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Positive regression and inconsistent officiating?

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Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller falls to the ice after taking a punch from San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane as center Joe Pavelski scuffles with center Paul Stastny  and defenseman Jon Merrill during Game 4 of the first round of the 2019 Stan Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams

The Vegas Golden Knights’ power play has scored a clutch goal in every win in this series.

In Game 2, Mark Stone broke a 3-3 deadlock with a goal. In Game 3, Paul Stastny’s backdoor dagger gave Vegas a three-goal lead. In Game 4, Max Pacioretty greeted back-up Aaron Dell with a goal, negating the San Jose Sharks’ strong play at 5-on-5.

The Golden Knights have scored six power play goals in this series, leading all playoff teams.

Part of their success have been zone entries at 5-on-4.

In Game 1, Vegas was able to take advantage of aggressive San Jose stand-ups to gain the zone.

This is a five-man “swing,” their most common power play breakout in this series. Shea Theodore (27) is the lead puck carrier. Theodore hit Alex Tuch (89), who held the puck until he had lured in both the Sharks’ lead forechecker (Barclay Goodrow, 23) and Brent Burns (88). Tuch then flips it to Mark Stone (61), the outside option.

By Game 2, the Sharks weren’t standing up at the blueline as aggressively, but the Knights were still pounding it to the outside on entry.

This, by the way, is a perfectly sensible approach from both teams. San Jose defends the opposing team’s power play breakout by clogging the middle with their lead forechecker and another Shark behind him at the blueline. It’s natural for Vegas to look to the outside.

Another part of their success has been shot volume. Vegas has tossed 64.61 shots per 60 at 5-on-4, third in the NHL. This is a bump from their regular season 54.67, good for seventh in the league.

Gerard Gallant noted, “They’re getting pucks to the net.

“The set-up is there. Stone is making really good plays. The guys are moving, more pucks are going to the net.”

San Jose has noticed. After Game 3, both Justin Braun and Logan Couture cited getting into the shot lanes as a necessary penalty killing improvement.

Despite allowing two power play goals in Game 4, the San Jose penalty kill might be trending upward.

They were able to dramatically cut both Golden Knights’ shots and shot attempts in Game 4. It’s also worth noting that the Pacioretty power play goal was fluky, while the Jonathan Marchessault score was in garbage time.

Gallant noticed: “I thought the power play was a little bit better in other games. We need to get more pucks to the net, more traffic.”

On the other hand, the San Jose power play has been firing away at Marc-Andre Fleury. They lead the playoffs with 76.22 shots per 60 at 5-on-4, but they’ve notched just three power play goals.

Positive regression, anybody?

Consistent Officiating?

After Game 4, Peter DeBoer mentioned being unhappy with inconsistent officiating.

I asked him more about it today, and he elaborated on the Joe Pavelski interference call in the third period that led to his comments: “If that [Pavelski interference] was going to be called, I was upset that Pavelski got out of the box, similar situation, but open ice, wasn’t called. I think the consistency of the calls was more of my issue.”

I believe this Alex Tuch (89) open-ice hit on Pavelski was what he was referring to. Here is both Pavelski’s penalty and the non-call on Tuch:

However, DeBoer emphasized: “Bottom line is, there are no excuses. We can’t use calls or referees or things going against us, we have to find a way. We’re at that point here.”

Regardless, I’m sure that DeBoer would like to see a swing in his favor here: Vegas has had 15 power plays to San Jose’s seven over the last two games.

Dillon for King Clancy

Lost in the playoff shuffle was Brenden Dillon’s nomination yesterday for the King Clancy Trophy. The Clancy is given to the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”

According to the Sharks press release, Dillon “has been the face of the Sharks Foundation’s Stick To Fitness program since its inception during the 2014-15 season.”

Dillon spoke about what’s inspired him to be so involved in the community and why he’s so focused on children’s fitness:

When I was in Dallas, coming up in pro, I was very fortunate to be around a lot of veteran guys who cared about things outside the rink. Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas, Brendan Morrow, guys who gave back to communities. They had families and kids, I was just a young, single guy, I just had so much free time to myself, realized I was in a pretty lucky position.

I remember being a kid in Vancouver, growing up. If you had a Canucks guy coming to your school, see him going to a hospital, you thought that was so cool. I kind of always told myself if I got to that point, I’d like to do something like that.

I take a lot of pride in fitness and trying to stay in shape. When I was in Dallas, there was a program I started, where you try to encourage kids from getting away from screentime. When I got traded here, that’s one of the first things that I asked the Foundation about.

It’s taken off, the winning schools get a Teal Top. It’s like a blacktop, but teal, a hockey rink.