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Back Pressure Against Devils Must Persist For VGK To Keep Winning

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Finally, the Golden Knights are starting to look like themselves again. After an extended rough patch out of the All Star Break, VGK have won three games out of four including back-to-back home games for the first time since January.

One of the main reasons why the Golden Knights resembled the team that won the Cup a year ago was their commitment to defending earlier in plays. When VGK are at their best, it’s incredibly difficult to generate offense against them. The key to it is defensive help from the forwards, especially through the neutral zone.

We built some of that into practice yesterday, just reminders of what’s necessary. The more you back pressure the more the D have confidence to stay up. They don’t have to completely kill the rush, if they half-kill it, you have a forward coming along to help. We’ll probably look at it again tomorrow in practice and keep building on that part of our game. -Bruce Cassidy

This style of defending helps the Golden Knights tilt the ice in their favor, which typically results in wins. Vegas has allowed 25 or fewer shots in 14 games this season, including last night. They are 12-1-1 in those games and have allowed more than two goals in a game just four times.

Defensively, we had really good gaps. You are only able to have good gaps if you have good back pressure from the forwards. We did that all night and caused a lot of turnovers in the neutral zone that turned into transition chances. -Noah Hanifin

Prior to last night, the Golden Knights had allowed 30 or more shots in 9 of the last 11 games during a 3-7-1 stretch in which they were allowing 4.55 goals per game.

We pride ourselves in that. We got away from it a little bit and now let’s get back to it. All the good teams in this league that check well, they all back pressure. They skate well, they get above (the puck) and they really make you work to score off the rush. It’s just for the other team to know they have to make plays with less time and space. That’s harder to do. -Cassidy

The way the Golden Knights are built, to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, it begins with defense. And it’s not just on the six players labeled as defensemen to do the job. To dominate as they’ve shown in the past, it takes all 18 skaters working together to make life a living hell on the opposing team. The Devils experienced it last night, now it’s up to VGK to make other teams less comfortable with hell feel it too.




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  1. Duckboy

    This was true after the first 5-10 mins of the game when apparently their strategy to have a good start was to have the d men take chances like they were down 3 in an elimanation game.

    That’s the one thing about hanfin and Petro together, they do get burnt when both are looking to play up ice. Not sure if that will work itself out.

    Do we see Hauge and whitecloud again this season without an injury?

  2. Mike

    I wouldn’t put to much stock into Vegas win yesterday. They played a struggling New Jersey team on a back to back on the road and won off a luck deflected goal. Let’s see tomorrow, I think bolts hammer them but we’ll see

  3. Pistol Pete

    Seems we can count on Eichel and Karlsson to apply back pressure consistently. Dorofeyev tries his best too. It is absolutely the difference maker when all 12 forwards in the lineup do it. Good topic to highlight Ken.

    I know I am getting to be a stuck record on Hertl but despite his -26 this season in San Jose he is said to be excellent defensively. I am expecting him to fit right in with the team identity where back pressure is a key part to them being hard to play against. The guy wants to win a Cup.

    Attn: hdbiker: To throw you a bone I am willing to concede upping the “urgency” could apply to applying back pressure. I know they want to win every game they play and they try hard every game but they really do need to get back to the forwards, all of them, applying back pressure with the utmost of urgency. A lot of this too is recognizing when a forward has to reload in the O zone and backcheck, the earlier the better when possession is changing hands.

    • Thank you PP – you are beginning to understand where I come from. Many years around hockey probably makes me more critical than some as I see things differently. It’s not being negative about our team it is simply seeing things differently and calling them out. They are a good team, and it is very frustrating to witness them not playing up to their potential which equates to recognizing the necessity for urgency. When they decide to turn it on it make all the difference in the world – it’s the difference between winning and losing and they know that which makes it hard to tolerate and not be called out for when it doesn’t occur. Here’s to a win tomorrow night they can’t afford many more losses.

  4. ‘Finally, the Golden Knights are starting to look like themselves again’ is Ken’s opening line. I’d like to believe that, but 1 game does not equate to a ‘finally’, lets see what happens, and I hope its a positive happens, when we face 5 potential Hall of Famers on Tuesday, a team despite its stars, we have always matched up exceedingly well against!!

    • Tim

      Larry, your so right they can’t score for 2 periods against the Devils. Finally we play a good third period and all of a sudden everything is fixed and were on a one game winning streak. Fans are the least realistic people always reaching for any crumb to make them feel good.

  5. Pistol Pete

    On March 11 it was reported Hertl said he hopes to be back on the ice in about two weeks. Potentially this has him skating in a practice at some point during the upcoming four game road trip Monday 3/25 through Saturday 3/30.

    • Jeff

      The question then becomes how do we fit him in under the cap.

      • Mike

        He already counts towards the cap. He’s on IR not LTIR

        • jeff

          Thanks I just saw that. I was concerned how we were fitting everyone in the rest of the regular season. Our GM is a magician.

  6. LVsc

    I wrote this 5 days ago, before the NJ game, and it accurately describes the neutral zone problem that was corrected for at least one night.

    The VGK defensive system is completely flawed now, because of 2 things that have changed.
    One is the fact that opposing teams have figured out that the way to beat the Knights system is to use transition speed and score off the rush, and de-emphasize the dump-in and the cycle.

    and the other is the fact that the VGK players show a complete lack of lateral skating mobility and effort. Have you noticed that the VGK forwards who are supposed to clog the neutral zone just wave goodbye as the opponents skate right by them and around them in the NZ ?
    and that results in the VGK defensemen being caught flatfooted and backing in to their own goal, and just scrambling while the opponent gets a quality, high danger shot many times each game.

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