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What Equipment Change Has Helped Karlsson Score More?

March 15, 2018, 5:44 PM ET [5 Comments]
Sheng Peng
Vegas Golden Knights Blogger •Vegas Golden Knights Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT


Swedish NHL reporter Jonatan Lindquist gave me a terrific tip about William Karlsson.

He had pressed Karlsson to try to explain his incredible season -- Karlsson is up to 36 goals now, after six last year with the Blue Jackets. Karlsson noted that he had changed some equipment going into this year -- he shortened his stick and changed his blade.

Obviously, this isn't the sole reason for a 500% scoring increase -- but it clearly hasn't hurt. I talked to Karlsson about this change today.

HockeyBuzz: I heard you changed your stick before the season. You cut a couple inches off the top. You're also using Victor Rask's blade. Has that helped your scoring?

William Karlsson: I'd say so. Had a long stick last year. Cut it a couple inches, changed the curve. I think it helped me.

HB: Is Victor mad that you've stolen some of his goals this year?

WK: (laughs) No, I just think he's happy for me. I don't think he minds.

HB: I assume the shorter stick helps with pucks in tight. Whereas the longer stick is more useful defensively. And of course, you played a more defensive role in Columbus.

WK: Yeah, of course. It's made me a [better] player when I have the puck. Protecting the puck is easier too. Stuff like that, just little details. It has its pros and cons. But I think it fits me more to have a shorter stick.

HB: You've scored a lot of goals this year on the one-timer. I have to imagine the shorter stick makes the one-timer easier.

WK: It makes sense what you're saying. At least for me. Some guys, they have the skill to have a longer stick, like Barkov. He's really good with the long stick.

HB: Oh shit, I've cracked the code on your 36-goal season.

WK: Yeah, right. (laughs)

(Update: I talked to Karlsson a couple days later about the difference between his old blade and Victor Rask's. Alex Tuch provides a colorful cameo.)

***

There was a lot of news at practice this morning.

Both James Neal and Malcolm Subban were participating fully.

Gerard Gallant believes both will likely be available tomorrow night.

Neal was practicing with William Karlsson, and Gallant revealed that it's a "strong possibility" that he'll be playing with Karlsson and Marchessault for the first time this season tomorrow night.

For the second day in the row, Reilly Smith came out after practice to work out on the ice. Today, he was taking passes from Assistant Coach Ryan Craig; he was also stickhandling. Hopefully, those are good signs for a return soon.

Meanwhile, Gallant didn't have a significant update for William Carrier or Oscar Lindberg. They certainly won't be ready by this weekend and may be out for much longer than that.

He also noted that he got over the sting of last night's 8-3 loss to New Jersey with a bologna sandwich:


***

The Devils danced around the Golden Knights last night 8-3.



Winning Play

This was an omninous sign for a Vegas crowd which has been so accustomed to their team's best at home.

View post on imgur.com


Full credit to Blake Coleman, real hustle. He takes the short-handed defensive zone draw, then beats every Knight up the ice. Granted, Colin Miller could've been harder on the puck, while Marc-Andre probably wants that one back.

But it was the type of letdown which would be repeated time after time last night.

Pluses



Perron wasn't completely wrong, as he posted 32-11 5v5 Corsi and 14-6 Scoring Chance marks. His line, with Tomas Tatar and Erik Haula, certainly enjoyed its share of pressure.

Negatives

However...

After Coleman's game-opening short-handed strike, we can give that line a pass on the Nico Hischier goal -- Tatar was in good defensive position, it was a 2-on-2, so we'll just say Tatar's deflection past Fleury happens. Then, the Golden Knights are in the middle of a line change, the Perron line is just coming on, and there's nobody available to pick up the late man (Travis Zajac) coming down the slot on New Jersey's third goal.


But the game-winning goal was straight-up bad hockey:


Five Knights are looking to score, which is understandable, but unacceptable. Stefan Noesen beats Fleury on the breakaway, and for the first time this season, Flower is chased.

Vegas fought back to score a pair and bang a couple posts to end the second period. At 4-2, there was hope for a dramatic comeback, but this was blunted by a quick Coleman goal to start the third. It was a tough spot, but this wasn't back-up Maxime Lagace's finest performance.

Then this goal put the game out of reach, making it 6-2. Some more bad Vegas hockey:


Around this time, Gallant began to fiddle with his lines. There was some Ryan Reaves with Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, demoting Alex Tuch. The coach, understandably frustrated after the shellacking, wasn't pleased with my line of questioning on this point.


For what it's worth, he did keep Tatar-Haula-Perron together for the entire game, and judging by this morning's practice, will do so tomorrow night against the Wild. As for Tuch, he looks like he'll skate with Cody Eakin once again.

***

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