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The Roster Juggle Rolls On

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are so close to the cap that the first five games this season are the only in their 240 regular season game history in which they’ve gone without a single healthy scratch.

On top of the limited roster, each night they’ve had to decide which of three options they hate the least. Waive Keegan Kolesar and likely lose his rights to another team, bench Cody Glass, or dress a lineup with just five defensemen.

Through five games, they are in an excellent position with a 4-1-0 record, but one has to wonder how long will this charade continue, especially if it continues to look like it’s catching up with them as it did last night.

Clearly, benching Cody Glass is not in the best interest for either the Golden Knights or Glass. He needs to develop into the team’s 2nd best center or at least a high-end 3C before the trade deadline, otherwise, he’ll need to be replaced. Playing sparingly won’t help his development nor will it give the team enough data to draw the necessary conclusions this season.

Leaving Glass in the lineup leads to taking Nic Hague out and forcing the defense to play a man down. Game 5 of the season was the third time the Golden Knights have used the 13/5 lineup. Unsurprisingly, these are the three games in which the Golden Knights have struggled most defensively, especially in the 2nd period when it’s more challenging for defensemen to change.

Vegas has allowed five 2nd period goals when they have five defensemen and just two when they have six. Aside from goals, they’ve had more trouble breaking out, they’ve turned the puck over more often, there have been more odd-man rushes against, and just as a whole they haven’t been nearly as good.

It’s actually impacted their offense as well. In the two games with six defensemen, Vegas has seen three goals and five assists from blue liners, while the defensemen have chipped in just one goal and five assists over the three games with five on D.

It’s definitely different. You are rotating through partners and you can’t exactly get into the rhythm with one guy. -Shea Theodore

Theodore went on to say they can’t really use it as an excuse, but the eye test and the stats bore out that they are indeed better across the board with six defensemen rather than five, albeit in a tiny sample.

But really, there’s no way the Golden Knights can solve this issue with the current roster construction which should have all eyes focused on the front office. How long are they going to let this continue? What will it take to force a change?

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Vegas’ Cup Contending Offense On Display Last Night

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

No matter how many games an NHL regular season has, no game’s are alike. Sure, the first few games had similarities, Vegas won all three but didn’t look good doing it.

Something had to break.

We were talking before the game that we hadn’t really pitched in too much… It’s kind of convenient that we did tonight, and I thought it definitely helped our overall game. -Shea Theodore

With the exception of the first few minutes, the Golden Knights put together their best attack of the season and were handsomely rewarded from it. Ten players collected points in Vegas’ 5-2 victory against Arizona and not a single one of them were cheap empty-net points either.

All five goals were examples of how dangerous this club can be. Alex Tuch scored Vegas’ first power play goal of the season, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty paired up once again, and the star defensemen found the net three times.

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Coyotes Always Seem To Keep It Close

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since their first season, the Golden Knights have now faced the Arizona Coyotes 13 times. Although Vegas’ record is 9-4-0 in those games, it doesn’t truly tell the story, a lot like last night’s game.

The Coyotes will remind us that in their history against the Golden Knights they’ve taken points off the Golden Knights in eight of the 13 games.

We’ve played this team before and we’ve had some success. I don’t want to go in there and be intimidated. We shouldn’t be intimidated if we play the right way. We got to have some swagger going in there knowing that if we play our game we can beat this team. -Rick Tocchet, Coyotes coach

Prior to last night, in the first dozen meetings with the Coyotes, the Golden Knights led the scoring margin by just six goals. However, three were scored in overtime, one in shootout, and one was an empty netter. So, after last night, Vegas has nine wins against Arizona, but an overall lead of just four goals in regulation. 

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Carp: It’s Good To Be Back!

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

I missed you folks.

When the NHL season paused last March, my column for SinBin also went on hiatus. But unlike the league, which resumed play in July, I remained sidelined. I felt like Drew Doughty. Or Jack Eichel.

But thanks to Ken, Jason, and especially Las Vegas attorney Jim Jimmerson, who is sponsoring this column once again, it’s back to work for what will be a most fascinating season. And it starts tonight at T-Mobile Arena where no fans will be admitted inside to watch the Golden Knights host Anaheim.

Fifty-six games. A restructured and renamed division. A captain for the first time. Arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league. New faces on the scene. Old ones having departed. All sorts of strange scenarios playing out.

That’s what we have to look forward to over the coming months. Interesting? Hell yes. Unpredictable? Absolutely. Frustrating at times? Count on it.

Welcome to the 2021 season.

For me, the Golden Knights are built to make the playoffs and make a long run, similar to the Edmonton bubble as they advanced to the Western Conference Final. Are they good enough to play for and win the Stanley Cup the way they’re currently constructed? Perhaps. But I have some concerns.

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MARK STONE NAMED FIRST CAPTAIN IN VGK HISTORY

The wait is over, the Golden Knights officially have their first captain in franchise history. Mark Stone was named captain of the Golden Knights via the team’s social media account.

Alex Pietrangelo and Reilly Smith have been named alternates.

Honestly I was kind of speechless. It’s very humbling for me. It’s a big honor. Something I’m not going to take lightly and something I’ve very excited to do. -Mark Stone

He’s as fine a person as you can find in this game. You like him off the ice, you like him on the ice. -George McPhee

He’s a tremendous competitor. He likes nothing more than when someone on the team scores, not just himself personally, that says a lot about his character and what type of leader he is. -Max Pacioretty

You want a guy who is dedicated to winning, who plays the right way and if you watch him play he’s underrated in terms of everything he can do on both ends of the ice. There’s not many guys in the league that can put up the numbers offensively that he does year in year out and contribute the way he can defensively. To me, that’s winning hockey and that’s what you want in your captain. You want a guy that’s going to give it to you every single night, the consistency like that, he’s certainly a special player. -Alex Pietrangelo

It’s been 40 years since an NHL team has won the Stanley Cup without a captain. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I don’t think that it’s an accident that that’s the case. -Pete DeBoer

We had with McPhee, DeBoer, and myself we thought we had the obvious guy and this was the time to name the captain. He embodies everything we want in a captain and that includes a great deal of humility. -Kelly McCrimmon

Golden Knights Among William Hill’s Individual Award Odds

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As we inch closer to the Golden Knights’ opening night, here’s a friendly reminder that time is running out on placing 2021 future odds. Ken picked sides on William Hill’s team point totals earlier in the month, now I’m attacking league leaders and player award odds.

In last year’s shortened season Max Pacioretty finished with a team-leading 32 regular season goals. The veteran’s total was good enough for 13th most in the NHL. This year, in an even shorter season, Pacioretty is 22-1 to lead all scorers in goals.

*To see all odds, download the William Hill Mobile Sports App. Sign up with the promo code GET50 and they’ll match your first $50 bet.*

NHL’s Leading Scorer odds:
Auston Matthews +500
Alex Ovechkin +600
Connor McDavid +850
Leon Draisaitl +850
Nathan MacKinnon +1000

Golden Knights to be NHL Leading Scorer odds:
Max Pacioretty 22/1
William Karlsson 75/1
Mark Stone 100/1
Reilly Smith 125/1

It’s a tall order for any of the Golden Knights to outscore super offensive studs like McDavid, Ovechkin, and Matthews but it is a unique season and there may be value with a couple of Vegas forwards. It might seem like a long shot but dropping a sawbuck or two on Karlsson to lead the league in scoring would bring back a nice return. Remember Karlsson’s 43 goals scored in 2017-18 was done playing with Marchessault and Smith, who he is set to play with again this season.

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Nick Holden Waivers FAQ

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

UPDATE (1/12/21 9:07 AM) – Nick Holden cleared waivers.

The Golden Knights had to do something to get under the cap before the first game of the season. Today we learned that something was waiving Nick Holden, risking losing a player they signed to a new contract less than a year ago.

The salary cap and waivers can be confusing under normal circumstances and now with the new rules put into place for the shortened season, it can be almost impossible to follow. So, here’s the Nick Holden on waivers FAQ.

What does that mean, Nick Holden is on waivers?

In an effort to reduce the salary cap, the Golden Knights removed Holden from their active roster. Due to his age and experience in the NHL, he is required to pass through waivers to remain with the Golden Knights organization. That means every team in the league will have the option to claim Holden and add him to their active NHL roster. If someone does, Holden will no longer be a member of the Golden Knights. If they do not, he’ll be eligible for the Golden Knights taxi squad and the Silver Knights.

What are the chances someone claims him?

It’s certainly possible, but it’s not necessarily probable. A total of 139 players were placed on waivers today. Holden is among the most experienced of the group and absolutely could be viewed as valuable by another team.

Put odds on it happening.

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Schmidt Reviews Are High In Vancouver

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It feels like just yesterday Ken and I were digging up interviews and stories about all the players the Golden Knights selected in the Expansion Draft. That’s when we first discovered the personality of Nate Schmidt. We instantly declared “Nate Schmidt’s going to be your favorite player, you just don’t know it yet.

Even though we’re watching Alex Pietrangelo suit up in a Golden Knights jersey day in and day out in camp, it’s still tough to see videos of Schmidt somewhere else. We always knew it would be the case, but Schmidt is already making an impact in Vancouver.

He looks comfortable. His skating has jumped out to me the first couple of days. It’s been very much as advertised for Nate Schmidt.-Jeff Paterson, TSN Vancouver on TSN 1040

Vegas fans knew what Vancouver was getting when they acquired Schmidt this offseason. A reliable defender with the ability to pitch in offensively and a whale of a personality. The Canucks are seeing it in person and the reviews have been high.

The Canucks got better when the Golden Knights front office made the tough decision to move #88. Not only will Schmidt boost the blueline but he’ll add some veteran presence surrounding emerging star Quinn Hughes.

Not quite at Quinn Hughes level, not many are in terms of generating offense but this guy doesn’t miss an opportunity with his skating to jump up into the rush. He loves to be the trailer, loves to add another layer of attack. –Paterson, TSN Vancouver on TSN 1040

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Alec Martinez Is Very Easy To Root For

“I’m smiling under my mask.” -Alec Martinez

Although the members of the media were miles away, Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez answered questions at his Zoom press conference wearing a mask.

It’s a common theme with Martinez. He understands there’s a world outside of hockey. When asked about the concerns of a short training camp, a condensed schedule, or the pressures of playing for a contender, he first qualifies his responses by comparing it to the reality that we’re all living in. It’s not just the hockey season that’s been shaken, and the 33-year-old NHL’er understands that more than anyone.

It’s just the way things are going these days. Everyone has to adapt, you’ve got to be a professional. You know a lot of people are making sacrifices. There’s a lot of hard work being put into this so we can have the opportunity to play. I’m not going to complain. -Martinez

There’s no whiff of selfish, millionaire athlete coming from Martinez. It’s the complete opposite, the defenseman sounds like an aware citizen continuing to adjust like all of us. He’s preparing for an unusual season but doing his best to adjust.

Nothing in the world right now is ideal. I don’t expect the NHL season to be any different. -Martinez

Martinez is an easy guy to root for. He takes his job seriously but takes a real-world approach. Sure, his life has been rattled by delays, negotiations, and protocols but #23 recognizes that others are in a similar predicament.

As he enters his 12th NHL season, Martinez is confident Vegas can make a deep run in the postseason. Playing alongside Shea Theodore, the veteran defenseman understands his responsibilities protecting his free-skating partner. To get the most of Theodore’s abilities, Martinez will need to be a steady wingman.

Martinez might be unaware of how his demeanor can easily connect to average, everyday Golden Knights fans. It’s hard for fanbases not to feel left out when they can only enjoy their team from their 65-inch TVs. Martinez recognizes the issues that we’re all facing.

If guys don’t like each other you don’t have chemistry then you’re not going to be successful. I don’t think that only applies to hockey, I think that’s anything in life. -Martinez

If only he could say it louder so the rest of the country can hear.

Short Camp? No Problem, VGK Says “We’ve Done This Before”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Ever been somewhere new thought to yourself, wait a minute, I think I’ve been here before. That’s exactly how the Golden Knights feel heading into this season’s incredibly short training camp at City National Arena.

Back in July, the Golden Knights opened what was called Phase 3 Training Camp on the 12th with their first real game on August 3rd. This time, camp got underway on January 3rd with the regular season opener just 11 days away.

It’s not quite deja vu, mainly because that camp led directly into the playoffs, but there’s definitely a been there done that feeling to this shortened camp.

We’ve done this before with the bubble camp and we really like how that camp went and prepared us to go into the bubble for the playoffs. How we played early in the bubble our camp gave us an advantage in our start there being able to go undefeated in our start there. -Pete DeBoer

After two weeks of camp in Vegas the Golden Knights headed to Edmonton where they dominated a preseason game against the Coyotes, then ripped through the round-robin beating Dallas, St. Louis, and Colorado to earn them the #1 seed.

Vegas scored first in three of the four games and looked surprisingly sharp for being off the ice for a few months right before it.

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