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Do Hits Matter For The Season 5 Golden Knights?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Hitting used to be a staple of the Golden Knights’ game. Over the course of the past three seasons, Vegas laid 5,392 hits in 209 games or 25.8 hits per game. They ranked in the top 5 in 2018-19 and 19-20 laying 27.4 per game in Year 2 and 26.5 in Year 3.

This season though, Vegas is near the bottom in the league, ranking 27th, with just 19.0 hits per game. They’ve laid fewer than 20 hits in exactly half of their 48 games, and have broken 30 just three times, a number they reached 31 times a few seasons ago.

The question remains though, does it matter?

In those three games in which the Golden Knights pounded their opponents into the boards, Vegas lost all of them in regulation, getting outscored 13-5 along the way. Meanwhile, in their three games in which they recorded fewer than 10 hits, they’ve gone 3-0-0 beating the Devils, Predators, and Stars all on the road by a combined score of 15-7.

So, using just the simple stat of when they hit the most vs when they hit the least, it directly corresponds to winning in an opposite manner. Fewer hits mean more wins while more hits mean fewer wins.

We need to dig a lot deeper than that though as a number of those games were decided fairly early.

VGK are 11-4-0 when they have recorded 15 or fewer hits, including a 4-1-0 record at home, where hits have been handed out a bit more leniently than on the road. On the flip side, the Golden Knights are 9-4-2 when they lay at least 22 hits on their opponent. Four of the six losses came at T-Mobile Arena, meaning they are a stellar 5-1-1 on the road when amassing at least 22 hits.

I asked Pete DeBoer about his team’s dropoff in hits and he unsurprisingly went directly to the absence of one player.

When you trade Ryan Reaves you are automatically giving up one element to get another element. I think that’s a piece of it. -DeBoer

Obviously, Reaves being gone certainly accounts for a portion of the lower hit numbers. Reaves averaged about 4 hits a game which would have accounted for 194 more than Vegas has thrown. Adding those in, VGK would be in 14th in the league instead of 27th.

I still think we can be a little more physical than we have been though. When you get into the meat of the season like this, a lot of days it’s hard to drive that physical train every day unless you are wired like Reaves is. I think Will (Carrier) does it consistently, I think Kolesar tries to do it consistently for us too. -Pete DeBoer

It’s not just hits thrown though, it’s also ones absorbed.

Vegas has taken a ton of hits this season. Opponents have hit VGK players 1,426 times, which means the Golden Knights have been outhit by 501 in 48 games. To further illustrate the point, the team that leads the league in hits has laid just 1,370, or 56 fewer than opponents have hit Vegas.

However, those numbers aren’t exactly able to draw a direct correlation to winning or losing either. Nashville pummeled Vegas to the tune of 55 hits and beat the Golden Knights 3-2, but the Rangers, Senators, and Canadiens all hit Vegas at least 42 times in a game and each fell to the Golden Knights.

Going through the rest of the numbers, VGK have been outhit in most games, but there doesn’t seem to be any parallel between more hits and more goals. That being said, DeBoer certainly believes the numbers could become a bit more significant in the postseason.

I think we all know when it gets to the playoffs and you’ve got teams built like Calgary and Minnesota that you have to be prepared to play that type of game. -DeBoer

So, to answer the question posed at the top of this story, no it does not appear hits, or lack thereof in Vegas’ case, have impacted their ability to win hockey games this season. But, that doesn’t mean the coach doesn’t believe they need more of them down the stretch and into the most important time of the year.


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  1. Mike StG

    One possible factor not mentioned is that when a team is behind in the score, particularly later in the game they tend to increase physicality = more hits. That could easily be at least partly why in games they lost there were more hits than in games won.

    But as Mike said in last week’s Goalie Interference Vegas is not nearly the heavy team they were in earlier seasons.

  2. Kolesar doesn’t provide anything more offensively than Reaves did, and he’s also not as good as Reaves back-checking. In other words, that trade didn’t work out to well at least in the short term.

  3. Daryl

    I don’t think hits as a stand alone stat really matter. For me, I don’t think hits alone make that much of a differemce, I think it’s who the hits are on, when the hits takes place, and then over time the total hits. Like where hits take place…. If you lay a guy out crashing the net, he’ll think twice the next time. Same for crashing the boards. You hit the same guy over and over again it takes a toll on him throughout the game. This same toll takes place over the season and really shows come playoff Time. These types of hits can have an impact on the game.

    Then you have the timing of hits. When teams are down by a lot, they will hit a lot more. Those hits don’t have an impact on that game but could have an impact near the end of the season and playoffs.

    Then you have the timing and place of hits which could impact games. Hits that lead to turnovers. Hits that disrupt the play. Hits that clear the crease and prevent 2nd chance shots.

    I think huts have a huge impact on the game, it just depends on which ones matter right away and which ones matter down the road

  4. Tim

    Well Ken the team dynamics have changed yes we had Reeves but if you recall Carrier used to be a big hitter and now he’s more offensive minded and of coarse McNabb is really our only hitter. Losing two out of our three hitters it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know your hits will drop dramatically. I think you learn that arithmetic in first grade.
    On to a bigger subject I must say I’m glad Stone in on long term injury. We all could see he was just taking up space his passes sucked, his shot had no zip and even his D was bad. To not have to trade anyone I’m stoked and believe me I know there’s relief in that locker room.

    • Daryl

      Who what is stepping siren for VGK? Martinez will be back very soon which puts VGK over the Cap. I think even before that, VGK is over so t riverine has to be reassigned

      • Mike StG

        To activate Martinez will take only reassigning one player to HSK. Could be Amadio or Coghlan or Hutton or Brooks.
        Per Cap Friendly… they’d still have ~700k to spare.

        • Daryl

          I guess I misunderstood (almost like my whole content didn’t make sense lol) what I read earlier. What I read, I thought it said they had to reassign Amadio now just to get under the Cap and then would need to reassign or trade anther person once Martinez was activated

          Thanks though

        • Likely means exposing one of them to the waiver wire no? I vote Patrick.

  5. Toffoli to Calgary from Montreal!

    Calgary just got a bit tougher.

    • Daryl

      Yes they did

    • Blitz

      Yeah that is a huge pickup for an already strong team. I don’t think vegas will end up first in the pac, and that is fine. However facing Calgary in the playoffs is not going to be awesome.

  6. Btw, Brendan Brisson 2 G in 3 Olympics games. Not bad.

    Have thought long and hard on the Stone situation. According to McCrimmon’s press conference yesterday 2/14, the injury goes back to last season’s playoffs and did not resolve over the off season and afflicted him during training camp. According to that assessment, it’s a chronic condition that remains today. Although this whole scenario potentially smacks of the postseason cap loophole exploitation should Stone return to play at the very beginning of the playoffs, what if he was deemed ready to return ahead of the trade deadline, moves are made to fit him in, he goes back on the roster only to be hampered by the same condition? It would then appear to be a blunder trading Smith and/or another key player to get Stone back on the regular season roster, wouldn’t it? No, it seems legitimate to sit Stone out and hope he can play the playoffs without being afflicted by this condition that he’s played with the entire season. It’s very possible should be return for the playoffs that he will not play every game, That has been the pattern all season long.

    • Daryl

      The way I see it, if this problem goes back to last season and with all the time he’s had off, the only way to fix it is with surgery. Stone maybe trying to wait til after the season, but if he plays like he has been he’s only hurting his team. I wonder what the time line would be if he had surgery now

      • According to McCrimmon he has seen six specialists. On would think surgery might be the solution but yet I’m not sure it is? One might think they would already have arrived at the conclusion that surgery is the way to go and would have acted on it.

        • Daryl

          I think it’s more they want to see what Stone can handle and if possible have surgery in the off season… The problem I have is if he waits and plays like he has been, is he helping or hurting the team?

          So we are clear, I’m not questioning his injury at all

    • I agree with PP. Back injury symptoms are very intermittent and can be debilitating with a simple cough or sneeze. LTIR is the right move for Stone. A thorough diagnosis, MRI, CT scan and follow up is the right course of action for this huge investment. The fact that he’s going on LTIR as Eichel is coming off looks bad but is a coincidence.

      I am not suspecting foul play with this move.

      • 100% agreed. A coinicidence. It does look bad until the full history going back to the playoffs and training camp is considered ( as I mentioned above).

  7. Galdom

    It’s seems pretty clear he won’t be back before the playoffs and they will not have to worry about trading Smith this season.

    I’m hoping that they have a good talk with their captain and figure out what the best course of action is for himself. If he were to miss the playoffs as well then so be it.

    There is nothing good about creating bad friction between a team and it’s the best player. Ask Buffalo

    • Maybe Stone will try to return for the postseason. If they risk that they’ll know he may not be able to play all the games, Maybe they’ll announce sugery.

  8. Tim

    Mark Stone who may have chronic back issues being he has 5 years left on his contract I’d make sure he’s healthy before he returns. If that means getting the surgery now so be it he’s to good a player just to go through the motions. Do we know if it’s even possibly to cure his problem? Could surgery help or is it to a point of no return. Being only 30 with an old mans body is a little scary but hockey is a tuff game. I get it no one likes to go under the knife but with X-Rays knowing the problem was there last year I wish he would have had the surgery unless his doctor was against it. The playoffs are going to be hard lot’s of teams have improved can we still compete I hope so. I don’t expect a Stanley Cup it’s obvious were not in that conversation anymore but a decent run in the playoffs would be nice. Maybe time to trade Patch this summer he’s missed a lot of time and that 7 million can be better spent. Martinez our warrior only playing about 10 games this year because of 50 stitches doesn’t sound like the warrior I thought he was. I’m sure he’s probably had plastic surgery maybe more then once to keep his pretty. Now I see leaner may be injured again another player you can’t count on being there. You think about our trades for Lehner, Stone, Martinez,and Patch and Ken what’s the combined games missed this year? Not a good sign when you bring in older players. Lets hope Petro doesn’t join this group.

    • Peyton

      Martinez is dealing with more than “50 stitches to the face”. If you’d been paying attention you’d know that.

    • Tim, during the press conference McCrimmon referenced Martinez with that bad foot riding a scooter off the ice rather than to walk yet he managed to play the playoffs. If that is not tough I don’t know what is.

  9. I was at the practice yesterday, As usual Eichel impresssed. As McCrimmon and DeBoer mentioned in yesterday’s press conference however, expectations for these first few games need to be tempered. I agree in spite of the chance of some early upside. In any case it will be fascinating to watch.

    • My expectations have always been tempered. Will be cheering for the underdog to return to his 1ppg average and make a huge difference on the PP. Indeed, it will be fascinating to watch.

    • Daryl

      I said this somewhere else so I’m just repeating myself… And this is just my opinion. Whether Eichel scores 6 goals and gets completely destroyed, his first few games aren’t an indication of how he will play in a month

  10. PPete – well pete your tempering your thinking a little. Not surprisingly as the expectations of Eichel being a game changer was a little far fetched. IMO mgt is taking a huge risk and not doing a good job of managing their 10 mill asset so pray he doesn’t take a huge hit. Given Stone’s condition which is suspect given all the these specialist he supposedly has seen raises more questions than answers. Having g experienced back issues – still after a couple of surgeries l hope for his sake they figure out something sooner than later as the older you get just compounds the problem.

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