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Cody Eakin Explains What He Was Thinking As He “Shoved” Joe Pavelski In Game 7

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s over, it’s done with, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it now. But the fact of the matter is that #NotAMajor will forever be a part of the Vegas Golden Knights’ story, and with that means any time anyone of significance talks about, it’s news.

Recently, Cody Eakin sat down with Gary Lawless as part of the SLGND Podcast’s offseason “Interview Series.” The interview as a whole is fascinating, but the portion about the penalty in Game 7 was particularly interesting. Eakin explained exactly what he was thinking as the entire play went down.

Draws are the game within the game. When you can start with the puck it’s easier to have the puck and play with it than to chase it. So when you lose a draw you want to make sure you aren’t losing it easily and cleanly and I kind of lost it cleanly. So I was going to make sure and give him a shove and let him know the next one isn’t going to be as easy to win. -Eakin

You can see exactly what he’s thinking as he described it as you watch the play. The draw is lost clean, so he goes out of his way to give Joe Pavelski a shove.

Over the course of the past few months, the play has kind of morphed in the mids of fans from “that’s not a major,” to “that’s not a penalty” to “he did nothing wrong.” Well, it’s hard to hear what Eakin said, see the play, and not believe he did something wrong.

I would consider it a shove, a cross-check has more intent to injure, you’re looking to leave a bruise, to hurt someone kind of. That’s why you get a penalty for it. I would call it a shove and after that, it was just unfortunate. -Eakin

Clearly, Eakin’s intent was not to cause the result Pavelski endured, however, he did mean to hurt him.

It’s a moment of truth from Eakin that shows just how tense playoff games really are. Eakin went on to explain how he was focused on getting out to the point as both Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson were on the ice.

Personally, I still can’t blame Eakin for the outcome of Game 7, I’ll still point at the horrendous refereeing and the abysmal penalty killing. However, I do feel like I have a clearer picture of what happened that fateful night.

How Important Were Faceoffs To The 2018-19 Golden Knights?

The importance of winning the faceoff battle has been a three-year reoccurring argument here at SinBin.vegas. In my opinion, it’s all about possession. When a center wins a draw his team has immediate control and should safely get the puck out of their zone. Or create an offensive push towards the opponent’s direction. Whoever wins the possession battle, should dictate the game.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Faceoffs are probably one of the most underrated stats in this league. If you can start off with the puck, your much better off. And you’ll have better scoring chances. – Nate Schmidt

On the other side of the discussion is Europa Ken.

He’s not concerned with a lost draw if Vegas’ forecheck, shooting percentage, and rebound control are positively effective. For the most I agree, but remember a forechecking attack begins with the puck, and there’s a good chance it was possessed by a winning faceoff.

2018-19 Golden Knights Faceoff Percentage Breakdown

  • Record when winning 51% or more Faceoffs: (20-11-2)
  • Record when losing 51% or more Faceoffs: (14-16-3)
  • Record when Faceoff % is 50/50: (9-5-2)

While it’s clear the Golden Knights have a better record when they win more faceoffs, the formula isn’t as simple as you’d think. At first glance the numbers support my argument, but looking deeper, the higher the FO% didn’t guarantee a Vegas victory. In five separate games, Golden Knights’ centers won 60% or more from the dot. Their record was (1-4). Even furthering the madness, Vegas was (2-2) in games they lost more than 60% of draws.

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Cody Eakin Sustainability Study

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights center Cody Eakin had quite the year for Vegas. In his 8th season the 28-year-old Manitoban added career highs in Goals (22), Goals Created (17), Points (41), Points Per Game (.53), Plus/Minus (+19), Shooting % (18.3), and Point Shares (5.2). Vegas benefited greatly by Eakin’s substantial offensive upgrade from 2017–18.

Plain and simple, everyone is quietly asking the same question; Can Eakin do it again next season?

Eakin’s first standout season was in 2013-14 as a member of the Dallas Stars. He totaled 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) averaging 17:20 minutes of ice time per game. Eakin’s strong campaign carried over to the following season with Dallas.

In 2014-15, Eakin again performed up to his abilities, even sprinkling in a few more points. The center collected 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) averaging 17:12 TOI. Eakin added another 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 2015-16, tallying a total of 110 points (51 goals, 59 assists) in three consecutive seasons. Consistent numbers for a middle six center. And by the way I never mentioned his reliability killing a penalty.

After a couple of dim seasons offensively in 2016-17 with Dallas, and 2017-18 with Vegas, Eakin cracked 40 points for the second time in his career. So, the answer is yes. Yes, Cody Eakin can repeat his success from last season, but will he?

One mindless and obvious element to my prediction is that Eakin is playing for his next contract. After the 2019-2020 season, the veteran will become an unrestricted free agent and his $3.85M cap hit will come off the books. Players tend to perform well in contract years (see pretty much ever VGK player in 2017-18), and I expect the same from #21.

Taking a look at next season’s roster, we’ll have to assume Eakin will be playing with two highly skilled offensive players. Nikita Gusev or Erik Haula could join Alex Tuch and form one of the deepest third lines in hockey centered by Eakin. No matter what the combination ends up being, it’ll be the most talent he’s anchored in Vegas. Which is why it’s hard to believe Eakin wouldn’t repeat his success from last season.

Then again he could get bumped to the fourth line, or even more drastic, get traded. In that case burn my prediction and this article altogether.

(See, we can write a whole article about Cody Eakin without referencing a certain penalty. I knew we could do it!)

Cody Eakin Talks About What He Went Through Following The Major That Wasn’t

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It took nearly two full days, but finally, it was time.

Moments before heading into his final meeting with the media, Gerard Gallant spoke to Cody Eakin for the first time following the penalty that changed the series against the San Jose Sharks.

We left him alone. To be totally honest with you, I talked to him five minutes ago in the lunchroom and I said, ‘Cody’ and he said ‘Turk, I’m fine.’ -Gallant

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Eakin was given a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct, therefore ending the night for him, and eventually sinking the Golden Knights season. The NHL has since admitted the call was incorrect by informing, separately, George McPhee and The Creator via phone. They’ve pulled the referees who made the call from the playoffs, ending their seasons as well, and the process of changing the rules on how a penalty like that will be handled in the future are already underway.

He said ‘I know I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m fine.’ He said ‘I can move on and go from that.’ So, you know, you felt bad for Cody but he’s fine and he’s ready to go. And again, nobody is blaming Cody Eakin, obviously. -Gallant

And while no one is blaming Eakin, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to live through what can only be described as one of the worst nightmares the sport of hockey has ever dolled out to an individual player.

Actually when they called me out of the box I thought, okay they reviewed it and realized it wasn’t a penalty and I was going back to the bench, but they said no you are gone.

They said get off the ice and that’s pretty much all that was said. There were no arguments or disagreements because really at the time I wasn’t quite sure what happened. I saw him on the ice but I know I didn’t cross-check him in the face or make him bleed personally. It was just accidental, so when he was on the ice bleeding I was kinda shocked I said what the heck just happened. -Eakin

That was pretty much the response of everyone on the in the arena, including the officials. What the heck just happened?

The only thing everyone knew was the San Jose Sharks Captain was laying on the ice, out cold, bleeding from the head and his only participation in the play was a face-off. He must have been seriously injured by Eakin, it’s the only thing that makes sense with this outcome, or at least that’s what the referees thought.

Everyone now knows that’s not what happened. But the referees went off script, didn’t follow the protocol laid out in the NHL Rulebook, made up a penalty they thought must have happened. It changed a series, the future of two franchises, and the night (and probably life) of Cody Eakin.

So I went right to the room where the extra guys were watching it. I watched the replay and figured out pretty quickly exactly what happened. I watched it about 20 times and then went to the locker room, sat there, and watched the rest of the game. -Eakin

What happened was a standard cross-check following a faceoff, which happens on just about every faceoff in the NHL. The result caused a player to lose his balance and incidental contact with Paul Stastny caused Joe Pavelski to fall dangerously onto the ice and hit his head. It’s not a major penalty, it’s probably not even a minor, it’s more so an unfortunate play in an intense Game 7 that is taking place on a surface made of ice, which at times can be slippery.

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Locker Room Clean-Out Day Highlights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the final media availability of the season nearly every Golden Knights player spoke to the media. We also had extended press conferences with The Creator, George McPhee, and Gerard Gallant.

Of course, there will probably be 50 stories on this site based off many of the comments on this day, but we wanted to share some of the highlights from the day.

(If you would like to listen to every second of the nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes of locker room interviews that we participated in, go here or to our podcast feed.)

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Game 7 Mentality For Game 6 Reality

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Although it’s not an elimination game for Vegas, many players are mentally preparing as if tonight’s contest is a series-deciding Game 7.

We’ve got to play like it’s our last one.-Cody Eakin

Yesterday, several Golden Knights expressed having a Game 7 mindset. Jonathan Marchessault has been a part of every clinching game in franchise history. The forward knows how crucial it is advancing in less than seven games. Something Vegas never faced during last season’s Cup chase.

This has to be the biggest game of the series. We need to close it out. It’s hard to do but we need to want it more than them. -Jonathan Marchessault

Golden Knights veteran Max Pacioretty has played in a handful of deep series over his eleven-year career. His focus for tonight’s game is the same as if it were an elimination game.

There’s really no excuse when you come home and you have a day off, and then a practice day the next day. No matter what, you should feel one hundred percent. You get a day off you really need to use it to your advantage. Sure, both teams have it but at the same time we feel that being at home in front of our crowd… we’ve found ways to get them to be the difference maker in home games. -Max Pacioretty

Eakin is only concerned about winning because he’s aware of the edge San Jose would gain if they were to force a Game 7.

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Aren’t You Glad Cody Eakin Stayed In Vegas?

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

The Golden Knights are currently holding voting for their Seventh Player Award which goes to the player who exceeded expectations.

Fans can go online to the team’s website and cast their vote for one of four finalists.

Considering some of those who will be voting wanted him gone before the season began, can there be a better choice than Cody Eakin?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The 27-year-old center from Winnipeg is having the best season of his NHL career. Going into tonight’s game against Colorado in Denver, Eakin has 20 goals, 18 assists, and 38 points playing primarily on the third line for Gerard Gallant. He is a superb penalty killer, arguably Vegas’ best faceoff man and is extremely responsible in his own end of the ice. He is the quintessential “200-foot player” Gallant always talks about.

Eakin is one of four nominees, along with defenseman Jon Merrill, and forwards Ryan Reaves and Brandon Pirri. I can make a strong case for Merrill too as he was another Knight that many thought didn’t deserve to wear the steel grey and black sweater. But Merrill is also having a career year and has had a terrific second half of the season on the VGK blue line after struggling early in the season when he was getting more ice time while Nate Schmidt served his 20-game suspension.

Reaves has also performed admirably. He leads the NHL in hits and has nine goals, the most of his career. You can certainly make a case for Reaves.

Pirri got called up, was hot early but has tailed off the last month or so.

The popularity contest the team is running aside, Eakin has not only been one of the most improved players on the Golden Knights, you can make a case he has been the team’s Most Valuable Player, though it would be hard not to look at Marc-Andre Fleury as the MVP given what he has done this season.

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Gallant Happy With Third Line; “Want Them To Keep Doing What They Are Doing”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the buzz around the Golden Knights is almost squarely focused on the third line. It’s a line with only one stable piece, the center, Cody Eakin, and filled with imperfect wingers such as Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, Tomas Nosek, Ryan Carpenter, and Oscar Lindberg.

Most, including all three who write on this website, believe for the Golden Knights to reach the top of the mountain, something needs to change with that line. Whether it’s an addition from within, a piece added at the deadline, or reinforcements from the current top six, here at SinBin.vegas, we see the third line as the primary weakness for the Golden Knights.

The head coach, who happens to be the reigning Jack Adams award winner, does not agree.

I want them to keep doing what they are doing. People make a big deal of it that supposedly they don’t score enough. I don’t. We’ve got guys who can put the puck in the back of the net. Those guys have to come out and play their roles. I love a lot about our hockey team, I’m not too concerned at all. -Gerard Gallant

Gallant, speaking on the VGK Insider Show with Frank Harnish and Ryan The Hockey Guy on Fox Sports 98.9 FM, says he thinks his team is just fine offensively, even with the third line as currently constructed.

Well you know what, I think people overreact a little bit saying ‘oh this line needs to be better’ or ‘you’ve got to make that line better.’

I’m not worried about scoring. I know we’ve got the scoring in there. I’m worried about team chemistry and making sure we’ve got the right players playing at the right time. -Gallant

In fact, he went on to make an even bolder statement, declaring this year’s team as good as last year’s.

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Pothier: Stastny Should Return To Second Line Immediately

It still may be a couple weeks, but it’s starting to look like Stastny is getting ready to return. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the promising news we uncovered yesterday about Paul Stastny, the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is the same. When he comes back, where does reigning Jack Adams award winning coach Gerard Gallant place him in the lineup when he’s ready to come back?

It’s an age-old question in sports, should a player lose his position because of an injury? Keeping in mind how well his replacement is playing, in most cases, the answer is no.

Injured center Paul Stastny was signed in the offseason to anchor a brand new second line, yet they haven’t played one shift together. Alex Tuch was to graduate to the top-six and play alongside Americans Stastny and Max Pacioretty. The three could’ve been dubbed the “Freedom” line, but unfortunately, injuries got in the way.

The Golden Knights stand at 29 points, and in the middle of the mess that is known as the Pacific Division. Since Stastny’s injury in Game 3 of the season, the team has played roughly .500 (13-12–1) hockey without him. However, the second line has been extremely effective as of late. Since bumping third line center Cody Eakin up in early November due to Erik Haula’s lower-body injury, the Eakin-Tuch-Pacioretty line has 35 points. The second line was arguably one of the biggest factors in Vegas’ late November five-game win streak.

Tough to break-up, I get it.

Eakin’s strong play brings us back to the organization’s vision for this season. He was expected to center the third line again, and make it more consistent than it was last season. That was GM George McPhee’s plan. And so was upgrading their second line center with a talented veteran like Stastny. Injuries essentially delayed the offseason remodel.

Bottom line is, Stastny is valued by this team as their second line center. They paid him as such, and made a high-risk move trading for Pacioretty to compliment his play. The connecting moves were projected to juice up team offense, and still could once Stastny is cleared to play. This was the team’s vision. They told us.

We wanted to try improve our team. That’s why we signed Paul Stastny as a free agent. Why trading for Max Pacioretty was really important for us. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant GM, on 11/19/18

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The Second Line That Saved Christmas

It took a little while to get going, but Alex Tuch, Max Pacioretty, and Cody Eakin are on fire now. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the holiday season began, Vegas Golden Knights fans didn’t have much to be thankful for, or so it seemed.

On Halloween, things were starting to get scary. Vegas was 5-6-1, with only 11 points and five spots out of the playoffs. Early season trends were beginning to look like the worst could come true. Remember the panic on November 1st?

NHL teams four or more points out of a playoff spot by 11/01, have roughly an 18% chance of making the postseason. Since 2005-06, 47 of 58 teams that were 4+ points out of the postseason spot by November 1st, missed the playoffs. That’s a whopping 82% of teams that their fate was determined by the beginning of November. –SinBin.vegas article on 11/05/18

And then came the East Coast trip that brutalized the Golden Knights. Vegas lost three of four on the road and came back home in seventh place in the division. Ken was losing his mind, many fans were on board with him, and legitimate concern was starting to creep in that maybe this team just isn’t that good.

Things looked bleak. Up until the second line began to warm up.

November 14: Vegas 5-0 vs Anaheim

  • Second line w/ 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists)
  • Eakin: Even-strength goal, Shorthanded goal
  • Tuch scores 1st Period Game-winning PP goal
  • Pacioretty assists Tuch’s GWG

November 18: Vegas 6-3 at Edmonton

  • Second line w/ 3 points (2 goals, 1 Assist)
  • Eakin scored shorthanded goal
  • Pacioretty with second period Go-ahead goal
  • Tuch assists Pacioretty’s Go-ahead goal

November 19: Vegas 3-2 @ Arizona

  • Second line w/ 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
  • Pacioretty scored 2nd Period Go-ahead goal, and OT winner
  • Tuch and Eakin assist Pacioretty’s Go-ahead goal

November 23: Vegas 2-0 vs. Calgary

  • Second line w/ 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)
  • Tuch scored 1st Period Game-wining goal
  • Eakin and Pacioretty assist on Tuch’s GWG

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