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Cassidy’s Neutral Zone Adjustment Helped VGK Win Game 6, And Maybe Game 7 Too

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

In most playoff series the matchup of the coaches gets overblown. Talk of adjustments, line changes, goalie decisions, motivational tactics, and so much more find their way into the ether when in reality, the better hockey team typically wins despite all of it.

When it comes to the Golden Knights and Stars first round series headed to a 7th and final game, there’s no doubt the coaching has had an impact. Bruce Cassidy’s box-and-one defending style helped Vegas grab a pair of leads and hold onto them to take control of the series. Then, Pete DeBoer’s squad adjusted their exits by using the walls more to help his defensemen get the puck out before VGK’s big bruising forecheck got into the picture.

DeBoer also deserves credit for advising his forwards to leak out of the zone even earlier than they are used to catch a Vegas defense that often overloads a side of the ice against transition chances. Dallas has hit multiple stretch passes that have sent players in on clean breakaways. (Fortunately for Vegas their goalies have shut down most of them.)

As the tide of the series shifted back from Vegas to Dallas, Cassidy had to find a way to speed his team up. The Stars were making the Golden Knights look old and stodgy by limiting their ability to carry the puck through the center of the ice. In Game 6, Cassidy presented another option to his team, it unlocked the neutral zone, and made Vegas look fast again.

They’ve done a really good job at taking away the middle of the ice. We pride ourselves in that too. So, there’s room outside. So that’s what we did. We said, ok we’ve got to get the puck outside and take the ice that’s there. You’re probably not making a lot of east-west plays in the he neutral zone and we didn’t. We took what was there for the most part. -Cassidy

Here are a couple of quick examples of exactly what he’s talking about.

*Click for video on mobile devices*

In that one, Alex Pietrangelo drifted to the wall as Mark Stone carried the puck back into the D-Zone looking for a re-entry. Chandler Stephenson, on the same page, also headed towards the wall. A quick up from Pietrangelo sent Stephenson easily and quickly back into the zone with the pass easily beating the Dallas forward protecting the middle of the ice.

*Click for video on mobile devices*

In this one, it’s another quick up from Zach Whitecloud that helped spring Vegas back into the zone. The movement of center Nic Roy is the key. With a focus on playing on the outside ice through the neutral zone, Roy headed directly towards the benches rather than up the middle. As Dallas swarmed to that side he quickly hit a pass across and Keegan Kolesar rang the post.

It’s a tiny detail to the game, but it made a huge difference in giving the Golden Knights a new option to break through a stingy Dallas neutral zone trap. And Cassidy expects to keep attacking the same way in the pivotal Game 7.

I think for the most part we’ll do it again if that’s what’s there. If they make an adjustment then maybe we can make some plays through the middle of the ice. They’ve defended well, so I’m sure that’s probably going to be an option for us again. -Cassidy

Cassidy found a way through an excellently coached DeBoer neutral zone setup. Will DeBoer have a response? The answer will likely determine the outcome of the biggest game of the season for both teams.

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Game 7: By The Numbers

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DALLAS STARS 2 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (DAL Wins 4-3)

32 Comments

  1. jeffrey m sutton

    game 7’s are huge. typically whomever wins game 7 moves on in the series.

  2. knights fan in minny

    bodies in front of otter take his eyes away or he makes the save

  3. ThG

    oh great
    jinx the team again

    when will we ever learn

    • ThG

      how about an article on Stars and how they keep slipping the russian behind our D ?

      looks like author is biased towards the STars, again ?

  4. ThG

    time for VGK to hulk it up !!

  5. ThG

    hero Noah and time for victory !

  6. I know you are trying to educate the fan base or wanting to look good with a great understanding of the game but maybe not a bad idea is keep it simple – shoot the puck at the net and screen the goalie. If Vegas does that tonight they will win. That was the Hanifin goal with 55 screening the goalie which if you read any of the posts after the game the “knowledgeable???? ” posters didn’t bother to recognize that or just “neglected” to say so – probably not the neglected statement. They are as good as Dallas and it could and should be said better as the have the Championship experience on their side. BIG WIN this evening so we can march on.
    ble

    • Emmanuel

      I think the mistake the pundits are making is that theyre looking at season stats but with health and the deadline trades this is a MUCH better team to the extent someone like Mantha could be benched.

    • Jeff

      Championship experience is overblown. Game 7’s are usually about who gets the bounce.

  7. stats

    final score=== Vgk 3-dallas 1

  8. ThG

    pink flamingos are wussy gay

    Vegas can do much better than that !

    • JB

      Oh who cares thg? Let em throw what they want. The pink birds are a tradition now. Are you so shallow that bothers you?

      • ThG

        time for a new tradition, we can do better than plastic pink bird !

        Thought you “progressive” types hate tradition, and embrace change.

        • JB

          I guess you thought wrong! Although I sure wouldn’t classify myself as a progressive.

        • TS

          Thg, well, you’d be incorrecto mundo! Try to enjoy the game, grumpy!

    • TS

      Thg, Paying homage to Vegas’ history is the reason for the pink birds. Long- timers in Vegas get it!

  9. Emmanuel

    Off topic but they just announced the Selke finalists and Austin Matthews is one of the three. That was kind of a shock, I always considered him a Strat O Matic 2 out of 5 defensively.

    This kinda matters cause with Phoenix moving I would say Vegas would be a destination for him after or during his contract.

    Also if hes the Leagues G scoring leader & a Selke finalist wouldnt he be considered the best player in the league?

  10. ThG

    the enemy from within is a demented old man, twisted by sickness rotting his brain turning him into Jihad Joe. The world is on fire due to his weak and feckless policies. He has no plan whatsoever to end his proxy war with Putin except to spend our tax dollars in oblivion , bankrupting America.

    now this

    The Biden administration has put a hold on a shipment of U.S.-manufactured ammunition to Israel for the first time since the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, according to a report.

    Two Israeli officials told Axios that the weapons shipment was stopped last week, leaving officials within the Israeli government scrambling to understand why.

    When asked about the report, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council told Fox News Digital that it has supported Israel’s defense since the Oct. 7 attack.

    “The United States has surged billions of dollars in security assistance to Israel since the October 7 attacks, passed the largest ever supplemental appropriation for emergency assistance to Israel, led an unprecedented coalition to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, and will continue to do what is necessary to ensure Israel can defend itself from the threats it faces,” the statement said.

    Congress needs to step in and smack creepy joe across his you know what.

    • JimL

      Speaking of demented brains….

      Aren’t you on the wrong website for that idiocy?

  11. JB

    Tick tick tick, game getting closer. Only four hours now!

  12. I’m already taking a sneak peek into the future, VKG advance tonight, moves on to face the well-rested avalanche , who throttle us by the same 7-1 score the last time we played them in the playoffs in Game One, Logan is our sacrificial lamb as the ultimate teammate, but fear not VGK bounces back and wins Game Two and heads back home with home ice advantage!

    • ThG

      how about not counting our eggs before the chickens hatch them ?

  13. No eggs or chickens were harmed in this rendering of the future.

  14. Jose

    I don’t live in Las Vegas, but has the dragon at T- Mobile hurt anyone yet.

    • JB

      There going to unleash the dragon on the city if we lose tonight!

    • TS

      Jose, a little too much gasoline, and POOF, GONE!! enjoy the game!

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