come for the Golden Knights.

Of course, we can’t sit here and celebrate overtime losses for the whole season because eventually, they will have to start earning two points a night rather than one. But as long as they keep pace, an occasional OTL isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s getting them closer to the century mark.

It might sound too simple, and something you’d hear from a coach, but it’s true. Good teams find a way to earn a point. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve heard a coach say that.

Golden Knights Stats and Trends For October

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Over the first month of the season, the Golden Knights went (8-5-1) standing in 3rd place in the Pacific Division. Vegas finished October with 17 points and held a (+5) in goal differential. For the most part it was a good opening 31 days for Vegas but clearly they have a lot more to prove in November.

Here are some statistics I find crucial to a successful season, and some interesting trends the team built over the opening month.

Vital Statistics

Primary Assists

  1. Pacioretty: 6
  2. Karlsson, Marchessault: 5
  3. Stone: 4
  4. Theodore: 3
  5. Glass, Smith, McNabb, Carrier: 2
  6. Eakin, Stastny, Nosek, Pirri, Engelland, Holden, Schmidt: 1

First VGK Goal of the Game

  1. Stone: 4
  2. Karlsson, Statsny: 2
  3. Carrier, Theodore, Nosek, Smith, Marchessault, Holden: 1

Game Winning Goals

  1. Stastny: 2
  2. Smith, Marchessault, Carrier, Roy: 1

Power Play Goals

  1. Stastny: 4
  2. Stone: 3
  3. Pacioretty: 2
  4. Karlsson, Marchessault, Holden: 1

Shootout Goals

  1. Theodore, Marchessault: 2
  2. Pirri: 1

Points Per Game (Top 10)

  1. Stone: 1.21
  2. *Tuch, Roy: 1.00
  3. Pacioretty, Karlsson: 0.86
  4. Smith: 0.79
  5. Stastny: 0.64
  6. Marchessault: 0.57
  7. Glass, Schmidt: 0.50
  8. Theodore: 0.36
  9. Nosek, Carrier: 0.28
  10. Holden: 0.21

Power Play Points

  1. Pacioretty, Stone: 7
  2. Stastny: 6
  3. Theodore, Glass, Marchessault: 3
  4. Karlsson: 2
  5. Smith, Holden, Hague: 1

Shootout Goals

  1. Theodore, Marchessault: 2
  2. Pirri: 1

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Golden Knights History Before And After Breaks Suggest Success

The Golden Knights have a mini-break this week with their next game being on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Last year, they had seven separate occasions of three or more days off. Vegas went 7-6-1 on games directly before and after those breaks. In 2017-18, the Golden Knights had five occasions and were 7-2-1.

2017-18: Before and After Break Record
7-2-1 Overall
4-1-0 Games Before Break
3-1-1 Games After Break

2018-19: Before and After Break Record
7-6-1 Overall
2-4-1 Games Before Break
5-1-1 Games After Break

Some look at the extra rest as a good thing, others will argue the timing could possibly disrupt any momentum from Vegas’ dominant performance last night against Anaheim. Either way, the Golden Knights will use the lay off to their advantage.

Yeah I think so. We’ll practice Monday and take Tuesday off. So we’ll have a good hard practice on Monday, hopefully they’ll smile in the practice and make it fun. If not, I’ll be grumpy. -Gerard Gallant

Veteran Max Pacioretty can appreciate the extra rest but also puts the responsibility on individual players. He stresses each member of the team is a professional and should spend their time wisely.

Approach it as a player. Do the right things, make sure your body is ready to play the next game. Everybody responds differently to different types of preparation. At this point in our career, most guys know how to handle a couple of days here between games. It’s important to make the right decisions. -Pacioretty

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