It’s no secret the acquisition of Mark Stone has made a positive impact on the Golden Knights. They are a perfect 4-0-0 since the trade, have utterly dominated consecutive division opponents, and quite simply they look a lot closer to a Cup contending team than they have all year.
All of it is with Stone barely finding the scoresheet. He has just a single point in four games and it came on a power play assist to William Karlsson.
Stone’s impact goes much deeper than how much he’s scoring and it even goes deeper than even how often his linemates get on the board. What Stone’s acquisition has done has stabilized the Golden Knights top six, while in the process taking some major match-up responsibility off the hands of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith. It’s also put Alex Tuch in a role that allows him to focus more on creating scoring chances for a line that desperately needed help doing so.
It reminds me a lot of Schmidty’s situation when we missed him. I think it put people in places that they weren’t comfortable in. It’s important to have a role on your team and feel comfortable and confident in that role. I think Stoner coming in and kind of giving us that balance through our lineup. It’s not one player that makes a huge difference but it’s one player that kind of puts everyone in a position to succeed and in a role they are comfortable in. -Max Pacioretty
Stone has played a total of 64:39 at even strength for the Golden Knights. Territorially he’s been terrific posting a Corsi For of 58.9%. He’s been on the ice for 40 shots on goal for while just 22 against. The Golden Knights have created 31 goal scoring chances including 16 high danger, which is good for about a chance every other shift, and most importantly he’s been on the ice for three goals while still has not seen one in the Golden Knights net.
But more importantly than all of those great numbers is the competition he has faced. In the four games he’s played, the forwards he’s shared the ice with most have been Elias Pettersson, Rickard Rakell, Alexander Radulov (and Tyler Seguin), and Riley Sheahan. Aside from Florida, he’s faced the best forward on the opposing team every night.
I’d say he’s playing pretty much where we are going to play him. He may play a few more minutes later on, or a few less, I don’t know, but everything’s gone good so far. -Gallant
The Florida game, the one he didn’t match-up most with the opposition’s top forwards, might be the most telling too. Aleksander Barkov was on the ice for all five goals the Panthers scored. When Barkov was on the ice with Stone, not only did Florida not score, but they attempted just one shot, and it was blocked.
In the 5:52 the Barkov and Stone shared the ice, Stone got the better of him in every single category. In the 6:04 Barkov played against Reilly Smith, Barkov’s team scored three times, created seven scoring chances and had eight shots on goal.
The next two games, Gallant went back to putting Stone, Pacioretty, and Stastny out there against the opponent’s best line, and the Golden Knights haven’t allowed a goal since.
We’ve really limited the chances and we want to make sure to keep doing so. I think a lot of it has been a credit to board play. He’s been really helpful on the wall. -Pacioretty
The Golden Knights top six is now as formidable as any in the league, and the line that led the NHL in +/- a year ago isn’t even the best defensive line on its own team anymore. Plus, it’s helped the Karlsson line break out offensively. In the four games with Stone, Karlsson, Smith, and Marchessault have a combined 11 points, four goals, and are a +8 in about 65 minutes of ice time.
Vegas has outscored the last four opponents 15-6, have posted back-to-back shutouts, and have a 61% Corsi For at all strengths. This is what dominance looks like, and according to the head coach, it should get even better as the Stone gets more comfortable in Vegas.
I don’t like to judge a guy in his first week here. I think (Stone’s) played fine, he’s played good, but I think he’s going to be a big big help for our team. I think he’ll be much better. -Gallant
Don’t you need to throw in the caveat that the schedule hasn’t been challenging yet since Stone has been here. Sure, they’ve won four in a row, but the Dallas and Florida games were closer than we would like. No doubt he is having an impact on the team, but I’m going to reserve judgment until we see them play these two games against Calgary and then the ones against San Jose and Winnipeg.
No doubt that is part of what’s going on. However, the wins have been fairly dominant save for the game against Florida. Let’s see if they can keep doing it, I suspect they can (which is why I was willing to write this now.)
I wouldn’t say we dominated Anaheim. There were stretches of that game that we were outplayed pretty bad.
If that wasn’t dominating a team, I don’t think it’s possible to dominate a team.
We dominated Vancouver. Anaheim we beat soundly.
I see people whining on social media already because he has not scored a goal yet, or been a point + a game guy like he is was in Ottawa. I have watched him closely over his first four games including once in person and I see him do little things all the time that are great to see. Everything else will come. The best thing ever was to see the look on his face when he came out for warm ups in Anaheim, he was absolutely flabbergasted by the amount of Vegas fans there.
That’s not an accurate evaluator. This is still the NHL and there are skilled and star players on every team. You still see the bottom teams matching up and beating the top teams. Also the League is more balanced and competitive this year.
Also we play a much more complicated system here and it will take time to adjust and for him to know the players and plays.
Getting antsy for that extension!
“The Golden Knights top six is now as formidable as any in the league”
Really….I’d say the Stone line yes is in the top 5 or 10 lines in the league. The Karlsson line isn’t even in the top 20. You keep thinking about their performances from last season. As much as you hate it, number count and that line has yet to produce numbers consistently or even close to the top lines in the league. Defensively they are good I will give you that but your top line is meant to put goals up on the board. In the era of high scoring games your top line HAS to produce goals. Until one of them reaches at least 25 goals I would not call them a high offensive top line in the league.
Don’t forget Ryan Carpenter. His first game back was Stone’s first game. His presence makes a difference too.
the HOCKEY GOD
Another great piece Ken! Agree with everything you said and would add it seems like that line hits the post every other shift as well. Haven’t had great puck luck but if they keep dominating high danger chances that will change.
I have zero complaints and I think it will turn out to be the best post-expansion draft trade GMGM has made (actually kind of a low bar there when you think about it) BUT at 9.5m/year he has to be elite. I think he will be BUT that means a point a game type of a player in addition to everything you mentioned above.
Today I learned Corsi For…
Defensive mindset is the way to go….The last 2 games show the way that the team needs to play vs the better teams in the league, like Calgary, SJ etc….Tight defensively, shut teams down, and win close, low scoring games. These past few games vs mediocre teams were very instructive, as they played wide open vs Fla and that was a near disaster. And yes, Stone has to be out there vs the opposing team’s top scorers, like the Gaudreau line tonight. The problem will come on the road where the opposing team has last change, and Peters will put his Gaudreau line on vs the other lines.