The Vegas Golden Knights have set an NHL record for most consecutive wins to start a season for a defending Stanley Cup champion. The Golden Knights can extend that streak to nine games with wins over the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings this Friday and Saturday.
The Golden Knights had a hard time cracking Carter Hart and the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Logan Thompson had a puck deflect in off his blocker and the potential was there for the Golden Knights to suffer their first loss of the 2023-24 season. Paul Cotter created a little magic and Shea Theodore scored with 30 seconds remaining to give the Golden Knights the victory.
Do the stats support the Golden Knights’ record-breaking start? Has the team been getting lucky or are the Golden Knights just that much better than their opponents? Should fans be concerned about the Golden Knights’ style of play leading to more injuries?
Vegas Hockey Now’s Chris Gawlik finds the answers to those questions and more interesting stats courtesy of Money Puck.
Hits given vs. hits taken
Injuries have been a concern since Pete DeBoer’s last season as coach for the Golden Knights. The injury bug has already struck Zach Whitecloud, Alex Pietrangelo, William Carrier, and Alec Martinez this season.
The Golden Knights always play a physical game. Do teams play a physical game back?
The Golden Knights are tied for No. 1 overall in hits given with 147. Teams are not shying away from the Golden Knights’ physical play as the team ranks No. 5 overall in hits taken at 129. Teams are going to give the Golden Knights their best game night after night. Everyone wants to knock off the Stanley Cup champions. Teams are aware of Mark Stone’s back issues and he will be a target all season long.
High-danger shots for vs. high danger-shots against
Defining a high-danger shot can be a bit tricky. Location, rebound, or a rush shot are all variables in defining a high-danger shot. If the crowd lets out a big gasp of air or cheers for a big save, it was probably a high-danger shot.
The Golden Knights are No. 7 overall with 29 high-danger shots for and No. 6 overall in high-danger shots against. Those stats tell a couple of things. The Golden Knights are playing high-event hockey which can be exciting to watch. Both teams on the ice are getting a high quantity of high-danger chances. This stat also tells us goaltenders Adin Hill and Logan Thompson are playing very well.
Takeaways from opponent vs. giveaways to opponent
Are the Golden Knights protecting the puck while doing a good job in creating turnovers?
The Golden Knights are No. 1 overall with 63 takeaways and No. 7 overall in giveaways. It is nice to see the Golden Knights leading the league in takeaways. The giveaways are concerning depending on where the giveaways are happening. Just over half (55%) of the giveaways are happening in the defensive zone which ranks No. 11 overall. This is not a major concern as Hill and Thompson have had strong starts. But this is something that the Golden Knights need to clean up a bit.
What does all of this actually mean?
Good question. To start, it makes for exciting hockey. There have been lots of hits on both sides and plenty of high danger chances every time the Golden Knights take the ice. In a perfect world it would be nice if the Golden Knights can find a way to take less hits. The Golden Knights play a physical game and will get a physical game in return. Less defensive zone giveaways should equate to less high danger-shots against.
The Golden Knights avoided the Stanley Cup hangover and are perfect to start the 2023-24 season. For the moment, these stats are secondary to the Golden Knights’ overall record. If the Golden Knights start to struggle, we can see if there were changes in the stats above.