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DeBoer Finds Positives As Injuries Mount

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Even before their trip to Los Angeles on Thursday night, the Golden Knights were fighting through a rash of injuries. Now, it appears they’ll be without two thirds of their top line and two of the best players on the roster for a significant period of time.

*Always stay up-to-date with the newest information by checking out out Injury Report*

Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch, Nic Roy, Brett Howden, and William Carrier all missed practice today, a practice in which the defensemen actually outnumbered the forwards. (Evgenii Dadonov was absent too, but it was described as a maintenance day).

Obviously, this is not ideal for a team expected to run away with the Pacific Division, but that won’t stop the Golden Knights’ head coach from searching for positives.

The first of which was schedule related. The Golden Knights have a five day break between their second and third games of the season, the second longest break between games this season after the All Star break.

I think the fact that we don’t play until Wednesday will give us the opportunity to get more guys out here. I think everybody likes the idea after a stinker of getting out and playing the next night but the reality of it is we’ve got 3 or 4 guys that wouldn’t have been available tonight or tomorrow night so it’s probably not a bad thing. -DeBoer

He’s also aware though that the worst of the injuries are to the best players of the group. DeBoer is hoping being without Stone and Pacioretty can actually be a good thing for his team.

I told our group this morning that the silver lining of this I’m hoping this might be the best thing to happen to us. You take out guys that you rely on for offense every night. You’ve got to play with detail, you’ve got to have that defensive foundation, you’ve got to be prepared to win 2-1, 3-2. We’ve got to get that back, we haen’t had enough of that. -DeBoer

The team has two more practices before their next game which starts a three game homestand against St. Louis, Edmonton, and the New York Islanders.

Adversity is here, but the Golden Knights appear ready to attack it head on.

Assessing VGK’s Options Without Mark Stone And Max Pacioretty

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights came into this season touting “the deepest forward group in team history.” Due to a rash of injuries, that depth will be put to the test quickly this year and may ultimately determine the fate of the Golden Knights’ fifth season.

With Alex Tuch sidelined until at least January and Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty seemingly joining him with serious injuries, the options are starting to look limited on Pete DeBoer’s lineup choices.

Eventually, he’ll get Nic Roy, William Carrier, and Mattias Janmark back, but even then, it’s challenging to come up with a lineup that will truly strike fear in an opponent.

Here’s the most likely solution Vegas could turn to.

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Janmark-Stephenson-Dadonov
Krebs-Patrick-Kolesar
Carrier-Howden-Roy

The Misfits return to the top of the lineup and will have to carry a massive load both offensively and as the clear best defensive line of the four. The good news with this group is there isn’t a major weak spot. Sure, there would likely be games where certain lines struggle, but as long as the Misfit Line produces, they should be able to survive.

The next option is to swap a Dadonov and Kolesar in the middle-six to try and build an offensive line and a defensive line.

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2021-22 VGK Opening Day Trivia: Who Am I?

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There’s nothing more exciting than Opening Night. It’s a new season with new players, new rivals, and new objectives. As we prepare for tonight’s matchup against the 32nd franchise let’s have a little fun.

2021-22 Golden Knights Opening Night Trivia: Who Am I?

Surprise, I have the most opening night points in franchise history with 4 (2 Goals, 2 Assists). Who am I?

Click for answer
Mark Stone

 

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to suit up and join the boys tonight but I’ll be cheering loudly. Not sure if you remember, but last season I scored the franchise’s only opening night empty net goal. Who am I?

Click for answer
Alex Tuch

 

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

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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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Micro-Stats Shed Light On Many Golden Knights

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Last week one of the best follows on Twitter, analytics wizard @JFreshHockey, dropped a bunch of “micro-stats” from stat-tracking company InStat.

InStat goes back over games and grades events like turnovers, zone entries, puck battles, and dekes. The Golden Knights were littered throughout the top and bottom 20 lists for a variety of stats, some that were quite surprising.

We’ll start with a good one.

No surprise here, Mark Stone is awesome. The eye test has proven this out for years, but now we have a solid stat to show that when the puck is on Stone’s stick in the defensive zone, it’s coming out of the zone. Also unsurprisingly, he does it by passing the puck out as opposed to carrying it.

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VGK Fantasy Hockey Outlook

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If you are anything like me, when you play fantasy sports you have to have at least one player from your favorite team on your roster. You’d think being a fan of the Golden Knights would make this easy. Vegas has been one of the top three or four teams in the NHL each of the past two seasons and are right there again this year. However, fantasy hockey and actual hockey are much different.

NHL.com has released a whole host of fantasy hockey lists from Top 250 to sleepers to rookies to watch and the Golden Knights are notably absent on many of these lists. But, when they added it all up, VGK found themselves in 4th on the overall team rankings. Very confusing, let’s go through it.

The Golden Knights have eight players in the NHL Top 250. The first guy on the board doesn’t come until #24 though, that’s Robin Lehner. Then we find Max Pacioretty (#33), Mark Stone (#43), Alex Pietrangelo (#54), Shea Theodore (#63), William Karlsson (#138), Alec Martinez (#152), and Jonathan Marchessault (#164). Alex Tuch is also listed in “Key Injuries” which means he would likely have been in the Top 250 as well.

Lehner certainly earns the Golden Knights a lot of weight in the fantasy world and actually, Laurent Brossoit behind him helps out as well. The pair are ranked 4th in the NHL in fantasy goalie tandems behind the Islanders, Lightning, and Avalanche.

One slightly surprising omission is Peyton Krebs on the rookie list. Spencer Knight and Cole Caufield headline the list, but names like Marco Rossi, Jamie Drysdale, and Quinton Byfield made the cut. In fact, there are even a few “other” rookies listed and Krebs couldn’t even get his name included there.

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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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5 GM Do-Overs We Wish The Golden Knights Could Make

It’s pretty much universally accepted that the Golden Knights front office dominated the Expansion Draft. Not only did they build a team that was good enough to come within three wins of lifting the Stanley Cup, but they acquired a heap of assets to go with it. Since June 21, 2017 though, it’s been a bit bumpier of a road.

I saw a tweet yesterday that got the wheels turning in my mind to go back over some of the worst moves in VGK history. As I did it, I realized just how many good moves have been made since then too. So, this has turned into a two-parter! Today we start with the five do-overs and Saturday we’ll unveil the 5 do-agains.

Here we go…

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5) Allowing David Perron to leave in free agency

Following the inaugural season and the subsequent run to the Stanley Cup Final it was clear David Perron had fallen out of favor in some way with the Golden Knights organization. He missed the last week of the season, the first two playoff games against the Kings, then found himself as a healthy scratch for two of the five Winnipeg games and one Stanley Cup Final game.

This seemed to overshadow the fact that Perron was one of the most reliable players on the VGK roster the entire season and offered a unique skillset the team has never replaced. His ability to control the puck in the offensive zone, either at even-strength or on the power play opened up space for his teammates and gave the Golden Knights a different look than their usual transition-oriented attacking style.

It was sold as a rebuilding of the 2nd line due to poor defensive statistics, but it seemed to be more about Perron’s age and health than anything else. He went on to sign a four-year deal with a $4 million AAV in St. Louis that has proven to be a steal of a contract. He has 164 points in 184 games with the Blues, more than Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Marchessault in the same span.

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Which Golden Knights Have the Best Odds To Win Individual Awards In 2021-22?

Last year the Golden Knights got back atop the individual awards podium when Marc-Andre Fleury took home the Vezina Trophy. Before that Vegas had seen wins by William Karlsson (Lady Byng), Deryk Engelland (Messier), Gerard Gallant (Jack Adams), and George McPhee (GM of the Year) all in 2017-18.

With a stacked roster and the expectation of being a Cup contender once again, there’s a good chance a VGK player could win another individual award this year. Recently, William Hill listed all of their awards futures on the mobile sports app and all are available to bet right now. Here are the VGK candidates.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)

Shea Theodore: +2500
Alex Pietrangelo: +2500
Alec Martinez: +6000

As the odds suggest, this truly is a toss-up between Theodore and Pietrangelo. While Shea had the much better regular season and finished 6th in the voting a year ago (and the year before), the postseason put in by Pietrangelo was the closest thing the Golden Knights have ever seen to a Norris-level performance. Martinez was stellar in the playoffs but his chances of being a true Norris finalist are probably long gone.

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Are The Golden Knights and Kraken Spoiling The Future for Canadian Teams?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Prior to the pandemic, the country of Canada welcomed in 22 million tourists yearly. Here in Las Vegas, we entertained 40 million visitors in 2019. Nothing against our neighbors up North but there’s a lot more desire to visit the States and it’s possible the players feel the same way.

A unique, but valuable case could be newly-minted Stanley Cup champion David Savard, because word is he’s more willing than some of his peers to consider Canadian destinations. One GM said Thursday that he’s hearing more and more from players that they prefer not to play in Canada. ‘It’s a real thing,’ he said, mentioning taxes, social media and tighter pandemic restrictions.-Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

When the Golden Knights introduced George McPhee as the organization’s first general manager, GMGM answered a question we asked about Las Vegas being a top destination for the NHL’s best players. The hockey exec knew it would be easy selling Southern Nevada to players on the open market. The front office quickly took advantage by acquiring Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, and eventually Mark Stone in the second season. All three players departed established Canadian franchises only to voluntarily commit their services to the year-old Golden Knights. By the time Alex Pietrangelo was locked in for seven years it was clear Vegas would have no trouble recruiting high-end talent.

Those who live here understand why players love performing in Nevada. Other than first-season castoff Vadim Shipachyov, former Golden Knights consistently express their affection for the city of Las Vegas. Like us, players crave the comfortable winter weather, low taxes, and the excitement of living in the Entertainment Capital of the World. It’s difficult for any Canadian city to compete.

The future for northern border teams became even bleaker once Seattle was introduced to the league. The Kraken offer another American city option creating more competition for the seven Canadian teams. Like Nevada, Washington offers millionaire athletes the same friendly income tax laws. Call it blasphemy but over the years Vegas and Seattle will become more desirable than some of the NHL’s Original Six.

Of course, there are benefits to playing in Canada, most notably Connor McDavid. The majority of players would jump at the chance to play with league’s best player. Vancouver is a beautiful city with a great fanbase, and who would turn down an offer from the renowned Canadiens or Maple Leafs?

It’s more than just history for today’s players. Weather, taxes, city amenities, and media pressure are some of the elements a free agent will consider. It’s clear the two newest franchises check off more on a player’s list than most Canadian franchises. For purists, it’s hard to absorb but as long as the stars decide to play stateside the Cup drought will probably continue in Canada.

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