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Golden Knights Adding Variety To Power Play Entries

I’m aware this is from a while ago, but how often do we get a chance to use a picture of Tom Wilson in the box and it kinda fits? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights power play is, how do I say this politely, a… work in progress. They currently sit 30th in the NHL, connecting on 13.5% of their chances this season.

It’s one aspect of the game Vegas’ front office and coaching staff specifically targeted as an area for improvement this offseason. So far, improvement is not what we’ve seen, but recently, we’re starting to see some changes which could lead to a breakthrough.

Aside from numerous shifts in personnel, mostly due to injury, the Golden Knights have begun to mix up their entry strategies. Previously, basically since DeBoer took over, the Golden Knights have been reliant on the drop pass entry. One player, usually a defenseman, takes the puck from behind the goal, skates hard into the teeth of the penalty kill’s neutral zone set up, then wheels and drops the puck off to a teammate coming up behind him. Here’s what it looks like.

The idea is to first back off the defense, basically forcing them to either stand still on the blue line or retreat into the defensive zone. Then, the puck is laid off to a puck carrier with forward momentum and options spread across the ice. It’s a much maligned power play entry tactic by fans and media alike, but historically it’s proven to be the most consistently effective strategy both in gaining the zone and scoring directly off the rush on the power play.

The Golden Knights have implemented a few different wrinkles to the drop pass entry including having multiple options to drop to, quickly advancing a pass to the red line only to drop it back, or even occasionally using a double drop pass. But for the most part, this style of entry has been the primary style of attack the entire DeBoer era and most of the time before him. Here’s an example of a double drop pass entry that works brilliantly.

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Jack Eichel’s Business Sense Built For Vegas

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It’s rare for an NHL player to request a trade. But when you’re an upset 25-year-old franchise center being forced to undergo an undesired medical procedure, things change.

When he went to them with a trade request, they took it very personally. There are people that can say I understand that this is business and the people don’t understand that. Jack Eichel saw this is as business. –Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Let’s face it, that type of acumen fits well with an organization that’s moved on from fan favorites, bought cap space for little return, and purchased the biggest names in the sport. We’ve learned early on in the franchise’s existence that it’s a fish or cut bait mentality. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they continue to make the playoffs.

Eichel had his own put up or shut up moment last offseason when he requested a trade.

The Pegualas saw Jack Eichel the same way the fans did as a US born savior of their team. When he asked for a trade they saw it as a betrayal… they were so hurt and so disappointed, I have no doubt it made the situation harder. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Eichel felt like he was doing his part but the Sabres organization wasn’t doing enough for him. Lack of supporting characters and a messy front office were bad enough but not allowing Eichel to chose his own medical procedure led to his cold but calculated demand.

He did a lot of research into the two surgeries and why one was better than the other and why he chose the disc replacement. It was almost like he was saying I earned the right to the make the decision. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

In 375 games with Buffalo, Eichel registered 139 goals and 355 total points. Not only did he earn the right to make decisions but the Sabres ownership backed that up by offering an $80M extension in 2017. After handing over large sums of money like that, it would suggest the Sabres wanted Eichel to have a voice in the organization. The player felt it was taken away by barring him from a selective surgery or his choice.

Eichel credited all of his agents, I think over the last couple of weeks Brisson and Berry really turned up the heat. They knew they had a really unhappy client and they were turning up the heat anyway they could. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

On top of his high end skill that will undoubtedly win Vegas more hockey games it’s the possibility of handling a pressure filled boardroom organization like the Golden Knights. Eichel has proven he’s willing to pause his career for what’s best for himself. Not many players would’ve held steadfast like the newest Golden Knight but he put himself first and the team second. And that’s completely fair.

However, when the surgery is done and his neck has healed, Eichel is strictly in the business of winning a Stanley Cup.

Power Play Futility Stat Dump

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

June 6th, 2021, in the 2nd period of Game 4 against the Colorado Avalanche. That’s the last time the Golden Knights have scored a power play goal. Since, they’ve played eight playoff games and five regular season games for a total 826 minutes and 12 seconds of hockey.

It’s gotten so bad, and doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any better any time soon, I figured it was time to look up every power play stat I can think of so we have the answers ready as the streak continues and for the moment it finally comes to a close.

Because this is all so pathetic, instead of trying to make this a composed article, you get a series of bullet points.

  • VGK have started the season 0 for 11 on the power play.
    • 0 for 28 on the power play dating back to last postseason.
    • 19:18 of PP time this season, 34:03 in the playoffs last year for 49:21 since VGK scored a PP goal
  • VGK have recorded 43 shots on goal since last scoring on the power play
    • 20 this season, 23 last postseason
  • Current streaks
    • 0 for 28 (0%)
    • 1 for 36 (2.78%)
    • 2 for 41 (4.88%)
    • 4 for 54 (7.41%)
  • VGK have experienced 0 for 16 droughts twice, both in 2018-19
    • The first one was to open the season. They went six games without scoring a power play goal.
    • The second one was in the middle of the season, they went 6-0-0 while going 0 for 16 on the PP.
  • How many power plays to start season before VGK score (counting the one they scored on)
    • 2017-18: 13
    • 2018-19: 17
    • 2019-20: 1
    • 2021: 11
    • 2021-22: 11* (and counting)
  • Power Play percentages by season
    • 2017-18: 21.0%
      • Playoffs: 18.5%
    • 2018-19: 16.8%
      • Playoffs: 27.6%
    • 2019-20: 22.0%
      • Playoffs: 18.2%
    • 2021: 16.7%
      • Playoffs: 9.3%
    • 2021-22: 0.0%
  • Not only is VGK the only team to have failed to score a power play goal this season, but every other NHL team has at least 2.
  • The longest recorded power play drought in NHL history is a bit of a mystery but is believed to be 51 by the Toronto Maple Leafs
    • In 2014 the Florida Panthers reached 43
    • The San Jose sharks reached 41 in 1997

*If there are any other stats you’d like me to look up to add to this, please post them in the comments or tag us with them on social media.*

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

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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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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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How Historically Bad Playoff Power Plays Affected Next Season And Postseason

The Golden Knights’ power play in the postseason was bad. Literally historically bad. It was one of 15 teams in the last 30 years to play at least 10 playoff games and register a power play percentage under 10%.

Looking back over the other 14 teams who went through horrific postseason power play slumps is a bit concerning for the future of the Golden Knights’ power play.

First, I’ll show the numbers, then we’ll dissect them.

TeamRegular SeasonPlayoffsNext Regular SeasonNext Playoffs
TOR (99-00)17.84.716.123.1
MTL (14-15)16.55.616.215.0
VAN (06-07)17.26.017.1Missed
STL (16-17)21.36.715.5Missed
SJS (06-07)22.47.016.314.3
NYR (16-17)20.27.721.2Missed
PHI (19-20)20.87.719.2Missed
NSH (15-16)19.78.718.916.9
CBJ (19-20)16.48.815.4Missed
NYR (12-13)15.79.118.212.6
WSH (93-94)18.19.119.913.6
VGK (20-21)17.89.3??????
NYI (92-93)21.69.420.15.9
CAR (18-19)17.89.622.313.8
DET (03-04)20.19.6LockoutLockout

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Vegas Reveals Successful Template In Anaheim

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As we watched over the weekend, the Golden Knights easily dominated the basement-dwelling Anaheim Ducks in two straight games. It’s clear Vegas is the much, much better team. This season the Golden Knights are 6-1-0 against the Ducks and have dictated the season series except for an earlier 1-0 defeat.

They’ve done the same against pretty much every other inferior team in the division as well. It’s been that type of campaign for the Golden Knights. They mop up on inferior opponents, winning games by an average of 1.5 goals per game.

VGK vs. ANA, ARI, LA, SJ, STL (Combined record: 87-104-28)
119 Goals Scored
69 Goals Allowed
3.71 Goals For Per 60
2.15 Goals Allowed Per 60
48 Goal Differential
53 out of 64 Points (26-5-1, .828)

It’s no secret the Golden Knights have had an easy path to a postseason berth. Same goes for the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. All three have built strong records by defeating the teams they should. So, it’s unfair to solely mock the Golden Knights for their weak schedule.

Points Percentage vs West Division Teams
Colorado .744 PTS%
Vegas .727 PTS%
Minnesota .663 PTS%

Realistically, that’s what contending teams need to do. Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota were all handed a light schedule before the season began and have done their job gathering as many points as possible. It shouldn’t matter what level of competition they face. There’s no secret formula for beating and taking advantage of lesser opponents. However, that’ll end in early May when the regular season concludes and they have to exclusively play each other.

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Power Play Improvement Could Turn VGK From Great To Elite

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are regarded as one of the better teams in the league. They’ve been described as elite, highly-skilled and loaded. Vegas backs that up with the third best points percentage (.786) in the NHL. However, there is one glaringly obvious area the first place Golden Knights will need to improve.

Since the start of the shortened 2019-20 season, the Golden Knights are 19th in the league with 40 5-on-4 goals. When coach Pete DeBoer took over on January 16th, 2020, Vegas dropped even lower to 28th. In that timespan the Golden Knights squeaked out an underwhelming 12 5-on-4 goals in 79 opportunities.

The 2021 Golden Knights have only scored three times on the power play, the second least in the league. One on a two-man advantage, and two on a 5-on-4. Overall, Vegas’ power play efficiency is 11.5% good for 28th in the NHL.

2021 VGK Man-Advantage Breakdown

27 Man Advantage Opportunities
Power Play Goals (3)
5-on-4 Goals (2)
5-on-3 Goals (1)
6-on-5 Goals (1)

On the other hand, signs show that Vegas’ deficiencies won’t hurt them in the long run. Under DeBoer, the Golden Knights have the third-highest points percentage (.741) behind only Boston (.774) and Philadelphia (.750). Impressively enough, Their inability to score in 5-on-4 situations rarely cost them regular season points.

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DeBoer Hopeful Center-less Power Play Unit Won’t Become An Issue

The Golden Knights had just one power play in their first game, but those two minutes were the perfect illustration of the challenge facing the coaching staff in creating their power play units this season.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With two elite power play quarterbacks on the team, the Golden Knights knew they needed to find a way to ice two units both stocked with scoring talent.

The first looks like a normal dominant #1 power play unit. Alex Pietrangelo is the lone defenseman with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, and PP wunderkind Cody Glass. It’s the kind of stuff that gives opposing teams’ penalty kill nightmares.

It’s the second unit where things get interesting. Shea Theodore plays alongside Alec Martinez with a trio of forwards including Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith. It has the potential to be a great unit, but for one issue, there’s no one to take the draws.

Well, I don’t know if we’re comfortable (not having a center on the unit). It’s not the optimum situation obviously. Right now we’re trying to put our two best units together. We love the feel of the two units when they get the puck and get set up so we’re willing to give up a little in the faceoff department to get started. -Pete DeBoer

On that single power play last night, the concern came to the forefront immediately. After a strong 45 seconds by the first unit including a few shot attempts from Pietrangelo, the second group came out for an offensive zone faceoff. Tuch lost the draw and the Ducks quickly cleared the zone. The Golden Knights took a bit of time trying to re-enter the zone, never fully did on three tries, and an offside call forced another draw outside of the zone.

At that moment, with 30 seconds left on the PP clock, the Golden Knights flipped right back to the first unit.

It was an area of emphasis for us in the offseason and adding Pietrangelo definitely gave us the option of having two elite quarterbacks, two units, rather than a 1A and 1B. It’s critical, especially the deeper you go in the playoffs and the better the opponent those little details, the special teams, faceoffs, separate the teams at that point. -DeBoer

The Golden Knights have two bonafide #1 units, but without a reliable option to win faceoffs, it’s likely they will be forced into situations similar to the one they faced last night where they have to default back to the first unit on any draw.

In practice today, the second unit was moving the puck around with ease, even scoring one of the nicest tic-tac-toe goals you’ll ever see. So, clearly, when they have the puck, they have a real chance to be dangerous. But, how long will DeBoer put up with it if they don’t?

We’re hopeful the faceoff situation, guys will dig in, guys will help each other, some guys will become better at it and it won’t become an issue but it’s something that if we can’t get fixed with the personnel we have we might have to look at some different options. -Deboer

Maximizing the power play talents of both Theodore and Pietrangelo will be crucial in the long-term success of the Golden Knights this season.

There’s reason to believe these units could offer just that, but there’s also reason for concern that they won’t.

On A Set Play Vegas Comes Through In The Clutch

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was the play of the game, if not one of the biggest plays of the season (feels like we’ve said that a lot, hopefully this one actually sticks). Having given up a 3-1 lead, Vegas could have easily skated out the period and secured at least a point in Carolina. However, the Hurricanes gave the Golden Knights one more chance to come away with a win. And that’s exactly what they did.

The late-game power play allowed Vegas to execute a perfectly set up game-winning goal. The beautifully designed tic-tac-toe sequence by Shea Theodore, Paul Statsny and Alex Tuch clinched a wild game for the Golden Knights. Not only was it a big goal for Tuch, but for the new coaching staff as well.

It was a good play by Theo and Stas, something we were kind of looking to do and we were able to execute. I just put my stick on the ice and made sure I hit the net. -Alex Tuch

The play began with a faceoff won by Stastny, purposely to his left, which Mark Stone jumped on and fed out to Theodore. Instead of taking his own shot, giving the puck back to Stone or Max Pacioretty to his right, the defenseman walked the blue line with the puck, opened up the seam and then used a little shot pass to feed the puck through an incredibly tight window to Stastny.

Theodore’s stutter-step/fake shot shifted the defense and goaltender just enough to find an open passing lane to Stastny who was waiting on one side of the net.

Knowing the puck was coming to him, he quickly directed the pass across the crease and on to the stick of Tuch, who tapped in the game-winner.

From the initial pass by Stone, to Theodore’s shot fake, to Stastny’s quick touch pass, each player knew exactly where the others would be. You’ll even notice Pacioretty charging in behind Tuch ready to scoop up any rebounds in case the puck was blocked. Or perhaps as a secondary option. Either way, all five players did their job and the execution paid off.

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