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DeBoer Faced With Variety Of Options When Theodore’s Ready To Return

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The injury bug has hit the Golden Knights a bit over the past week forcing them to dig deep down the depth chart on the blue line. It’s given Nick Holden and Dylan Coghlan a chance to get into the games, and it’s also sent Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague up the ladder playing as the second pair.

Eventually, hopefully soon, Shea Theodore will be able to return but Brayden McNabb is expected to be unavailable through the rest of the month of February. That leaves some question marks as to who will be in the lineup and how they’ll be deployed.

When Theodore is ready, Vegas will have seven available defensemen with games under their belts this season. Obviously, Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and Theodore will be in the lineup, and with the way Zach Whitecloud has been playing, he’s a lock as well. That leaves Coghlan, Holden, and Hague as options for the final two spots.

The decision could come down to a non-performance related issue for Nick Holden though. Since Holden cleared waivers earlier this year they may want to protect him against having to clear again. The rule states that once a player clears waivers he must play 10 games and be on the roster for more than 30 days before he’s once again eligible for waivers.

Holden currently sits at six games played and has been on the roster for 15 days (assuming they did not shuffle him back and forth on off days). Thus, if they stick with him in the lineup, he could once again be waiver eligible as soon as March 2nd.  That’s not ideal for Vegas as once McNabb is ready to return, Holden would once again be susceptible to waiver claim by any of the other 30 teams.

So, let’s say the Golden Knights opt to stick with Hague and Coghlan instead. That leaves the Golden Knights with three right-handed defensemen (Pietrangelo, Whitecloud, and Coghlan) and three left-handed D (Theodore, Martinez, Hague). However, Theodore has played most of the past two seasons on the right side, with Martinez since he was acquired from the Kings.

In Theodore’s absence, Martinez has played with Pietrangelo and it’s been the best Pietrangelo has looked. So the question becomes do you switch Theodore back to his natural side or do you play an all right-handed pair either atop the lineup or on the 3rd pair. Here are a few of those options.

Play Theodore on the left

Leave Theodore on the right

Load up with Theodore on the left

Go for balance with Theodore on the right

To me, both of the best options involve Theodore switching back to the left. He’s played plenty of games in a Golden Knights uniform on the left, most often paired with Deryk Engelland. But, since he’s taken his biggest leap offensively, and every game for DeBoer, Theodore has been on the right.

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Valentine’s Day Is The New Thanksgiving

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you’ve ever followed an NHL season, a regular one, you’ve probably heard about the importance of Thanksgiving as it relates to the standings. The story goes that if you are in the playoffs on Thanksgiving, you’ll probably be there when the season ends in April.

It seems absurdly early, but history has bore it out pretty well. Just about every year 13 to 14 of the 16 teams above the playoff cut line on Thanksgiving stay there when the season ends.

This year, the schedule is much shorter and the season started later, which means we need a new Thanksgiving. As it turns out, Valentine’s Day fits pretty well.

Thanksgiving typically lands about 380 games into the 1271 game NHL season. That’s about 30%. This year, 30% of the season is around 260 games. Last night’s VGK game was Game 243 on the schedule. Sure, it’s a little short, but the chances of the NHL getting 56 games in for every team feels low. So, I’m declaring Valentine’s Day the new Thanksgiving.

Vegas currently sits atop the West Division despite having played two fewer games than the team in 2nd (St. Louis). The Golden Knights are also seven points clear of the cut line and have a game-in-hand on the team currently in 5th (Arizona). 10-2-1 is good for a .808 points percentage, tied with Tampa Bay for the best in the entire NHL.

However you slice it, the Golden Knights are in incredibly good shape early in the 2021 season. The schedule gets a little tougher with 25 of the remaining 43 games on the road and 14 games still left to play against Colorado and St. Louis, but the cushion the Golden Knights have already built eases any concerns.

Every year a team or two falls out between Thanksgiving and Easter and that will certainly happen to someone between now and mid-May. However, I’d feel pretty confident in saying the Golden Knights are the least likely of any team to suffer that fate based on where they currently sit in the standings.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Valentine’s Day, the Golden Knights are going to the playoffs again!

Carp: Follow The Percentages

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to 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.**

As another strange week in the NHL ends, it is time for a math lesson. This is a simple one, so don’t panic. And no, there won’t be a quiz at the end.

The NHL was hoping to play a 56-game schedule and have all 31 teams complete that number. But as the coronavirus pandemic rages on and more games are lost, the league may be quickly coming to the realization that playing 56 games by each team may not be feasible.

This isn’t baseball where you could play doubleheaders. You can’t play four or five straight nights either trying to make up the postponed contests. You can’t continue to overhaul the schedule and try and find vacant dates to make up all of the lost games.

So the NHL may wind up reverting back to its plan a year ago. That was to base the standings and the postseason participants on win percentage.

That means a team that plays fewer games but wins more of the ones it participated in could find itself in a better position than another which played all of its games. The playoffs could be determined by percentage points rather than wins and regular points.

Is that fair? No. But these continue to be unprecedented times and the NHL has no one to blame but itself. The league opted to start the season a month ago even though COVID-19 was not going anywhere. In fact, the trend was going the wrong way as different, more potent strains and variants were making their way to the U.S. and Canada.

If there had been random cases that caused a single player to be out short-term, everyone can handle that. You call up a guy from the taxi squad and it’s business as usual. But the reality is, virtually every NHL team in the U.S. has been touched by COVID-19 and it has wreaked havoc on the schedule.

The Golden Knights have already been hit by the virus with Alex Pietrangelo and coach Peter DeBoer having to miss games. Tuesday, Tomas Nosek left the game with Anaheim after the 2nd period following a positive test. The fact the league allowed the game to continue was incredulous. As was the case with Pietrangelo and St. Louis, the Ducks are fortunate no one was positive after Tuesday’s game given their players had been exposed to Nosek.

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COVID Protocols Continue To Lack Consistency

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been a season of trial and error, which was expected. After news broke that the Golden Knights were notified during Tuesday’s game that Tomas Nosek tested positive for COVID-19, many wondered how the league would handle Vegas’ latest case. Also, how and why the results were delivered so late allowing for an infected player to dress and play. Would Vegas have to shut down and delay operations or carry on without their fourth-line center?

Tomorrow night’s game in Las Vegas between the Golden Knights and Ducks remains scheduled to be played at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Rapid PCR Point of Care tests will be administered to all Players and staff on both teams in advance of that game (in addition to the daily lab-based PCR testing) and any decision regarding potential postponement will be made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Clubs’ medical officials, following all COVID Protocols and local and federal regulations.-NHL

Up until now, a player being pulled from a game had only happened in the AHL, one played right here in Vegas. So, I’m sure the NHL’s judgment had to surprise even the Golden Knights organization.

Earlier this month, Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon was asked about that exact situation, and you can’t blame him for not really having an answer. His only frame of reference was a similar situation that occurred when a player from the San Jose Barracuda tested positive during a contest against the Henderson Silver Knights.

I don’t know what type of testing they were using. The NHL protocols are PCR testing everyday. I don’t know what exactly San Jose was doing, I can’t speak to any of that. So, I really don’t know the answer to that question. The situation you referred to, to my knowledge hasn’t happened at the National League level. I’m not 100% sure about that but I haven’t heard if it has.-Kelly McCrimmon on February 1st, 2021

One of the uncertainties the league should address is testing on gamedays. As we watched on Tuesday night, Nosek played two periods before the team was alerted. The 28-year-old center’s last shift was the final 10 seconds to close out the 2nd period. It was clear neither Nosek or the coaching staff were aware of the situation brewing behind the scenes.

As it turns out, gameday testing results aren’t delivered in a timely manner. According to McCrimmon, results are returned later to the team and the league that same day. Now we come to realize the outcome could come as late as 9 PM PT.

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Carp: A Blessing In Disguise

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to 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.**

Sometimes, good things emerge out of adversity.

In the case of the Golden Knights, they might have more depth on the blue line than they originally thought.

With Alex Pietrangelo in COVID protocol and Brayden McNabb on Long Term IR with a lower-body injury, coach Pete DeBoer was forced to shuffle his defensive deck over the weekend against Los Angeles.

He knew what he had in veteran Nick Holden, so putting him back on the ice was easy. DeBoer wasn’t quite sure what he’d get from Dylan Coghlan, and, to a lesser extent, Nicolas Hague.

What he got was pleasantly surprising.

Hague looks extremely comfortable playing alongside another youngster — Zach Whitecloud. He put Coghlan with Holden and the two seemed to click. The other D-pair — Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez — moved up to the No. 1 unit.

Understand that in this weird, bizarre year, things are going to crop up periodically. How your team responds is what likely determines whether you’ll be playing in mid-May and make a run at the Stanley Cup. In the Knights’ case, there has to be a rise in the overall comfort level knowing the young guys can step in and contribute, that they don’t need to be skating up the street at the Orleans Arena with the Henderson Silver Knights.

It’s safe to say Whitecloud isn’t leaving the lineup anytime soon. He continues to display the kind of poise usually reserved for someone with far more NHL experience. He may be the most pleasant surprise of this young season so far.
He’s running DeBoer’s system perfectly, supporting the attack and getting involved offensively. Such was the case with his first goal of the season Sunday. He cruised into the open space, unnoticed by the Kings, then got the puck and ripped one past Calvin Petersen.

Defensively, he’s growing more steady and confident. The turnovers don’t come as frequently and he’s settling in and not having to worry that if he makes a mistake or two he’ll find himself a member of the taxi squad, or worse, wearing a Silver Knights uniform.

Hague is also proving to be worthy of DeBoer’s trust. He is using his size effectively and like Whitecloud, is integrating himself in the attack. The fact his skating has improved so much the past four years is a credit to Hague’s hard work as well as listening to the organization’s coaches.

Coghlan was the wild card. He made his NHL debut Friday against the Kings and paired with the experienced Holden, who could cover his back, Coghlan did a good job overall in the Knights’ 5-2 win. Playing with Marc-Andre Fleury in net didn’t hurt his cause either.

We all know Pietrangelo is important to the team’s Cup hopes. He will likely be back Tuesday against Anaheim at T-Mobile Arena. And that’s a good thing. Yes, Pietrangelo may not be off to a scorching start. But for him, this is like preseason, trying to learn a new system, playing with new teammates, and adjusting his family’s day-to-day life in a new city.

He will get better as he gets more comfortable. He has shown glimpses of that. So I’m not worried about him.

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Dylan Coghlan’s Debut Extra Special For Lifelong Friend Of William Karlsson

Photo Credit: @filipsoriano on Twitter

Dylan Coghlan made his NHL debut last night, racking up 13 minutes of ice-time in a 5-2 Golden Knights win. The undrafted 22-year-old finally broke through after spending four years in the Golden Knights organization, including an appearance at their first Development Camp at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

Coghlan has racked up more than 130 AHL games with the Chicago Wolves and has been on the Golden Knights taxi squad for the first month of this season. His wait to finally be able to call himself an NHL player was long, but he wasn’t going through it alone.

Meet Filip Andreason, a member of the team at Newport Sports who has worked closely with Coghlan since early in Dylan’s time with the Chicago Wolves.

Photo Credit: @Fandreason on Instagram

I started watching him in Chicago and really liked what I saw. So I had a meeting with him and I felt like from that day on we both really wanted to work towards the same goal. Since that day he’s been putting in so much work to make his NHL debut. -Andreason

Photo Credit: @jallert on Instagram

Andreason is a former hockey player from Sweden who has recently launched a career on the management side of the game and Coghlan’s debut represents one for him as well.

In his hometown of Märsta, Sweden beginning at the age of four, Andreason played on a team called the Arlanda Wings. His teammate on the Wings, who also lived a few doors down in the same neighborhood was William Karlsson. The two have been lifelong friends and a huge reason why Andreason watched the NHL debut of a player he represents hit the ice as a Golden Knights last night.

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Tighter Schedule “Tough Physically, But Mentally Is Going To Help”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Just seven games into the season COVID has struck the Vegas Golden Knights. A few positive tests to coaches and players have forced the NHL to postpone three games, two against San Jose and one with St. Louis. The rescheduling of the games inside of the normal framework of the reason has made an already tight schedule even tighter.

The Golden Knights saw one more back-to-back added to their schedule, bringing their total up to nine on the season (three with travel). What was previously an overblown storyline of “so many more back-to-backs” is now suddenly a real one. The eight Vegas originally had scheduled over 56 games was good for one every seven games. In a normal NHL season that number is usually around one in every 6.5. Now, with nine in 49 games, Vegas is set to face a back-to-back once every 5.4 games.

That pales in comparison to the total volume of the games in the amount of time the NHL is squeezing them into though. With the Golden Knights sitting idle for nine days over the last week, they are now scheduled to play 49 games in the next 93 days. That gives them on average less than 48 hours between games for the next three months!

To be exact, assuming the schedule goes on as planned, Vegas will play a game once every 45.6 hours. Compare that to last year where they played 71 games in 159 days or 53.7 hours. Or the years before when they played 82 games over 184 and 183 days or about one every 53.8 hours.

To match the numbers from each of the previous three seasons, Vegas should be playing 49 games in 110 days, not 93. Even if you take out the bye weeks from those, as Vegas sort of just had one, it still should be 49 games in about 102, nine days more than scheduled.

I’ve always found it incredible how NHL players seem to be able to spin any seemingly negative situation into a positive, and captain Mark Stone was able to do just that with this one.

It’s challenging but the way I look at it is, on the road I’d rather be playing games. I don’t really want to be sitting in my hotel room with nothing to do. I don’t mind it. We’re going to condense a lot of road games together, we’re going to be playing a lot of hockey, keep our mind away from a lot of things. It’s going to be tougher obviously physically, but mentally it’s going to help us. -Stone

The number of road days doesn’t change much, but there are many more breaks in the series format with the new reschedulings.

It will certainly be easier to move from game to game mentally as the games happen so frequently, but the physical side is definitely a concern, especially if there are injuries.

It’s just part of the year that is 2021. On the bright side, whatever it looks like now, it very well may look differently in a week.

Power Play Improvement Could Turn VGK From Great To Elite

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are regarded as one of the better teams in the league. They’ve been described as elite, highly-skilled and loaded. Vegas backs that up with the third best points percentage (.786) in the NHL. However, there is one glaringly obvious area the first place Golden Knights will need to improve.

Since the start of the shortened 2019-20 season, the Golden Knights are 19th in the league with 40 5-on-4 goals. When coach Pete DeBoer took over on January 16th, 2020, Vegas dropped even lower to 28th. In that timespan the Golden Knights squeaked out an underwhelming 12 5-on-4 goals in 79 opportunities.

The 2021 Golden Knights have only scored three times on the power play, the second least in the league. One on a two-man advantage, and two on a 5-on-4. Overall, Vegas’ power play efficiency is 11.5% good for 28th in the NHL.

2021 VGK Man-Advantage Breakdown

27 Man Advantage Opportunities
Power Play Goals (3)
5-on-4 Goals (2)
5-on-3 Goals (1)
6-on-5 Goals (1)

On the other hand, signs show that Vegas’ deficiencies won’t hurt them in the long run. Under DeBoer, the Golden Knights have the third-highest points percentage (.741) behind only Boston (.774) and Philadelphia (.750). Impressively enough, Their inability to score in 5-on-4 situations rarely cost them regular season points.

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What Will The Golden Knights Do If Both McNabb And Pietrangelo Are Out

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whenever games do indeed resume for the Golden Knights it’s probable they’ll be without their entire top pair on defense. Brayden McNabb was placed on injured reserve last week and then Alex Pietrangelo appeared on the COVID list and said he was experiencing mild symptoms.

Thus, when Vegas hits the ice again, they’ll need replacements for two of their top four skaters in ice-time.

Before we get into the replacement options, and there are quite a few, we need to take a look at where the Golden Knights sit against the cap with McNabb on LTIR and Pietrangelo out.

By rule, LTIR can be used for those who test positive for COVID, but that automatically rules the player out for 24 days and 10 games. To this point, Vegas has not used that option with Pietrangelo, which means his $8.8 million salary continues to count against the cap, even if he can’t play. McNabb was placed on LTIR which allows the Golden Knights to exceed the cap by $2.5 million, but performance bonuses are likely going to continue forcing Vegas to choose between Cody Glass and a sixth defenseman.

So, let’s say they do indeed go with six defensemen. The clear first options would be the two defensemen that have been on the taxi squad for the entire season, Nick Holden and Dylan Coghlan. If that’s the plan, the lineup will likely look like this…


However, there are other options, and a few good ones at that. In the AHL, the Golden Knights have a pair of defense-first players that might fit better in the absence of Pietrangelo and McNabb. Those two acount for nearly 60% of the defensive ice-time on the penalty kill. While Holden can fill one of those roles, Coghlan is not the ideal option. That would leave either Hague or Theodore to fill-in, which is do-able, but not optimal.

So, Carl Dahlstrom and Jake Bischoff both have to be considered as feasible options. Here’s what we’re looking at if they go with one of those two along with Holden.

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Carp: Welcome To The Weirdest Week Ever!

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to 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.**

How bizarre was this week?

First, a member of the Golden Knights coaching staff may have been exposed to the coronavirus and as a precaution, they were kept away from the rink. Then it turned out one of them actually tested positive.

Then the team goes ahead and plays St. Louis Tuesday with general manager Kelly McCrimmon behind the bench as acting head coach assisted by Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros and members of his staff.

The Knights spot the Blues two two-goal leads, rally behind Max Pacioretty’s hat trick only to lose 5-4 in a shootout as St. Louis beats Robin Lehner twice in the skills competition.

The following day, a player tests positive and it’s none other than Alex Pietrangelo, the former Blues captain. Thursday’s game is postponed to be made up at a later date. The facility gets shut. No practice. No media availability. Everything in Knightsville goes dark.

Then it’s announced that multiple coaches tested positive and the team’s games against San Jose in Arizona Monday and Wednesday are postponed, leaving the Knights without a game until Friday, Feb. 5.

Viveiros and his staff were unable to be on the bench for the Silver Knights’ two preseason games because they were with the Golden Knights Tuesday. Former Golden Knight Deryk Engelland was recruited to be the bench coach for the Silver Knights vs. San Jose with the real coaches in a suite at Orleans Arena and Engelland wins both games, the second of which was abruptly ended due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Barracuda with the Silver Knights leading 1-0 after two periods.

Oh, and the team’s whacky salary cap situation may have finally worked itself out with defensemen Brayden McNabb going on long-term injured reserve according to, with an unknown injury. Or, maybe it hasn’t. The current roster shows 13 forwards, five defensemen, and two goalies, and still just $31,000 in cap space. Pietrangelo is likely out for a little while, so is McNabb, so more moves are coming but they still may not be able to get Glass and Hague in the same lineup.

Does it get any stranger than this?

It doesn’t. Which begs a couple of questions:

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