Through 10 games, the Golden Knights lead the NHL in penalty minutes. They’ve been assessed 125 minutes or 12:30 per game.
However, counting penalty minutes by itself doesn’t always tell the whole story. At the end of the second Sharks game, Vegas was assessed 30 minutes of penalties following an elongated scrum that sent William Karlsson, Deryk Engelland, and Nic Hague to the showers with 10-minute misconducts each. Add in the three fights (Reaves, Pacioretty, and Stone) and there are another 15 minutes that didn’t really amount to much of anything.
So, it’s really only 80 penalty minutes or 8:00 per game of actual penalties. Not too bad, right?
The Golden Knights’ 40 minors rank them 2nd in the NHL behind only Calgary who has taken 46. Vegas has gone shorthanded five times in four of their 10 games, and have taken at least three minors in all but one game.
To get a better feel for the problem, I went through all 40 minor penalties. Aside from figuring out which players are most at fault, I was looking for where the penalty occurred, the game situation, avoidability, and correctness of call. (See all 40 listed below)
Last year I went through every minor Vegas took over the entire 2018-19 season and we learned that Brayden McNabb was the Golden Knights worst offender. William Carrier, Jon Merrill, and Paul Stastny were also troublemakers.
This year, it’s the same culprits for the most part, especially the main culprit.
9 – McNabb
3 – Pirri, Merrill, Carrier
2 – Stastny, Nosek, Hague, Pacioretty, Marchessault
1 – Engelland, Theodore, Karlsson, Glass, Stone, Zykov, Fleury, Smith, Eakin, Reaves, Team
Nine penalties for McNabb. Nine! The Golden Knights are the 2nd worst team in taking penalties, and one guy has taken almost 25% of them. He’s been in the box at least once in seven of the 10 games. And of the nine penalties, only two were what I qualified as “unavoidable.”
In watching the penalties I was looking for which ones the Golden Knights could have either stayed away from or had no choice but to take. I graded these leniently, leaning towards giving the players the benefit of the doubt when it was close. They’ve been broken down into three categories, “unavoidable,” “acceptable,” and “unnecessary.” The first are ones that there is nothing the player could have done to stay out of the box. The last are ones that the player didn’t need to take and could have easily avoided. The rest land in-between, usually plays in which the player is trying to defend but ends up taking a penalty.
Unavoidable – 6
Acceptable – 27
Unnecessary – 7
Just by taking the stupid ones (unnecessary) out, the Golden Knights would improve from 2nd worst to 9th. If they were a bit luckier and got away from the unavoidable ones too, they’d be all the way up to 21st.
On to the where.
Offensive Zone – 9
Neutral Zone – 7
Defensive Zone – 24
Offensive zone penalties are the ones that usually kill teams. For the Golden Knights, five of the nine in the o-zone were completely unnecessary. These include poor decisions by Stastny, McNabb, Reaves, and Marchessault. 16 penalties in the offensive and neutral zone is way too many. That means they take at least one every game and more often than not take multiple penalties in an area on the ice in which the opponent can’t score.
Finally, because you all know how much I love refs, I took a look at the calls themselves. Out of the 40 called against the Golden Knights, I took exception with 12. One of the 12 was just flat out wrong (delay of game on Eakin), and seven others were weak or bad calls. The other four are borderline, but for the most part, could have been let go.
Take those 12 out and the Golden Knights would be right at the NHL median of 28 penalties.
All in all though, there have just been too many penalties. Until last night, it hadn’t really hurt the Golden Knights due to an impressive penalty kill. But moving forward, there’s no arguing it, they have to clean it up.
Pirri- Hooking – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Stastny – Interference – Unnecessary – OZ – Leading – SOFT
McNabb – Roughing – Unnecessary – OZ – Leading
Theodore – Hooking – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Nosek – Hi-Stick – Unavoidable -DZ – Leading
Karlsson – Interference – Acceptable – OZ – Leading
Pacioretty – Tripping – Acceptable – NZ – Leading
Pirri – Slashing – Acceptable – NZ – Leading
Merrill – Hi-Stick – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Stastny – Tripping – Acceptable – NZ – Leading
Pirri – Slashing – Unacceptable – DZ – Leading
Hague – Hooking – Acceptable – DZ – Trailing
McNabb – Holding – Acceptable – DZ – Trailing
Merrill – Interference – Acceptable – DZ – Trailing – SOFT
Glass – Tripping – Unavoidable – NZ – Trailing
Engelland – Holding – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
McNabb – Interference – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Stone – Delay (Puck over glass) – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
McNabb – Tripping – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Marchessault – Slashing – Acceptable – DZ – Tied
Hague – Interference – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Carrier – Hooking – Acceptable – DZ – Leading – SOFT
McNabb – Tripping – Unavoidable – DZ – Trailing
Pacioretty – Interference – Acceptable – NZ – Tied
Team – Too many men – Unnecessary – OZ – Trailing
McNabb – Holding – Acceptable – DZ – Trailing
Zykov – Cross-Checking – Acceptable – OZ – Trailing – SOFT
Carrier – Holding – Acceptable – NZ – Tied – SOFTISH
Fleury – Tripping – Acceptable – DZ – Leading
Nosek – Goalie Interference – Unavoidable – OZ – Leading – SOFT
McNabb – Hi-Stick – Unnecessary – NZ – Leading
McNabb – Interference – Unavoidable – DZ – Tied – SOFT
Smith – Tripping – Acceptable – OZ – Leading
Eakin – Delay (Puck over glass) – Unavoidable – DZ – Leading – SOFT (WRONG)
Merrill – CrossCheck – Acceptable – DZ – Leading – SOFTISH
Bischoff – Cross-Checking – Acceptable – DZ – Tied – SOFTISH
Reaves – Interference – Unnecessary – OZ – Trailing
McNabb – Bording – Acceptable – DZ – – Trailing – SOFTISH
Marchessault – Cross-Checking – Unnecessary – OZ – Trailing
Carrier – Tripping – Acceptable – DZ – Trailing – SOFT
All the penalties are no issue as long as Flower plays 65-70+ games and stands on his head for all of them.
Seeing as that aint going to happen, would be good of the boys to stay out of the box a wee bit more, right Nabber.
I wish they would get the job done without making problems. Get mad, skate faster, take some hard shots at the puck, and stop gifting it to the opposing team.
Sadly, there are also far too many one-sided games that the opposing team gets away with blatant or borderline calls that AREN’T made against them. I watched (both live in the Fortress and on TV and many of these calls (or lack thereof) are either directly in front of, or in plain view of, at least one ref, but goes ignored. This takes the ability for VGK to benefit from the man-advantage away. Normally I am not a conspiracy theorist, but after the debacle of last year and this year seeing so many uncalled penalties on opposing teams but borderline calls against the Knights I have to wonder what the hell is going on. I have watched hockey for over 30 years and I have never seen such a discrepancy in officiating.
I think we also need to look at the OTHER glaring issue plaguing the Knights: the ignored blatant or borderline penalties committed AGAINST them. I am not a conspiracy theorist by nature, but after the debacle that was last year it is hard to ignore how many borderline calls go against the Knights and are ignored with their opponents. This makes a HUGE difference when the VGK are limited in how many man-advantage opportunities they get vs. what the opponents are getting. I have never in my 30+ years of watching hockey seen such a clearly defined discrepancy.
And not only does he leave the team short handed but given he is one of the top D on the PK, makes matters worse.