Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

The Golden Knights Have A Top 5 Defense

Stop picking on the VGK defense, they are actually REALLY good. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the biggest complaints surrounding the Golden Knights this season has been about their supposedly porous defense. Check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or chat with fans in the stands, most people believe the Golden Knights aren’t good enough defensively to win the Stanley Cup.

However, as the title of this article says, Vegas actually has one of the league’s best defenses. Pick a metric, goals against, shots against, shot attempts against, penalty minutes taken, penalty kill, scoring chances against, high danger chances against, all of them, literally every single one, the Golden Knights are in the top five in the NHL (see all below).

It gets even better when you add offense into the mix. They are top three in Corsi For %, Scoring Chance %, and High Danger Chance %. That means they create far more shot attempts, scoring chances, and high danger chances, than they allow.

Individually, the Golden Knights have seven defensemen with more than 1.7 point shares. All seven of them combine to have created 17.9 point shares, or in other words, the Vegas defense (and that’s defensemen’s defense only) have accounted for 28.8% of the Golden Knights’ points this season. The defense as a whole, including the forwards, have accounted for 32.3 points or 52.1% of the season total. To compare, Calgary’s defense has accounted for 31.9 points or 44.9% of the season total and San Jose’s defense has 25.7 point shares or 39.5% of their total.

Last year the Golden Knights allowed 2.74 goals against per game, this year they’ve allowed 2.67. Last year Vegas finished 8th in the league in goals against, at the break, they sit in 5th. Last year they allowed 30.7 shots against per game (7th in NHL), this year they allow 28.4 (2nd in NHL).

Oh, and many people will point to the guy between the pipes. Yes, Fleury has been tremendous, but he was actually better a year ago. His save percentage, goals against, and GSAA were all better in 2017-18 than 18-19. Team (not just Fleury) save percentage is .003 lower this year than last year. And, a majority of the stats indicating defensive success are goalie-independent.

No matter which way you slice it, the Golden Knights are better defensively than they were a year ago and they are among the best defenses in the NHL, easily top five.

Scoring is up across the NHL as each game averages 6.1 goals a game. The Golden Knights are going to allow goals, like around 80 of them, in the next 30 games, but every time it happens you don’t have to scream “This defense stinks!” because quite frankly, it doesn’t.

Goals Against Per Game

1) Islanders – 2.41
2) Predators – 2.58
3t) Bruins – 2.61
3t) Stars – 2.61
5) Golden Knights – 2.67
6) Jets – 2.77
7) Flames – 2.80
8t) Wild – 2.82
8t) Coyotes – 2.82
10t) Lightning – 2.86
10t) Maple Leafs – 2.86

Shots Against Per Game

1) Hurricanes – 27.9
2) Golden Knights – 28.4
3) Sharks – 28.5
4) Flames – 28.8
5) Blues – 28.9

Shot Attempts Against Per Game

1) Flames – 41.7
2) Golden Knights – 42.2
3t) Hurricanes – 42.4
3t) Blues – 42.4
5) Bruins – 42.9

Penalty Minutes Per Game

1) Maple Leafs – 06:30
2) Blue Jackets – 06:47
3) Golden Knights – 07:08
4) Penguins- 07:17
5) Sabres – 07:38

Penalty Kill

1) Coyotes – 86.9%
2t) Penguins – 84.2%
2t) Wild – 84.2%
2t) Devils – 84.2%
5) Golden Knights – 83.8%

Scoring Chances Against Per Game

1) Wild – 22.9
2) Golden Knights – 24.8
3t) Flyers – 25.1
3t) Hurricanes – 25.1
5) Bruins – 25.3

High Danger Scoring Chances Against Per Game

1) Wild – 9.0
2) Devils – 9.8
3) Golden Knights – 10.1
4t) Bruins – 10.2
4t) Blues – 10.2


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  1. Brad

    I think we have a solid defense and I trying to criticize but I would like to know
    give away, odd man rush against. Schmidt, McNabb and Holden are the only 3 with a plus rating.

    You can play great defense but if you give away the puck or give up odd man rushes that doesn’t really show up in all of your stats.

    Just Curious

    • Alex Adrian

      They’re good by committee. Gallant employs a strong defensive system that everyone on the ice buys into. I’m fine saying Vegas has a top 5 defensive team. I’d struggle to say any one guy is elite defensively.

  2. Richard

    I think this has more to do with how strong our two way play is with our forwards. Our top two pairings are very good, our third pairing really sucks, especially if our forwards don’t think backcheck first when they are on.

  3. John Florentino

    Without MAF we aren’t even a 500 team. He makes tough saves look routine night in and night out. I am at pretty much every game with perfect sight lines. He is by far the best goalie I have ever seen. Cat like reflexes.

  4. Drew Johnson

    Not to avoid giving our D its due, but our forwards might be the best collection of 2-way forwards in the NHL. Bellemare, Eakin, Smith, Wild Bill, Marchy, Stastny, etc. all do so much to steal passes, get in the way of opponents without getting penalties, and disrupt players from getting open and taking shots.

    Nosek is hard to skate around. Carrier creates turnovers with checks. It goes on and on. We only have 2 – 3 forwards who are defensive liabilities.

    The forwards do a lot to help the D look a lot better than the sum of its parts.

  5. John

    Thank Fleury for that! Defense is average. Merrill and Holden are terrible. They also need to learn how to get the puck out of their own end,that should help the defense out.

  6. Daniel Foley

    It’s not the D – it’s the O – numbers bear that out – you can’t take 48 shots against a backup and get 1 past. Nashville put up 2 goals – showing our D is stingy but we didn’t take advantage of our chances and or create much of anything in front of Saros – they have to get back to getting those greasy goals.

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