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5 Bold And 5 Not-So-Bold Predictions About The 2021-22 Vegas Golden Knights Season

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It’s finally here… tomorrow.

The preseason is over and the Golden Knights are ready to embark on their fifth NHL season. Expectations are understandably very high both from a team perspective and for a multitude of individuals.

Here are 10 predictions for the upcoming season. We’ll start with the milder five.

The Golden Knights will be the only Pacific Division team to reach 100 points

There are a few other teams in the division who I expect to be a little bit better, but the full 82-game schedule will really show the weakness of the Pacific. The division will struggle mightily against the Eastern Conference and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see both Western Conference wild cards come from the Central.

Max Pacioretty will lead the team in goals for a third straight year

While I expect a number of Golden Knights to take a step forward in some of their goal-scoring numbers, the 35-40 you can basically slot Pacioretty in for is just too many to expect any other Golden Knight to reach. Maybe Jonathan Marchessault or Evgenii Dadonov can hit 30, or maybe this is an up year for pending UFA Reilly Smith, or maybe even we see the return of William Karlsson’s goal-scoring prowess. But, no matter which one happens, I still can’t see them getting past Pacioretty.

Three Golden Knights will represent Vegas as the city hosts the All Star Game

It’s tough to get three All Stars on the same team, because it basically means only one other team in the division can have multiple players from the same roster. But, the host city has had at least three players each of the last five seasons, and the Golden Knights have enough star power to keep that streak alive.

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Golden Knights Can’t Afford To Wait For Power Play To Come Around

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4 for 43.

It’s a number that has been on the mind of every Golden Knight, every coach, and every member of the front office through the offseason and into the new year.

The Golden Knights were shutout on the power play against the Montreal Canadiens (0 for 15) contributing to an NHL worst 9.3% power play in the 2021 playoffs. In fact, it was actually the worst conversion percentage of any team to play at least 17 playoff games since power play stats started being kept in 1977-78.

It must improve.

As a group we all have to be better, individual players, the coaches, the additions, all those things. I think the fresh start will help. I really believe the power play, like the penalty kill, is a real confidence-based piece of your game. When it starts to snowball the wrong way, everything goes in. I think we fell into that last year. -Pete DeBoer

DeBoer’s hope is that the offseason will go a long way towards a reset on a unit that played an integral part in the Golden Knights’ demise.

It was really average during the regular season and obviously it was well below average during the playoffs. So I think the break, the reset, the additions, the challenge of everybody being better, it’s going to be better. -DeBoer

He’s not relying on just time to heal the wound though.

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Hunting Career Highs: Forwards

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Part 1 of this article was on Tuesday, now we’re moving on to Part 2 where we are looking at the Golden Knights forward group. Again, we’re looking for the statistic each player is most likely to surpass their career-high in.

Mark Stone
Stat: Even-Strength Assists
Career High – 31

Mark Stone is a superstar, there’s really no way around it. He’s been one for a few years too, so hitting career-highs in just about anything won’t be easy. But the one number that jumped off the page was even-strength assists. I’d expect Stone to be pushing 40 assists this year (his career-high in a season is 42), and with VGK’s power play struggles most of them should come at 5-on-5. Plus, he’s awesome at 3-on-3 which could nab him a few more.

Other options: Assists (42), Games Played (80), Shorthanded Goals (1)

Max Pacioretty
Stat: Shots
Career High – 307

Pacioretty is a high-volume shooter, especially since he’s been in Vegas. It’s not uncommon to look up and see him on the board with five, six, or seven shots in a game. In 2019-20 he amassed his career-high 307 shots in just 71 games. This year, assuming he gets to around 80 games, he could easily be pushing 350. His numbers did pull back a bit last year, which is concerning, but he’s not exactly a guy with a lot of reachable career-high options.

Other options: Faceoffs Won (51), Assists (34), Power Play Goals (10)

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Playing Around With Lineup Combinations

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When talking about the Golden Knights, there’s always a chance of the next blockbuster move being right around the corner, but for now, it appears the dust has settled on the offseason and the roster as currently constructed is the one they plan on bringing into the regular season.

The additions of Evgenii Dadonov, Nolan Patrick, and Brett Howden, along with the possibility of Peyton Krebs, Jack Dugan, and Lucas Elvenes being ready to make the NHL leap, leave the Golden Knights with plenty of options as to how to roll out their forward lines.

Alex Tuch’s injury and the departure of Ryan Reaves will force at least some shuffle to the lineup, the question is how much coach Pete DeBoer is going to go with.

The simple answer is to keep everything as close to what it was last year and allow the new and young players to battle for the final few spots on the bottom-six, but what if they get creative? Let’s run through a bunch of different potential options to show just how versatile this group has a chance to be.

Continuity

Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone
Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Janmark-Roy-Dadonov
Carrier-Howden-Kolesar

This is essentially the same group the Golden Knights ran out during the postseason run. Dadonov goes in for Tuch and Howden replaces Nosek and we’re looking at a lineup we know can dominate the Pacific Division.

Karlsson As 1C

Pacioretty-Karlsson-Stone
Marchessault-Patrick/Krebs-Smith
Janmark-Stephenson-Dadonov
Carrier-Roy-Howden

Getting Karlsson on the ice with Stone has always been somewhat intriguing. The move requires someone to fit in his spot on the Misfit Line, which is definitely easier said than done. There are two good potential options in 1st round picks from 2017 and 2019. If one can do it, the center depth will look much stronger.

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Tuch’s Injury Creates Power Play Opportunities And Roster Options

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been a tough week for Golden Knights fans. First the organization traded away two fan favorites only to have word come down that Alex Tuch will be out for six months with an injured shoulder. That’s a lot of difficult news in only five business days in the middle of summer.

Sticking with who’s left, filling Tuch’s role for an extended period of time will be difficult for coach Pete DeBoer. The good news is the roster has several options to help create offense, but will it be enough to improve Vegas’ lackluster power play?

(Dadonov) was a player we identified as a priority. We had him ahead of all players that were available in Expansion. That effectively addressed the need of adding one good foward. -Kelly McCrimmon

This week general manager Kelly McCrimmon acquired forward Evgenii Dadonov from Ottawa as another weapon to aid the power play, where he’s found high levels of success. Since his return to the National Hockey League in 2017-18, the 31-year-old Russian has registered 25 power play goals. In that span, he’s tied in PPG with offensive studs like Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. Even more impressive, Dadonov posted those numbers without scoring on a man-advantage last season with Ottawa.

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