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Golden Knights Can’t Afford To Wait For Power Play To Come Around

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

4 for 43.

It’s a number that has been on the mind of every Golden Knight, every coach, and every member of the front office through the offseason and into the new year.

The Golden Knights were shutout on the power play against the Montreal Canadiens (0 for 15) contributing to an NHL worst 9.3% power play in the 2021 playoffs. In fact, it was actually the worst conversion percentage of any team to play at least 17 playoff games since power play stats started being kept in 1977-78.

It must improve.

As a group we all have to be better, individual players, the coaches, the additions, all those things. I think the fresh start will help. I really believe the power play, like the penalty kill, is a real confidence-based piece of your game. When it starts to snowball the wrong way, everything goes in. I think we fell into that last year. -Pete DeBoer

DeBoer’s hope is that the offseason will go a long way towards a reset on a unit that played an integral part in the Golden Knights’ demise.

It was really average during the regular season and obviously it was well below average during the playoffs. So I think the break, the reset, the additions, the challenge of everybody being better, it’s going to be better. -DeBoer

He’s not relying on just time to heal the wound though.

We’re looking at everything. What you do in the summer is you look at what didn’t work, you look at the best teams, what they are doing. I got a chance to spend some time with Bruce Cassidy at the Olympic meetings. Boston’s had one of the top power plays in the last five or six years. Every time you have conversations like that you come up with ideas that maybe can help you. -DeBoer

A change in tactics would be a welcome addition to the VGK power play. Last season it became incredibly stale and increasingly predictable as the postseason wore on. They tried shifting personnel throughout the year, and even during the Montreal series, but nothing ever seemed to work.

For the first time since Training Camp began the Golden Knights worked on their power play Friday, but they did it behind closed doors leaving the mystery of how much change is being implemented to the future.

It’s definitely a focus, I mean it has to be on the top of our priority list and I’m very confident that we are going to get it in a good place. -DeBoer

Evgenii Dadonov, Nolan Patrick, and Peyton Krebs can certainly have a say in turning things around in 2021-22, but more importantly, the VGK coaches have to follow through on their commitment to new ideas.

The power play needs more movement, they need to take more risks, and they need to have more options to keep the killers and the goalies guessing.

The Golden Knights have plenty of talented enough players to get the job done, they just have to be given the answers to the tactical questions modern-day penalty kills ask.

Last year they didn’t have them, this year they must, otherwise, that snowball will reappear and it’ll be even bigger than it’s ever been before.

“This too shall pass” is a plan that normally would sit well with pretty much anyone who has seen the volatility of NHL special teams. But in 2021, amidst a pandemic that’s been going on for 18 months, there’s just something about the idea of waiting it out that leaves all of us with a bit of apprehension.

A true strategy change is what is needed. It sounds like it’s in the plans as well. Now it’s all about implementation and execution, and quickly, because no one in Vegas likes snowballs.

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35 Comments

  1. Tim

    I don’t get how the PP can be that bad logic would say you look at film of teams that have a successful PP and you install there principals. This is a copy cat league so why haven’t they already installed it. I know the excuses with Covid we didn’t have a chance to work on it. The reality is no PP no Stanley Cup and you can bring all the superstars in but as we found out without a direction there just 5 guys going through the motion on the PP. A good start would be remove Steve Spot and replace him with someone who has a better philosophy of how to have a strong PP. It seems so easy and yet it never changes.

  2. Joe

    One of the most obvious issues to me was that the ‘static box’ format just does not work on the PP except for some pretty passes.

    They need a lot more North/South movement from the wingers to create some better opportunities.

  3. Richard Santomauro

    I guess the idea is that the Knights are willing to get worse on the PK with the hopes of improving the PP.

    Why do I say this? They didn’t go out and get a 1C. What they did do is go get a bunch of maybes instead. On top of that they are no better between the pipes and the jury remains out as to whether or not #90 is the long term answer.

    • Tim

      Richard don’t you find it interesting that they’ll spend to the cap and over but won’t spend a dime on someone who can implement a strong PP. For some reason they read there press releases of who great they are they lose sight of there shortcomings. I always hear this is a business and when people have to go so what it’s for the betterment of the team but in Steve Spot’s case he’s hindered our progression but still has a job. Pete and management you can’t have it both ways. Can his ass yesterday in my opinion.

      • Richard Santomauro

        Tim, well said. I agree. Since they were unwilling to go after a 1C, VGK FO should have stood pat with as much cap room as possible for a possible trade later in the season.

        I still have hopes for Patrick and Krebs though.

        My prediction between the pipes is that the Panda will go into hibernation and will be replaced by January. Logan Thompson is the future IMO.

        • sb

          I think you’ll have better luck with a voodoo doll and stick pin. Why do you so wish failure on a guy who has never done anything to you? This is sad stuff.

          • Richard Santomauro

            I am not wishing failure on anyone. #90 has bounced around the league, hasn’t stuck anywhere in his career to date. The off ice issues are well known. He may have conquered them, I hope so purely from a humanity perspective. At the same time, if I am the GM all of these things have to be weighted in the decision making. The VGK FO decided that #90 was worth the risk.

            My hope is that #90 proves me wrong and becomes the mainstay of VGK pipe presence for a decade. So, I am not wishing failure. I am simply stating the risks. The history is the history. Only Panda can change the future. Only Panda can change the sad stuff to something more positive. That’s not my responsibility. My responsibility is just to be a fan. I can provide critical commentary while at the same time hope for the best.

        • THE hockey GOD

          there are only three 1Cs in league and VGK, along with everyone else can not afford them. 1C are home grown.

          • Richard Santomauro

            Thank you ThG! Exactly.

            I recall some on this list ready to ship Smith, Krebs, Carrier and even Tuch in a package for Jack Eichel.

            I am very content with the top 6 as it is. I would have liked for the FO to make a move to bring Haula back to Vegas. Instead, they rolled the dice and we will know in a few months whether or not these moves have paid off (mid-January we will pretty much know).

          • Blitz

            Eichel is really the only true option out there for a legit 1C and what is the point of getting him if it cost you everything else? VGK’s need isn’t that, but it is to find someone that legit plugs in the top 3 C spots. Ideally some one better than Stephenson to fit that 1 line OR line 3 would be good too. I hope to hell Patrick is that person. His ceiling is there, but time will tell.

          • Daryl

            Really, there are only 3 1Cs in the NHL? I would love to know just who you think those 3 guys are. And even in those only 3Cs, there must be a ton of 2Cs VGK could have gone after. I recall Staal, who might be a eC was available at last year’s deadline and we didn’t even give him a look. Consider he is a mucker and great on bad ice, I wonder why VGK didn’t even approach?

  4. THE hockey GOD

    no 67 is closest thing to sharp shooter on this team, and their PP needs more than one sharp shooter.

    • Richard Santomauro

      I have seen Marchy and Stone raise their game. I would watch Reilly Smith closely as he will be wanting to prove his worth this year to get paid after the season. I am predicting big things from Reilly Smith this season (power play, short handed and 5 on 5 goals).

      I also believe that Krebs and Patrick have the most potential to add to the VGK points total and wins.

      • THE hockey GOD

        i was really hoping they’d jump two spots in 2019 draft to pick cole caffield. i am sure he was on their radar. But instead they got Krebs. It’ll be interesting which player will be better in long run.

  5. Jeff Hoffend

    Dugan, dugan, dugan dugan DUGAN!!!

    Power Play Specialist!

  6. Blitz

    To be honest I have zero faith in the PETER power play. They have had a lot of hockey to fix it and if you have to ask around, to other coaches, how to fix it, it may not be fixable.

    Another thing I don’t understand is that this is a team of veterans, for the most part. How many ex captains are on the team? Why can’t the power play be fixed from within? Meaning why isn’t collective input from this team and their experience helping the situation out? I am just a couch coach/gm, so I don’t know shit, but from the outside looking in I would think something is a miss. A lot of years of hockey collectively for it to be this bad.

    I will dedicate this beer I am drinking to them figuring it out. Go Knights!

    • Daryl

      I agree… They’ve had a couple years to fix the PP and haven’t done it yet. Now their top 2 PP lines are getting older and slower so I don’t see them improving much. They have the same PP coach who just needs to go, but that isn’t going to happen until PDB goes

      • THE hockey GOD

        Anyone with a hockey brain knows best centers in NHL are mcdavid, mackinon, and mathews. Some say even Draisaitl . Only pens fans love Crosby, and he’s getting long in the tooth and often injured. OF the top ten, the VGK can not afford any of them. So all these idiots whining about getting a “top center’ are clueless because (1) VGK can not afford and (2) most top centers are home grown. So deal with it and stop your whining.

        • Daryl

          Spoken like a true idiot…. Only a fool would not consider Crosby a #1 Center. Even if we used your delusional view of #1 Centers, then there are several #2 Centers out there VGK could have gone after but instead they wasted there money away. So many last year, including yourself, said VGK didn’t need this #2 Center and they could still win the Cup… Well how did that work out? Oh yeah that’s right, VGK didn’t win the Cup b/c MAF made a mistake which tied a game and b/c of bad ice. What was I thinking… smh

  7. Mike StG

    Mike Kelly wrote an interesting piece on why teams use the drop pass in PP zone entries – because they work. Only 2 teams had lower than 50% success with the drop pass entering the zone last szn, and of those 2 Vegas was the worst (in the league). Nearly 5% less success than with normal zone entries. It was one of my huge aggravations last szn. If you’re unsuccessful entering the zone more than 50% of the time it shouldn’t be a surprise when your PP is terrible, and maybe you need to try something different. A lot of it was timing just out of sync, and a lot was just sloppy passing.

    I do support the plan to employ more bottom 6 forwards in the PK to help keep the top 6 fresher. That should improve their effectiveness on the PP as well. Maybe they’ll be less inclined to just stand around and better able to create movement, thus not allowing the defenders to get set.

    • THE hockey GOD

      I hate the drop pass,I prefer the old European variation of soccer style of circling back, circling the puck carriers, and then spring a fast player into the offensive zone (without the puck) and then try to hit that speedster with pass or pressure the d man going back to get the puck if the pass doesn’t hit his stick. This is way to break the trap and keep the PK from standing you up at the blue line. But you need puck control and speed to break it. Something that VGK don’t have on their PP. no. 81 can’t hold the puck, 61 and 67 are not fast at all. Hence there hope is with youngsters who have wheels , hopefully.

      • Mike StG

        ThG, they did a variation midseason that seemed very successful but for some reason they stopped doing it after a game or two. The trailing player receiving the drop pass would almost immediately pass it forward to the winger on the other side who was already up to speed and flying. I think they should at least bring that back as one of the options for zone entry. It seems they stayed mostly with either the drop pass or skating directly into the zone, mostly along the wall where they would often lose the puck when challenged.

        • THE hockey GOD

          yes ! Also, once they gained the o-zone they set up Martinez at top of right face off circle for clear shot on net. Then they stopped going this route, yet it was still there at time.s

  8. LVsc

    Everyone is missing the key ingredient. the key factor.

    they MUST have a guy planted in front of the goalie, screening, tipping, causing distractions and chaos. It is no accident that guys like Hornquist, and Van Riemsdyck, and in older days guys like Ciccarelli and Andreychuk, the all time PP goals leader with 274, were so effective on the PP….Andreychuk was a slow skater, but he stood strongly in front of the net.

    Stone was doing it for a while, then he stood off to the side, no good. Krebs was doing it, and then he got a broken jaw. That is a problem too, the shooters like Theodore and Pacioretty have to keep their damn shots down, so they can be tipped, and so the guys will stand in front.

    also, note that a new rule tweak by the NHL has the refs cracking down on cross checking this season. so, it will be even easier to stand in front of the goalie this year.

    the poor VGK PP is a result of lack of will, not skill.

    and a pisspoor coach, PDB’s little buddy from SJ

    • Richard Santomauro

      PDB sucks too.

      Yeah, I said it. Someone needs to remind everyone.

    • Mike StG

      LV, no one is missing the importance of net front presence on the PP. Tuch was starting to do that more but he’ll obviously be out for months. Both Dadonov and Patrick are good net front and that’s likely at least one of the reasons the FO traded for them. Dadonov doesn’t just stand in front of the net though. He moves a lot around the slot areas and then skates into the low slot for a well-timed pass and shot attempt between the circles. I’d say Patrick’s game is more suited to net front and deflections. Plus, Krebs is back and the kid is fearless, so I would look for him to pick up where he left off. Reports from local hockey media say he’s looking very good in camp.

      • Mike StG

        LVsc – watching game now, end of 2nd. Exactly that. Patrick tip on earlier PP shot by Whitecloud. Then just now – Stevenson to Patrick at the goal line to Dadonov in the low slot between the circles, shot off the right post. Bang bang play with 2 of the new guys. Looks dangerous – I like it. Howden also looks good. Great OZ entry play leading to the first goal. He’s also been excellent on the PK.

        Cormier looks like he’s playing his first NHL game, but has a great shot. Can see him playing on VGK in 18-24 months. We need to remember that SJS were able to have a development camp, whereas teams that made the playoffs did not. It shows…

        • Daryl

          I’ve only seen about half the game and Dadonov hasn’t looked good in our own zone. Can say the same for Patrick

          • Mike StG

            It’s too bad you just see the negatives. What I saw was Patrick in front of the net often, with an assist on the PPG. Dadonov constantly moving and circling in the slot area with some dangerous shot opportunities, both on PP and 5v5. This, in the first game they both played on this team. Howden with assist and solid PK work.

            Guess it’s all in the ‘eye of the beholder’. 🙂

        • Daryl

          I don’t just see the negatives, some of those guys looked pretty good offensively and even on the PP. I pointed out the defense b/c when they were picked up that’s what I was worried about and it’s exactly what I saw. I Asiago don’t put much stock into these games, hockey is about chemistry and when you rotate players around like you do in these games I don’t think you really get much from them. For me, all these games are good for is getting into hands shape

    • THE hockey GOD

      “new rule tweak by the NHL has the refs cracking down on cross checking this season. so, it will be even easier to stand in front of the goalie this year.”

      which typically they will swallow their whistles during the stanley cup playoffs like they always do

    • Daryl

      Yep, first they tried to get rid of fighting and now they want to suspend cross checkers… Welcome to the new PU$$Y league.

  9. LVsc

    oh, and isn’t it interesting that in SJ the Shark PP was most effective when Burns would shoot , and Pavelski would tip in the shots? and now Pavelski does it for Dallas. But now PDB and Spott have no clue of what worked for them in SJ? very telling.

  10. Richard Santomauro

    I am watching the game again on replay and will update my analysis later on.

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