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Golden Knights Have Struggled To Stay Healthy, But Are At The Right Time

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A major part of this season for the Golden Knights has been battling through injuries and the suspension of Nate Schmidt. With just one game left on the schedule, Vegas has played just 26 of the 81 games (32%) with their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen intact.

12 of those games have come since the trade deadline when Mark Stone was acquired and the Golden Knights have won 10 of those 12 games. Prior to the deadline, Vegas was healthy for just 14 of the first 63 games (22%).

By healthy, I mean not missing any of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch (or Erik Haula), Nate Schmidt, Brayden McMabb, Deryk Engelland, and Shea Theodore.

In those 14 games, the Golden Knights won just five. They’ve played 48 of the 81 games without a top-six foward, and have won 26 of them. They’ve been without at least one of their four primary centers 38 times and won 19 of them. And they’ve been missing a top-four defenseman nine times and won four.

Going into this exercise (because of these two tweets), I was expecting to see a team that thrived when healthy and floundered when not. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, the Golden Knights have been basically the same under any circumstance. Except for one… since the beginning of “The Stone Age.”

They have a winning record when missing at least one top-six forward and are above a point per game when missing either a center or a top-four defenseman.

Looking at the roster, the Golden Knights appear to be fairly deep. Lose a top-six forward, you can plug in Brandon Pirri, Tomas Nosek, or hopefully Erik Haula. Lose a top-four D and Nick Holden, Colin Miller, or Jon Merrill can take the place. Go without a center and Tomas Nosek or Ryan Carpenter can fill the void.

This is all good news heading into the postseason, where injuries will inevitably happen. As of right now, with just one game left to play, the Golden Knights are about as healthy as a hockey team can be. Since getting Stone, that’s meant nothing but winning, hopefully, it continues starting next week.

Vegas Golden Knights 3rd Jersey Concept

**These are NOT real 3rd jerseys for the Golden Knights.**

Around the league many teams have unveiled “3rd Jerseys” this season. There are throwbacks like the Ducks and Coyotes, brand new designs like the Avalanche and Jets, and some slightly off the wall ones like the Hurricanes and Devils. You can see all 15 of them here.

The Golden Knights will NOT be getting a 3rd jersey this season and odds are it’s not even in the cards for next year either. However, eventually Adidas, the NHL, and The Creator will want to pick up a couple extra bucks and a 3rd jersey will be unveiled. With a little inspiration from the Drumbots and the Season Ticket Holder Box, we decided to take a stab at a concept.

These concepts were designed by Drew Goldfarb, former pre/postgame host for the Florida Panthers who has adopted the Golden Knights as his new team of choice.

So, without further ado, here is the “Vegas Born Golden Knights 3rd Jersey Concept.”

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Quite A Bit Of Pressure On Golden Knights To Gather Points On Road Trip

This guy is going to have to be much better if the Golden Knights are going to beat the Wild for the first time ever. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the schedule was first released it didn’t take most long to realize the quirk in the Golden Knights first 11 games of play. One at home, then five away, then five at home. Both the longest road trip and longest homestand, back-to-back to start out the season.

This odd schedule arrangement put the Golden Knights in a bit of a weird spot with seemingly more importance on the first game than normal. With a win, Vegas would head on the road already with two points in hand and really would only need a few points to stay afloat through the rigorous start to the year. However, they dropped Thursday night’s game and now stare at a five-game trip in which they really need to return with at least five points.

We knew we were a good team (last year), we know we’re a pretty good team again this year, but you got to get back to work. We have to work hard and play the game that we played last year. Tonight wasn’t a good start. -Gerard Gallant

Just look at the numbers. If the Golden Knights get anything less than five points, they’ll return home with just four or fewer in their first six games. Then, even if they sweep the five-game homestand, that’s still only 14 in 11, and that’s unlikely. It’s more likely they drop at least one of the five at home which would mean at best barely a point per game through an eighth of the season. Not a single time last season did the Golden Knights fail to put up at least 10 points in any 11 game stretch. A less than five point road trip would almost assure that to be the case in the first 11 this year.

I’m aware, I’m jumping ahead drastically after one game, but in the NHL, the standings are fickle. If you fall in a hole early, it’s incredibly tough to get out of it. It takes months to make up lost points, especially lost home points.

Road trips are always important to bring home as many points as you can, but we really can’t focus on anything but the next one. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

A win tonight in Minnesota basically erases the loss to Philly, but a loss, even in OT, would instantly put the Golden Knights behind the 8-ball staring at four more consecutive road games including a back-to-back in Washington and Pittsburgh.

Last year, when this team was faced with important games, they always found a way to get them (until the last four, but we’ll skip that for now). This isn’t exactly that scenario, but it’s surprisingly close due to the weird schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if the Must-Win-Golden-Knights still exist or if they were left behind in Year One.

End Of Season Locker Room Interviews

This is the raw audio from every end of season interview we were a part of in the Golden Knights locker room. The voices heard in order are, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, David Perron, Reilly Smith, William Carrier, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, Nate Schmidt, William Karlsson, Nate Schmidt (again), Brayden McNabb, and Luca Sbisa.

Golden Knights About To Play Biggest Game Of The Year, But You’d Never Know It

Tonight is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Winnipeg Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights. It will be the first home game of the series for the Golden Knights and the first home game since they won Game 5 of the 2nd round against the Sharks on May 4th. The series is 1-1 and in tied series the winner of Game 3 going on to win about 70% of best of seven series.

Add it all up and you have no choice but to come to the conclusion that this is the biggest game in the history of the franchise and the biggest game for just about every single player on the roster. Yet, morning skate and the locker room after looked as if it was just another day at the office.

That’s the coolest thing about our group. Our guys just feel like it’s another game. We’re just having fun. We’re the same way at the rink, same way in the locker room, meetings are the same. (We) keep the pressure on the outside of the room, that’s kind of the way we’ve been handling things all year. Guys are still giving each other crap before games, it’s the same banter as usual, and it’s helping our guys calm down before games. -Nate Schmidt

If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if this was Game 47 against Columbus or a pivotal Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

This isn’t normal.

We had a lot more pressure on our team (in Washington) to win, so yeah it’s a different feeling for sure. -Schmidt

I feel differently about this group. We’re such a tight-knit group. It’s just fun to come to the rink and battle with these guys. -Shea Theodore

It’s important to stay the course no matter what, that’s how we got here. -David Perron

Smile, laugh, joke, who cares? It’s not like Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is in your home building tonight. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Those are three players who were in the 2nd Round or further last season and they all agree this team is different.

They are different because everything remains the same. The same guys stepped on the ice first to start morning skate. They maintained the same tradition of putting the players with the closest connection to the night’s opponent in the center of the stretching circle (Reaves and Eakin got the nod tonight both being from Winnipeg). They ran the same drills. They stayed on the ice for the same amount of time as they always do, and then they went to the locker room and it had the exact same feel it’s had every single game throughout this inaugural season.

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Vegas Golden Knights Regular Season Final Stats And Facts

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Team Totals

  • Record: 51-24-7 (109 Points)
    • 29-10-2 at home
    • 22-14-5 away
      • 1st in Pacific Division
      • 3rd in Western Conference
      • 5th in NHL
  • 272 Goals For
    • T-4th in NHL
  • 228 Goals Against
    • 8th in NHL
  • 207 Even Strength Goals
    • 3rd in NHL
  • Longest Winning Streak: 8 games
    • December 14th to January 2nd
  • Longest Losing Streak: 3 games
    • Happened three separate times
  • Longest Point Streak: 13 games
    • December 3rd to January 2nd
  • Records by month
    • October – 16 points (8-3-0) 11GP
    • November – 15 points (7-5-1) 13 GP
    • December – 23 points (11-1-1) 13 GP
    • January – 16 points (7-3-2) 12 GP
    • February – 17 points (8-5-1) 14 GP
    • March – 20 points (9-5-2) 16 GP
    • April – 2 points (1-2-0) 3 GP
  • Record Breakdown
    • vs Western Conference: 33-13-4
      • vs Pacific: 20-6-3
      • vs Central: 13-7-1
    • vs Eastern Conference: 18-11-3
      • vs Atlantic: 10-4-2
      • vs Metropolitan: 8-7-1
  • Most goals scored in single game: 7
    • 7-0 vs. Colorado on 10/27
    • 7-3 vs Calgary on 2/21
  • Most goals allowed in a single game: 8
    • 8-2 at Edmonton on 11/14
    • 8-3 vs New Jersey on 3/14

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Golden Knights Get Ahead, Stay Ahead Often; Leading Time Statistical Breakdown

This is probably the 10th time we’ve used this picture. Don’t care, it’s awesome. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At the midway point of the year, the Golden Knights have played 2,460 minutes of hockey. Over the course of the first 41 games, Vegas has outscored their opponents 141-111. The team has been tied or in the lead for the majority of the first half. Here is a breakdown of minutes spent in the lead for the Golden Knights.

VGK spent 919:29 in the lead
VGK averages 22:41 in the lead per game
VGK spent 321:22 out of 780 minutes in the lead against top NHL Teams (13 games; DAL, NAS, STL, TB, TOR, WAS, WPG)
VGK averages 24:44 minutes in the lead per game against top NHL teams
VGK spent 275:21 out of 720 minutes in the lead vs the Pacific
VGK averages 22:58 minutes in the lead per game vs the Pacific

Game by game time spent in the lead

Game 1 @ Dallas: 2:44 Win
Game 2 @ Arizona: 0:00 Win (OT)
Game 3 vs Arizona: 57:29 Win
Game 4 vs Detroit: 7:57 Loss
Game 5 vs Boston: 25:22 Win
Game 6 vs Buffalo: 33:11 Win (OT)
Game 7 vs St. Louis: 17:25 Win (OT)
Game 8 vs Chicago: 54:14 Win
Game 9 vs Colorado: 31:10 Win
Game 10 @ NYI: 21:05 Loss
Game 11 @ NYR: 20:33 Loss
Game 12 @ Boston: 0:00 Loss
Game 13 @ Ottawa: 46:21 Win
Game 14 @ Toronto: 0:00 Loss (SO)
Game 15 @ Montreal: 0:00 Loss
Game 16 vs Winnipeg: 53:19 Win

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Las Vegas Shaped The Golden Knights As They Shape Las Vegas

Raphael Rivera named it “Vegas” or meadow. Was everybody pissed at him for dropped the “Las” too? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Las Vegas translates from Spanish to mean “The Meadows.” The origin of the name comes from a Mexican explorer who was traveling from New Mexico to Los Angeles. As you expect of a man traveling through the desert, Raphael Rivera had grown thirsty. In a valley surrounded by mountains, Rivera found water, he also found vast green patches of land in an otherwise sand and dirt covered desert. Rivera drank and drank and drank and then decided his new favorite place was to be called Vegas, or meadow. 196 years later, the name remains and Rivera’s oasis is now known as Springs Preserve.

Rivera had characterized Las Vegas as simply, a place to get water. He was thirsty, so he stopped. Today, Las Vegas is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World. Characterized quite simply as, a place to go to have fun. But like our parched explorer friend found out, when time is spent actually getting to know Las Vegas, there’s much more than meets the eye.

It’s not just a place to go throw all your money away pulling a lever, tossing some dice, or spinning a wheel. Instead, it’s a real city, a real community, and like most who plant roots in Vegas quickly realize, a great place to live.

In the locker room, after the game, I realized how much we embodied Vegas — how similar our team is to the city. We’re a bunch of people, from all over North America and the world, who were castaways from their teams. And nobody really took us seriously. –David Perron in The Players Tribune

The community of Las Vegas sees itself as a castaway. People from Vegas constantly have to explain details those from other cities don’t. Thus, Las Vegans feel they are put in a box they don’t belong in so they are loud, they are proud, and they will go to great lengths to prove that yes, they do live in Las Vegas, and yes it is a real city.

The Golden Knights have given the city an identity, but equally true is the city has given the team an identity.

And we’re a real hockey team. With some real good players. -Perron

Las Vegas doesn’t actually offer anything different than anywhere else, they just seem to do it better, and the people of Las Vegas believe it. The Golden Knights don’t do anything different than any other team, they just seem to do it better, and they definitely believe it.

Probably about a month ago I was (reflecting on how we were winning) but now I believe in our team every night. I think we’re a good hockey team. We’re working hard and we’re competing hard. Can we maintain this? I think we can and the guys feel confident about that. -Gerard Gallant

Just like this team, you know damn well Perron isn’t going to fall down here. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

People’s opinions change sometimes. Raphael Rivera was looking for water, he found a vast meadow in the middle of the desert. Locals came to get away from wherever they were before, they found a great place to live and an amazing community to be a part of. The NHL came for an expansion team that was supposed to stink, it found a winner, and maybe just a Cup contender.


*** Here’s the link to David Perron’s full article in The Player’s Tribune. It’s spectacular.***

More Than A Chance

There’s always been this saying in professional sports, and especially in hockey, that on any given day any team can beat anyone.  There’s no question it’s true, but it’s the sports equivalent to your buddy begging you to drive to Primm to buy a lottery ticket under the premise that, you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket. Or Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber screaming “so you’re telling me there’s a chance.

Can you win the lottery? Yeah. Could Lloyd Christmas ever end up with Mary Swanson? Technically, yes. Can any team win on any night? Of course.

But there’s a reason that move is called Dumb and Dumber. Because we wouldn’t even have to say this stuff if there actually was a reasonable chance.

There’s a much higher chance of this team going all the way than anyone getting me to go to Primm. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That saying was thrown around so often before the season started that people ended up starting to honestly believe it. “The Golden Knights can absolutely beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, this is the NHL” they would say. Anything’s possible in sports right?

But now, that saying couldn’t be further from the truth. The Golden Knights not only can beat any team in the NHL, there’s now a belief that they should, because well, they have.

The Golden Knights are now 5-0 against the NHL’s conference semi-finalists from a year ago. They also have wins over every team that’s won the Cup since 2008, they’ve beaten every team in the Western Conference playoff positions, and they are a remarkable 9-1-0 against the Pacific Division.

After knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins, no one is saying the Golden Knights “can” beat any team in the league, it’s now, the Golden Knights “have.”

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Golden Knights Are Fast; Not With Their Skates, But With Their Minds

Following their second game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the head coach of the Dallas Stars said this…

They’re the fastest team we’ve played all year, quickness on pucks, quickness on attack, so it’s a hard game for a goalie. -Ken Hitchcock, Dallas Stars Head Coach

When he says fast, we normally equate that to skating speed. Connor McDavid is fast. Patrik Laine, Nathan MacKinnon, and Nikita Kucherov are all fast. David Perron, James Neal, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Erik Haula, and William Karlsson, are they really the top six forwards for the fastest team in hockey?

I don’t know if we are that fast to be honest with you… are we? Outside of maybe Tuch and Haula I can’t think of many guys that are extremely faster than everybody else. I just think we play well or each other and we do the right thing. You look faster when you execute plays when you are playing well together. For me when I’m executing all my plays I look faster than I really am. –David Perron

What they actually are is quick.

I think our game is a quick game. I think we’re a quick team, we’re a fast team. I think we are a little bit quicker than we are fast though. -Gerard Gallant

It’s about playing fast rather than actually being fast. When the Golden Knights are rolling, they make instant decisions and then string them together. The puck moves quickly and they are able to get from their own zone into the attacking zone in a short period of time. It gives the allusion of speed, but it’s really smart decision making, spacing, and precision.

Here are a couple examples of just that.

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