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Blueprint To The Golden Knights Beating The Montreal Canadiens

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Eight wins down, eight to go. The next four need to come against a feisty team from north of the border that are on an impressive seven-game winning streak while not trailing at any point in any game.

But the Golden Knights enter the series as the better team both on paper as well as in results thus far this season.

I laid out the blueprint to beat the Wild and the Golden Knights followed it. Then I did the same for the Avalanche, and VGK did even more than was expected. Now, it’s time for the blueprint to beat the Canadiens, once again broken down into four segments with the most important up first.

Beat Montreal’s skaters to score on Carey Price

As I wrote about Saturday, scoring on Carey Price is never easy. However, scoring on the Canadiens is far from impossible. As good as Price can be, and he’s more than capable of making Thatcher Demko and Anton Khudobin’s performances look average, the Golden Knights can make him a non-factor if they generate the right type of looks.

What I mean by that is Vegas need to work incredibly hard every single time they get the puck in the offensive zone to obstruct Price’s vision of the puck. Then, they’ll be able to shoot pucks through traffic as well as tip pucks and create chances even the best goalie in the world cannot stop.

In addition, Vegas have to be clinical with their offensive opportunities. They can’t be relying on bank shots off the goalie’s back or goals where the goaltender is literally looking in the stands for the puck. Instead, they’ll have to execute at a high level when they create their most dangerous chances. Breakaways need to be finished. Odd-man rushes need to result in shots on net, and one-timers must be blasted on net rather than fired wide or scuffed off the stick.

The Golden Knights are good enough to create chances Price, or any goalie, can’t stop. They need to keep doing it.

Demoralize them with possession and pressure

It’s been a hallmark of the Golden Knights style this entire season and it needs to continue being cranked up to the highest level in this series. The Golden Knights should aim to take away all of Montreal’s offense by living in the offensive zone and locking up the neutral zone when the Habs finally get the puck out.

While Montreal have some excellent skaters, they do not have the speed and skill of a Colorado, or even Minnesota, which can turn a simple rush into a goal. Instead, the Habs rely on their forecheck and mistakes at the blue lines to generate most of their offense. If the Golden Knights manage the puck well enough when they have it, they’ll make generating offense incredibly difficult on a Canadien forward group that will spend most of their nights defending rather than attacking.

Awareness of aggressiveness

A huge piece of what has gotten Montreal to this point is their ability to force their opponents into making mistakes. Unlike Vegas who like to play within a structure and allow positioning to cause problems for the opposition, Montreal attack the puck all over the ice. They are particularly aggressive when the puck is in the neutral zone and they’ll often send a forward directly at the puck carrier to try and break up the play before it ever begins.

Awareness of this aggressive style of play will be critical for Vegas. If the Golden Knights know where the forecheckers are coming from, understand the assertive nature of the backcheckers, and are attentive to their pressure relief options, they should be able to shred Montreal apart creating time and space for skaters all over the ice.

In addition, Vegas must be ready for one of the more aggressive penalty kills in the NHL. One that not only looks to break up plays, but take the puck the other way and score. VGK’s power play has been sub-par all year. It probably doesn’t need to thrive in this series for the Golden Knights to win, but it can’t be a detriment.

Stars must star

Much of the talk surrounding the Golden Knights’ victory over the Avalanche is about depth. Vegas received goals from 3rd and 4th liners as well as defensemen in the latter half of the series which have been applauded as a key reason they one. Of course, it’s great to get depth scoring, but one of the biggest reason’s the Golden Knights actually beat the Avs was because they stopped Colorado’s stars.

That simply cannot happen to the Golden Knights in this series. They’ll need goals from Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Jonathan Marchessault and they’ll need continued excellent play from Alex Pietrangelo and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Montreal is a balanced team that spread minutes out in a much more even fashion than Vegas. That means plenty of time for the Golden Knights’ best against opposing 3rd and 4th lines as well as the bottom-pair defensemen.

Simply put, Vegas will need their best players to be the most impactful players in the series if they want to win it. Otherwise, all the talk will be about the lone superstar on the other side, the guy between the pipes.


If the Golden Knights do all of this, they’ll be headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in four seasons. If they don’t, the underdog won’t look like an underdog for long.

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35 Comments

  1. Richard Santomauro

    Statistically, the Golden Knights should completely dominate Montreal. Our top two lines are much much better than theirs and a case could be made that the VGK 3rd line is better than their top line. The only parity between these two teams is between the pipes. Last year, Dallas kept VGK away from the net and on the perimeter with absolutely no game plan to tilt the ice whatsoever.

    That’s the one major change I have seen this year. PDB is tilting the ice more and pushing hard to create chances in the offensive zone BEFORE defenses have a chance to set up. That strategy has paid off and I definitely see the improvement, especially on the Misfit Line and the Battleship Line (4th). They’re getting to the net a lot more this year and the results have been fantastic.

    Time for #7 to earn that salary! It’s go time. 8 Games Left.

    Go Knights Go!

    • THE hockey GOD

      no. 7 has earned his salary, where were you the in these playoffs ?

      yadda
      yadda
      followed by more
      yadda yadda,

    • Peter Turner

      Six of the MTL active players are 2020 acquisitions, Coupled with the shortened season due to Covid, these guys haven’t been playing together much. Compare that with VGK where we only had 3 new additions in 2020, 1 forward Janmark and 2 defensemen, Pietra and Martinez. The rest of the VGK roster including our core misfits have been here a long while. Both of us are under new coaches but VGK players are more familiar with each other and it shows when we break out fast.

      Go Knights go!

  2. George

    Vegas should be able to win the series just don’t complain about the officiating like we did last series.

    • THE hockey GOD

      The NHL and refs will MAKE sure the ice is tilted.

      Everyone knows that the HABS are the anointed ones, and CANADA owns
      the NHL.

      Example one: instead of starting at 7 or 7 30 pm – 10 or 10 30 EASTERN time, which would be a HUGE home ice advantage for the VGK. And which is their normal starting time. They give away this advantage to appease the “back east’ Canadian prime time fans.

      Not good. The LA KINGS did the same thing in 1993, and they had a much better team with Wayne Gretzky and ended up losing to HABS.

      The fix is in people, know it.

      • Howard

        THE hockey GOD << Continued looney tuning. Every Eastern team playing in semis of out west would get the same exact start time it's for ratings you looney tune!

  3. Joe Kaszupski

    I love the analysis, spot on!! Keep our heads, use our heads , and things will happen for the VGK!!

    Go Knights Go

  4. Walter Bailey

    On paper this should be easier for Vegas than last two series. But that’s often when teams get their guard down.

  5. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    HOT HOT HOT !

    * Record temps in the valley this week.

    ** Two hot teams coming with a combined 11 wins in a row.

    As the big underdog Islanders showed yesterday, anything can happen in the playoffs.

    We simply have to play with the intensity the playoffs deserve.

    As happens in most PO series’ the goaltenders could be the deciding factor. Price is playing very well. Flurey is too, but must solve his glove hand issue. He just isn’t snatching pucks out of the air very well. This is leading to way too many rebounds. If he gets his “glove magic” back, he will be tuff to beat.

    The Canadians know they must take at least one game here at T-Mobile. This must not happen.

    Just go do your thing tonight boys!!!!!

    • Nurud

      One game – we want 2!!! That’s going to be hard to do. Canadiens must play their game. No one gave us chance against the Leafs – we brought them to their knees! No one gave us a chance vs the Jets – we destroyed them in 4!

      • THE hockey GOD

        corey perry, the goon, destroyed the leafs capt. that is why they won, who is perry going to head hunt in this series????

        • Nik

          Obviously your eyesight isn’t as good as it was when you were younger – lol
          There was no intent to injure, he tried to avoid JT. He would have been suspended like was Schiefle(Jets) for decapitating Evans. He’s never been a goon, as a matter of fact – he’s a member the Triple Gold club and a Stanley Cup Winner and

          • THE hockey GOD

            no he didn’t obviously he didn’t, and replay showed he didn’t get out of way

            perry is a goon and everyone knows it

      • Howard

        No one gave you a chance against a team that hasn’t been out of 1st round since Bush JR’s first term? See my picks on this site. I picked Canadians to beat Leafs. My left nut can beat them – soft D, no sustain. Tavares getting jacked up helped you as well.

        Jets? lol, their D core is even worse than Leafs and missing their best player. The North division was a sheer joke this year with the realignment.

        The only way HABS win this series is that if VGK beats themselves badly. Certainly possible as I’ve seen it happen before, but I would not be betting $$ on it!

    • Richard Santomauro

      The puck he missed at the end of period 1 with .8 seconds left was a backhanded glove. I’ve noticed that Fleury is not as good with the glove on backhanded catching than he is on forehanded.

      I am not worried at all about this series. Our top 3 lines are better than Montreal’s top line. This should be a short series if VGK doesn’t play down to the talent level on the ice.

  6. Nurud

    The Canadiens love being the underdogs – in fact we thrive on that! Bring it ON!!!

    • Richard Santomauro

      VGK respects Montreal’s run for sure. Your team wasn’t supposed to survive round 1 but pulled it together and made it happen. With that said, the VGK top 3 lines are better than your 1st. Does Montreal have a chance? Sure, of course. You never know when the Hockey God’s are going to throw shade on your team. Montreal is still fielding professional hockey players, and you never know how good they can be at times.

      Do I think Montreal will be competitive? YES
      Do I think Montreal has a realistic chance to send VGK home? NO

      • Nurud

        Richard, you are right in a lot of what you say. LVK’s 3 lines are or have been…talent wise better than the Habs ‘regular season’ top lines. In fact, we never had a top line to speak of during the regular season – Price was not good either. You guys(LVK) are very very good, top talent.

        What we have done is found that 3rd gear, started believing in ourselves as a team in the playoffs. Let’s take one game at a time. Habs have already won “Canada’s Cup” by beating the Leafs…. now all that remains is cup #25.

        • Richard Santomauro

          On any given night…..

          That’s why they play the games and why we watch.

          If this series wasn’t going to be interesting I would find something else to do.

          I hope you enjoy the semi-final series, but look forward to next season after the end of round 3! Montreal has already seen where it can improve and build on for the future.

        • THE hockey GOD

          “What we have done is found that 3rd gear” what you found is that when your goon takes out capt. of other team, you win. You must be very proud of goon hockey tactic. Do it in vEga$ and the maybe ghost of tony the ant will surface and one of the HABS may be REAVED with baseball bats and end up somewhere planted in the desert.

          • Nurud

            Laughable – because you must have been watching with your eyes shut! Did he get a penalty? Did he get suspended? Nope! Let me guess, the NHL player safety that dishes out suspensions and the refs are protecting him, they’re all in this together.

        • THE hockey GOD

          carey price has drug and abuse issues, everyone in canada knows it

          VGK is hoping he will fold like a cheap suit in hot desert air

          • Nik

            Dude – you rock!! You must be high on something except brains!

          • Nurud

            Whaaaat!!! You must be getting your news and knowledge from an un-named source at Enquirer or someone in a straight jacket!

        • DOC (Go Knights Go)

          First off you should learn the correct name of your opponent.

          It’s not (LVK) ….. It’s VGK, VEGAS Golden Knights!

          • THE hockey GOD

            dumchit trash talkin’ canadians don’t know squat, eh !

            it is a well known fact that their goalie has substance abuse issues.

  7. knights fan in minny

    game day drop the puck cant wait

  8. knights fan in minny

    nurud get your mask on justy told you to

  9. Coyote

    VGK always play better as the underdog. That’s all I’m nervous about. I hope they don’t let up and handle business. Good luck to MTL, too. And also was very happy to see Turk got hired for the NYR.

  10. THE hockey GOD

    BREAKING: Rangers have reached agreement to hire Gerard Gallant as head coach, Post has learned.

    • Peter Turner

      The man deserves it. He just coached Team Canada to another Gold medal in IIHF a week ago. Kudos to him. Hope we won’t meet him soon in the playoffs for many years to come. But if ever NYR comes during the regular season, GG deserves a tribute video and VGK players should be tapping their sticks in recognition of his historic contribution to our franchise.

      • jinklu

        I couldn’t agree more Peter. I just became a Rangers fan too. He made the Knights who and what they are. I’m eager to see what he will do with the Rangers. I wish Turk all the best, including a Cup in the future.

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