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Colorado Proving Teams Can Slow Down McDavid In Western Conference Final

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 14 lifetime games against the Vegas, Connor McDavid, the world’s most electric player, has 17 total points. That’s an average of 1.21 points per game. It’s exciting for the fans but not for the Golden Knights. To be fair, most NHL franchises have been torched by McDavid as he’s averaged 1.58 points per game over the past four seasons.

However, in the Western Conference Final, the Colorado Avalanche seem to have figured out how to at least slow him down. Through three WCF games, the Avalanche have held McDavid to 3 points. Well below his 1.44 career points per playoff game and 2.17 he had in the first 12 playoff games this year.

Colorado deserves high marks for successfully executing a plan to slow down Edmonton’s captain. It’s similar to how the Golden Knights handled Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon.

A couple of mental mistakes, a couple of positioning mistakes. That’s what a team like Colorado does to you. The second that Colorado was up a couple of goals they went into lockdown mode. Colorado knew they had enough to win then they locked it down. That’s what good teams do in the playoffs. –Matt Kassian, Oilers Analyst and Former player to TSN

By limiting McDavid the Avalanche have taken away the Oilers’ biggest weapon and their identity. Edmonton isn’t as effective, fast, nor as threatening without their one-two punch of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Doing it takes a collective effort from all five players on the ice. If we go back to 2017, Nate Schmidt gave us a little primer on what it takes to attack McDavid defensively. Five years later, the Avs are putting it on film.

So what can Vegas learn by watching Colorado stuff the league’s most dynamic skater?

They’re getting to him early. If you picture three layers, the attack layer is the first guy, the second layer is two players but they re-attack the puck carrier and then the next layer is kept tight. They were physical with him as well.-Dave Poulin, TSN Analyst and former player to TSN

In other situations, Colorado has effectively suffocated McDavid by limiting his threatening attacks on net with their skill and speed. Other times, they’ve just relied on the brilliance of a 23-year-old superstar of their own.

Let’s start with the obvious, the Golden Knights do not have a player as quick and skilled as Cale Makar. The Norris trophy finalist has single-handily broken up crucial rushes from McDavid. Next season Vegas will have to find ways to snuff out Draisaitl and McDavid with what they have. Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden McNabb, Zach Whitecloud, and Shea Theodore are capable of limiting #97. However, none are as unique as Makar and will have to use other skills to slow down McJesus.

McDavid has lost his battle against MacKinnon, Makar and Toews. When they split up McDavid and Draisaitl, Draisaitl lost his battle to Kadri’s line quite badly. –Mike Johnson, TSN Analyst and former player to TSN

It must be agonizing for anyone in the organization to watch the WCF, especially when they believed it was their deepest team in Golden Knights history. However, there are blueprints, notes, and strategies to pick up on. Especially, since it’s likely Vegas will have to go through Edmonton, Colorado, or both, to advance to next year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Maybe it’s too painful to watch now but there’s always a full summer to catch up on Below Deck and multi-game reminders of why Vegas missed the postseason.

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21 Comments

  1. Oilers like the Golden Knights do not have the skilled defense to compete with the skilled teams. The Knights have Petrianglo who alone can’t carry the team. Both teams have huge defensive liabilities in Nurse and Theadore. Sure they can carry and shoot the puck. But neither can play defense properly to defend in their own end. They are out of position most of the time in favor of rushing up the ice for a pass. Colorado’s young defense knows how to play the position and that is why they are shutting down McDavid. Losses in the past, payoff years for the Knights were because of very poor defensive play and lack of defense skill which is shown in the scoring high lights, Till either team solves this there will be very few Championships.

    • Pistol Pete

      All except they shut down COL and McKinnon for four games last series. Apparently that’s an outlier to the your weak defense claim? I thought VGK had one of the top overall defensive number
      in the league last season.

      • Pistol Pete

        I meant 2020-21 of course. This season they had so many injuries.

    • What Colorado is proving it takes a TEAM to have a chance at winning the Cup. Vegas mgt is under the impression you just need a couple of overpaid players (shiny toys so to speak). Edmonton has two of the best but you saw what happened. Teams with a winning attitude win the Stanley Cup not individuals.

      • Mike StG

        Hd, I think what COL is proving is that if your team sucks for long enough and being a lottery team you can get a half dozen elite draft picks over a period of 6 or 7 years, who you can then develop and pay low or reasonable salaries until they hit actual UFA status, and if you make some good trade moves (like acquiring Toews, Lekhonen, Kadri all on reasonable cap hits)… then you have a pretty good chance to field a team that is a true cup contender. If they don’t win this year, Nate’s new deal and some other UFA/RFA costs will put them in a tough spot. Then what? I do give high marks to what Sakic has done.

        That ain’t Vegas though. In 5 year history never been a lottery team or had better than #6 pick. So they went an alternate route, and instead of drafting elite talent they traded for it. They’re paying more but the players don’t need to go through years of development. Comparing the two teams is like apples and oranges.

        • Mike Sig – we are on the same page. There was no comparison made just a fact that individuals as great as the two Edmonton have doesn’t make up for a winning attitude and TEAM to raise the Cup. Shiny new toys don’t bring that winning attitude on board it is developed when the TEAM is on the same page. Vegas in cap hell because they think you could buy the Cup, getting these shiny new toys and overpaying.

  2. Pistol Pete

    Nice piece on Gallant in The Athletic. Confirms my long time assumption he’s more a player’s coach and motivator than an analytics guy (leaves that to his assistants). I do think for whatever reason his success declined after season 1 in Vegas. Imo McPhee and McCrimmon thought it over long and hard before making the move. They certainly knew better than me.

  3. Pistol Pete

    Actually Jason, McDavid has 4 pts (2 G/2 A) the first three games vs. COL which is not exactly shutting him down other than the game 2 shut-out. But your point stands. He’s been held below the astounding pace of the first two series.

  4. Mike StG

    No offense intended, but I couldn’t care less about this now that my #1 choice for VGK head coach just became available – Bruce Cassidy.

    He’s the absolute best choice for this team. Tocchet would now be a distant second imo.

    Got my fingers crossed that Cassidy lands here.

  5. Chuckles

    More I think about choosing a new coach. Perhaps getting a young hire from a powerhouse. Even CHL junior teams winners, might be worth hiring. Too many experienced organizations in current mix. Old liners minus Winnipeg better track record!

  6. Henderson One

    Bigger question is goalie performance. Are we anywhere close to matching the goalies for the Rangers and Lightning?

  7. Chuckles

    I said last year if Fleury traded. Better get a backup that has played many games in reserve. No offense to Brossoit. Twenty games average didn’t cut it last season. Need vet goalie that can count on to lead the charges before time to retool.

  8. THE hockey GOD

    BREAKING REPORT: Multiple Tampa Bay Rays players REFUSE TO WEAR uniforms with LGBTQ RAINBOW LOGO’S for Pride month citing right to make ‘faith-based decision’…

    and the brain dead moron in WH forgets to honor D day, two years in row and instead rambles something about pride month, pervert rainbow sick and twisted agenda.

    This nation is going into crapper , pray ceaselessly. The dementia ridden cretin will soon have Putin attacking Americans, wait for it.

    • knights fan in minny

      what does this have to do with the wcf

    • There you go again, THG, showing your political venom on thIs HOCKEY SITE. Just when I think you will be CIVIL,,you again show your true colors. Just can’t help yourself, can you??

  9. THE hockey GOD

    I’d rather have Kyle Rittenhouse as my neighbor than Hunter Biden any day of the fcken week

    • Roberto

      Change your channel to Food Network for the next seven days.

      I’ll comp you a #18 combo (Camarones al Mojo de Ajo), if you don’t have more of a smile on your face, and a little more bounce in your step, this time next week.

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