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Do Hits Matter For The Season 5 Golden Knights?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

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Golden Knights Make Statement In Win Over Rangers

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Last night was a good reminder. To fans, to the New York Rangers, to the rest of the NHL, and even to the Golden Knights themselves; when Vegas plays at their best, they are an absolute juggernaut.

On a night where the Golden Knights played with multiple starters still out of the lineup, they completely took it to the Rangers in all phases of the game. It was a familiar sight to those who have watched hundreds of Golden Knights games over the past five years, but one that hasn’t quite been as common this season as in years past.

Against New York, Vegas was exiting their own zone with ease, flying through the neutral zone, generating chances off the rush, and forechecking as a unit to keep the pressure on the Rangers all night long. It led to a game that appeared to be fairly close for 25 minutes to get completely out of hand by the time the full 60 had elapsed.

We started turning those pucks over at the blue line and we started defending in our D-zone instead of playing… giving them time like we’re killing a penalty. When you let them go D-to-D and get pucks to the net and win battles, you’re not going to beat that team. -Gerard Gallant, NYR coach

Vegas scored five goals in total but tallied four in the final 32 minutes of the game when their hard work early started paying off.

I thought in the 1st we were a little slow, but in the 2nd we upped our pace and caught them a few times in between. -Pete DeBoer

The main difference came in the center of the ice. While Vegas’ in-zone defending was solid the entire night, they struggled to control the puck through the neutral zone early against a good Rangers team. In the 2nd, those issues cleaned up and they looked like the team many projected to win the Stanley Cup before this season game.

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VGK’s Eastern Conference Invasion

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been an up and down ride for the Golden Knights in games against Eastern Conference teams. In fact, their record was 4-5-0 against Atlantic and Metropolitan clubs before this road trip began. After their shootout win in New York the traveling Golden Knights have a chance to sweep their annual pre-holiday road trip on Sunday.

In nine periods, Vegas scored 12 total goals and trailed for just a combined 25 minutes. The Golden Knights got off to a fast start in Boston, essentially sealing their victory after the first 20 minutes. Sure, Boston was hampered with several key players out after testing positive for COVID. However, Vegas took advantage of a team in disarray and left the Bay State with two points. There were times Vegas looked disjointed in New Jersey and the final score reflected their messy 5-3 finish. Even coach Pete DeBoer knew the process was ugly but he only cared about the two points his club picked up.

We did just enough to win. We take the two points and move on. I liked our 1st period, hated our 2nd, and we were opportunistic in the 3rd. -Pete DeBoer

Give the Devils credit for making a late push but the Golden Knights got caught trying to close out a road game too early. Eventually, the visiting team came out on top and took care of business. Which is the only goal on non-conference trips. Pick up two, and pack your bags.

It wasn’t clean but it was another character win for the Golden Knights in New York. The Rangers opened the door by laying back which allowed an opening for Dylan Coghlan’s game tying goal. Vegas beat an emotional, highly talented team for their seventh come from behind or late game triumph.

When you step out there you definitely don’t want to lose to them. They chirp on the bench. You got to play them physical and frustrate them in all three zones. -Ryan Reaves, NYR forward

Thankfully for Golden Knights fans Reaves’ new team couldn’t frustrate the Golden Knights enough.

Earlier in the season Vegas struggled with foreign opponents and now they’re on track to beat four of them in their own territories. It’s safe to say the Golden Knights are making a league wide statement on this trip. Not only is Vegas healthier but their determination, force, and urgency are beginning to remind NHL teams why they’re regarded as a deep threat. And they’re an Alec Martinez and Jack Eichel away from a full (sort of) lineup.

Okay, so they’re not the Beatles and they didn’t fly across the pond, but storming the Northeast like Vegas has should qualify as an invasion.

5 Most Anticipated Home Games On The Golden Knights 2021-22 Schedule

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After a year that involved 56 games against the same seven teams and sparse crowds throughout, it’s great to be back to a normal 82 game schedule that includes all 31 teams making an appearance at sold-out T-Mobile Arena. Here are the five home games that jump off the schedule as the most anticipated matchups of the year.

5. December 27th, 2021 – vs Colorado Avalanche

It’s a shame the first time these two teams meet won’t be at the site of the Avs demise last season, but there’s no secret these two are likely to be the class of the Western Conference once again. The collision course in the playoffs will probably be played up all year and every game between the two will be highly engrossing.

4. December 21st, 2021 – vs Tampa Bay Lightning

If there’s one thing we missed more than anything else with last year’s horrendous schedule, it was measuring stick games. About a month into the season everyone knew exactly how everyone else matched up against each other in the division, so the remaining 40+ games were essentially useless. This year, there will be plenty of those measuring stick games and this is the king of them all. The two-time defending Cup champions come to T-Mobile after the Golden Knights return home from a tough four-game road trip. VGK vs TBL games have always been a blast, this one should be no different.

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GM For A Day: Ken’s 2021-22 Vegas Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Welcome to GM For A Day, the first in a pair of articles in which the founders of SinBin.vegas will take control of the Vegas Golden Knights and reshape the team in a way we each believe will bring the Stanley Cup to Las Vegas.

These articles are NOT meant to be taken as a prediction as to what we believe is going to happen this offseason. This is what we would do, not what we think the Golden Knights will do (that article is coming later in the week).

Today, I (Ken) am on the hot seat. I’ve been given the keys to the car and I’m ready to start wheeling and dealing. For me, the team isn’t in need of a lot of changes, especially at the top of the roster, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be active in this unique offseason.

Here we go…

*TRADE: Ryan Reaves + 5th Round Pick to New York Rangers for 3rd Round Pick*

First up on my list of moves would be trading Ryan Reaves to free up some cap space and eliminate any possibility my head coach would ever put him in the lineup. My thoughts have been well documented on the player and I believe we could find a team willing to take him off our hands for almost nothing. The Rangers’ season ended with continuous line brawls against the Washington Capitals after Tom Wilson injured Artemi Panarin. Their new coach, Gerard Gallant, is familiar with Reaves and actually was able to pull a bit of offense out of him. We move up two rounds in the draft and relieve ourselves of $1.75 million against the cap.

Next, we’re making the big move of the offseason.

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4th Liners Failing Despite Benefit Of Unbelievable Offensive Opportunities

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

19 games into the 2021 season, William Carrier and Ryan Reaves have combined for a total of two points while being on the ice for 372 minutes.

The two have a combined -7 rating, have cost the Golden Knights 0.7 points in the standings according to Hockey-Reference.com’s point shares stat, and each post an expected goals share of less than 43% (the team number is over 52%).

To put it politely, they haven’t been good offensively to start the season. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but this should. No player on the Golden Knights has started a higher percentage of shifts in the offensive zone than Ryan Reaves. Reaves has started a massive 57.6% of his shifts in a positive position while his linemate, Carrier, isn’t far behind at 55.3%, good for 4th on the team for forwards.

So, Reaves and Carrier start closer to the opposing goal more often than anyone on the team, yet have failed to score a single goal, have been on the ice for just four goals (three for Carrier), and have allowed seven. They are below 50% shares in every advanced metric including Corsi, Fenwick, shots, expected goals, scoring chances, and high danger chances. In other words, they give up more than they create, by every measurable, despite starting in more advantageous positions than anyone else on the team.

But wait, there’s more! It gets worse… WAY worse, when we look at the seven most important games of the season.

Vegas has played St. Louis, Colorado, and Minnesota a combined seven times in the first 19 games. In those games, Carrier and Reaves have combined to go scoreless and pointless, while registering a -5 rating and allowing three goals while being on the ice for zero goals for. Again, not good.

In those games, the pair started an absurd 81% (Reaves) and 84% (Carrier) of their shifts in the offensive zone. The Golden Knights took 91 defensive zone draws in those seven games, Reaves and/or Carrier were on the ice for six of them. That means one of those two was on the ice for just 7% of defensive draws while they accounted for more than 20% of Vegas’ offensive draws.

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Robin Lehner, Ryan Reaves, And Evander Kane Make Waves On Twitter

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Social media was set ablaze on Saturday night following the pay-per-view boxing event featuring Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., and Jake Paul.

After Paul knocked out former NBA star Nate Robinson, many other athletes stepped up asking for their shot at the YouTuber. Robin Lehner held little back with his initial tweet.

Evander Kane wanted some too.

From there, things got crazy.

Kane took a shot back at Reaves, but later apologized and deleted this tweet.

Reaves responded.

The world needs to see the Golden Knights and the Sharks back on the ice. It’s been way too long.

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