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VGK Defensemen Struggling To Get Shots To The Net

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When Pete DeBoer came on as head coach of the Golden Knights one aspect of the game we expected to see change was the way the team was going to try and generate offense. Where Gerard Gallant teams thrived in transition and on opportunistic chances, DeBoer wanted to bring a much more reliable style of offense to the fold.

One piece of that is generating offense from the back to the front. The concept is to work the puck in deep and then send it low to high back to the defensemen. From there, the defensemen can make a number of decisions about what to do with the puck, but if a shot lane is there with traffic in front, that’s the preferred choice.

This was majorly successful with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson in San Jose, it worked with Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky in New Jersey and it worked with Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan McCabe with the Panthers. Now, with Vegas, Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo are among the top five players on the team in shots per game and the Golden Knights lead the West division (and the NHL) in points from blueliners.

There is one concern with this strategy though, and that’s when shot attempts from defensemen are blocked or don’t hit the net. Blocked shot attempts have a chance to quickly lead to rushes the other way while missed shots force forwards to work to recover the puck and can lead to easy breakouts.

A bit of excellent research from JFreshHockey shows us that a few Golden Knights are struggling at the skill of hitting the net from the point.

The Golden Knights have four players among the league’s Top 16 defensemen in block rate and they have three in the Top 13 in shots that do not make it to the goalie.

Brayden McNabb is the worst offender, which isn’t terribly surprising, but to see players who have shown some offensive upside appear on the list (Hague, Coghlan, and Martinez) is certainly concerning heading into the postseason for the Golden Knights.

On the flip side, while one would expect Shea Theodore and/or Alex Pietrangelo to balance this out, neither made the top 20 in either category. Theodore leads the d-men with a through percentage of 47.9%, which comes up about 6% short of reaching the Top 20 in the league.

Against stingier defenses like Colorado or Minnesota, these shot attempts need to get through more consistently. The Golden Knights will have the goaltender advantage in the first two rounds no matter which opponents they draw, but if the shots never get there the goalie won’t have to stop them.

This is not the easiest skill to correct mid-season, or even if the offseason for most players, but decision-making can change. Blocked shots by defensemen will be a huge story in any potentially evenly matched playoff series. It’s a place VGK can improve and one they should start working on now before it’s too late.


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  1. Tim

    Ken my thought is it’s a wing and a prayer mentality. In my opinion with Theadore’s speed he should be attacking the net not taking 80 foot shots that rarely and I mean rarely go in. Petro I’m afraid has to many mental lapses for me don’t get me wrong he’s OK but you bitch about Fleury’s 7 million contract and Petro at 8.8 and he’s got everyone believing he’s some kind of stud which my eye test doesn’t bare out. Like I’ve said before two Martinez at 4 million each or Petro at 8.8 isn’t even arguable. I think St. Louis new what they were doing when they didn’t resign him.

    • Jinklu

      ITA Tim. I’m not sure Petro is worth .8 but am certain he’s not worth 8.8.

      • Tim

        JinKLu, He’s a step slow, passes out of the zone are far to often intercepted, and he has what two goals for the year. I don’t see it but we all have an opinion.

    • Daryl

      I actually agree with everything you stated here

      • I was lead to believe by most posters that my assessment of the 8.8mi a yr wonder was a waste of money – guess others are finally realizing that is not the case. And to think they have 6 more yrs at that money really makes it a very foolish move.

  2. THE hockey GOD

    percentages don’t mean squat

    the more you shoot the puck the higher your chances of scoring or creating good scoring opportunities ! (unless of course you are the Russian FIVE, where puck control is everything. But who in NHL plays that kind of game ?)

    end of story

    • Daryl

      I agree the more you shoot the more chances you have to score… and that has worked Agatha lower level teams but it’s not working against the only two good teams VGK faces. If it isn’t working against MIN and COL I don’t think it will work against other division leaders

  3. sb

    Got not one but two things to work on quick-like. Thrown in the PP. Not gonna win the Cup with 17% efficiency. Remember SJ two years ago? Dallas last year?

  4. Tim

    I see there going to have Gay Pride Night on the 28th. I’m curious how there going to get the Rainbow Tape off of the sticks to auction off. No offense everyone but has this country went completely off the rails. Respect everyone that’s a given but people are forcing people to believe anything and everything is normal behavior my friend that ain’t happening.

    • My opinion only now (in reply to what “Tim” said re. unwrapping the tape on the sticks) is that the comments below Kens’s article should reflect the subject of HOCKEY. Leave all other unrelated opinions/ rants out. Go Knights!

      • THE hockey GOD

        this is free country last time i checked, Tim can say whatever he wants to say.

        Identity politics is out of control in this nation, perverts and otherwise.

        Leave all politics OUT OF HOCKEY.

        I for one won’t be going on gender confusion night.

        More than thousands years of history trumps a few decades of misdirected winger, immorality, anti humanity gender bending, craziness.

        From the most popular book in history, read by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s, believers, and non believers.

        Genesis 9- mentions humanity, not anti – humanity more than once. When God says something more than once, STAND UP AND LISTEN !

        Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. (something the new “rainbow peeps can’t do – hence anti humanity)
        The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.

        Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

        “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

        And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.>>listen up peeps, an accounting will be at hand.

        “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

        As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” (there is that humanity “thing” again)

        Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:

        “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you

        and with every living creature that was with you–the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you–every living creature on earth.

        I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

        And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:

        I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

        Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,

        I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

        “After the flood, God made a covenant with Noah and all his descendants that never again would the human family be threatened with total annihilation by flood. The sign God gave Noah to assure him of this covenant was the rainbow. “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds I will remember my covenant.”
        >>that is what I think of when rainbow term in mentioned, nothing else deserves same level of significance.
        sez me’

        enuf said
        call jeb

        • I love scared old white guys, they’re so cute

          • Daryl

            While you are right about consequences to your words that actually doesn’t apply to ANYTHING that’s been said here. But just like words, actions can also have consequences, like taking a new as a firm of protest while you are working

        • WhoCares

          Whoa buddy could you be trying any harder to hide from the world how gay you really are? Sheeesh and all that for maybe 6 people to see lol. You’re going to die and guess what gays will keep being gays and religion will eventually fade away.

          • Daryl

            You are stuck on this gay thing… Sounds like you have issues. And I’m not religious but as hard as you liberals try your best to get rid of religion, I don’t think it’s going anywhere

      • DOC (Go Knights Go)

        I agree Rhonda, but it’s not going to happen here.

        It’s the wild wild west on this site, anything goes, no matter the subject.

        • THE hockey GOD

          no it’s AmericA Doc

          it’s called FREEDOM OF SPEECH – something you libtard retreads can’t stand.

          deal with or move back to Cuba or whatever neo Fascist regime

          you came from.

          • Is that what shawn hannity told you to say? Free speech doesn’t mean consequence free.

        • Hahaha! I see what you mean, DOC!!!

          • DOC (Go Knights Go)

            Yea, then the name calling starts again! “libtard retreads”? I don’t know what the hell that is/means! ha ha

        • Daryl

          You get the emails huh? So people are emailing you directly? Or are you referring to the one jackass you, like you like to dish it out but cry when others fight back. And where is your little man at now?

          • DOC (Go Knights Go)

            Man you just don’t know when to stop your BS do you?

            Yea, e-mails …. know what they are, son?

            Group of us longtimers here, “talk” back and forth regularly. Many jokes and laughing shared about you. Very funny.

            Why you so uncontrollably bitter? Mama forget to bring your snacks down to the basement? ha ha

        • Daryl

          Old timers huh? I’ve been here for almost 2 years so while it’s possible you have been here longer, it worksheets be much longer. Maybe your dementia is getting the best of you. So I’m calling BS and calling you a liar that you and some of the ‘old timers” actually carry on conversations thru emails. In fact they’r very few people on here who agree with anything you say. I’m starting to feel bad for you

          • DOC (Go Knights Go)

            Yea, feel sorry for me ….. while us LONGtimers continue to laugh at you. Nine of us ages 39 to 70.

            Now do we care you don’t want believe that. Of course not. It just contributes to the fun we get out of your nonsense.

            Have fun, we will!

        • Daryl

          I’m 45, so not quite close to that 90 you are reaching… And again, I’ve been on here as almost as long, if not as long as you have. So when you say old-timer you are referring to your age and nothing else. And for me to say I don’t believe you adds to the fun makes absolutely no sense, just more BS you try to give off…. similar to you not smoking . And there are 9 of you huh? That’s funny because there aren’t 9 people on here who actually agree with you. I think you are starting to lose it old man

    • Daryl

      It’s like it is not okay to be a straight white person anymore. Here’s the thing, you can have all these rallies and appreciation games but it isn’t going to change anything. People believe what they want to believe and you attend going to change their minds.

      Since when is it not OK to have a different opinion on matters?

  5. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    I ‘ve said a number of times 8 mil was too much to pay for any Dman.

    But, I have seen a little more effort out of Petro the past few games.

    I still think he WILL be a positive factor in the playoffs!

    • Just as a matter of reference – define for me a little more effort and what you think will be a positive factors in the playoffs. I hope your not suggesting that would justify the 8.8 mill a yr for a guy who’s prime is in the rear view mirror. Even IF they were to win the Cup it won’t be because of him it would be the result of an entire team effort. Regardless how anyone puts the spin on it 8.8 a yr was and is a huge waste of Cap dollars pure and simple. Foley didn’t make all his money making investments of that nature. You can’t buy the CUP regardless how you try.

      • DOC (Go Knights Go)

        WHAT have I said many times over! AND on this very thread. 8 mil too much for any Dman. I’m not trying to justify a damn thing.

        MY opinion is he could payoff positively in the playoffs. MY opinion, the thing you guys keep saying we are all entitle to. MY OINION!!!!!

        ANDDDDDD, I don’t have to define a friggin thing to you!

        • Relax DOC – no one said you had to do anything – you could if you wished add your wisdom as to why you believe he will be a positive influence in the playoffs. Don’t have a heart attack none of this stuff is worth that. As a side note you might consider giving up smoking to live long enough to see them raise the Cup – probably not this year but eventually it might happen. LOL just concerned for your well fair.!!!!!

          • DOC (Go Knights Go)

            YOU asked me to “define” & “justify”.

            I don’t smoke! (Try something else)

        • Daryl

          Listen to him go… He replies to new posters and tells them how people can’t stay on track but seems to forget he is one of the biggest one with smartass remarks and an attitude!!!

          • DOC (Go Knights Go)

            What’s wrong little man , you jealous?

            So now the latest idiot proclamation!

            “Can’t reply to “new posters” ….. Can’t tell them the truth.

            Many (and I get the e-mails) are just laughing at you. Keep it up. We enjoy it! ha ha

        • Daryl

          Take your meds old man…. You are starting to lose it

          • DOC (Go Knights Go)

            I love those meds!

            Keep me alive & my pain down.

            Good advice! ha ha

    • Just seems like he is lost. And his handle on the puck has been awful . I didn’t watch him much in st Louis but they must have had had one guy always dropping back to cover for his rushes or give always. It seems like he needs to put some curve on his blade

      • Daryl

        I believe he played next to Parayko, who must believe plays better defense. And he played back more to allow Petra to rush into the offensive zone

  6. Mike StG

    Well, at least I’m free on Sunday now. Got my sermon for the week. Lol!!

    On D blocked shots, Theo isn’t on the list because he’s skilled at walking the line and getting the shot through. Not sure why the coaches appear to have McNabb shooting more. Not much netfront chaos is created when shots are blocked. Hague seems to be getting more selective on shots, and that’s positive. Also, I see Colin Miller is on the list. When he was with Vegas I thought his name was Millermissedthenet, because that’s what Goucher would say whenever he took a shot! jk Haha!

  7. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    We need to keep rolling tonight … points, points, points.

    Panda in tonight?

    Would be nice to get a little help from the Blues today.

    • Mike StG

      Doc, Blues should be fighting for a playoff spot. They have games in hand but AZ is in 4th. Let’s hope they play with that kind of desperation. They have a brutal schedule – 5 against Minny, 2 against Avs and us. Yotes could easily make the playoffs if they don’t step up.

      • DOC (Go Knights Go)

        YEP, I’m just hoping they can pull off one win in this series. It would help!

        • Mike StG

          Well, they did it, and no OT. Time for VGK to take care of business.

      • DOC (Go Knights Go)

        Hey Mike ….. Blues WIN!!!

        Well, got that one win, at least!

    • DOC – you must have forgotten – you posted that you did smoke and wouldn’t be giving it up after I suggested previously for heath reasons it would be a good idea. Frankly I don’t care one way or the other but try and remember your story and what you said. It would definitely substantiate your wisdom or lack there of!!!!! Easy win last night.

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