When it comes to the Golden Knights, you can read pretty much any article on this site, watch any game on TV, listen to any discussion on the radio, and you are bound to hear at least some mention of Bruce Cassidy’s devotion to defending.
Cassidy came into Vegas with a new zone defense style that helped make his Boston Bruins teams some of the stingiest in the league over the past five years. That system is expected to help turn a Golden Knights team that finished 14th in the league in goals against last year to a higher level.
However, the guy who used to stand behind the bench is sick of hearing this narrative, and he probably has a point.
There’s been similar stuff that’s been said about me coming out of Vegas. All of a sudden Bruce Cassidy is in there and they are defending. We won the Jennings and the Vezina the year before. –Pete DeBoer on Jeff Marek Show
If you take the entirety of each coach’s tenure at their previous stop, they were incredibly close in how many goals their teams allowed. DeBoer’s Golden Knights allowed 524 goals in 199 games while Cassidy’s Bruins let in 1,220 in 473. That’s 2.63 per game for DeBoer and 2.58 per game for Cassidy. In other words, over the course of an 82-game season, DeBoer’s teams allowed 4 goals more than Cassidy’s.
And, DeBoer was actually better in the playoffs than his Vegas successor. Cassidy’s system declined in the postseason where DeBoer’s improved. DeBoer’s VGK teams went from 2.71 goals allowed per game in the regular season to 2.31 in the playoffs. Cassidy on the other hand saw an increase from 2.56 in the regular season to 2.68 in the playoffs.
You hit a little bit of a sore spot with me on how coaches get boxed into outside opinions. Every coach that’s coaching at this level is doing what they can to win that night to get into the playoffs. –DeBoer on Jeff Marek Show
Admittedly, we here at SinBin are part of the problem DeBoer is shedding light on. Any time a coaching change occurs, fans and media tend to focus on what the new coach does well and then see how it translates to the team. Yes, Cassidy is an excellent defensive coach, and the expectation for the Golden Knights should be high, but that doesn’t mean DeBoer wasn’t.
Sometimes it’s just a different voice. Sometimes it’s someone coming in with fresh perspective. That stuff bothers me a little bit because it’s an easy out and an easy headline for people to run with and I don’t think it’s fair to the coaching fraternity. –DeBoer on Jeff Marek Show
It’s early in the season, and the Golden Knights have had some good moments and some bad to this point defensively. They’ve allowed just eight goals in four games, but have given up far more high-danger chances than they’d prefer.
As the season goes on, everyone will continue to monitor the success of VGK’s defense, but in fairness to DeBoer, we shouldn’t forget what it looked like in the past.
In fact, when DeBoer came in, the narrative was incredibly similar. He was the defensive guru and Gerard Gallant was not. He probably didn’t mind it as much back then though.