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Special Teams Not Yet A Strength For Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the NHL, a widely used benchmark to measure a franchise’s overall special teams success is the 100% rule. If the success rate of the power play plus the penalty kill adds up to 100% or more, the team is considered to have strong special teams.

After six games in 2022-23, the Golden Knights are currently operating at 86.2%, the 5th worst in the league so far. The power play has scored on four of 23 chances for a success rate of 17.4% while the penalty kill has conceded on five of 16 for a 68.8% PK.

In each of the two losses, the Golden Knights were outscored on special teams leading to the difference in the final score of the game.

Obviously, with the new coach and the small sample size, this is not something to be overly concerned about at this point in the season, but there’s no question it must improve as the year progresses.

We’re definitely not quite where we want to be but we’re trending (in the right direction) I think. -Mark Stone

Our penalty kill has had pockets of really good kills and there are times, including the two losses, where we get outscored, but I don’t want to necessarily blame them. -Bruce Cassidy

The Golden Knights currently rank 27th in the league in penalty kill, and it could be worse if not for a close goalie interference call that erased a goal in Calgary.

Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, and Zach Whitecloud have been VGK’s primary defensemen on the penalty kill. As for the forwards, it’s been a bit more of a mixed bag aside from William Karlsson and Reilly Smith consistently leading the way.

Before the season, Cassidy made it clear that one of his objectives was to utilize his bottom-six players a bit more in the penalty kill to lighten the load on the top-six while also allowing a strong fresh line to hop over the boards when the penalty is killed. Karlsson is currently a 3rd line player, so he qualifies, but Cassidy knows this is still an area he must focus on moving forward.

I would like to build Carrier and Kolesar more into it, but at the end of the day I’ve leaned toward Stone, Jack and Howden a little more. I’ll have to balance that at some point and I believe we will. -Cassidy

The bigger area of attention is the other special team though.

Penalty kill is hard, it’s grunt work, and when it doesn’t go your way you’d like to match it on the power play. -Cassidy

After scoring three PP goals in the first three games, the Golden Knights have added just one in the following three. Along the way, Cassidy made a few changes to the makeup of the units, including a switch of Smith for Marchessault on the first unit. The most significant changes have been seeing Eichel swap from the left to right half-wall and Stone and Stephenson trading places to now see the captain in the bumper.

We’re trying to get guys to take pride in a spot. Whereever I go I’m going to try and help the team win. I think the middle guy, if you take pride in doing it, you’ll get some really quality chances. -Stone

It certainly looked better against Colorado than Calgary. However, the Avs are currently ranked 31st on the PK while the Flames are 9th.

For the head coach, he still wants to see quicker puck movement and a better understanding of how to sort through pressure. Also, he’d like to see an old habit from the last regime worked out as well.

A couple of shots from up top got blocked and we didn’t recover them. If you are going to put those wristers through, you’ve got to make sure you go and recover them. -Cassidy

In the end, the new left half-wall player probably said it simply and best.

A good power play comes down to small execution. -Marchessault

It hasn’t been good enough yet, but there’s still plenty of time to turn it around.






  1. They better get help from the bottom six or the top six will be wasted by the stretch.

  2. Jailbird

    I said we will see what we have after this month is played out. Few games to go yet. Need to show we can play with an eastern team tonight . Go get the boys!

  3. Vic

    Was hoping the new coach would mean a new look on the PP, but that’s not the case. Still losing too many faceoffs, still having a hard time crossing the blue line, still not making enough quick/crisp passes, wide shots, and net front presence is not there. The differences really stand out when watching just about any other team’s PP. The PK is missing some former players who were good at it, but that’s life. The trick is to avoid dumb penalties, and maybe win more faceoffs. We have reached a point in the young season where (like last year), I wish we could decline the penalty for the PP, and stay at 5 on 5 as it seems to break the VGK’s rhythm. Unfortunately, these special teams issues are what makes a good team mediocre. Matthews tonight…oh boy.

    • THE hockey GOD

      so it is logical to say that PDB and Steve Spott are now off the hook (George Costanza “it’s not you, it’s me!”) .

      Note Dallas stars have no. 3 PP% in NHL right now, and no. 5/6 PK%.

      So much for all the “sophisticated” fans calling for “see spot, see spot run, run spot run” head ?!?


      • Blitz

        The power play has changed a couple of times already this year to try and make up for VGK’s lack of any real ability. So that is different at least. Peter would still be doing the same thing hoping for different results. The stars have PP ability and will not fall off until Peter’s 3 year there. I feel like you have got to watch this trend happen over and over for years and still don’t understand the Peter model.

        • THE hockey GOD

          “The power play has changed a couple of times already this year to try and make up for VGK’s lack of any real ability” so it has nothing to with coach.

          PP goal tonight !

      • Vic

        Never liked PDB mainly due to his Sharks tenure. The team he has now has a few players who can score and a goalie playing out of his mind. Good for him and his special teams.

  4. Tim

    Sorry this small sample size is nonsense. Theseskids have been playing hockey since they were 5 years old. They come to Vegas under a new coach have a pre-season and you tell me it’s a work in progress. Hears my take if your an athlete and supposedly that’s what we have playing the game should be second nature. If you haven’t got it by now you never will. We’ve been on streaks of 33 missed PP chances which is absurd but there we are. Calgary two PP . Colorado two PP we lose by one to both. Don’t they say you can’t win scoring two goals well there we are. Let’s get real three of our four wins we against rebuilding teams. Winnipeg was a nice win and then two losses to better teams. Toronto will be interesting tonight another loss and lack of production then you can put us in the were fucked column. We haven far to many penalties to be a contender. Like I said before that Calgary fiasco with one penalty after another was laughable. I coached baseball all my life and don’t know much about hockey but I can tell you there would be hell to pay for habitual offenders. In my world they’d join the pine brothers until they got there shit straight. If you don’t know what the pine brothers are it’s the bench. McNabb is a big offender and icing on the cake he let that guy waltz in which cost us at least a tie. He would be my first Pine Brother example.

    • THE hockey GOD

      “Theseskids have been playing hockey since they were 5 years old.” that statement applies to every team
      in the
      NHL !

  5. I do not want to see Eichel & Kessel back out there on the penalty kill – ever.

    • THE hockey GOD

      I’d like to see no. 9 give no. 8 a feed for PP goal.

      PS you have no say in the matter, none, nada, niente, zilch, zero. nothing. etc . So three. Quit your whining. Have a cookie.

  6. I hate to be Negative Nancy, but by now you guys are used to it. This team is in trouble and isn’t near as good as the early season record indicates. Ken has already pointed this out, but our scoring is coming off the rush. Our 5 on 5 isn’t working too well in the OZ. Decision making hasn’t been good or smooth and that is leading to bad passes & turnovers. I am not sure how any good hockey player at this level ices the puck on the power play, yet that is exactly what happened in the last game.

    The only real bright spots so far this season is the record and goaltending. Sure, we have seen them play well for some stretches in games but not nearly consistent enough. We have yet to see them play a full 60 minutes of professional hockey. The most has been about 30-35 minutes and that isn’t going to be good enough to make the playoffs.

    I do really think that all of the tinkering with the roster and the lines is a major factor in the lack of identity and chemistry. Cassidy needs to get more consistent in line assignments and give the players time to build that chemistry and form an identity.

    I hate it that he has Kessel on that top line. I am not saying he is a horrible player, but there were other options available for that roster spot.

    Oh, yeah- I admit I was wrong on McIdiot giving Eichel his contract. But, I am not wrong on McCrimmon being an idiot as a GM. This is his final year. He will be gone after this season. I do like Cassidy and I hope the next GM keeps him on.

    That Nichuskin goal was almost a coast to coast and made McNabb look silly. This team needs to be more aware of who they are playing and play a lot more conservatively on defense.

    Tonight is another big test.

    Prove my analysis wrong.
    I hope I am.

    • B-Rad-Lee

      They could have traded Eichel before the deadline before his NMC came into effect.

    • THE hockey GOD

      you need more than a cookie
      you need one of those Costco sized boxes of oreos

      have a Costco sized box of oreo cookies.

  7. knights fan in minny

    according to vegas hockey now the misfits are back together i hope they explode

    • THE hockey GOD

      they didn’t look too good in prior game, I think they
      only had two or three shifts. Didn’t do much.

      As matter of fact, correct me if I am wrong, no.81 had a very back line change
      on the go ahead goal by that hot russian player on AVs.

  8. Blitz

    Looks like LT again tonight. If LT is going to get all the top shelf opponents and Hill all the cup cakes, at what point do we start talking shit about LT’s record and how great Hill is. LOL I am saying all this jokingly, but if this team can’t beat good teams LT is in for a rough time. Part of the grand plan from McK to send him down when LB comes back without all the fans bitching. “See look at his record, clearly not ready for the big time”. :)

    War Logan! War VGK! Let’s beat a non-bottom dweller team!

  9. Neal

    You don’t have to go far in this league if you want to read comments from some of the most idiotic and undereducated hockey fans on the planet. Some of the comments on here, actually most of them are jut plain stupidity.

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