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New Power Play Setup Paying Dividends For Golden Knights’ Top Unit

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

21.7%. That’s the Golden Knights’ power play percentage this season, the 13th best rate in the NHL. It’s just 0.3% off the franchise high-water mark which was set in the 71-game 2019-20 season.

We may not quite be at the point to say the Vegas power play has completely turned it around, but there’s no question it can be scratched off the weaknesses tab, where it has been atop the list for quite some time.

The Golden Knights have scored at least one power play goal in seven of the last ten games, including three in a row, and they have outscored their opponents on special teams in six of the last ten.

I think there’s some chemistry developing. In the middle of the power play they are able to adjust better to what the other team is doing than they were last year, or more willing. More willing to move around and play different positions on the power play but still maintaining the structure of the 1-3-1. -Bruce Cassidy

Movement has been something missing for an awfully long tme and it appears the new setup the Golden Knights rolled out during the Eastern road swing has seemed to unlock it.

With Chandler Stephenson out of the lineup for two games to start off that trip, the Golden Knights were forced to bump William Karlsson up to the first unit. In doing so, they opted to shift Mark Stone to the bumper role and swap sides of the ice with Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel.

So, rather than…

Stone
Eichel-Stephenson-Marchessault
Pietrangelo

The Golden Knights are now using…

Karlsson
Marchessault-Stone-Eichel
Pietrangelo

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Eichel Sandbags With Spittin’ Chiclets Crew

(Photo Credit: Spittin’ Chiclets)

Yesterday, the boys at Spittin’ Chiclets released footage of their 19th edition of the Sandbagger Invitational from Granite Links golf course in Quincy, MA. The summer round of golf featured Vegas’ Jack Eichel and Calgary’s Noah Hanifin.

While the round of golf was recorded months ago, the fans got an exclusive look into a day at the course with the two current NHL’ers and SC stars Paul Bissonette, Ryan Whitney, and Rear Admiral. It’s incredibly entertaining but make sure to keep the kiddos away, there were more f-bombs on the course than a two-hour SinBin podcast.

From the first tee box, Eichel and Hanifin were struggling to keep up. The Chiclets pair took a two-hole lead after Eichel missed a crucial five-foot putt. It was around then that nips of Pink Whitney were passed around to all four golfers.

The greens are a little faster than I thought, huh? We’re at a public track. I didn’t know we were playing Augusta. – Jack Eichel

It wasn’t until the fourth hole that the tournament began to tighten, and it all began with a superb tee shot by the Golden Knights’ alternate captain.

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Golden Knights In Need Of New Alternate Captain

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Reilly Smith served as an alternate in all 22 playoff games and each of the 78 regular season games he suited up last season. His time as an alternate dates back as far as the Golden Knights’ very first home game on October 10th, 2017 against Arizona (“and we beat the shit out of them”) and he’s worn the “A” more than 300 times while donning steel grey and gold.

But, with Smith set to wear a different shade of gold next season in Pittsburgh, Vegas will need a permanent replacement.

Last year, Alex Pietrangelo and Smith were the alternates for just about every game each participated in. Pietrangelo will likely continue to serve as an alternate as he plays into year four of his seven-year contract with the Golden Knights. The other spot is up for grabs.

There are a host of candidates who could potentially take over for Smith.

William Karlsson

Wild Bill leads the list because he served as the alternate to the alternates in the only game missed by Pietrangelo or Smith in the postseason. Game 5 against the Edmonton Oilers saw Pietrangelo sidelined serving his one-game suspension for slashing Leon Draisaitl. Wearing the “A,” Karlsson posted a sweet assist to Smith for the go-ahead goal in the 2nd period and led the team with 24 shifts on that night.

As an original Misfit, Karlsson makes perfect sense to take over for Smith. He’s played more than 500 games as a Golden Knight, rarely missing a game, and is a perfect example of how Cassidy likes his forwards to play. Plus, after the “You Guys Were Greater” speech, it’s hard to argue he’s not a natural leader.

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VGK’s Top 6 Stanley Cup Playoff Assists

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

Yesterday, we went through the Golden Knights Top 6 goals of the postseason, today it’s time to pick some apples. We took a different approach when selecting six elite playoff assists. Many were picked because of their pure beauty not their impact. Others were a blended mix of spotlight skill and the game situation. So, let’s start dishing.

6. Stephenson and Howden Assist Stone’s Second Goal of Game 2 vs. Winnipeg

After a disappointing Game 1 loss to open the postseason, Vegas’ captain knew he needed to steer the ship. Mark Stone did just that in Game 2 of the opening round vs. Winnipeg. In the final period, Stone assisted on Chandler Stephenson’s tiebreaker and wrapped the game up with two goals. Brett Howden started the rush from the defensive zone and flipped it over to Stephenson on the wing, who found Stone for a perfect tap-in down low. Each forward touched the puck and it resulted in a point for the home team. Even though it’s a different sport, coach Norman Dale would’ve been proud.

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VGK’s Top 6 Stanley Cup Playoff Goals

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

It’s been more than a month since the Golden Knights raised the organization’s first Stanley Cup. It’s been an incredible summer in Las Vegas while the championship parties roll on in VGK players’ hometowns. So, let’s stretch the fun out a little longer with a series of Top 6 moments of the Golden Knights’ thrilling Stanley Cup winning run. Of course, we chose six over five because of The Creator‘s sixth-season championship proclamation.

6. Michael Amadio’s Game 3 Double-Overtime Winner vs Winnipeg:

After blowing a 4-1 lead the Golden Knights were forced to fight off the tenacious Jets in sudden death. After several hit posts in the first overtime, Vegas woke up and took care of Winnipeg three and a half minutes into double OT. The series was essentially done after Amadio’s dart.

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How The Golden Knights Successfully Slowed Down Edmonton’s Zone Entries In Game 1

How do you slow down Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Edmonton Oilers? That’s the million-dollar question coaches have been asking themselves since the two paired up seven years ago. As the Oilers roster has been built up with even more speed around them the answers have been fewer and further between.

Last night though for good stretches of Game 1, the Golden Knights drew up a successful blueprint. After 40 minutes, Vegas had limited the best offense in the NHL to just one high-danger chance at 5-on-5. Then, down the stretch, Edmonton could not consistently gain entry to the offensive zone and it led to a panicky goalie pull and a too-many-men penalty that helped seal victory for the Golden Knights.

So, how did they do it?

It all comes down to gap control. The Golden Knights are well-equipped on the back end with six defensemen fully capable of stopping anyone in the league if they are placed in a good position to do so. It’s getting in that position that’s tricky.

The first, and simplest, way to gain good defensive position against a speedy Oilers team is to just not let them have the puck.

We spent a lot of time in their end with O-Zone puck possession. That allows our D to rest a little and be able to hold their gap. It also forces their forwards to go check in their own end so now they are below the tops of the circles on the breakout which also allows us to hold our gap. -Bruce Cassidy

Yes, it really can be that easy. Spend time in their offensive zone, make them defend, and when the puck comes out of the zone, they’ll be more focused on getting off the ice as opposed to attacking.

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

In the 1st period, especially after the Oilers scored their first power play goal, all four Golden Knights lines spent the majority of their shifts hemming Edmonton into their own zone. This continued in the 2nd when the Oilers managed just three scoring chances in 14 minutes of even-strength play.

Of course, spending the entirety of the game in the opposition’s defensive zone is not possible, so eventually, the puck will come out and that’s when the next part of the blueprint comes in.

Reloads.

It’s a term Bruce Cassidy spent so much time talking about this year that I made a video to explain exactly what he means. You can watch it here.

In Game 1, Vegas’ reloads were excellent at not only keeping the puck in the O-Zone longer but also forcing the Oilers to navigate more traffic when trying to carry it through the neutral zone.

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Golden Knights Even The Series Down The Middle In Game 2

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights received three season-changing goals from centers William Karlsson, Jack Eichel, and Chandler Stephenson. All three tallies fueled Vegas’ 5-2 Game 2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. With the assistance of an emotional Mark Stone, the Golden Knights split the series and get back on track before Games 3 and 4 in Winnipeg.

If you look at the scoresheet our best guys were all over the sheet, their guys were all over the sheet the other night… Their top guys had an easier night the other night and now it was a little tough on them. That’s the way it goes in the playoffs. I’m sure they’ll have that mindset up in Winnipeg in Game 3 that they’ll want to be hard on Stone and Stephenson. -Bruce Cassidy

Karlsson’s game-tying goal 5:54 into the 2nd period immediately changed the flow of the game. The Jets felt confident after a strong 1st period, but the two-way center’s goal mellowed their vibe and gave life to VGK’s bench and fans. At that moment, the visitors knew they would be dealing with a different team than the one they faced in Game 1.

It got their fans back in it. Gave them something to cheer about. I think we controlled the first, they controlled the second. A couple of bounces here and there, it was a tight game. Give them credit they played better than they did Game 1. They were a little more aggressive, I think our execution could be better. I don’t think we played poorly by any means. -Adam Lowry, Jets forward

Given the severity of traveling up to Manitoba down two games, Eichel, Karlsson, Stephenson, and Stone finished off Game 2 like it was a must-win.

We weren’t happy with the last game. We wanted to be better going into this game. We focused on that part, and we contributed. We felt more confident. -William Karlsson

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