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Shorter Shifts Are “Non-Negotiable”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With a new coach comes change.

I think every coach has some tweaks and some beliefs they want to instill. Coming in mid-season it’s going to be a little slower process and take some time. -Pete DeBoer

DeBoer has been tasked with taking over a team that knows it’s good but haven’t quite been able to sustain it consistently. The Golden Knights started out the season with two big wins against DeBoer’s Sharks, then dropped 15 of their next 24. Next, they hit a hot streak winning 13 of 19, but things quickly took a turn for the worse with Vegas losing four straight, costing Gerard Gallant his job.

Now, DeBoer is in charge and he has to figure out how much needs to be changed and where he needs to implement those changes.

From a systems point of view, there will be some tweaks but this is a well-coached team, I’m not coming in here to change everything. -DeBoer

Those tweaks will come eventually, but don’t expect to see them in the next three games.

We’ve got to take it a little bit slower for me. These games until the break I’m going to use to get to know the guys and the team. The players, I want them to play, show me what you can do, what you are capable of, and hopefully coming out of the break we can start to establish some of those things. -DeBoer

However, DeBoer did outline a few things he says he won’t wait for, those he calls, “non-negotiables.”

I was a coach have some non-negotiable things we’re going to stress and that’s attacking and playing north, stopping and defending hard, tracking back, keeping our shifts short, playing four lines. Those are the non-negotiable items for me that we’re going to try and instill right away. -DeBoer

For the most part, it’s all standard coach speak and things the Golden Knights were already doing with Gallant. But, there’s one “item” among the non-negotiables that will require a change from Vegas’ players.

“Keeping our shifts short.”

The average shift length of all players in the NHL is 45.5 seconds. 47.1 seconds for defensemen and 44.6 seconds for forwards. (as of 1/21/20)

Under Gallant Golden Knights came in way above the averages, while DeBoer’s Sharks teams have been below.

 VGKSJSNHL
Team ATOI49.244.945.5
Forwards ATOI49.144.044.6
Defensemen ATOI49.546.847.1

Vegas’ shifts are on average over five seconds longer than San Jose’s and four seconds longer than the league. The difference mostly comes down to forwards, where the Golden Knights 49.1 seconds per shift. While Gallant was at the helm, that was tied with Washington for the highest in the league. (Games through 1/14/20)

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Misery Loves Company: VGK Not Only Team To Experience Four Straight 3-0 Deficits

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights found themselves in a three-goal hole late in the 1st period against the Blues. It felt like the sky was falling until Vegas stormed back to win the game 5-4 in overtime.

Three nights later, once again, Vegas saw 3-0 on the scoreboard, this time against Pittsburgh. Back-to-back games falling behind by three felt improbable, yet once again they stormed back only to come up a bit short.

A couple nights later, it happened again! 3-0 turned to 4-0 against the LA Kings and it’s officially reached epidemic levels.

Then, Saturday. 1-0 in the 1st. 2-0 in the 2nd, and what do you know in the 3rd, 3-0 again for the fourth straight game.

All we could do was shout things that Jackie Chiles would say. “That’s deplorable, unfathomable, improbable!”

Here at SinBin.vegas, our first thought was, this has to be historic. 3-0, four games in a row, there’s no way anyone else has done this in a decade. Wrong!

In fact, a team currently residing in 1st place in the Pacific Division did it just two months ago.

The Calgary Flames fell behind 3-0 against the Coyotes, Golden Knights, Avalanche, and Blue in four straight games from November 16th to the 21st.

Falling behind 3-0 in a game isn’t nearly as rare as it would seem. Every single team in the NHL has done it at least once, and 24 of the 31 teams have done it at least three times this season.

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Consecutive Goals Both A Blessing And A Curse

1st period problems have been evident throughout the entire homestand with the Golden Knights allowing 13 goals in the opening frame in the last six games. However, that’s been a temporary problem. There’s a bigger problem that’s been going on all year, and it’s reared its ugly head these last three games.

Consecutive goals.

The Blues, Penguins, and Kings all scored at least three straight on the Golden Knights. In 13 separate games, Vegas has allowed the opposing team to score three or more consecutive goals. They are 2-10-1 in those games, and 1-6-1 at home.

Allowing 3+ consecutive goals
10/08/19: 4-3 loss vs Boston – 4 straight
10/15/19: 5-2 loss at Nashville – 4 straight
10/21/19: 6-2 loss at Philadelphia – 4 straight
10/25/19: 6-1 loss vs Colorado – 4 straight
11/02/19: 4-3 OTL vs Winnipeg – 3 straight
11/13/19: 5-3 loss vs Chicago – 5 straight
11/27/19: 4-3 OT win at Nashville – 3 straight
12/08/19: 5-0 loss vs NY Rangers – 5 straight
12/12/19: 4-2 loss at St. Louis – 3 straight
12/27/19: 4-3 loss at Anaheim – 4 straight
01/04/20: 5-4 OT win vs St. Louis – 3 straight
01/07/20: 4-3 loss vs Pittsburgh – 3 straight
01/09/20: 5-2 loss vs LA – 4 straight

We were on to this earlier in the season, especially after Max Pacioretty made a comment about their inability to overcome adversity.

We have to find a way to be resilient and hopefully, these last couple of games can give us the experience we need to overcome this adversity and be better from it. -Max Pacioretty on 11/12/19

The Golden Knights have played 26 home games so far this season. In eight of them they’ve allowed at least three straight goals. That means once in every three home games!

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s unacceptable for it to happen once in a blue moon in your own building, let alone 30% of the time.

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Common Golden Knights Mantra Proving To Be True, And Historic

No real reason for this picture other than that it’s awesome. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the common phrases from Golden Knights throughout the course of the first three seasons has been that they want to play the same way no matter the score of the game. If it’s tied at 0, they want to play the same way as if they are up 4-0 or down 4-3.

It’s one of those sayings that sounds like a cliche rather than something that can actually be implemented in real life though.

Much like the saying “we roll four lines,” which is unequivocally not true about the Golden Knights. Vegas’ top-six forwards play about three minutes more even-strength time than their 3rd line and five minutes more than the 4th line. Quite simply, over the course of the whole game, the Golden Knights don’t “roll four lines” and they never have. (The numbers are essentially identical in all three years.)

However, the “play the same way” mantra is surprisingly accurate and the Golden Knights are on pace to do it at a historical rate.

The way this is calculated is through Corsi or SAT%. Corsi is a horribly imperfect stat but until we have accurate puck tracking data, it’s the best we’ve got. The idea is to gather up all the shot attempts to try and figure out which teams spend the most time in the offensive zone. In theory, a team with a 50% Corsi spends the same amount of time defending as they do attacking. 55% Corsi means you spend more time in the o-zone than the d-zone, and 45% Corsi means more time in the d-zone than the o-zone.

Again, it’s not perfect, but the numbers for the Golden Knights are astounding.

Vegas’ overall Corsi this season when the game is at 5-on-5 is 53.3%. That’s good for 4th best in the NHL, behind Carolina, Los Angeles, and Montreal.

When the game is tied, the Golden Knights Corsi is 53.2%, nearly identical to their total. When Vegas is ahead, the number is 52.8%, half a percentage point under their norm. When they are behind, the number is 53.8%, half a percentage point over their norm.

This is to be expected. When they are down as they protect the lead, they shoot less, when they are up they shoot more as they try to tie it up. However, the disparity is essentially nothing, which is incredibly rare for an NHL team. Over the course of a game, we’re talking about a difference of about one shot per situation. If Vegas gets 53 shots for and allows 47 when the game is tied, they’d get 52 and allow 48 when they are up, and get 54 and allow 46 when they are down. A one shot attempt swing is basically inconsequential and when compared to the rest of the league, unbelievable.

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Leading Division On New Year’s Day Bodes Well For Future

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the 2nd time in three seasons when the fireworks went up over the Strip, the team that calls Las Vegas home was sitting in 1st place as the calendar flipped to the new year.

January 1st essentially marks the halfway point of the NHL season, give or take a few days, and while plenty of hockey is still to be played the standings when the year changes are significant in predicting the future.

Since the lockout killed the 2004-05 season, there have been 66 teams that have led their division on January 1st (four divisions from 2012-13 to 2018-19, six divisions from 2005-06 to 2011-12).

Of the 66 who led the division on New Year’s Day, 61 made the playoffs, including all 12 since Vegas has been a franchise.

Just 7.6% of teams with a hold of the division title on New Year’s Day have failed to reach the postseason and only one team (4.2%) has done it since the league went to the four division format it currently uses now (2015-16 Montreal).

39 of the 66 division leaders on January 1st went on to win their respective divisions for a nearly 60% success rate. Since 2017-18, eight of the 12 New Year’s division leaders (66.7%) raised a division champion banner that season, including the 2017- 18 Golden Knights.

31 of the 66 teams went on to win at least one round and 21 of the 66 went on to reach the conference finals.

In the 13 years since the lockout, there have been eight teams to win the Stanley Cup that held their respective division’s number one spot on New Year’s Day. That means 61.5% of Stanley Cup Champions since 2006 led their division on January 1st.

All in all, leading the division on New Year’s Day is significant. It means you have a 92% chance of making the playoffs, a 59% chance of winning the division, a 47% chance of winning a round, a 32% chance of reaching the conference finals, and a 12% chance of winning the Stanley Cup.

As I say every time I walk up to a craps table, “I like these odds.”


2018-19

Tampa Bay – Won Division, 1st Round
Washington – Won Division, 1st Round
Winnipeg – 2nd Place, 1st Round
Calgary – Won Division, 1st Round

2017-18

Tampa Bay – Won Division, ECF
Washington – Won Division, Cup
Winnipeg – 2nd Place, WCF
Vegas – Won Division – SCF

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Golden Knights Need More From Paul Stastny

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 92 games as a Golden Knight, center Paul Statsny has a total of 58 points (23 Goals, 35 Assists), 0.63 points per game. In the 46 wins Stastny participated in, the 34-year-old compiled 43 points (20 Goals, 24 Assists), averaging 0.93 points per game. Pretty significant impact.

On the other side, when Vegas loses, Stastny rarely shows up on the score sheet. In 21 total losses this season, he has only two points. His points per game drops to an alarming 0.095.

Ken wrote why he thinks the numbers are down, which may be fair, but the fact is since the organization committed 7.6% of their payroll to Stastny they simply can’t afford to his numbers to be where they are, no matter what the excuses are.

One thing is clear about the 2019-2020 Golden Knights, they’re offensively inconsistent, and Stastny is one of the main reasons why. He’s had 4, 5, and 8-game goal droughts this season and a 21 game assist drought to go along with other 5 and 6 game assist droughts. In a three-game span in November, Stastny had no shots on net, no points, and played less than his average TOI in each game. It was during a stretch when the club desperately could’ve used his offense.

Vegas is 4-4-2 in games when Stastny doesn’t register a shot. He’s posted a -7 rating with only one assist in those games.

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Attempting To Explain Paul Stastny’s Down Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Halfway through the season, Paul Stastny is on pace to have the worst statistical year of his career. The 34-year-old center is a career 0.77 points per game player meaning he should be pushing 60 points per season if he plays all 82 games. Instead, this year he has just 15 points in 41 games and is staring at a career-low 0.37 points per game season, less than half his career average.

However, the eye test to me doesn’t really match the drop in production. Watching Stastny carefully (which I went back and did during the holiday break) he still looks like the exact same player. His vision is still there, he’s still an excellent passer, he’s defensively responsible, and he’s still dangerous in front of the goal on the power play. He’s never been a high-end skater, so while he may not look like the fastest guy on the ice, he certainly doesn’t look any slower than he did last year, or even while in Winnipeg or St. Louis.

So, I went to the numbers, which confused me even more. The first numbers you look at on the page of any hockey player are goals, assists, and points. For Stasnty, the goals are right where they should be midway through the season. He has nine, on pace for 18 which would be in line with his last five years or so. But then there’s the assists, six. That’s not right. He should be a 40-50 assist guy and he’s on pace for 12.

How can a player be 15-20 assists off where he should be 41 games into the season? The easiest argument is age has led to a slip in production, but I’m not ready to make that case because I simply can’t see it anywhere but in one column on the stat sheet. Instead, I tried to find other underlying causes, which I did, and for the most part, they aren’t controllable by Stastny. So, I’m here to make the argument today that Paul Stastny’s down season is not his fault.

Here, let me show my work.

First off, Stastny’s time on ice is at an all-time low this year. Having “fallen” into a 3rd line role with the Golden Knights attempt at a balanced lineup (I’d argue they’ve put him there to help the team cause not as a demotion to the player), Stastny is playing 16:44 per game. Over the course of his career, he’s never played less than 17:38 and in only six of his 13 completed seasons has he been under 19 minutes per game. Three minutes less per game is a 16% decrease in time on ice. Thus, if he would be expected to get 0.77 points per game, or 63 points a season, his lessened TOI alone lowers that to 0.65 points per game or 53 per season. POINT DIFFERENCE: 10 points or 0.12 PPG

The next biggest detriment to his production this season has been shooting percentage. The Golden Knights are shooting just 7.6% with Stastny on the ice. The Golden Knights as a team are shooting 8.8% and they shot 8.7% last season. Shooting percentage tends to find its way back to the norm over time, thus it can be expected that Vegas will shoot at least 1.2% better in the next 41 games with Stastny on the ice (they’d actually have to shoot around 2.4% better to get him back to the norm, but we’ll ignore that for now). The Golden Knights have attempted 424 shots with Stastny on the ice, scoring on 32 of them. If the shooting percentage was just that 1.2% higher, they would have scored five more goals. So, now we need a calculation as to how many points Stastny would have if he were on the ice for five more goals. To solve that issue we’ll go by Stastny’s career with the Golden Knights. He’s put up 57 points in the two seasons with 45 of them coming at even strength. The Golden Knights have scored 66 even-strength goals with Stastny on the ice. Thus, he factors in on 68.2% of even strength goals while on the ice. 68.2% of five goals is 3.41 points for Stastny. Multiply it by two for the goals he’s already missed and the points he may get the rest of the year and we’re looking at a seven point difference. POINT DIFFERENCE: 7 points or 0.85 PPG

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Where Do The Golden Knights Rank?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Christmas has come and gone and with it, we sit basically at the midway point of the season. 40 games down, 42 to go before the real season starts.

With every team off for the last three days, meaning the stat sites are all up to date with every game played, it’s a good time to dive into the numbers to take a look at exactly where Vegas stands in comparison to the rest of the league.

Starting with the most important number, the Golden Knights have accumulated 46 points, good for 8th most in the NHL. However, do to games in hand (no one has played more hockey than Vegas and Edmonton), the Golden Knights sit in 14th in points percentage at .575.

They rank 10th in goals for with 119, but 18th in goals per game with 2.94. As for goals against, Vegas comes in at 20th place with 118, or 13th with 2.91 per game.

For every other stat, I’ve broken it down by where the Golden Knights rank. We start with what the Golden Knights lead the league in, then where they are great, good, average, bad, and finally what they are worst at. Every stat is “per 60” which normalizes the numbers with teams having played different numbers of games.

Lead the League

Takeaways – 9.6 (1st)
Scoring chances (Natural Stat Trick) – 30.9 (1st)
Offensive zone faceoffs – 22.1 (1st)

Great (Top 5)

High-danger chances (Natural Stat Trick) – 12.2 (2nd)
Shot attempts – 60.8 (3rd)
Shots on goal – 33.6 (3rd)
Expected goals – 2.94 (3rd)
Hits – 26.4 (4th)
Icings against – 4.9 (4th)
Shorthanded goals – 0.15 (5th)

Good (Top 10)

Giveaways – 8.9 (8th)
Corsi for percentage – 51.9% (9th)
Penalty kill percentage – 82.6 (9th)
1st period goals – 0.975 (T-9th)

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Golden Knights Utilizing Zone Starts To Deploy Right Defenseman At Right Time

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the most overlooked stats in hockey is zone starts. NHL coaches go to great lengths to get the correct players on the ice at the right times, but when examining stats, very rarely will you see a nod to a player’s zone starts.

When judging defense we like to use stats like +/-, Corsi, goal percentage, and defensive point shares. However, it’s important to consider deployment when taking all of this into account.

It’s become especially crucial when breaking down the statistical seasons of the Golden Knights blue liners. Looking at the numbers without zone starts involved it appears as though Shea Theodore has emerged as Vegas’ best defenseman. He leads all defensemen in goals, assists, points, shots, offensive point shares, defensive point shares, Corsi, Corsi relative, expected goals, expected goals percentage, and expected +/-.

There’s no question that Theodore has become the Golden Knights’ most effective offensive weapon from the blue line. That’s why the coaching staff have used him in a role much different than that of Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb.

The Golden Knights are 2nd in the NHL in percentage of faceoffs in the offensive zone. In Golden Knights games this season, 35.6% of draws have been in the offensive zone, 32.7% in the neutral zone and just 31.7% in the D-zone. Vegas has taken 648 offensive zone draws to only 577 in the defensive zone. That means the Golden Knights baseline zone start percentage is 52.9%.

In other words, any player getting less than 53% offensive zone starts is being deployed in a defensive role, while anyone above is in an offensive role. Here are the Golden Knights primary defensemen’s offensive zone start numbers this season.

oZS%
Hague 65.5%
Theodore 58.0%
Engelland 54.9%
Merrill 51.8%
Holden 49.8%
Schmidt 47.7%
McNabb 47.3%

The difference between the top of that list and the bottom is massive. Hague and Theodore are drawing offensive zone shifts more than 6% more than the team average while McNabb and Schmidt are finding themselves starting in the D-zone around 6% less than the average.

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Golden Knights Thrive At 4-on-4

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not a terribly common situation in an NHL game anymore, but when the Golden Knights find themselves in a 4-on-4 spot, they’ve made the most of it.

Vegas has played 32:35 of 4-on-4 time this season, the 6th most in the NHL, yet no one has scored more goals with both teams short a man. The Golden Knights have tallied five goals and have not allowed any while playing 4-on-4 hockey.

Small sample size aside, the Golden Knights are almost more dangerous at 4-on-4 than on the power play.

 G/60S/60SA/60xGF/60
5-on-52.4 (19th)32.3 (8th)30.4 (16th)2.8 (T-1st)
4-on-47.4 (3rd)31.0 (11th)15.2 (3rd)4.7 (T-1st)
3-on-34.2 (23rd)37.3 (15th)53.9 (31st)4.5 (19th)
Power Play8.4 (6th)67.4 (1st)7.0 (1st)8.5 (2nd)
Penalty Kill1.5 (T-4th)12.3 (T-10th)57.8 (23rd)1.0 (T-8th)
All2.9 (T-17th)35.5 (2nd)30.8 (13th)3.3 (2nd)

Vegas is one of seven teams to have a 100% goal percentage, they are 2nd in expected goals for per 60, 2nd in goal differential per 60, 3rd in goals for per 60, and 3rd in Corsi for per 60.

The key for Vegas in 4-on-4 has been the defensemen. Both Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt have two points and Jon Merrill and Nick Holden also each have a point. Between them, that’s six points in less than 60 minutes of combined ice time. The Vegas blueline only have a total of 60 points in 38 games, yet they have six in less than one game at 4-on-4.

As far as the forwards, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson all have at least four individual shot attempts despite none of them playing more than 12 minutes.

Vegas has an xGF% of 75.3% at 4-on-4. At all even-strength situations, no team has an xGF% better than 54.4% (Carolina). Vegas’ 75.3% at 4-on-4 is almost as strong as the Sabres (81.7%), Blues (81.9%), and Red Wings (83.1%) on the power play. The Golden Knights shooting percentage is 23.5%. They only shoot 8.8% in all situations and 12.4% on the power play.

No matter how you slice it, the Golden Knights are dominant at 4-on-4. Anyone else up for a petition to change the overtime format back?

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