The Golden Knights are regarded as one of the better teams in the league. They’ve been described as elite, highly-skilled and loaded. Vegas backs that up with the third best points percentage (.786) in the NHL. However, there is one glaringly obvious area the first place Golden Knights will need to improve.
Since the start of the shortened 2019-20 season, the Golden Knights are 19th in the league with 40 5-on-4 goals. When coach Pete DeBoer took over on January 16th, 2020, Vegas dropped even lower to 28th. In that timespan the Golden Knights squeaked out an underwhelming 12 5-on-4 goals in 79 opportunities.
The 2021 Golden Knights have only scored three times on the power play, the second least in the league. One on a two-man advantage, and two on a 5-on-4. Overall, Vegas’ power play efficiency is 11.5% good for 28th in the NHL.
2021 VGK Man-Advantage Breakdown
27 Man Advantage Opportunities
Power Play Goals (3)
5-on-4 Goals (2)
5-on-3 Goals (1)
6-on-5 Goals (1)
On the other hand, signs show that Vegas’ deficiencies won’t hurt them in the long run. Under DeBoer, the Golden Knights have the third-highest points percentage (.741) behind only Boston (.774) and Philadelphia (.750). Impressively enough, Their inability to score in 5-on-4 situations rarely cost them regular season points.
Sure, these low man-advantage statistics look dreadful but the numbers also show how dangerous the Golden Knights are at even-strength. Since early 2020, Vegas has scored 68 EV goals, which makes up for 69% of their offense under DeBoer. The coach has to be happy with his club’s 5-on-5 play, but I’m sure he’s not pleased about their 5-on-4 approach. Especially, when you look back to the 2020 playoffs.
2020 Postseason 5-on-4 Comparison
15 game minimum (7 teams)
VGK: 4th in Most Games Played
VGK: 5th with Most Goals Scored
VGK: 5th in 5-on-4 Goals
VGK: 6th in 5-on-4 Opportunities
VGK: 5th in 5-on-4 Efficiency
VGK: 1st in 6-on-4 Goals
Vegas’ below average numbers in the Western Conference Finals undoubtedly hurt them. In Game 1, the Dallas Stars won 1-0 overcoming four Golden Knights power plays. If Vegas breaks through on one 5-on-4 they might’ve extended or even won the series. Now just imagine if Vegas scored more than 3 goals on 22 man-advantages in the WCF. It’s almost certain we’re talking about a different outcome.
If the Golden Knights can take anything out of their COVID protocol stoppage it would be to accept their power play struggles. Almost use the postponement as a way to reset their 5-on-4 strategy. It’s okay, Vegas has never been great at it and hasn’t hurt them yet this season. The good news, there are 49 games remaining on the Golden Knights schedule. With that much time, their man-up production should improve or it’ll be addressed by the front office.
Did I mention Vegas is one of the NHL’s best 5-on-5 teams?