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32nd In Penalties Drawn, DeBoer Explains Why And What Must Change To Improve It

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For the Golden Knights the biggest cause for consternation this season has been their inability to score on the power play. However, there’s something directly related to scoring power play goals that the Golden Knights are actually worse at; that’s drawing them.

Vegas currently sits in dead last in the NHL with just 60 penalties drawn in 21 games. That comes out to an average of 2.84 penalties drawn per game. Every other team draws at least three per game.

We’ve got to draw some more penalties, that’s been an issue here for a long time. For the amount of time we have the puck when we are playing well we should draw more and that’s on us to attack those holes a little harder. -Pete DeBoer

Since 2017-18 when the Golden Knights came into the league, only five teams have drawn fewer penalties. VGK have sat in the bottom 10 in the league three of their four completed seasons, and have never drawn more than 3.6 in a season.

As a group I just think using our speed and our size to put teams in uncomfortable situations more. That’s a mindset we’ve got to get better at. -DeBoer

The good news for the Golden Knights is that they aren’t a highly penalized team themselves. Despite being near the bottom of the league in drawing penalties, only once have they finished the season taking more penalties than drawing them, and it wasn’t that far off at -18.

This season though is heading for their worst yet. VGK have taken 73 penalties while just drawing 60. That puts them on pace to finish the season around -50 in net penalties. The last time the NHL played a full 82-game season, in 2018-19, the Anaheim Ducks were the only team that eclipsed 50 in that category. In fact, since 2012-13, only three teams have finished above 50, the Ducks twice and Columbus in 2014-15.

DeBoer believes it’s fixable though, and in a couple times discussing the topic he did not mention refereeing a single time. He puts the blame on his players, not the guys with the whistles.

We have multiple opportunities a game where we have defensemen flatfooted or there’s a hole that we can attack and this group is getting a little better at it but we have to attack those situations more and put teams in bad spots with our speed. We tend to look at the hole and then look for a play instead of racing through it. -DeBoer

Of course, health has been an issue for the Golden Knights this season, which is a major contributor to any negative stats against Vegas. Playing without Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Shea Theodore for extended periods of time will obviously have an effect on penalty generation. As the team starts to get people back, DeBoer is hopeful things will pick back up.

We haven’t had the puck much this year because of our health. As we have the puck more and those guys who score and attack those areas come back into the lineup, I’m sure we’re going to draw more. Even then, I think we need to find another level than we have here in that area. -DeBoer

Penalties Plaguing Golden Knights Early Season

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Through 10 games, the Golden Knights lead the NHL in penalty minutes. They’ve been assessed 125 minutes or 12:30 per game.

However, counting penalty minutes by itself doesn’t always tell the whole story. At the end of the second Sharks game, Vegas was assessed 30 minutes of penalties following an elongated scrum that sent William Karlsson, Deryk Engelland, and Nic Hague to the showers with 10-minute misconducts each. Add in the three fights (Reaves, Pacioretty, and Stone) and there are another 15 minutes that didn’t really amount to much of anything.

So, it’s really only 80 penalty minutes or 8:00 per game of actual penalties. Not too bad, right?

Wrong.

The Golden Knights’ 40 minors rank them 2nd in the NHL behind only Calgary who has taken 46. Vegas has gone shorthanded five times in four of their 10 games, and have taken at least three minors in all but one game.

To get a better feel for the problem, I went through all 40 minor penalties. Aside from figuring out which players are most at fault, I was looking for where the penalty occurred, the game situation, avoidability, and correctness of call. (See all 40 listed below)

Last year I went through every minor Vegas took over the entire 2018-19 season and we learned that Brayden McNabb was the Golden Knights worst offender. William Carrier, Jon Merrill, and Paul Stastny were also troublemakers.

This year, it’s the same culprits for the most part, especially the main culprit.

9 – McNabb
3 – Pirri, Merrill, Carrier
2 – Stastny, Nosek, Hague, Pacioretty, Marchessault
1 – Engelland, Theodore, Karlsson, Glass, Stone, Zykov, Fleury, Smith, Eakin, Reaves, Team

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Nine penalties for McNabb. Nine! The Golden Knights are the 2nd worst team in taking penalties, and one guy has taken almost 25% of them. He’s been in the box at least once in seven of the 10 games. And of the nine penalties, only two were what I qualified as “unavoidable.”

In watching the penalties I was looking for which ones the Golden Knights could have either stayed away from or had no choice but to take. I graded these leniently, leaning towards giving the players the benefit of the doubt when it was close. They’ve been broken down into three categories, “unavoidable,” “acceptable,” and “unnecessary.” The first are ones that there is nothing the player could have done to stay out of the box. The last are ones that the player didn’t need to take and could have easily avoided. The rest land in-between, usually plays in which the player is trying to defend but ends up taking a penalty.

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2018-19 Penalty Summary; Who Caused The Golden Knights To Go Shorthanded Most?

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Special teams are a massive part of the game of hockey. No one should know that more than the Golden Knights after the way their second season came to a close. The best way to succeed at special teams in the NHL is to simply not take penalties. The fewer power play opportunities you have to face, the fewer power-play goals you should allow.

Last year, the Golden Knights were shorthanded 230 times. They conceded 44 goals in those 230 power-play chances against. The players most at fault were Brayden McNabb (26), Jonathan Marchessault (19), Colin Miller (19), Jon Merrill (17), and Max Pacioretty (15).

The opposing team scored five times with McNabb in the box and four with Miller or Stastny in the bin. The worst percentage of goals scored against compared to penalties taken was Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who watched the opposition score twice in the just three times he sat in the penalty box.

Vegas was assessed five penalties against the team and not an individual. Three for too many men, one for a faceoff violation, and one for a failed offside challenge. The Golden Knights allowed one goal on those five penalties.

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The worst offender on the Golden Knights was Oscar Lindberg who committed a penalty every 38.4 minutes on the ice. William Carrier (1 penalty per 44.8 minutes) and Erik Haula (1 penalty per 49.8 minutes) were close behind him.

The most impressive players were Nate Schmidt, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Alex Tuch. Each player took four or fewer penalties while all playing at least 1,000 minutes.

Here’s the complete breakdown both in chart form and by each individual player. Remember, these only include penalties in which directly led to a power play for the opposing team. Thus, fighting and offsetting minors are not counted. All but one are minor penalties (the one is the Ryan Reaves interference major against Tom Wilson).

**This table is sortable. Just tap/click each column in the header.**

 Total% of Team's Penalties1 per X MinutesPK%
McNabb2611.3%60.780.8%
Engelland83.5%183.950.0%
Miller198.3%67.278.9%
Merrill177.4%53.672.7%
Smith73.0%193.171.4%
Eakin73.0%171.4100%
Holden73.0%159.485.7%
Lindberg114.8%38.472.7%
Stastny146.1%64.671.4%
Theodore93.9%176.488.9%
Carrier125.2%44.8100%
Fleury20.9%1817.5100%
Subban20.9%613.5100%
Hyka10.4%200.0100%
Carpenter31.3%286.066.7%
Bellemare31.3%315.033.3%
Haula52.2%49.860.0%
Pacioretty156.5%74.886.6%
Karlsson83.5%193.1100%
Pirri31.3%149.3100%
Reaves93.9%93.377.8%
Hunt10.4%197.00.0%
Marchessault198.3%78.384.2%
Schmidt41.7%334.875.0%
Tuch41.7%309.575.0%
Nosek93.9%94.277.8%
Team52.2%80.0%
PenaltyCountWorst Offender
Tripping45McNabb, Marchessault (5)
Hooking40McNabb, Pacioretty (5)
Slashing27Stastny (8)
Interference25McNabb (5)
Holding24McNabb (5)
High Sticking24Miller, Merrill, Lindberg (3)
Cross-Checking11Merrill (3)
Delay of Game6Merrill (2)
Boarding5Carrier (4)
Elbowing4Pacioretty (2)
Roughing4Carrier (3)
Too Many Men3Team (3)
Holding the Stick3Miller, Merrill, Marchessault (1)
Head Contact2Marchessault, Tuch (1)
Extra Penalty2Pacioretty, Marchessault (1)
Kneeing1McNabb (1)
Goalie Interference1Merrill (1)
Unsportsmanlike Conduct1Subban (1)
Faceoff Violation1Team (1)
Delay (Challenge)1Team (1)

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Penalties Hurt In Game 1, But It’s Not Like Vegas Didn’t Earn Their Pain

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One of the Golden Knights biggest points of emphasis in this series coming was to stay out of the penalty box. In Game 1, Vegas spent 34 minutes in the box. Of course, 20 of those came on misconduct penalties in the final minute, but still 14 minutes, or seven minor penalties, is simply too many against a team like San Jose.

Definitely, they are avoidable. We’ve got to be more disciplined. -Gerard Gallant

You always want to stay out of the box, especially against a team with that much firepower. We definitely have to stay out of there and keep them even-strength. -Deryk Engelland

With just two 5-on-5 goals scored of the seven total in the game, it was clearly a major part of the outcome of Game 1. So, let’s take a look at each one.

Penalty 1 – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Tripping

It’s not as much the penalty in this case as it is the shift that led to it. Vegas was hemmed in for about a minute before this puck squirted out to the side and Bellemare’s stick gets caught in the between the legs of the Sharks player.

I just need to be sharper. When I see that the puck goes behind him I have to remove the stick quicker. I was trying to make sure he didn’t have full control of his stick so I put my stick in the way, but my stick ended up between his legs. As soon as he started twisting I realized my stick was in the wrong spot. It’s avoidable. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Penalty 2 – Jonathan Marchessault – Unsportsmanlike

In a post-play scrum Marchessault ends up getting punched in the face. The call on Marchessault is essentially called as embellishment and it’s absolutely ridiculous. There’s a clear mark on Marchessault’s face from where Dillon landed a left hook and yet somehow Marchessault is given two minutes for being hurt by the punch. This one is plain and simply the referees losing control, and it hurt the Golden Knights badly. This was the beginning of what was soon to become a 3-on-3 and eventually two Sharks goals.

Penalty 3 – Deryk Engelland – Hooking

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