During the 2018-19 season the Vegas Golden Knights attempted 5,254 shot attempts, 2,814 of them made it to the goalie registering as shots on goal, and 246 of them went into the net.
They finished the year above average in all three categories, but the numbers weren’t consistent. Vegas attempted 10.6% more shots than the league average, they took 9.1% more shots on goal than average NHL team, but they only scored 0.8% more goals than the league average.
The question is, why?
The first answer is a simple one. The Golden Knights shooting percentage (8.7%) was quite a bit lower than the league average (9.5%). The year prior, the Golden Knights scored on 10.0% of their shots. In 18-19 they were 8th worst, in 17-18 they were 8th best.
But once again, why?
Between the two rosters, there wasn’t much turnover. Out went James Neal, David Perron and Erik Haula (injury) from the regular lineup, and in came Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and eventually Brandon Pirri and Mark Stone. William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith all saw some decreases in production, while Cody Eakin, Ryan Reaves, and Brandon Pirri saw massive increases.
No matter how you slice it, the team wasn’t a ton different nor did they didn’t play much differently, they just didn’t score as much.
The answer to why almost certainly lies in where the shots came from.
Recently, Bill Tran of TheWinColumn.ca did a deep dive into shot distances for each team. Here’s a look at what he found for the Golden Knights.
Unsurprisingly, most of the Golden Knights goals came from within 25 feet of the goal. Their shot attempts were kind of all over the board though, especially from Marchessault, Pacioretty, and Pirri.
In comparing them to the best shooting teams in the division (Calgary and San Jose) the Golden Knights shots definitely skew further away from the goal. Here’s a look at the top five scoring forwards on each team compared to the Golden Knights.
VGK vs. CGY
VGK vs. SJS
As you can clearly see, the shot distance is significantly closer for the Golden Knights rivals.
It’s certainly something that needs to improve for the Golden Knights in 2019-20 if they want to get back to being the scoring powerhouse they were in 17-18.
The good news, Mark Stone is a star, especially at getting shots in close. And rather than getting 18 games of him, the Golden Knights are set to get 82.