It was called a dirty play, an unnecessary hit, and not very smart. That is how the St. Louis Blues viewed Mark Stone’s 2nd period open-ice check on Tyler Bozak. Stone was forced into a fight, meanwhile, Bozak didn’t return to the game.
Questionable. We’ll look at him tomorrow.- Craig Berube, Blues coach
Stone was given a two-minute interference penalty for the mid-ice collision and the Blues were awarded their third power play of the night. After the penalty expired, Vegas’ captain dropped gloves with St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk. It was an uneventful fight but it looked as if both parties were satisfied. St. Louis sent their message, Stone complied.
We got into kind of a battle in the corner and his elbow came up on me. Then we just jostled coming up the ice and I slammed on the brakes to get in his way. I didn’t expect to fight afterwards. He came after me and we fought. -Mark Stone
It seemed the bad blood was left on the ice, until Stone’s check was brought up several times after the game by St. Louis coach Craig Berube and his players. It’s possible the Blues were letting off some steam fresh from watching the replay, and learning their teammate was questionable to play next game. Either way, it was clear none of them liked it.
We’ve broken down two out of the three round-robin teams (Colorado and Dallas) the Golden Knights will be facing, so let’s finish it off with the St. Louis Blues.
vs. St. Louis: (2-1) 4-2 L, 5-4 W OT, 6-5 W OT
Let’s start with this, all three games between Vegas and St. Louis were highly entertaining. It’s hard to forget former Golden Knight David Perron hugging current Golden Knight Max Pacioretty’s leg, which then led to seven different roughing penalties. Vegas was fortunate to win the two OT games because of two improbable comebacks. In both victories, the Golden Knights trailed the Blues after two periods of play. They will need some of that never-give-up mentality in the round-robin, especially with Jordan Binnington in net. However, it’s unlikely St. Louis will blow many more three-goal leads.
Areas of Adjustment
Keep your heads on straight
The Golden Knights will have to improve their discipline against St. Louis. Not only for the fear of the Blues strong power play, but also because St. Louis can successfully agitate teams. They pestered their way to the Stanley Cup final last season, and they clearly enjoy annoying the Golden Knights.
Against St. Louis, Vegas averaged only six minutes in penalties per game, however in their second matchup the Golden Knights spent 12 minutes in the box. Granted many were matching penalties but when the Blues power play hit the ice they took advantage. St. Louis scored the opening and overtime forcing goals on the power play. Take those away and Vegas probably wins the game in regulation. Vegas turned the tables on St. Louis in their third matchup, scoring four times on man-advantages including on in OT. Their four power-play goals were the most scored in one game for the Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights are the better team at even strength so if they keep from being dragged into the muck, they should be able to handle the Blues.
Contain Offensive Defensmen
It’s no secret St. Louis has elite weapons on the blue line. Three of their top five season leaders in shots were defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo led the entire team with 225 shots on net. In the three meetings with the Golden Knights, the Blues got 23 shots and 10 points from defensemen. Vegas will have to get in the way of some of those shots or make it tough altogether for St. Louis’ D-men to get one off.
The one downfall of being an NHL player is that it’s not a lifelong job. The average American retires around 65, but for the average pro hockey player it’s 33. While it’s a highly desirable job, earning high salaries, and entertaining millions, there’s still plenty of life after hockey.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie was asked which current player he thought could become a good NHL GM, and his answer was not surprising.
Sidney Crosby is a hockey junkie. He loves the game. He loves to talk about the game, he follows things closely. He has a great awareness of what’s going on. I don’t know if he’ll go into management but it won’t surprise me. If he did go in, he would be all in. He’s got a real passion for the game and that reflects in knowledge and a thirst for knowledge about all things hockey.-Bob McKenzie, TSN
So it got us thinking, which current/former Golden Knight would make a good NHL general manager?
Jason’s candidates: Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Shea Theodore
Ken’s candidates: David Perron, Nate Schmidt, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
There are many elements that go into being a successful general manager, the biggest one is accepting the harsh reality of the business side of hockey. The Islanders Lou Lamoriello is a great example of being a stone-cold executive, even Vegas’ George McPhee has an icy side. Maybe it’s education, or it comes with experience. Pacioretty felt the chill up in Montreal where he was constantly made the scapegoat. From the fans, media, to team executives, #67 had a lot on his plate. However, he still managed to score 226 goals for the Canadiens. Pacioretty accepted his high-profile role as an American captain in Montreal, and professionally handled his daily responsibilities, no matter how combative they were. In the end, he was traded by the organization he gave it all for, and it didn’t phase him. By then, he had already been schooled about the dirty business.
After one year at his local high school, Pacioretty moved on to a hockey prep school, then to the USHL, and lastly the University of Michigan before becoming an NHL player. Since the age of 15, the Connecticut native was heavily recruited and scouted, so he’s well aware of that process.
As captain, Pacioretty needed to work the room and find balance with all of his teammates. Even loud, overbearing teammates like PK Subban. Being captain allowed him insight on how the team was built. What the front office was doing right and what went wrong. With several failed seasons in Montreal, I’m sure the 31-year-old veteran took note of the poor decisions made by the organization.
His experience early on with the recruitment stage, witnessing of building up and tearing down rosters, adding in his tough skin and Pacioretty has the resume to become a future general manager. (written by Jason)
Man, I miss David Perron. Perron is one of the most intriguing players both on and off the ice.
His hockey mind is always on full display when he’s playing as he just seems to have a knack for finding holes in the offensive zone where he can hold onto the puck for a little longer than anyone else who has ever worn a VGK jersey. He sees the game at a different speed than most and I’d have to think that would translate well into scouting as well as team construction.
Off the ice is where he really made me believe he has what it takes to be a GM though. He’s one of the few players in Golden Knights history who really cared about stats and even advanced stats. He’d talk about Corsi, zone starts, through-percentage, and many other pieces of data that proved he’s a true hockey junkie.
The intelligence he displayed in breaking down complex game situations as well as his understanding of the salary cap and the business end of hockey has me believing he would be not only the most likely to become a GM, but also the best future GM of any current or former Golden Knight. (written by Ken)
Following the Golden Knights run to the Stanley Cup, they had some decisions to make. Two of their top six scorers were set to become free agents. David Perron had just put up 66 points and remains the only Golden Knights to record a 50 assist season, and James Neal scored 25 goals including instrumental ones every step of the way in the magical first season.
When the clock struck midnight, technically 9 AM on July 1st, 2018, both Perron and Neal walked away from the Golden Knights signing with St. Louis and Calgary respectively.
Both Neal and Perron expressed interest in staying but eventually signed contracts longer and more expensive than what the Golden Knights were comfortable with. Perron signed a four year $16 million ($4M AAV) deal while Neal got a five year $28.75M ($5.75M AAV) contract.
Negotiations are always secretive and often the details never come to light. But yesterday, Perron took to Twitter to give us a little insight into his experience negotiating with George McPhee while under contract with the Golden Knights.
never got an offer after trade deadline from VGK… yes my heart is in St Louis, but it also is in Vegas for how much I loved the year we all had together there. Still very happy the way it turned out(cup) but dont make me look like I wanted to leave…no grudges on my part btw
Former Golden Knight David Perron didn’t hold back on Saturday after the Blues loss in overtime. Perron made some scathing remarks about Vegas’ physicality, suggesting they stepped over the line.
You don’t like to see some of that extra stuff they do. One to our captain, I thought that was bullshit to be honest with you. That’s how I see it… Now we know what to expect. We’ve played them enough already. I see a lot of games of them. I really appreciate a lot of the stuff they do. I like their coaches, the organization, everything. But I didn’t like that (stuff on Alex Pietrangelo). -David Perron, Blues forward
Perron was clearly upset with some of the after whistle scrums, which in his eyes, were created by Vegas. One in particular involving Ryan Reaves and St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo.
Everybody saw what happened. I didn’t even start it. I just stopped in front of the net Petro (Alex Pietrangelo) tried to move me. He’s not going to move me. -Ryan Reaves
By now, most of us understand and appreciate Reaves’ role. If a player wants to get face-to-face, no matter who it is, #75 isn’t backing down. Pietrangelo happens to be an important player for St. Louis which is why Perron took umbrage. To Reaves, an opponent is just another opponent.
Hats off to Petro (Pietrangelo) for standing in there. You look at that situation, Petro stands up and tries to get to get me from out in front of the net.-Reaves
Pietrangelo got nicked up during his scrum with Reaves. On Monday, he sounded off.
I was just trying to take care of business. He was standing in front of our goalie. But I’ll tell you: It’s the first time I’ve ever been scratched in the eye before… I’m OK with getting into a scrum, but I’m not too fond of being scratched. Maybe that’s his new way, I don’t know. -Alex Pietrangelo, Blues defenseman
Following season one, the Golden Knights front office made the rash decision to completely blow up their second line. That meant letting both David Perron and James Neal walk out the door, while shifting Erik Haula to the wing (for a few games while everyone was healthy).
The line of Perron, Haula, and Neal allowed 3.03 goals per 60 minutes of time on ice when playing together. It was the highest on the team by half a goal. This year, 3.03 would have actually been just fine for the Golden Knights. (All stats are at even strength)
To compare, here’s the same table from last season.
The most alarming number on the chart is the first line’s number. It went up by nearly a full goal per 60 minutes and it was only 0.18 away from the line McPhee decided was so bad defensively that he had to destroy it.
The dominant line of Stastny, Stone, and Pacioretty wasn’t all that much better either. You are probably thinking, “yeah, but they scored way more.” Nope. With all three on the ice together, they allowed seven while scoring nine.
Look at the “fourth” line though. They got even better this year going with Reaves and Carrier together. Also, the line of Eakin, Pirri, and Tuch never conceded in over 70 minutes of time on ice together.
However, these numbers can be a bit misleading at times as not all goals are scored with full lines on the ice. So, let’s break it down by individual forward. Remember, these are even strength numbers only.
Most of us remember moments like this, McPhee remembers much more. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Last year the Golden Knights second line was Erik Haula, David Perron, and James Neal. They netted 70 goals and put up 165 points, excellent offensive production for a second line. However, they posted a -26 rating despite taking just 26.3% (including neutral zone draws) of their faceoffs in the defensive zone.
We did have to change the second line from what it was last year because as far as second lines go it wasn’t good enough defensively. It produced, but the goals against per 60 minutes was not good enough. We were actually dead last for second lines in the league. -George McPhee on VGK Insider Show
We can’t find the exact stat showing Haula, Perron, and Neal but if McPhee uses the phrase “dead last” he’s got to be confident in the numbers. We could find this stat, however.
Those numbers are calculated based on the total time when all three players were on the ice together at even strength. As you can see, the Haula, Perron, Neal line was horrendous defensively, especially when compared to the Golden Knights first and “fourth” lines.
You can either look the other way on that or you can try to address it, so we are trying to address it. -McPhee on VGK Insider Show
5 teams, 6 years, yet has never signed a contract with anyone other than St. Louis. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
With the 26th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, the St. Louis Blues selected David Perron. He quickly signed his entry-level contract with the Blues and began what has now become an 11 year NHL career. Perron has bounced around quite a bit over the past few years playing for a total of six different teams over the course of five seasons.
However, when it comes time to sign a new contract, one fact always remains with David Perron, he only signs with the St. Louis Blues. Perron has signed a total of five NHL contracts, in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016 and now 2018. During that period he’s been a member of the Blues, Oilers, Penguins, Ducks, the Blues again, and the Golden Knights. Yet, he’s never signed a contract with anyone but the Blues, and that’s exactly what he did again this offseason.
But this isn’t to say Perron wanted to leave Vegas, because he absolutely didn’t. Multiple times during the year Perron mentioned how much he enjoyed living in Las Vegas and after the year he sounded like he wanted to come to an agreement with George McPhee. Alas, that didn’t happen and now his time in Vegas will always be seen as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
We had great chemistry. I mean, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to go to a city like Vegas. Live there. Play hockey. And I don’t mean this in a bad way, but we were basically running the town at the end of the year. Everyone was on board. It was absolutely unbelievable. The crowds. I mean, again, it’s not something that you can live twice. You go from an expansion team, to really, by Christmas we didn’t feel like we were an expansion team anymore. We knew we had a good thing going and we were pushing every day to keep getting better. -Perron to St. Louis Post Dispatch
There were many reasons to keep Perron in Vegas, namely his career-high 66 points during the regular season, but in the end, the negatives outweighed the positives with the principal negative likely being his age.
Perron also missed two separate periods of time during the playoffs including once with what he described as a back injury. It’s possible the injury scared away the Golden Knights, but the Blues also seemed deadset on correcting their wrong.
All I know is how much I respect the team and ‘Army’ and Tom to basically in a way admit it was a mistake to expose me and trust that I’m gonna come back and be a good player for the team. -Perron to St. Louis Dispatch referring to GM Doug Armstrong and team owner Tom Stillman.
The St. Louis Blues return to T-Mobile Arena on November 18th.
He earned his place among the Golden Knights who were running the town, and though we probably should have known he was always headed back to St. Louis, Perron was nothing but first-class the entire time he was in Las Vegas and deserves a very warm welcome.
James Neal’s face seemed to attract sticks to it last year. VGK might need a new stick/face magnet if they want to keep up the scoring pace in 18-19. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Over the course of the 2017-18 season, the Golden Knights drew 249 penalties, good for 15th in the NHL. Vegas converted on 53, ranking them 12th in power play goals scored and 10th in power play percentage at 21.4%. Compare that to the 3rd overall ranking in even strength goals and it’s fairly clear the Golden Knights did not rely on a man-advantage to win games.
Nonetheless, power play goals remain the easiest way to score in the NHL (aside from empty netters of course) and the Golden Knights certainly cashed in on a few big ones along the way to a Western Conference Championship.
During the year 26 different Golden Knights drew penalties. Two players made up for 55 of the 249, or 22%. Those two players are now members of the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues.
James Neal led the Golden Knights drawing 29 penalties in the regular season while David Perron was right on his heels with 26. The next closest Golden Knights were Jonathan Marchessault and Colin Miller, each with just 19. (Plus, Neal missed 11 games and Perron missed 12. Math says if they had both played the entire 82 game season they would have drawn a combined nine more penalties.)
55 penalties at a scoring rate of 21.4%, what the Golden Knights finished the regular season with, adds up to nearly 12 power play goals created off drawn penalties by only Neal and Perron.
The Neal, Perron, Haula line drew 68 penalties while the top line of Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson drew just 40.
Tomas Tatar and Paul Stastny, the two players expected to replace a majority of Perron and Neal’s minutes drew a combined 36 penalties.
The numbers are alarming, especially considering Tatar has yet to show the success he’s had elsewhere in Vegas. It’s not crazy to think however that Tatar, Stastny, and the increased role for Alex Tuch can help to replace the 41 goals Neal and Perron produced, but expecting these same three guys to draw 50+ penalties is probably asking a lot.
The real bummer is this likely means fewer times to chant “shame” at the guy sitting in the box too.
As much as we love Paul Stastny, and we do love Paul Stastny, creating a dynasty involves more than Paul Stastny. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
It’s a simple question, are the Golden Knights a better team today than they were the day they came up three wins short of winning the Stanley Cup? The answer is also as simple, at least in my opinion, and it’s no.
We want to be stronger next year than we were this year. I can’t say we’re going to win more games, or go further in the playoffs, but we want to be a better team next year…That’s the goal. George is working on it right now. –The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline on 6/22/18
The Creator said he has daily discussions with George McPhee on how to improve the team. Since that conversation, some can make the argument the Golden Knights got worse.
Let’s start with what they lost.
David Perron: 67 Points (16G, 50A), 0.94 Points Per Game, 0.71 Assists Per Game, 22 Goals Created, 17:49 ATOI, +1
James Neal: 44 Points (25G, 19A), 0.62 Points Per Game, 2.85 SOG Per Game, 17:11 ATOI, -11
Luca Sbisa: 14 Points (2G, 12A), 54 Blocks, 30 Total Goals For, 30 Total Goals Against, 19:32 ATOI, +8
Now let’s look at the Golden Knights additions.
Paul Stastny: 53 Points (16G, 37A), 0.68 Points Per Game, 0.47 Assists Per Game, 54.9 Faceoff Win %, 18:18 ATOI, +1
Daniel Carr: 16 Points (6G, 10A), 0.42 Points Per Game, 1.37 SOG Per Game, 12:08 ATOI, +2
Nick Holden: 17 Points (4G, 13A), 83 Blocks, 64 Total Goals For, 73 Total Goals Against, 19:00 ATOI, -5
It’s not fair to compare the loss of Neal and Perron, to Vegas’ new offensive additions. Stastny’s a fine player, but he’s not an elite center that can make up the production of two lost wingers. There’s only a few of those, and one of them passed for Toronto.
We have a lot of money to bring in some quality players. If we can get the players we’re going to spend the money. -The Creator