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Golden Knights OK With “Low-Event Hockey”; Should They Be?

Through the first three games of the series, the Golden Knights have tallied five goals total with just three coming at even-strength. While Vegas leads on the even-strength shot tally in the series 71-62, the scoring chance numbers per NaturalStatTrick.com actually show Dallas ahead 60-48.

Following Game 1, a game in which Vegas was bullied a bit early, Pete DeBoer used a phrase he had previously been known for in his time in New Jersey to describe the series-opening loss.

I don’t know what the chances were but it was a low-event game both ways. I didn’t think their offense gave us a lot of difficulty. -DeBoer

When DeBoer was behind the Devils bench from 2011-2015 the brand of hockey his teams were known for was often described as “low-event.” That means the shot numbers, chance numbers, and hopefully, the goal numbers are down. It’s a brand of hockey that has worked for many teams over the course of the past decade but one the Golden Knights have always viewed as the nemesis.

When the Golden Knights are at their best, they are creating chances in bunches. They tilt the ice in their favor and they impose their will on the other team. That’s how they overwhelmed Chicago, how they eventually cracked Thatcher Demko and the Canucks, and how they made their way out of the round-robin as the #1 seed. Going back further, that was the brand they played when DeBoer first arrived and it’s how they played for the entire Gallant era as well.

In Game 1, Vegas created just 14 scoring chances in the game at even-strength and only racked up seven through the first 2 periods. In Game 2, they tallied nine in the 1st period alone and finished the game off with 19 despite playing six fewer minutes of even-strength time. Then, in Game 3, they were back to struggling to create chances, totalling 17 but just 10 through two periods.

 Even-Strength TOIScoring ChancesChances/Min
VGK Game 154:52140.25
VGK Game 246:45190.41
VGK Game 352:15170.32
DAL Game 154:52270.51
DAL Game 246:45170.37
DAL Game 352:15200.38

Meanwhile, Dallas has stayed fairly consistent. They had a breakout period in the 2nd of Game 1, but aside from that, they’ve created about the same number of chances per minute in every other period of the series.

So, I asked following Game 3, is low-event hockey bad for the Golden Knights in a series against the Dallas Stars? DeBoer kind of scoffed at the question and started his answer by saying “Well… we want to win.” He continued.

You’re playing one of the best defensive teams in the league in this series. So you aren’t going to get a choice to play high-event hockey, they’re going to grind and make it tough defensively and that’s just how it’s going to be and I think we’re comfortable in that type of game. -DeBoer

But they need to have a choice, don’t they? Vegas dictates play when they are playing at their best. Excellent defensive team or not, if the Golden Knights want to win, they need to live in the opposing team’s zone, constantly put pressure on the defense, and create bunches of chances. They did it well in the 2nd period of Game 2 and sure enough, it helped to generate three goals and ultimately a victory.

Now, after nine periods and a quick overtime DeBoer is saying they don’t have a choice?

We’re not looking to get into a track meet here. I didn’t think (Game 3) was too low of an event (game). I thought we had a lot of offensive zone possession. It’s playoff hockey, it’s not going to be cute, it’s not going to be making unbelievable plays every time you score. -Alex Tuch

Why not get into a track meet with them?

Vegas has the better forward group, should be better overall offensively, and definitely have the better goalie(s). If more chances one way means more the other too, which team should be expected to finish the most off?

In Game 2, Vegas gave up multiple odd-man rushes but they created a few as well. Vegas scored two brilliant goals off them while Dallas could barely muster a shot. Dallas called Game 1 “Stars Hockey.” They want to keep scoring chances low for Vegas, even if it means they sacrifice a bit of their own.

The Golden Knights seem content with relying on extended time in the zone without many truly dangerous chances to eventually pull through, as it did in the Vancouver series.

But this isn’t the Canucks they are playing. As DeBoer said, Dallas is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Vegas’ scoring woes aren’t going to disappear overnight against this team. They need high-danger chances. They need transition chances. They need the game to open up from time to time.

However, after their second loss in three games, they don’t seem interested in playing high-event hockey at least not until they are behind. So far, it has not worked and there doesn’t seem to be any urgency to change.

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20 Comments

  1. A Fan

    You’re spot on with this. And if they continue the way they have, there will be no Cup finals.

  2. Carl

    No track meet, PDB?

    I beg to say The Golden Misfits would have run rings around this Dallas team. And The Misfits were mostly a team of 100 yard dash sprinters. Different team now, but to minimize the value of speed just sounds all wrong. Come on, Pete, you’ve been damn good so far, but the low-event stuff is boring and doesn’t work so well against the better NHL teams.

  3. Robin L. 5 year contract not going anywhere. By MAF. We love you
    But looks like time to go.

    • Julie

      It’s not a signed contract yet. I predict we see Fleury again very soon ( maybe not Game 4, but Game 5). I also would not be surprised if VGK in the end doesn’t sign Lehner. That happened with NY Islanders, they were in negotiations and then walked away from Lehner. Ottawa, Buffalo and Chicago all dumped Lehner. There is a reason. Dansk is similar to Lehner and already has an extension. Overall, the team doesn’t seem to have the fire in their belly. I hope it comes back quickly.

  4. Richard Santomauro

    The year 1 philosophy took us to the Cup Finals. Year 2 under Gallant was a complete jinx. Sure, MAF gave up 4 goals in a 5 minute major. But, that was an anomaly. Based on that 1 anomaly and a slow start to this season the front office dumped Gallant, dismantled the misfits and lost faith in MAF. Over an anomaly. Now the team is more balanced? Is the PK really that much better? Well, we are about to find out because from what I have seen so far is a team that isn’t as good as the one in year 1 or 2. If #61 and #67 are supposed to be bringing more offense, that has not been the case. I am beginning to think VGK front office took the wrong turn in roster decision making. They still have time to prove me wrong.

  5. They have a kid named Peyton Krebs who is with them in Edmonton. Instant offense give him some opportunity can’t hurt
    .

  6. Tim

    I think were running out of gas and I’m not sure we can get our legs back by Saturday. Not sure if Lehner got hurt on the last play before overtime if so will Flower start Saturday. DeBoer is in a tough spot with his goaltending and who’s on what line. George and Kelly have to be livid the way all this is coming down.

  7. Are the VGK only in the conference final because they won the round robin? We’re about to find out.

  8. Jason

    I’m not on the Lehner contract train for three reasons. Fleury is still very good and is a big leader on this team. 2. Lehner’s drug history. 3. Lehner’s weight. The dude is fat.

    • Jason finally someone who stands up and tell it like it is. Ok obviously not a Lehner fan club member. Don’t understand why some of these knowledgeable ??????? Posters have such a love affair with Lehner and don’t see things as they are – at least question if so great why other teams walked away with such a jewel.

      • Jason

        Thank you very much Hdbiker7851. I really appreciate your kind words. I thought I was going to get my head ripped off for posting my thoughts about Lehner.

        • Obviously the truth hurts and they haven’t much to say . Often actions (or lack there of in this case) speak louder than words.

          • Julie

            I’m with you and Jason on this….I want him to do well, but it’s like hit or miss.

  9. DOC aPositiveFan

    ” Make sure kindness, rules everything you say ” Heard this today and realized this is what we are lacking and sorely need in this divided country we have.

    • THE hockey GOD

      only “divided” and dividing people are small minority who still can’t get over 2016; take a pill.

  10. THE hockey GOD

    The VGK team is three years older and three steps slower. They need to bring the energy, for three more games. Their skilled forwards look smaller and weak on puck against Stars’ D men. And the Stars D men have far outplayed the Vegas D men consistently throughout this series.

  11. Tim

    Three years older and slower is pretty spot on. If we lose to Dallas George and Kelly won’t be afraid to make changes. With Glass, Krebs, Dugan, fighting to make the team next year it will be an interesting camp. The Fleury situation has turned into a real mess and if Lehner doesn’t sign we’ll be down to Oskar Dance now that’s a scary situation. Of coarse they’d trade for a goalie but would he be as good as Fleury or Lehner I doubt it. On the bright side we’ve had a competitive team for three years so we are a little spoiled.

    • True Tim but a lot that is missing physically can be made up by attitude which Vegas at this point is lacking . The drama that George, Kelly & ,PDB initiated did nothing but hurt the team in general. Sad part it was avoidable by continuing the rotation sequence as they had a luxury that most teams would kill for. Oh no they had to screw it up with stupid decisions. You get what you sow therefore place the blame where it belongs directly on George Kelly and our boy Pete.

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