The Vegas Golden Knights haven’t won more than two games in a row this season, despite the amount of talent on the team and the ability to play four strong offensive lines.
Many people point to the amount of penalties as one of the reasons the Knights can’t get ahead. They wouldn’t be wrong either. The Golden Knights are third in the league for penalties, with 182 minutes in just 17 games (73 penalties). That’s almost 11 minutes per game that the Knights are on the Penalty Kill (or PK, in hockey terms).
Luckily, however, the Knights are also the number two penalty killers in the league, allowing only seven goals and giving them a power play kill percentage of 89.2. This number is so good because of two players…
Reilly Smith and William Karlsson, or Willy KarlSmith (celebrity couple name), are not only the best penalty killers on the team, but they’re also the best in the league. These two are so good on the PK that, when they are on the ice, the Golden Knights are more likely to score a shorthanded goal, than be scored upon!
Check The Karlsson and Smith Penalty Kill Stats
The above chart shows what happens when Reilly Smith is on the ice with different players during the PK. Notice that the Golden Knights have scored four goals and allowed only one when Smith and Karlsson were on the ice together. That makes it a detriment for another team to have a power play with Willy KarlSmith on ice. Keep in mind that the team as a whole has only scored five shorthanded goals, three of which came from Smith and Karlsson.
This next chart shows you how they compare to the rest of the league.
Our team stats might be even better on the PK if Time on Ice reflected how effective each player was. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from these:
Smith and Karlsson have been consistent through all three seasons:
Besides the PK, both Smith and Karlsson have been fantastic this season. They play hard every night and they’re two of the most reliable players on the team.
Karlsson may not be topping the charts with goals yet, but he is still contributing to the team in a big way. He’s number two in points and number one for the best +/- score. He’s also NEVER missed a VGK game, which as we all know, is a big feat on this team.
Smith is having another great season. As opposed to previous years however, he has more goals than assists. In fact, he leads the team in goals and has the second best +/- score (even if they counted the PK). He even has the best Shot percentage (20.9), if you don’t count Tuch’s one goal to three shots. Smith also has some of the best stats on the team in other areas:
In all, I would say it’s not hard to argue that Smith and Karlsson are the MVPs of the season so far. And considering their performance in the two seasons prior, we shouldn’t be surprised.
In my next article, I’ll be explaining why Gallant doesn’t like to split those two up, and why lines shouldn’t be mixed up arbitrarily, as some sports writers like to suggest…