Any time a team leads the entire NHL in a specific category this deep into the season it tells a story. For the Golden Knights, they currently have the lead in one category and find themselves in dead last in a connected one.
After 54 games, no team in the NHL has taken fewer penalties than the Golden Knights. They’ve taken just 154 for an average of 6:38 of penalty time per game. No other team in the league is under seven minutes and just five others are under eight. They’ve taken just 140 minor penalties for an average of fewer than three penalties per 60 minutes.
On the flip side, as great as it is for the Golden Knights to never take penalties, they don’t draw them either. Vegas sits in 32nd place in penalties drawn with 169. Of course, that’s 15 fewer than they’ve taken, which is a nice plus, but it’s just over 3 per game where the league leader is at 4.67.
The Golden Knights aren’t alone though. In 2nd place behind them in both categories is the St. Louis Blues. That pretty clearly indicates the numbers are at least loosely connected, even if the referees aren’t outwardly doing it on purpose.
Referees may subconsciously say, ‘gee, I’ve only put them in the box once,’ but I think there are a lot of infractions that don’t go our way. I think it is correlated but not to the point where we’re going to make it an issue. -Bruce Cassidy
Not drawing penalties has been an issue for years for the Golden Knights too. Last year the Golden Knights came in last place as well, drawing just 262 over the 82 game season. Since Vegas entered the league, only two teams have drawn fewer per 60, Toronto and Columbus.
We should (draw more) if we get to the good ice that’s typically where penalties are called. There are hooks in those scoring situations in the slot and net front battles. Those are some areas I think we can be better at. Challenging guys one on one a little more often too. We’re strong on our skates, we’re a big team, so we’re not a team that goes down easy. -Cassidy
Obviously, not taking penalties is always going a good thing. But, if it negatively impacts how often a team gets power plays, it might not be worth it. That being said, spending more time at 5-on-5 is the best preparation for the rigors of the playoff stretch run and the playoffs themselves.
I think our 5-on-5 game is coming around. And I think that’s more playoff indicative when you can play that type of game. For that reason alone you are better off building your game that way. When our power play is back up to speed I think we’ll be more comfortable in those types of games because we can score on it. Our penalty kill has done a good job, especially since November on. -Cassidy
The Golden Knights should not expect the numbers to change all that much if they do indeed reach the postseason this year. In 2021, the last VGK playoff run, they drew just 2.89 penalties per 60 while taking 2.63. Both of those numbers are actually lower than this year’s regular season totals, and they were less than or equal to the regular season that year as well. While history has shown us there are more penalties called in the playoffs, it simply hasn’t been the case for the Golden Knights.
Vegas’ 5-on-5 game has been slightly above average this year, scoring 2.6 while allowing 2.4 per 60 minutes of play. If they want to succeed through May and into June, they’ll need those numbers to hold or even increase because even with improved special teams this year, there rarely are less than 10 skaters on the ice in VGK games.