The Golden Knights have picked up right where they left off in many areas as they start their title defense, none more though than on the penalty kill.
After finishing the season with a perfect penalty kill series against the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights have killed nine straight penalties to open the 2023-24 season including a five-minute major in the opener against Seattle.
Vegas has now killed 25 straight penalties and haven’t allowed a power play goal since May 25th in Game 4 against the Stars.
It’s not a coincidence either.
We have put more emphasis on the PK this year. It’s not so much on the ice work, it’s reminders and maybe separate meetings and more time devoted to that as opposed to 5-on-5. -Bruce Cassidy
Cassidy says the key to the penalty kill is “appropriate pressure.” He wants his penalty killers to apply pressure at the right times, not all the time. Examples of appropriate times to pressure the puck are when players have their back to the play, when the puck is bouncing, pucks in skates, and directly upon entry before the opposition sets up.
We’re doing a better job of being in sync. There’s always going to be chances and some tough bounces and we haven’t had to deal with those bounces yet. Those days will come but right now we’re in sync with our pressure. It’s not one guy going, it’s all three and the safety valve guy is in a good spot. -Cassidy
It’s taken a while for the penalty kill to sort itself out for a few reasons. The first is because of a system overhaul from Pete DeBoer’s PK system to that of current assistant coach John Stevens.
You’ve got some guys that had familiarity with each other but maybe less with what Johnny (Stevens) wanted to do. I think it just takes a while to get out of some of those habits. -Cassidy
The other challenge is the difference between VGK’s standard defensive system and that of the penalty kill.
Our 5-on-5 system is not aggressive by nature so now all of a sudden switch that to the penalty kill I think you want to marry those two as much as you can. -Cassidy
As the players and coaches grow more and more comfortable with the fit of the system to the personnel, we’ve seen improved results across the board.
Having a dominant PK is just as valuable as a stellar power play. So far, the Golden Knights have it, and there aren’t many signs it’s going to change any time soon.