In today’s film breakdown, we show how VGK’s commitment to taking away a single pass on the penalty kill limits the amount of space the Golden Knights must defend, neutralizes one player on the opposing power play, and leads to VGK having one of the strongest penalty kills in the league.
Author: Ken Boehlke Page 1 of 250
This season, diehard VGK fan and legendary combat sports columnist Kevin Iole will be delivering columns a few times a month on Sundays. Kevin’s back today to take a look at a position of depth, one that’s been notoriously thin in years past.
LAS VEGAS — In that magical first season, the Golden Knights went with William Karlsson, Erik Haula, Cody Eakin and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare 1-4 as their centers.
In this season’s playoffs, assuming Jack Eichel recovers, that group will be Eichel-Karlsson-Chandler Stevenson and Nicolas Roy, potentially with Nolan Patrick, Keegan Kolesar and Jake Leschyshyn in the hole. It’s quite an improvement and impressive depth.
That’s the center depth of a Stanley Cup champion, but don’t start scoping out spots for the parade just yet.
There is no guarantee that Eichel will return this year, or that he’ll be the impact player he is when healthy. He underwent a surgery shortly after the Knights acquired him from Buffalo that no NHL player has ever undergone.
UFC fighters Chris Weidman and Aljamain Sterling both had it and recommend it, but because it worked for them does not necessarily mean it will work for Eichel.
But if Eichel comes back and resembles the player he once was, this will be a deep and potentially dominant group because it will create matchup issues aplenty. Stevenson has raised his game this year as the team’s No. 1 center to this point, and if you drop him to No. 2 or No. 3 where his matchups are better, it figures he can maintain if not improve upon his start.
If Karlsson is the Knights’ No. 3 center, I would dare say there may not be a better No. 3 center in the NHL. And Roy has done far more than a credible job centering Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault while Karlsson has been out. Like Stevenson, he’d be a matchup issue for other teams’ No. 4 centers.
Teams that win the Stanley Cup are strong down the middle. When the Pittsburgh Penguins won back to back titles in 2016 and 2017, they did it on the backs of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But Nick Bonino was a quality third-line center for those Penguins with Phil Kessel on his line, and Matt Cullen was a smart, effective fourth liner.
The Lightning have won the last two Cups, with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos. When Washington defeated the VGK in 2018 for the Cup, they had Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov as their centers.
Recap: The Golden Knights did a great job defending Connor McDavid and the Oilers for the opening 15 minutes but it wouldn’t last. Edmonton picked up two quick goals in the final two minutes of the period to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Edmonton stretched their lead early in the middle frame but Vegas quickly answered. Chandler Stephenson backhanded in his eighth of the season getting his team back within two.
Vegas came out strong in the final period outshooting Edmonton 11-2 in the first 10 minutes. Reilly Smith made it a one goal game when he tapped in his ninth of the season. The Golden Knights couldn’t find the tying goal and lost a tight divisional battle.
The Golden Knights record drops to 12-9-0 after falling to the Oilers 3-2. Vegas hits the road for a short two game road trip beginning in Anaheim on Wednesday night. Puck drop against the Ducks is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: The Golden Knights have really lived or died by their defense chipping in offensively. Tonight, they got caught trying to help out far too often and it led to what felt like an endless string of breakaways for Edmonton. VGK pushed back but couldn’t find the game tying goal before time ran out. (Recap by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers game at T-Mobile Arena.
The team’s recent run of success amidst the injuries has us thinking about the plans for the future. Should the Golden Knights make their cap move sooner rather than later to trade from a place of strength? Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.
- VGK’s recent results
- Eichel’s place in the lineup
- Are we changing our minds on who could be traded for the cap?
- Taco Bell commercial
- Luke Combs’ hat choice
And much more…
Recap: The Golden Knights got some great news before their game in Nashville as Max Pacioretty hit the ice for the first time since mid-October. Linemate Chandler Stephenson scored his seventh goal of the season, giving Vegas a 1-0 lead with 48 seconds left in the opening period.
Jonas Rondbjerg and Adam Brooks both had 2nd period goals to stretch the Golden Knights lead to 3-0 after 40 minutes of action.
Nashville would get on the board twice in the final frame but Alex Pietrangelo and Mark Stone regained Vegas’ three goal lead.
The Golden Knights record improves to 12-8-0 with their 5-2 victory in Nashville. Vegas gets a short Thanksgiving break and will host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Puck drop from The Fortress is scheduled for 4 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: Vegas played a game straight out of the tool bag that had them tied for the most points in the NHL. They controlled the game by forechecking and keeping plays alive in the offensive zone and they used turnovers to generate quick strike chances. Defensively they were sound and they got excellent goaltending from Robin Lehner, and the penalty kill completely dominated the Predators. (Recap by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Nashville Predators game at Bridgestone Arena.
Inconsistency is always expected over the course of an 82-game regular season season. Throw in $30 million in injuries and it’s almost a given that there will be off nights a plenty.
However, that’s expected to be more from game to game, night to night, not necessarily period to period or shift to shift as the Golden Knights have been experiencing lately.
Over the last two games, the Golden Knights have experienced a major case of Jekyll and Hyde. Against Columbus they were horrible for 20 minutes, only to turn it around and put in the most convincing 40 minutes of the season. Then, in St. Louis, it was the opposite, great for 10 minutes, then miserable for 50.
Vegas is now 6-5-0 when scoring first, while being 5-3-0 when allowing the first goal. That’s eight games in 19 that have seen the team who concedes first go on to win (42%). In 2020-21, the Golden Knights played 56 games and the team who scored first lost just 14 of them (25%).
But it’s not just the first goal, it’s often the second too. VGK have been up at least a pair and gone on to see the lead disappear three times in 19 games. On the flip side though, they’ve been down at least two on four difference occasions and erased the lead as well.
All in all, there’s been game-tying goal in 13 of the 19 games this season, eight in which Vegas allowed it, and six in which VGK scored it (both happened in the Vancouver game).
10/27 – at DAL – Overcome 1 goal deficit twice 1-0, 2-1 – Win
11/6 – at MTL – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0 – Win
11/9 – SEA – Overcome 1 goal deficit twice 1-0, 2-1 – Win
11/13 – VAN – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0, Win
11/16 – CAR – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0, Loss
11/20 – CBJ – Overcome 2 goal deficit 2-0, Win
10/12 – SEA – Blow 3 goal lead 3-0 – Win
10/14 – @LAK – Blow 1 goal lead 1-0 – Loss
10/20 – STL – Blow 1 goal lead 1-0 – Loss
10/22 – EDM – Blow 1 goal lead twice 1-0, 2-1 – Loss
10/29 – ANA – Blow 3 goal lead 4-1 – Win
11/7 – at DET – Blow 1 goal lead 1-0 – Loss
11/13 – VAN – Blow 1 goal lead, twice 3-2, 4-3 – Win
11/22 – at STL – Blow 2 goal lead 2-0 – Loss
Maybe the oddest part of all of it has been the Golden Knights’ record in these topsy turvy games.
When they have recovered a deficit, the Golden Knights have gone on to win five of the six games. When they’ve blown a lead, they’ve come back and rescued the game three out of the eight. One has to wonder if these numbers will come back closer to even if this trend continues.
It’s a lot like the advanced analytic stat PDO. In hockey, things like this tend to even out. Right now, it looks like the Golden Knights are on the positive side of the spectrum a bit more than they probably should be at this point.
There is one really good way to avoid that from swinging back the other way though… stop blowing leads.
Recap: Vegas center Chandler Stephenson got the Golden Knights off to an incredibly fast start again, scoring :36 into the game in St. Louis. Red hot Reilly Smith doubled Vegas’ lead six minutes later giving Vegas a 2-0 lead. The Blues woke up after Smith’s goal and scored three unanswered to take a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.
St. Louis added another early in the second period on the power play. It was the only goal of the period and the Golden Knights trailed 4-2 after two periods of play.
The offense continued to struggle for Vegas since early in the 1st period. The Blues scored one more in the final 20 minutes, handing the Golden Knights a 5-2 defeat.
The Golden Knights record drops to 11-8-0 and prepare for their next game on Wednesday. Puck drop in Nashville is scheduled for 5 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: A bit of an opposite game from the one on Saturday night against Carolina. In this one, the Golden Knights could do no wrong early, scoring twice and creating their own luck. Then, it completely fell apart and they were doing all the things that make coaches go crazy. A very poor game in the first of four of five on the road. (Recap by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues game at Enterprise Center.
He’s probably not a familiar face to Golden Knights fans, and maybe not even his own head coach, but Adam Brooks is a known commodity to many in the Golden Knights organization.
The Winnipeg-born 25-year-old played his junior hockey in the WHL before being drafted in the 4th round in 2016 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He bounced between the AHL (Toronto Marlies) and the NHL for his first few seasons before being claimed on waivers early this year by the Montreal Canadiens. When he hit waivers again, the Golden Knights snapped him up, and after a few days waiting for visas and work permits, he’s set to make his VGK debut tonight.
Of course, being a standout in the WHL was always going to catch the attention of Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon. Brooks posted 250 points in his final two seasons in the WHL with the Regina Pats, with plenty coming against McCrimmon’s Brandon Wheat Kings. But it’s not just Kelly who is familiar with him. In his first season with the Pats, Brooks played alongside Chandler Stephenson and then in his final year, future Golden Knights draft pick Jake Leschyshyn was on his team. Then, when he got to the NHL, he met and played with Michael Amadio and Ben Hutton. And before all of it, growing up in Winnipeg has him familiar with Keegan Kolesar, Brett Howden, Nolan Patrick, and Zach Whitecloud.
It’s a pretty big group (of players I know), so you’re able to come in and feel a little more relaxed and a little more comfortable and I’m excited to join this group, it’s a special one. -Adam Brooks
Golden Knights fans may not recognize the name or the face, but they’ll certainly be able to recognize the type of player they are getting in Brooks. A high-IQ player, Brooks is not flashy but has plenty of skill. He’s able to play up and down the lineup and has been used as both a power play option and a penalty killer in his 22-game NHL career. In other words, he’s the exact prototype of a player Vegas has drafted for the past four years.
Recap: The Golden Knights allowed a goal under a minute of the game for the first time this season. The Blue Jackets added another on the penalty kill to carry a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
After some heavy pressure Keegan Kolesar scored his first of the season to get Vegas within one. Kolesar’s goal was the only scoring change in the period and the Golden Knights trailed 2-1 after two periods of action.
Vegas began the 3rd period on a power play but the home team couldn’t get one across. However, Reilly Smith tied the game shorthanded with his seventh of the season. Mattias Janmark broke the tie picking up his first goal of the season. The Golden Knights scored three unanswered goals to defeat the Blue Jackets 3-2.
The Golden Knights record improves to 11-7-0 and go 5-1-0 to finish their six game homestand. Vegas travels to St. Louis for a Monday night matchup with the Blues. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: It was a tale of two games. Vegas couldn’t do much of anything right in the 1st period, but they completely turned it around in the 2nd and continued into the 3rd. After being unable to win any board battles, struggling to exit, and giving up loads of chances, VGK turned it on in the 2nd and flipped the script completely. They were excellent for the final 40 minutes and got help from a timely shorthanded goal by Reilly Smith. (Recap by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Columbus Blue Jackets game at T-Mobile Arena.