Over the course of an 82 game season, special teams will be the determining factor in a fairly large number of games. Of the 225 regular season games in franchise history, only 71, or 32%, have seen no power play goals scored by either team. In other words, in two out of every three games, special teams will change the final score by at least one goal, usually more like two or three.
It gets even more important in the playoffs as just eight of the Golden Knights 27 playoff games have been goalless from the power plays. (And we all remember how last season ended.)
So, to see the Golden Knights operating at just 19% on the power play and killing at just 76%, both below league average, under DeBoer, there would be an expectation of a bit of concern from the head coach.
I haven’t spent as much time on the power play. I mean I know it got cold there the first seven or eight games I was here. I think we only got one or two but I think long term and the history of the power play here it’s been pretty good so my concern level isn’t high there. -DeBoer
The Golden Knights put up four power play goals in five opportunities against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, but if you throw those out, they’ve hit on just three of 31 since DeBoer took the job. That’s an 11 game span in which they are scoring at under 10%. The NHL’s worst power play team in 2019-20 is Chicago at 14%.
I thought we got back to some foundation of what it should look like the other night (against St. Louis) and we got rewarded for that.
Vegas finished last season just a shade below 17%, which saw them in 25th place at the end of the regular season. They were much better in Year 1 at 21%, but still barely ranked in the top 10. Over the course of the franchise’s history, they haven’t exactly been a juggernaut and with DeBoer they’ve struck in just four of his 12 games.
Maybe DeBoer’s memory is a bit clouded by how well the Golden Knights have done against the Sharks. In last year’s playoffs Vegas scored on eight of 29 (28%), they hit on four of 17 (24%) in the regular season, and were 3 for 15 (20%) in the 17-18 regular season and six for 28 (21%) in the 2018 playoffs. That’s 21 for 89, or 24%, historically against the Sharks. That’d be good for 6th place in the NHL right now. Instead, their 19% under DeBoer would have them in 20th place.
His concern has been with the penalty kill, which was struggling mightily in Gerard Gallant’s final few games.
The penalty kill has been a little bit of a different story. We’ve spent more time on it. And I know we’ve given up some recently but I like the structure and the foundation that we are playing with. Some of it has been some bad bounces and seeing-eye pucks but I like where it’s going despite the fact it’s giving up a few goals. -DeBoer
I have to admit, hearing DeBoer mention “some bad bounces” and “seeing-eye pucks” about a penalty kill nearly made me vomit in the press conference room remembering Game 7.
Nonetheless, he has made significant changes to the style at which the penalty kill plays. It’s much more aggressive (we detailed it early in his tenure), but to this point, the results haven’t always been there.
Vegas is killing at 76% since DeBoer took over and have conceded a power play goal in six of his 11 games and four of the last six.
They’ve had some terrific penalty kills (see last night) and they’ve also had some disastrous ones (see the game in Carolina). It is a radical shift in system, so it does deserve more than 12 games to fully judge, but the consistency simply isn’t there to this point.
No concern yet, but if the Golden Knights want to make waves come April, they are going to need to operate at much better than 19 and 76 percent.