When it comes to Coronavirus, people’s opinions are like fingerprints. Everyone has them, but no two are the same.
For some, they act like the virus doesn’t exist, carrying on about their everyday life without a care in the world (for themselves or others). While others treat it like contracting the virus means certain death for all. Most fall somewhere in between but everyone’s opinion shapes their decision making and due to the lack of hard facts available, it’s impossible to truly challenge anyone’s actions.
With the NHL set to unveil their plans for Phase 3 and 4 of the return to play plan, we’re going to have to brace for the range of opinions, and actions, that will come with it from players.
Since the announcement of the playoff format and the opening of voluntary training camps as Phase 2, hockey is been the quietest sport regarding those challenging the sport’s return.
In the NBA and WNBA, it feels like every day another player announces he or she is dropping out and will not head to the bubble. MLB finally came to an agreement on how their season will resume and with it has come a rash of their players saying they’re out. Golf, tennis, and soccer have all seen it to a degree too. The NHL may very well be next.
Hockey has a much different culture than most other North American sports. It’s very team-oriented and players will go to great lengths to keep the spotlight off themselves.
I haven’t heard anything (about players opting out) and I’ve been on a couple calls and that hasn’t really been a thing. I think there’s a lot of discussion about what would happen. Obviously there are health risks for sure so it’s something you’ve got to be careful with and I think the NHL, especially our staff, has done an outstanding job of following the protocols and making sure everyone’s safe. -Brayden McNabb
However, the virus has a powerful impact on the actions of athletes, especially when it comes to their families.
The NHL’s concept is still in an abstract form with the idea of “hub cities” hosting the games. Once the league confirms specific details about living accommodations, testing protocols, family involvement, and everything else that goes along with creating a virus-free bubble, players may speak up and likely act upon those words as well.
One player said a majority of the players do not want to return to play this summer. Estimated 75%. Though they’re concerned with financial pitfalls of that decision, they’re more concerned about risking contracting the virus/serious injury before cramming in the 2021 season 2/
In the shortened 2019-20 regular season the Golden Knights led the NHL with 34.5 shots on goal per game. In fact, since they entered the league Vegas has averaged the second-most shots per game over that three-season span.
Vegas led the entire NHL in 19-20 with 28 victories when they won the SOG battle. That’s 71% of their total wins for the season. The Golden Knights went 28-12-7 (.670), and are now 92-43-13 (.665) in franchise history when they’ve outshot other teams. Compare that to their 11-12-1 (.479) record this year when they were outshot and 35-37-9 (.488) all-time.
In 22 games as Golden Knights coach, DeBoer’s club outscored opponents 19 times, and went a stellar 13-4-2.
The bulk of the shots come mostly from the Golden Knights top-six forwards. Max Pacioretty led the team averaging 4.32 shots per game, followed by Jonathan Marchessault. Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch do their part as well, both creating several scoring chances per night. When DeBoer gets all of his weapons firing on net, opposing goaltenders have to play at their best, or else it’ll likely be a long night.
VGK Shot Leaders
Max Pacioretty: 4.32 S/GP Jonathan Marchessault: 3.56 S/GP Shea Theodore: 3.08 S/GP Mark Stone: 2.58 S/GP Reilly Smith: 2.38 S/GP Alex Tuch: 2.33 S/GP William Karlsson: 2.19 S/GP
By now you’ve probably heard about yesterday’s Draft Lottery in which a mystery team to be decided later won the 1st overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Of course, because the Golden Knights don’t suck, they had no chance at winning last night’s lottery and because they were one of the eight best teams in the league at the pause, they also have no shot at becoming the mystery team.
The NHL’s first live event in more than 100 days was conducted without the Golden Knights, and Vegas fans should be proud that it was.
Many Vegas fans probably don’t even remember the only time the Golden Knights were actually involved in the Draft Lottery, so I figured today was a good day to take a trip down memory lane to reminisce about the days when Stanley Cup hope was more a joke than a realistic feeling. (It’ll also remind you of why you never want your team’s fate to rest on the lottery.)
The date was April 29th, 2017. Six months after the Golden Knights got their name and two months before they picked their players at the Expansion Draft. (The team had signed Gerard Gallant two weeks prior and they were a week away from signing Vadim Shipachyov)
Historically, expansion teams are awarded the 1st overall pick in the Entry Draft to go along with their selections in the Expansion Draft. However, since the NHL believed the rules of that Expansion Draft were the best they’d ever had, the decision was made to give Vegas a high place in the lottery as opposed to an automatic top pick.
The rules stated that Vegas would have the same odds as the team that finished with the 3rd worst points percentage in the 2016-17 season. That team ended up being the Arizona Coyotes. Both teams were given a 10.3% chance to win the 1st overall pick and about a 30% chance to land in the top three.
Here were the Golden Knights exact odds in that lottery.
The lottery was slated to take place between a pair of playoff games at around 5PM Vegas time. All of the participating GMs flew to Toronto to be there for the unveiling of the 2017 Draft order. Vegas’ GM, however, got stuck in Washington DC after his flight was delayed due to weather. (That was probably foreshadowing of what was to come when the order was read.)
Due to travel complications, George McPhee will be unable to attend the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery in person. In his place will be Tom Poraszka.
Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty was one of three players to accumulate 300+ shots in the regular season. The two other players were Nathan McKinnon and Alexander Ovechkin; prestigious company. However, when you break it down by types of shot, Pacioretty led the entire league with 192 wrist shots. A shot in which #67 is known for.
Pacioretty must’ve come into the season focused on letting his wrist shot go more often than he did 2018-19. In his second year with the Golden Knights, the 31-year-old forward released 94 more wrist shots. Which worked out nicely for his club.
Not only did his wrist shot release go up but so did its effectiveness. Pacioretty added nine more wrist shot goals in 2019-20 and ended up having statistically one of his better seasons. His 0.93 points per game was a career-high for the 12-year veteran.
Pacioretty totaled 30 SOG in last season’s playoffs series against San Jose, scoring five goals in seven games. Unsurprisingly, 23 of 30 were wrist shots, and four of his five goals were from wrist shots. Any goalie should know what to expect from Pacioretty, the problem is whether they can save it or not.
Pacioretty’s pinpoint lasers create challenges for opposing goaltenders, especially when they’re being screened. His goal in Game 4 against the Sharks’ Martin Jones illustrates exactly how nasty and nearly impossible his wrister is to stop.
This week, according to George McPhee, 30 players are skating at City National Arena for voluntary Phase 2 workouts. With Training Camp right around the corner, that number will probably continue to increase as just about every player under contract with the Golden Knights has to be ready in case selected to the expanded playoff roster.
The Golden Knights 1st round pick in 2019 spent the majority of his time since being drafted rehabbing his torn Achilles tendon. This forced him to miss Development Camp, Rookie Camp, Training Camp, exhibition games, the start of the WHL season, and World Juniors (he participated in camp but was not selected to the team). All Krebs really got with the Golden Knights was a single practice before being shipped back to the WHL.
In other words, most of his first year of development since being drafted was lost. However, when he finally got to play for the Winnipeg Ice, he was the same electric player that made him a 1st round pick. He posted 60 points in 38 games which ranked him 3rd on the team despite playing nearly half the games of all his teammates and put up highlight real plays along the way.
With NHL rosters expanding to 28 skaters for the playoffs, it might make sense for the Golden Knights to select Krebs in an attempt to recover some of the missed development time over the past calendar year.
Vegas will enter the playoffs with a fully healthy squad with the exception of Cody Glass. As we showed in our projection, that means 13 forwards that are used to playing every night plus at least five more AHL level forwards behind them. One of Tomas Nosek, Nick Cousins, Nic Roy, William Carrier, or Ryan Reaves will have to be a healthy scratch to start the playoffs and some combination of Brandon Pirri, Patrick Brown, Valentin Zykov, Lucas Elvenes, Keegan Kolesar, Gage Quinney, and Reid Duke will be ready to step in if needed as well.
No matter which forwards the Golden Knights ultimately select, there will be at least five extras available with a strong possibility of a sixth.
The idea of a round-robin is totally foreign to the NHL. Since the inception of the league in 1917, the Stanley Cup champions have always been determined by a regular season followed by playoffs.
With the pandemic throwing a wrench in the works, for the first time ever there will be a regular season, albeit truncated, followed by a round-robin plus a play-in round, and then a 16 team playoff with re-seeding after each round.
It’s unprecedented in the NHL but it’s not in the sport of hockey. In fact, the largest international tournament of the year uses a round-robin every single year. That’s the IIHF World Championship which consists mostly of NHL players who have been eliminated from the playoffs. In addition to that tournament, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey used a round-robin and the Olympics have used it for decades.
I think this is going to be a lot more similar to what you would have seen at a World Cup. The best players in the world got together and played extremely entertaining and competitive hockey. -Kelly McCrimmon
The difference in most of these tournaments, compared to the NHL’s round-robin is that it is not only used for seeding but to eliminate teams.
City National Arena was re-opened a few weeks ago with the beginning of Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play plans. It called for only six players to be on the ice at a time and the facilities to be under strict safety protocols.
The Golden Knights confirmed early on that six players, Marc-Andre Fleury, MarkStone, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Nick Holden, and Deryk Engelland, participated in a skate the very first day of Phase 2. Since, they’ve sent out a couple more videos showing the exact same group of six players.
However, with most players in town, and a few others confirming they’ve skated, it’s been clear that the total number of players heading to skate each day was larger than six. Speaking on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central yesterday, George McPhee confirmed that nearly the entire roster is back.
We had I think 24 players skate the first week, 28 the second week, and we’ll probably have 30 this week. –McPhee on Hockey Central
To make matters even better, he also gave an update on the overall health of the team, which was seemingly a bit more dire than it appeared over the course of this season.
Everyone (is healthy). I don’t know what players that you were aware of that were injured. We weren’t public with all of them but they are all healthy. We had a couple of those high ankle sprains that take forever to heal and sometimes you need the summer for them to heal and we’re fortunate that we’ve had this kind of time for them to heal. –McPhee on Hockey Central
The expectation is that the league will allow teams to carry 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies when play resumes at the hub cities. Meaning for Vegas, just about everyone who will play is back to training and for the most part, has been for the last two weeks.
Kelly McCrimmon confirmed last Monday that the organization has not experienced any positive tests for Coronavirus.
All in all, it’s looking good for the Golden Knights as they prepare to return to the ice for real and accomplish what they couldn’t in years one and two. It might look even better by the end of the week too as SinBin.vegas sources indicate the players have been told the current plan is for the Golden Knights to stay in Vegas and play at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights have sent out three videos showing the six players mentioned above one the ice. Here’s the latest of those videos.
Don't have anything concrete on this but the last I heard the plan is still to unveil it in the offseason between the two seasons. My guess is the first time they wear it on the ice is the next time there are fans in T-Mobile Arena. https://t.co/rC3kQdZsIz
The price of the contract is in-line with the player. So the answer is yes. However, I believe VGK had the ability to use some leverage against him to get him to take a cheaper deal and they opted not to do that. Missed opportunity to save a few bucks IMO. https://t.co/6IeiUPA1sd
Yesterday was a tough day for the NHL and their attempt to award a 2020 Stanley Cup champion. News broke that the Tampa Bay Lightning temporarily shut down their facilities due to three players and two staff members testing positive for Covid-19. The anxiety escalated even more when it was reported that Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews tested positive as well. Leaving fans concerned for the players and their return to the ice.
Locally, it’s been quiet. According to GM Kelly McCrimmon, none of the Golden Knights players have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus.
Since NHL clubs were permitted to open their training facilities on June 8, all players entering these facilities for voluntary training have been subject to mandatory testing for COVID-19… All players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. The NHL will provide a weekly update on the numbers of tests administered to players and the results of those tests. The league will not be providing information on the identity of the players or their clubs. -NHL PR
With the latest news from around the league, the question around Las Vegas is how will this affect the Golden Knights and their preparations?
So far 11 NHL players have tested positive since June 8th. However, over 200 players have been tested multiple times and results came back negative. While the positive test news may sound grim, it doesn’t appear it will delay the opening of training camps scheduled to begin on July 10th. Even if more players fall ill, according to the league it won’t impact the Golden Knights groundwork.
The league had a conference call with all of the general managers tonight, and I think the word is ‘let’s see where this goes.’ I don’t think there’s any movement at this point in time of changing the opening of camps on July 10th. I think they’ve set it so the final day of the Stanley Cup Final, if it happens on schedule is October 5th. -Elliotte Friedman, SportsNet