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A Dip Into Max Pacioretty’s Cold Gameday Routine

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The list of why professional athletes are professional athletes and the rest of us are just fans is a long one that probably doesn’t need any more entries added to it. But,  we’re going to add one anyway.

Max Pacioretty was recently on the Agent Provocateur podcast with his agent, Allan Walsh, where he discussed his gameday routine, one that clearly shows he is much closer to a machine than a normal human being.

I wake up, go to the rink, eat breakfast, get treatment, stretch, roll out a little bit, then go on the ice for pregame skate. Then I do a little bit of a lift. Cold tub. Eat lunch, come home, nap. I do my Normatech (recovery boots that “flushes your legs and squeezes them with air”), then some breathing stuff and meditation.  Wake up from the nap, have a snack, go to the rink, another cold tub. Meetings. (Pre-game) Warm-up. Another cold tub. Go out on the ice and play the 1st period, then another cold tub. And then after the game probably another cold tub as well. -Pacioretty on Agent Provocateur podcast

Yes, you read that right, four to five dips in a tub of water filled with ice cubes every single game day.

Just something to shock the body, and makes your feel a little bit more fresh. -Pacioretty on Agent Provocateur podcast

It’s just one of the things that makes Max Pacioretty, Max Pacioretty. This is a guy who has played more than 800 games in the NHL. He’s one of the league’s elite scorers and a veteran that’s respected by players across the league. He’s established, has signed a massive contract, and is probably better than 99.9% of people in the world at playing hockey the moment he rolls out of bed, yet he puts himself through the harshness of dipping his entire body into a cold tub five times a day just to get a tiny edge.

You get in these routines and it’s not even superstitious, I just feel better while doing it. And mine’s not even too crazy, a couple guys have weirder things but it does help me I think. -Pacioretty on Agent Provocateur podcast

I’m literally shivering just writing this article and I had to put on a coat while I was listening to him describe it, but it should serve as a reminder of the incredible rigors these guys put themselves through to entertain us night in and night out for an 82-game season.

It’s not fun, getting in that ice bath is never fun but you feel like if you can go through that you can go through anything. -Pacioretty on Agent Provocatuer podcast

If this doesn’t make you respect Max Pacioretty, and all NHL players for that matter, I’m not sure what will.

**Make sure you give a listen to the Agent Provocateur podcast with Pacioretty as it does a great job of telling his story both in Montreal and then once he got to Vegas. Here’s the link.**

VGK’s Head-To-Head Dominance Over Pacific Division Slipping

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the Golden Knights entered the NHL they’ve done nothing but dominate the Pacific Division.

Not just in the overall standings, in which the Golden Knights have won the division two of the three years they’ve competed in it, but also in the postseason where Vegas has been the last team standing three of the four playoff seasons.

One of the main reasons for this dominance has been the head-to-head play between the teams. Of the six teams still in the division (Arizona left for the Central), the Golden Knights had a combined record of 68-21-8 record coming into this season. That’s 144 points in just 97 games or a points percentage of .742. Against all other teams, VGK have earned 226 points in 194 games for a points percentage of .583.

Literally almost 40% of the points the Golden Knights have earned in franchise history have come on the backs of just six teams. But this year it hasn’t gone as well.

Record against ANA, CGY, EDM, LAK, SJS, and VAN
21-22: 2-4-0 (.333)
20-21: 21-3-0 (.875)
19-20: 13-5-2  (.700)
18-19: 18-8-3 (.672)
17-18: 16-5-3 (.729)

The Golden Knights have won just two games against Pacific Division opponents not named Seattle while dropping four. They’ve lost both division games they’ve played on the road (at LAK, at ANA) and have allowed their opponent to grab at least a point in every game but one, a game they trailed 2-0 six minutes in (vs VAN).

Winning in the division has been a staple for the Golden Knights’ success and one has to wonder what their overall record will look like if they are not amassing huge point totals against the Pacific Division.

Obviously, Seattle has helped as Vegas has beaten them twice in two tries, both in regulation. However, those games were both at T-Mobile Arena and the Kraken appear to be improving as the season progresses. The next two matchups in late March and early April may not be as easy.

There are still 18 games left against division opponents. Including Seattle, the Golden Knights have recorded eight points in the first eight games. To reach their normal pace against the division (.742), they’d need to go 15-2-1.

Making that even trickier, 10 of the 18 games are on the road, including a pair in Edmonton and Calgary who are in 1st and 2nd in the division.

Adding this all up, the fact of the matter is, the Golden Knights are going to need to play much better out of division than they ever have before to reach the playoffs.

There’s no better time than now to start that as nine of the next 10 games are out of the division.

Surprising Ducks Not Cup Ready Like Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are loaded with high-ticket talent and proven leaders. When Jack Eichel makes his Vegas debut the 31st franchise will be one of the league’s most dangerous teams. Tonight’s opponent, the Anaheim Ducks are skilled but built much differently. Through the draft the Ducks became younger, cheaper and much more competitive than they had over the last few seasons. For instance, Anaheim had an eight game win streak, one of their players string together a sixteen game point streak, and currently sit one point above the Golden Knights in the standings. It’s a bit of a shock to fans of teams in the Pacific Division.

Since their arrival, Vegas is 18-3-0 all-time against Anaheim. The Golden Knights have outscored the Ducks 79-41 and allow only 1.95 goals per game. It’s been a one-sided series to say the least. This season the two teams met in late October and as usual the Vegas won 5-4. However, the box score won’t tell you Vegas blew a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period, or Anaheim scored three unanswered goals in a five minute span, or the game was decided in shootout.

If it wasn’t clear before, trading for Eichel was clear sign the Golden Knights are in a full win-now mode. Whereas the Ducks are playing without any organizational pressure. It’s all about building chemistry, experience, and making an unsuspected run towards the playoffs. Of course, every team desires deep playoff runs but few are constructed well enough to win a Stanley Cup. Vegas is one of them. Anaheim is showing early signs they could be in the future.

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Iole: Centers Of Attention

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.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

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Vegas Is Becoming Alex Pietrangelo’s Team

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Let’s be honest, we all thought the Golden Knights would be a lot worse off than they are today. Thanksgiving has passed and we can all let out a collective sigh knowing that if the season ended today Vegas would be in the playoffs.

The injury bug hit the Golden Knights hard but through coaching, leadership, and responsibility, the Golden Knights are currently in third place in the division.

One player that was an enormous reason why the Golden Knights kept their heads above water is defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Since Game 52 of last season, Pietrangelo has emerged as Vegas’ most important player. Sure, some deep stats will disagree but frankly, this is a case of mistaken identity. You want a stat? The Golden Knights are 7-2 when Pietrangelo registers a point. A point! Not a goal, but just one point from #7 usually propels the Golden Knights to a victory. That’s just his offensive contributions.

Clearly, coach Pete DeBoer isn’t concerned with what the data says about his most essential player. If the 31-year-old is such a deterrent than why would he be one of the most utilized defenseman in hockey? Pietrangelo is a bonafide workhorse and a fantastic facilitator for DeBoer.

Average Time On Ice: 25:16

  • 1st on VGK, 9th in NHL

Even Strengthened Minutes Per Game: 20:03

  • 2nd on VGK (1st – Theodore 20:17)

PP Minutes Per Game: 2:20

  • 2nd on VGK (1st – Stone 3:05)

Shorthanded Minutes Per Game: 2:50

  • 2nd ok VGK (1st – McNabb 2:57)

Offensive or defensive draw, up a goal or down a goal, up a man or down a man, it doesn’t matter, DeBoer is calling on #7.

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Up Two Or Down Two, Vegas Can Handle Either

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been said that a two goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. Silly, right? However, there’s some truth to it.

As you might expect, the absolute most dangerous lead in hockey is the one-goal lead as 85.35% of those were surrendered. That means either a game was tied up or the opponent took the lead back from them.

A two goal lead was given up 39.52%, seeing a two-goal lead given up nearly four out of every ten times is incredible. Think of the “dead puck” era when a two-goal lead essentially meant the game was over. Now? Not so much. Of the 463 times a team held a two-goal advantage, 183 times that team gave it up.-

When a club is up two or more in a game, they tend to take their foot off the gas or play with a bit of unnatural risk. Not too mention trying to stop an angry, desperate team chasing goals. On Tuesday night in St. Louis it was a rare occurrence that a 2-0 lead wasn’t good enough for Pete DeBoer and his players.

We got the start we wanted for a change, and we talked about that, and we let them back in the game.-Pete DeBoer, VGK coach

No need for panic as it was the first time all season the Golden Knights blew a two goal advantage and lost. Vegas had spoiled puckline leads in the past but always found ways to win. The season opener against Seattle and the overtime scramble against Anaheim are two instances that stand out. In St. Louis the guard was let down too early and the Blues sensed it.

Original Golden Knight David Perron liked the Blues response on Tuesday night. Perron told Bally Sports Midwest that trailing by two only fueled his team.

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Blown Leads Becoming A Common Theme In VGK Games

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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).

Recovered Deficits

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

Blown Leads

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.

Adam Brooks Set To Make VGK Debut

(Photo Credit: Golden Knights press conference on Zoom)

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.

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Vegas Catching Up With The Eastern Conference

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After defeating the Detroit Red Wings last night, Vegas clawed back to one game under .500 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Golden Knights received three goals from defensemen, one from veteran Reilly Smith and rookie Paul Cotter added another. Whatever coach Pete DeBoer drew up before the game, it couldn’t have worked out any better than their well-rounded 5-2 result. It hasn’t gone as smoothly against other teams from the East.

On Tuesday, the Golden Knights faced a much more complete team and lost by two at home. Carolina is one of the NHL’s best overall clubs, and happen to be much healthier than Vegas. The Hurricanes high end forwards and mobile defense troubled the Golden Knights. Star forward Sebastian Aho shot seven times, registering 2 points and the Canes took 14 shots from defensemen. Carolina boasts 3.5 goals per game and like Vegas receive a good percentage of their offense from their blue line. Injuries aside, both rosters are among the elite and would make for an entertaining final.

The NY Islanders were another Eastern Conference team Vegas struggled with, losing 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena in late October. New York played defensively, waited out mistakes, forcing Vegas into bad shots and one and out opportunities. The Golden Knights fell into the Islanders trap and outshot New York two to one, but were out scored 2-0. Games against New York are consistently uneventful and Vegas will need patience and quality shooting to win a tight, low scoring contest. Unfortunately, the Golden Knights fell in similar fashions in back-to-back semifinals, so there’s plenty to learn from an Islanders loss.

At times in an NHL season it’s pick your poison night; a slow frustrating game or an exhaustive track meet. Earlier this month, Vegas traveled and lost by four in Toronto. The loss wasn’t the problem, the concern was the Golden Knights getting blanked 4-0. We’re all aware of Toronto’s weak defense and goaltending of the past, so at full strength Vegas should capitalize.

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Learning Lessons From Evgenii Dadonov’s Hot And Cold Start To The Season

It’s been an interesting start to the season for Evgenii Dadonov. A player acquired by the Golden Knights this offseason as a potential solution to the scoring droughts, Dadonov’s impact will be judged almost exclusively on point production.

His first couple weeks in Vegas were underwhelming. He posted just one assist (on a meaningless goal late in a blowout vs LA) in his first five games as a Golden Knight and he was nearly invisible on the ghastly power play.

(Photo Credit: @GoldenKnights on Twitter)

Then, things turned around. In the next five he scored a pair of goals, added an assist, and notched a game-winner in shootout. The most recent six games have have seen Dadonov score three more times, giving him five goals and eight points on the season.

Over that time, a lot has changed with the Golden Knights roster, and you can clearly see it when you look through the line mates Dadonov has played with. In his first five games in Vegas, he never played on the same line in consecutive games and played with five different line mates.

Dadonov-Roy-Kolesar (5 games)
Carrier-Stephenson-Dadonov (4 games)
Dadonov-Stephenson-Stone (2 games)

As he’s settled in with players, he’s found success. In the his first seven games with new linemates, Dadonov posted just one assist and was goal-less. In games with repeat linemates, he has three goals and two assists.

It’s not just who he’s playing with though that’s impacting his output. It’s how often.

Dadonov has played in 16 games this season. He’s played 22 or fewer shifts in 11 games. In those 11, Dadonov has not scored a single goal, has added just two assists and amassed a 0 rating. In the five games in which he’s reached at least 23 shifts, he’s scored all five of his goals, notched one assist, and has posted a +4 rating.

It’s just a few extra shifts, but that added minute or two has really mattered for Dadonov’s production so far in Vegas.

There are really two ways to look at this. First, with all the injuries, Dadonov is likely to be relied upon a little more over the next few months, which means the production from the last 11 games should be more of the norm than the first five. On the flip side though, once the Golden Knights do return to health, it’s likely Dadonov’s role will slip to a third line winger, which will mean a decrease in time on ice.

Even with Jack Eichel in the fold, the Golden Knights are going to need Dadonov to produce in the postseason. He was brought here to score goals when others can’t, and do it while playing a bit further down the lineup than he’s been used to.

It’s a small sample size, but so far Dadonov’s production has been minute and linemate reliant. When he’s played for longer stretches with better players, he’s scoring in bunches. When he’s been relegated to the third line with spare parts, he goes quiet. This isn’t horribly surprising and is almost expected for any player, but Dadonov was specifically acquired to be immune to this issue.

The Golden Knights have plenty of time to figure out if this is a momentary thing or if this is what they should expect to get out of their 32-year-old offensive reinforcement. If he needs the minutes to score, or has to play with elite playmakers to put up points in the postseason, they better find someone else to produce down the lineup, otherwise, he’s end up being a main contributor to the scoring droughts he was brought in to fix.

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