Hitting used to be a staple of the Golden Knights’ game. Over the course of the past three seasons, Vegas laid 5,392 hits in 209 games or 25.8 hits per game. They ranked in the top 5 in 2018-19 and 19-20 laying 27.4 per game in Year 2 and 26.5 in Year 3.
This season though, Vegas is near the bottom in the league, ranking 27th, with just 19.0 hits per game. They’ve laid fewer than 20 hits in exactly half of their 48 games, and have broken 30 just three times, a number they reached 31 times a few seasons ago.
The question remains though, does it matter?
In those three games in which the Golden Knights pounded their opponents into the boards, Vegas lost all of them in regulation, getting outscored 13-5 along the way. Meanwhile, in their three games in which they recorded fewer than 10 hits, they’ve gone 3-0-0 beating the Devils, Predators, and Stars all on the road by a combined score of 15-7.
So, using just the simple stat of when they hit the most vs when they hit the least, it directly corresponds to winning in an opposite manner. Fewer hits mean more wins while more hits mean fewer wins.
We need to dig a lot deeper than that though as a number of those games were decided fairly early.
VGK are 11-4-0 when they have recorded 15 or fewer hits, including a 4-1-0 record at home, where hits have been handed out a bit more leniently than on the road. On the flip side, the Golden Knights are 9-4-2 when they lay at least 22 hits on their opponent. Four of the six losses came at T-Mobile Arena, meaning they are a stellar 5-1-1 on the road when amassing at least 22 hits.
I asked Pete DeBoer about his team’s dropoff in hits and he unsurprisingly went directly to the absence of one player.