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
Another reason why the heavy shot load strategy works is the imbalance of taken/allowed shots. Not only does Vegas lead the league in shots per game, but they’re tied with the second least amount of shots allowed per game. While the Golden Knights are averaging 34.5, they’re only facing 29.3 shots per game. Resulting in five extra chances for Vegas, which could very well decide the game.
The approach seems straightforward; shoot more, face fewer. However, sometimes playing simple works best in a difficult game or series. Coaches and players tend to overcomplicate the game when it’s not going there way.
I’ll leave you with the perfect quote for when the team isn’t playing at their best. It’s a simple message that you’ll occasionally hear from a cheeky Golden Knights veteran forward.
“We can’t be too cute out there.”-Reilly Smith