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Alec Martinez’s Playoff Presence Stabilizing In Relief For Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

About a month ago veteran defenseman Alec Martinez was written off. Many were preparing his send off into retirement or jump to some team less desirable than Vegas. After adding Noah Hanifin and signing him to a long-term extension, it appeared Martinez was buried on the depth chart. That is up until his name was called for Game 2 in Dallas.

You rely on your experience. You know what playoff hockey is like. Maybe not a notch, maybe two or three notches above what the regular season is like. Seven game series, there’s a little more emotions, more physicality, more animosity built. I’m just excited to be a part of it. -Alec Martinez

There was no secret about it. When the lineup was fully intact, Martinez was the first one out. Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy sat the 3-time Stanley Cup champion nine times in the final 19 games. He held Martinez out of Game 1 against Dallas, only to activate him after Nic Hague’s latest injury. Now, it’s like nothing changed and the league’s premier shot blocker is back to shrinking shooting alleys in a playoff game.

Earlier in the series we highlighted the Golden Knights knack for shot blocking. In his three games, Martinez became the league leader in blocked shots per game this postseason. Along with teammate Brayden McNabb, Martinez has disrupted roughly nine shots per game. As the series goes deeper, Martinez ability to eat pucks will likely earn him more minutes. Heavy and hostile series tend to wear down the average player, but not for tested, workman type d-men like Martinez and McNabb.

We looked at last year, the six we had and we made the simple sub for Hanifin in Marty’s spot. Tough on Marty. He’s a veteran guy that’s helped us win a Cup. Won three before. Listen, you know you’re going to have some bumps and bruises. – Bruce Cassidy

Another reason why Martinez has been effective this series is Cassidy’s decision to limit his minutes. Since being inserted into the lineup, the 36-year old is getting bottom pair minutes with Zach Whitecloud. Martinez was up over 19 minutes per game in the regular season. He’s been limited to just 16 per night in his first three playoff games.

To be fully transparent, Martinez is -2 this series so there have been miscues on a couple of his shifts. However, most of VGK’s defensemen are under water at 5-on-5 against Dallas, so it would feel unfair to single him out in a negative light.

The Golden Knights need better team defense in order to secure a Game 5 victory. With the Stars juggling their lines, top line weapons could be matched up against Vegas’ bottom pairing. It’s possible tonight will be Martinez and Whitecloud’s biggest challenge. It may not look pretty but clearing rebounds, clogging lanes and disturbing 96 MPH slap shots will always get it done in the postseason. If there’s anyone who can do all of those things, it’s Alec Martinez.

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17 Comments

  1. ThG

    coach hits panic button today and jumbles lines up
    basically admitting that
    team needs a WAKE UP CALL

    Hertl-Eichel-Marchessault
    Dorofeyev-Stephenson-Stone
    Howden-(Karlsson)-Amadio
    Carrier-Roy-Barbashev

    Martinez-Pietrangelo
    McNabb-Theodore
    Hutton-Hanifin

    now USA needs a wake up call
    to work broke , never ending tax/spend
    policies of uniparty led by Jihad Joe !

    • ThG

      Hill likely starter

      boy the coach is pulling out all stops !!

      personally I would have switched goalies the last game.

    • JB

      If these lines are correct, I love it! Also, LT has done a good job, but his style just worries the crap out of me. Hill is more stable, if he can use his glove hand properly! Doro gets his chance. Karlsson line is fast and potent. Get more offense with same punch with Barby on 4th. This should be fun!

      • knights fan in minny

        logan is playing just fine why would you change

        • Emmanuel

          He could use a rest, none of these 2 G’s are 55+ game starters…..

      • JB – As long as all the guys recognize it’s a team effort that wins, we will be fine – that said if noses are out of joint being relegated to a different line than they normally have played it could be ugly. The one that sticks out the most is line 4 so we need Barby to show the physicality he provided in last year’s run when on line one. Here’s to a win tonight. If it’s Hill tonight he needs to be better than he was the last game he played, or we will be in big trouble.

    • Emmanuel

      Is that 1st line the best VGK has EVER iced?

      • Emmanuel

        Who’s checking Wyatt Johnson? Carrier? One of the D’s is moving up?
        Hope its not Hertl/Doro/Howden….

      • Emmanuel – I guess we will find out tonight – Time will tell.

  2. PJT

    I know everyone here is going to be hard on Pietrangelo because of his issues in the last game and question why he’s still in today’s lineup. I’d like to take a more sympathetic view and see it from his perspective.

    Alex is the defacto captain of the VGK considering the long absence of Stone. More importantly, he’s the real captain of the defensive corp. He’s been steady in that role since the beginning of the playoffs. We know this because the games we’ve played have been close and not one sided. Monday’s night game was going well for Alex until he witness McNabb issuing a massive hit on Stankoven to only get a retaliatory hit from Stars captain Jamie Benn. That must have upset #7 a lot to the extent of making the game all about getting back at Benn for that hit on Nabber. Shortly after that, Alex gets hit with a roughing penalty and then his game just went down the tubes except for that payback hit on Benn which sent him over the boards.

    All I’m saying is that playoff hockey. is different. I’ve seen captain’s meltdown before. I’m reminded on that Round 2 game in 2013 between Blackhawks and Red Wings when the Blackhawks was down 2-1 in the series when Hawks captain Jonathan Toews took 3 back to back penalties. You can tell that he was angry and frustrated. What happened next is the story of legends when Brent Seabrook #7 a defenseman went over to the penalty box and sat with the captain to calm him down. Chicago would go on and lose that game and be in the hole 3-1 for the series but more importantly, they ended up winning the series and eventually beating the Bruins to win the Cup.

    Moral of the story is that even though mistakes can cost you a game, it’s the comeback that will win you the series.

    GKG!

    • JB

      I agree that we must have petros experience in the lineup. Also Hutton gets a shot to play his steady style.

  3. knights fan in minny

    hill better find that magic from last year i don’t think he played that good the second half

    • Emmanuel

      The basis of all magic is fooling your audience,
      we’ll find out tonight if he’s the real deal or a fluke.

  4. ThG

    moves reeks of desperation trying to right a fast sinking ship.

    we shall see

    SOS

    • Emmanuel

      I like the Police’s song “I’ll be watching you”, the song from their 1st album “Put on the red light” is pretty good too…..

  5. Rashaad

    I miss that feeling of fear you have as a kid when you watch a scary movie.

    You don’t have that anymore as an adult. Tonight is the closest thing to that. I fear Dallas and think they will win. That’s what will make it really fun if Vegas comes through.

    Adin Hill in particular scares me. This team also never really lets me down so a part of me is also confident.

  6. Emily51

    Great post, Rashaad! I’m scared of Hill in net, too. The pessimist in me thinks we lose the next 2. But I do love that 1st line and having Doro. playing tonight!

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