Vegas Golden Knights 3rd Quarter 2019-20

The Vegas Golden nights have now played 61 games in the 2019-20 NHL season which means they are three quarters of the way through the season now. So we are going to take a look and see where they stand thus far. The overall data comes from Hockey Reference while 5-on-5 data is from Natural Stat Trick and is all up to date prior to playing game #62 on Thursday February 20.

 

Team Data

Vegas has gone 31-22-8 (24-7-8-22) through the year, outscoring their opponents 189-183 and outshooting them 2105-1813. They are currently 3rd in the Pacific Division, 6th in the Western Conference, and 15th in the NHL with a 57.4 P%.

They are 15th in the league with 3.10 goals for per game, 12th with a 3.00 goals against per game, and 14th with a 50.8% goal differential. They lead the league with 34.5 shots for per game, 5th with 29.7 shots against per game, and lead the NHL with a 53.7% shot differential. They are 20th with a 9.0 Sh%, 20th with an 89.9 Sv%, and 25th with a 98.9 luck differential.

They scored on 37/172 power play opportunities for a 21.5 PP% (#12 in the NHL) and stopped 151/193 opportunities against for a 78.2 PK% (#22). They have scored 9 shorthanded goals (3rd in the league) and only gave up 3 shorthanded against (also 3rd).

In 5-on-5 situations they are 15th with 2.56 GF60, 19th with 2.60 GA60, and 20th with a 49.6 GF%. They are 2nd with 33.7 SF60, 2nd with 28.6 SA60, and lead the league with a 54.1 SF%. They were 22nd with a 7.6 Sh%, 26th with a 90.9 Sv%, and 28th with a 98.5 PDO.

They are still excellent at making their shots count as they lead the league with 19.4 scoring chance shots for per 60 and 9.5 high danger shots for per 60 at 5-on-5. They also do well enough defensively, they are 7th with 14.9 scoring chance shots against per 60 and 12th with 7.7 high danger shots against per 60.

In addition to looking at difference between this and our 1st Half update we can look at the data since the coaching change. Over the past 12 games under DeBoer hey have won more games (66.7 P%) but are still 3rd in the Pacific. They are scoring more (3.42 GF per game) but defensively nearly the same (3.00 GA per game). Puck possession is better at both ends of the ice (36.5 SF per game and 26.7 SA per game), and this also applies to scoring chances (20.2 SCSF60 and 10.0 HDSF60 as well as 13.2 SCSA60 and 6.0 HDSA60). However while Sh% is a little better (9.4%) their Sv% has gotten much worse (88.8%). Their special teams have also suffered, both on the power play (19.4 PP%) and on the penalty kill (75.7 PK%). Right now it is hard to say whether the coaching change was a good thing or if their recent wins are more a product of regression to the mean after having such a low PDO, but it does seem clear that as far as systems and coaching are concerned they are now focusing on offense and puck possession at the expense of defense and special teams.

 

Goaltenders

Fleury has had 42 starts going 23-14-5 with a 2.78 GAA and 90.6 Sv%. The team played well in front of him, being 58/83 facing 15.7 scoring chance shots against per 60 but they give up too many chances on the fly as he is 22nd with 1.7 rush shots per 60 and struggle to clear the crease being 17th with 4.1 rebounds per 60. He was 36th in GAA, 46th in Sv%, 45th with -1.21 GSAA, and 16th with 6.6 GPS (#49 per game).

Subban has had 18 starts going 8-7-3 with a 3.09 GAA and 89.3 Sv%. The team played better D in front of him, he was 54/83 with 15.9 scoring chance shots against per 60 and they limit odd man rushes as he was 79th with just 0.8 rush shots per 60, but still have trouble clearing the crease as he was 25th with 3.9 rebonds per 60. He was 56th in GAA, 65th in Sv%, 54th with -8.18 GSAA, and 61st with 2.0 GPS (#67 per game).

Fleury has not been great this year, it is statistically one of the worst of his career behind 2009-10 and 2016-17. However, he has had a good reason to be a little less focused on hockey this year and there have been few games this year that you can legitimately blame on his performance, although he has a habit of blaming himself even when it is the coaches or players who are at fault. Despite this he is still outperforming Subban, even during the 12 games under the new coach (Fleury 5-3-2 2.57 GAA 90.6 Sv% and Subban 2-0-0 3.37 GAA and 85.2 Sv%). Of course league average scoring (3.03) is the highest it has been since 2005-06 (3.08) and the average Sv% (90.9) is the lowest it has been since 2008-09 (90.8), so their poor performance isn’t necessarily an indictment of their own ability.

 

Defensemen

At 5-on-5 the top D in TOI per game were Theodore 17.5 and Schmidt 17.4 then Holden 16.7, Merrill 16.2, and McNabb 16.1. The more sheltered 3rd pairing guys were Hague 14.9, Bischoff 14.3, Engelland 13.9, and Whitecloud 13.1.

On PP the top by far is still Theodore who winds up staying out skating with both units, while Schmidt and Hague both had some exposure with the 2nd unit. On the PK the top unit is Engelland and McNabb while Holden, Schmidt, and Merrill get wor on the 2nd unit.

At 5-on-5 the top scoring D are Theodore 7G/12A and Schmidt 4G/14A. Then we have McNabb 1G/7A, Hague 7A, Holden 3G/3A, Merrill 2G/3A, and Engelland 1G/4A. On the PP we have an additional Theodore 14A, Schmidt 1G/4A, Hague 1G/3A, and Holden 1G. Finally shorthanded Theodore and McNabb with 1G each while Holden, Merrill, and Engelland all have 1A.

The top D at 5-on-5 is Theodore 45GF/35GA then Whitegloud 3GF/0GA, Merrill 30GF/27GA, and Engelland 32GF/31GA while Hague breaks even 32GF/32GA. Next is Bischoff 1GF/4GA, Holden 31GF/35GA, Schmidt 37GF/41GA, and McNabb 41GF/51GA. On the PP we add Theodore 26GF/3GA, Schmidt 7GF/0GA, Hague 6GF/0GA, and Merrill, Bischoff, Holden, and McNabb all with 1GF/0GA. Then on the PK we have Theodore 1GF/1GA, Whitecloud 0GF/1GA, Merrill 2GF/9GA, Schmidt 2GF/14GA, Holden 3GF/16GA, Engelland 5GF/18GA, and McNabb 5GF/25GA.

Lastly we look at Point Shares in which case we have Theodore 3.2OPS/3.5DPS, Schmidt 2.3OPS/2.3DPS, Holden 0.3OPS/2.0DPS, Merrill -0.1PS/2.3DPS, Engelland -0.3OPS/2.2 DPS, Hague 0.5OPS/1.2DPS, McNabb -0.6OPS/2.0DPS, Whitecloud -0.1OPS/0.4DPS, and Bischoff -0.1OPS/0.0DPS.

On paper Theodore is the best D on the team, but if we look at it per 60 then Schmidt actually outscores him both at ES as well as on the PP, although Theodore does still manage to give up far fewer goals against. Of course one issue we identified when looking at the D pairings is how bad the McNabb-Schmidt pairing has been which is a big part of Schmidt’s defensive issues this year, unfortunately this pairing has survived the coaching change, and seemingly so has the also disappointing Holden-Theodore pairing. I still maintain they would be better off with a McNabb-Theodore pairing, which would allow them to try Schmidt with the newly acquired Martinez.

We also see that Hague has scored the most P60 and GF60 both at 5-on-5 and on the PP, and while he gave up a lot of goals against he still broke even which is better than half the D can say, which is why it was such a shock that they sent one of their most effective D back down to the AHL. Engelland has also been one of their best D, he has the 2nd best GF60 and middling GA60 which comes out as a positive +/- and when it comes to the PK he has been the best GA60 amongst the 5 primary options, which is why it is so baffling that the new coach has benched him more often than not.

Holden and Merrill put up slightly less P60 than Engelland and had the worst GF60 of the 7 regular D, although Merrill at least game out positive and both had a decent GA60, although Merrill has been better especially on the PK where Holden gave up more than anybody else. So as we saw when looking at the D pairings the most effective 3rd pairing has been Merrill-Engelland (especially if we consider Hague permanently demoted now that they have Martinez) this would likely be the ideal solution, with Holden rotating in occasionally when somebody needs a break. The worst D at ES has been McNabb, middling offense and one of the worst GA60, but he actually played quite well when he was paired with Theodore before Schmidt returned, so this could quite improve his performance, and we don’t want to scratch him because he has been the 2nd best of the PK after Engelland. In fact one has to wonder if DeBoer scratching Engelland and demoting Hague (and under-using Schmidt on the PP) is a big part of their special teams struggles since he took over.

 

Forwards

Up front the top 5-on-5 TOI per game were Pacioretty 14.4, Marchessault 14.1, Stone 14.0, and Karlsson 13.9 then Stephenson 13.1, Smith 13.1, and Stastny 12.9. The more 3rd pairing guys are Tuch 12.2, Kolesar 12.0, and Eakin 11.7 followed by Glass 10.9, Zykov 10.7, and Pirri 10.2 which the 4th liners being Nosek 9.9, Carrier 9.5, Reaves 9.5, and Roy 9.3.

On the PP they are still pretty evenly split, Pirri had 2.6 when he was up then the top unit Paciretty 2.5, Stone 2.5, and Stastny 2.4. Marchessault is now at 2.2 having moved up to join the top unit when Glass 2.2 got demoted, with the remainign 2nd unit being Smith 2.0, Karlsson 2.0, and Tuch 1.8 with Zykov at 1.4 when he was up and recently getting more usage Stephenson 1.0. The top on the PK was Eakin 2.1 then Karlsson 2.0 and Smith 2.0, Stone 2.0, Nosek 1.3, Stephenson 1.1, and Stastny 1.1.

At 5-on-5 the top scoring forwards were Stone 12G/22A, Pacioretty 18G/15A, and Smith 15G/17A then Marchessault 12G/14A and Karlsson 6G/18A. After them we have Stastny 9G/9A and Carrier 6G/11A then Stephenson 4G/9A, Reaves 6G/4A, and both Nosek and Tuch 5G/5A. Next are Eakin 3G/4A, Glass 4G/2A, and Roy 3G/3A with Zykov 3A and Pirri 1A bringing up the rear. On the PP we have an additional Stone 7G/10A, Pacioretty 6G/11A, Marchessault 6G/6A, Stastny 5G/4A, Tuch 3G/4A, Karlsson 2G/5A, Glass 1G/5A, and Smith 3G/2A while Stephenson has 1G/1A, Zykov 1G, and Eakin 1A. Shorthanded it was Karlsson 2G/3A, Smith 2G/2A, Stephenson 2G, Nosek 1G, and both Stone and Stastny 1A.

On faceoffs the most effective has been Stastny 529/965=54.8%, Karlsson 412/805=51.2%, and Nosek 182/354=51.4%. The rest were all under .500 Eakin 250/527=47.4, Stephenson 130/298=43.6%, Glass 60/143=42.0%, Roy 67/142=47.2%, and Marchessault 57/131=43.5%. Pacioretty only average 1 faceoff per game, but when he does he wins 47/88=53.4%.

The top forwards at 5-on-5 are Stephenson 27GF/13GA, Pacioretty 48GF/36GA, and Stone 45GF/36GA then Smith 41GF/39GA, Kalrsson 36GF/34GA, Carrier 25GF/24GA, and Roy 9GF/8GA. Falling behind with negative +/- are Zykov 5GF/7GA, Stastny 32GF/35GA, Pirri 1GF/4GA, Marchessault 34GF/38GA, Nosek 18GF/22GA, Glass 11GF/16GA, Reaves 20GF/26GA, Eakin 11GF/20GA, and Tuch 15GF/25GA. On the PP we add Pacioretty 26GF/2GA, Stone 25GF/1GA, Stastny 23GF/1GA, Marchessault 16GF/1GA, Glass 13GF/1GA, Smith 12GF/2GA, Karlsson 11GF/2GA, Tuch 9GF/1GA, Stephenson 5GF/0GA, both Zyov and Eakin 2GF/0GA, Carrier 1GF/0GA, and Pirri 0GF/1GA. Lastly shorthanded are Tuch 0GF/1GA, Roy 0GF/2GA, Stephenson 2GF/6GA, Stastny 1GF/9GA, Stone 3GF/11GA, Smith 5GF/13GA, Nosek 2GF/12GA, Eakin 0GF/11GA, and Karlsson 5GF/16GA.

Lastly then are Point Shares with the top forward being Pacioretty 5.6OPS/1.7DPS, Stone 4.7OPS/1.7DPS, Smith 4.1OPS/1.5DPS, and Marchessault 3.8OPS/1.0DPS then Karlsson 2.1OPS/1.2DPS, Stastny 2.1OPS/1.1DPS, and Stephenson 1.3OPS/1.2DPS followed by Carrier 0.7OPS/0.7DPS and Tuch 0.9OPS/0.3DPS. Next are Roy 0.4PS/0.2DPS, Glass 0.3OPS/0.3DPS, Nosek -0.1OPS/0.6DPS, Reaves 0.0OPS/0.4DPS, Zykov 0.0OPS/0.1DPS, Eakin -0.3OPS/0.2DPS, and Pirri -0.3OPS/0.0DPS.

It is pretty clear that Pacioretty and Stone have been their best players this year, lots of points both at ES and on the PP and they excelled at both ends of the ice, while Stone also put up solid numbers on the PK. Smith has also had a solid year, especially on the PK, although at ES he gave up a few too many goals against and his numbers on the PP weren’t all that great. Marchessault has struggled a little at ES and gave up enough aainst that he came out as a negative, but he has been one of the best on the PP and while less dominant isn’t bad at ES. Karlsson also has not been as god as we hoped considering his past performance, giving up too many goals against and not connecting as often on the PP, but he continues to put up points at ES and has been great on the PK. Stastny has had his ups and downs but seems to be getting better and while he hasn’t scored much at ES and wound up as a negative +/- he has done well on both the PP and PK. Stephenson has also been one of their best players at ES, he doesn’t have as high P60 but posted excellent GF60 and GA60 at ES, the problems being that with the rest of the Top 6 healthy there isn’t room for him up there and neither his PP nor PK numbers have been all that great.

Roy has been one of the best Bottom 6 guys, solid offense although his defensive ability and faceoffs are a bit lacking, and its still a fairly small sample size, but with the lineup they have it seems like he should be dressed. Carrier has been better than expected, still not great and more fitting in a 4th line role but he put up decent numbers at both ends of the ice and came out positive. Tuch and Glass are in similar situations, both being in and out of the lineup from time too time (Tuch with multiple injuries), neither with much ES offense and negative +/-, although Glass had good GA60 and both were useful on the PP. Nosek has been a great 4C, wins lots of faceoffs and has a solid GA60, although less offensive output means he is still a negative, but he is good on the PK and will need to play more now that Eakin is gone. Reaves has been not great, but he has his moments and while he has one of the worst GA60 he does play limited 4th line minutes and seems to pen up space for Nosek and Carrier to get things done. In a fully healthy lineup he would likely be the best option to sit, but at least they know what they get from him night after night.

Eakin had one of the worst offensive performances and a terrible +/-, so with the success of Stephenson it made him expendable and he was traded, although unfortunately they will feel his loss on the PK. Pirri is statistically the worst forward, so his demotion to the AHL was a good call. Zykov, however, while not great does have better numbers than Reaves and Eakin so if he did eventually come back they could make an argument for playing him, but ultimately he is better off in Chicago.

Author: TKNoodle

I write about hockey, mostly focused on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vegas Golden Knights. NHL, AHL (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Chicago Wolves), ECHL (Wheeling Nailers), and various prospects from my teams playing in Europe (SHL, Liiga, KHL, etc...), the Canadian Major Juniors (OHL, QMJHL, and WHL), and in the NCAA (and some in lower tier juniors prior to joining the NCAA).

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