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Vegas’ PP Shows Success Against Conference Contenders

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In training camp, Vegas coach Pete DeBoer expressed patience and urged fans and media to wait until after the season ended to evaluate his team’s success on the power play.

If we go 4-for-4, I’m not going to tell you it’s fixed. And if we go 0-for-4, I don’t want you to say it’s never going to be fixed. Evaluate this at the end of the year. -Pete DeBoer on 10/10/21

Fair enough coach, but we can’t wait that long. We need something to overanalyze for another month or so, you know when Jack Eichel’s name is written in the lineup. So, let’s ignore DeBoer’s wishes for now and examine how the power play has performed against the Western Conference’s top teams.

It’s well known how shaky it can get for Vegas’ power play. The Golden Knights have gone on multiple game runs with PP success but then quickly it can switch back to hibernation mode. Eichel will undoubtedly help that. Statistically, you could argue that the Golden Knights PP has largely improved from the early stages of the season. In the first 25 games of the season, Vegas only converted 11 power play goals. Since then they’ve added 13 more, and had a nine out of an eleven game stretch of scoring one or more PPGs.

We’re making mistakes but pucks are going in to. -DeBoer on 12/10/21

As the coach eluded, Vegas’ power play isn’t quite fixed but it’s scoring and should only improve when certain players arrive/return. With that in mind, it’s truly unfair to use only this season’s numbers. So let’s combine the 2021-22 season with last year’s 56-game shortened schedule.

Western Conference Contenders PP % (NHL Rank)

St. Louis Blues: 29.5% (2nd)
Nashville Predators: 26% (3rd)
Anaheim Ducks: 25% (6th)
Colorado Avalanche: 23.2% (9th)
Calgary Flames: 22.6% (11th)
Winnipeg Jets: 20.9% (12th)
Vegas Golden Knights: 20.6% (13th)
Minnesota Wild: 17% (24th)
LA Kings: 16.7% (25th)

In that 96 game span the Golden Knights have totaled 52 power play goals, good enough for 19th best in the league. Pacioretty added nine, trailing NHL leader Leon Draisaitl (28) by 19 power play goals in that period. Putting it nicely, they need more conversions from their top shooters.

It comes down to coaches; they give us the structure. Everything is there but we need as players to take pride in doing the job. We need to take pride in the power play. -Jonathan Marchessault

Here’s how the Golden Knights power play has fared against this year’s Western Conference contenders since the start of the 2020-21 season. Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg were not included because of limited action against Vegas over the last 96 games.

vs. ANA
10.7% in 28 PP Opportunities
3 PP Goals Scored
2 PP Goals Allowed
+1 PPG Differential

vs. COL
14.8% in 27 PP Opportunities
4 PP Goals Scored
1 PP Goals Allowed
+3 PPG Differential

vs. LAK
23.1% in 26 PP Opportunities
6 PP Goals Scored
5 PP Goals Allowed
+1 PPG Differential

vs. MIN
29.7% in 29 PP Opportunities
6 PP Goals Scored
5 PP Goals Allowed
+1 PPG Differential

vs. NAS
0% in 5 PP Opportunities
0 PP Goals Scored
1 PP Goals Allowed
-1 PPG Differential

vs. STL
15.2% in 33 PP Opportunities
5 PP Goals Scored
4 PP Goals Allowed
+1 PPG Differential

Surprisingly, the Golden Knights have been successful against quality conference opponents. In their last nine regular season meetings, Vegas has outscored the mighty Colorado Avalanche 4-to-1 in power play goals. However, the Avs scored six times on the man-advantage in their six game playoff series against the Golden Knights and still lost. Unfortunately, that luck didn’t carry over to the conference finals for Vegas.

There’s no question the Golden Knights power play failure has kept them from reaching their ultimate achievement. This is tough to type, but since the 2020 playoff bubble Vegas is a depressing 13-for-98 on postseason power play opportunities.

Serenity now, serenity now.

VGK Postseason PP (Lack of) Production

2020

vs. CHI: 1 PPG in 10 Opportunities
vs. VAN: 5 PPG in 23 Opportunities
vs. DAL: 3 PPG in 22 Opportunities

2021

vs. MIN: 2 PPG in 15 Opportunities
vs. COL: 2 PPG in 13 Opportunities
vs. MTL: 0 PPG in 15 Opportunities

To be fair to the Golden Knights leader, his team has been awarded the sixth-fewest PP opportunities in the league. That’s certainly a problem in the regular season but even worse in the playoffs. Going back to the bubble, Vegas is 23rd in drawing penalties per game. Not sure who to blame, the refs or the players acting chops?

For me, the power-play isn’t a this year problem. It wasn’t dangerous enough in the bubble … we shuffled some things, put a new set of eyes on it this year and it stumbled again. That’s going to be a priority.-Pete DeBoer

While they have outscored most conference contenders on the power play, it hasn’t mattered in the postseason. Which prompted Vegas to address their power play needs three times in two straight seasons. After losing to Dallas in five games the front office targeted Alex Pietrangelo. A year later, and another playoff exit later, the organization acquired Evgenii Dadonov and later Eichel to beef up their PP units. Those moves were made for the postseason and it’s really going to come down to Vegas either taking advantage of their power play chances and capture the Stanley Cup or come up empty again and skate through another handshake line with their heads down.

But here’s the plot twist, the league hasn’t seen, strike that, Vegas hasn’t seen, how dangerous their potential top power play unit can be in playoffs.

Next Chapter: Overanalyzing overanalyzing

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7 Comments

  1. Daryl

    Who cares about the Conference, what are those numbers in total for all playoff teams? We all know the Conference isn’t the best so just using this conference stats is meaningless.

    I think you guys looked at the stats as a whole and they were so much worse o you decided to cut it back

  2. Tim

    It’s a good thing we don’t play in the eastern conferences we’d be getting smoked. We’ll have a hard enough time making the top 3 in the Pacific. You say how can that be well in my opinion we’ve shown we have weaknesses and every coach in the Pacific will try to exploit that. Hang on to your hats it’s going to be a rocky ride down the stretch.

  3. You might analyze playoff scoring as well. Patches and Stone seem to have a throat problem when it comes to the playoffs.

  4. Jason my man – you are only identifying one issue which has been an issue for years. No worry about the PP when you can’t draw penalties which as I recall you guys had an article on that. For the most part they don’t put themselves in position to draw penalties. To believe Eichel is going to solve that is wishful thinking. Teams win hockey games; teams win the Stanley Cup not individuals as you are well aware, I am sure. Yes, no doubt the PP is a problem, unfortunately you don’t have to look far to identify some others, which may or may not be easier to “fix” than the PP – after all the PP has been an issue for years and the clock is ticking.

  5. Galdom

    The power plays now ranked 13th and trending upwards and I could see it moving somewhere around 9th – 11th when Jack Eichel and Pacioretty enter the equation. But……. I agree with hdbiker7851 that they’re in ability to draw penalties is a problem. The penalty killing has been disappointing.

    • Turk Broda

      and the reason they don’t draw enough penalties is the fact that they play soft perimeter hockey with the puck. They don’t drive hard to the net, and force the opponent to take a penalty to stop them. The Vgk top six forwards are notorious for this kind of fancy play. Mark Stone could definitely draw more penalties, but he is content to just make fancy passes while his feet coast. We have seen him take it all the way to the net on very infrequent occasions, and he was very effective when he did. Needs to do it far more often, and lead by example, as a captain should.

  6. let's go McCrimmon

    get rid of effin’ Lehner. he has gotta go. a complete stiff in the net. gets outplayed by a nobody rook.

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