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Distance Stats Illustrate Cassidy’s “Goaltender-Friendly” System

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When Bruce Cassidy was asked to describe his coaching style, one of the first adjectives he used was “goaltender-friendly.”

There are a lot of different ways for hockey systems to assist the goalie and Cassidy’s does a lot of them. Things like making the game predictable, not allowing cross-ice passes, limiting the number of odd-man rushes, and keeping the puck away from the center of the ice.

There’s one specific metric that illustrates the way Cassidy’s teams play which helps any goalie sitting behind them. It’s a distance stat and it’s one Golden Knights fans are actually used to being on the other end of.

WaveIntel’s Jason Paul compiled stats on shot and goal distance for a three-year span between 2017 and 2020. The NHL average distance of any goal scoring during those seasons was about 22.4 feet away from the net. For Tukka Rask, Cassidy’s primary goalie, that number was just short of 25 at 24.93, much further than the average. It was the second furthest average distance of goal allowed behind only Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. As for all shots, the average was 36.7 feet while Rask was seeing shots coming from an average of 38.1 feet away.

In comparison, Marc-Andre Fleury was in the bottom third of the league in both categories, allowing goals from an average of 20.3 feet and all shots at 36.4 feet away.

Average Goal Distance
Fleury – 20.3
Lehner – 20.7
Average – 22.4
Rask – 24.9

Average Shot Distance
Lehner – 36.3
Fleury – 36.4
Average – 36.7
Rask – 38.1

Cassidy’s system allows many more shots from the outside while limiting shots in close. In 2021-22, the Bruins led the league by allowing the fewest high-danger chances against, allowing 44 fewer than the next closest team and a whopping 224 fewer than the Golden Knights.

The Bruins ranked in the Top 10 in high-danger chances each of the past four seasons with Cassidy behind the bench. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have been heading in the wrong direction.

High Danger Chances Against per 60 (at 5-on-5)
2021-22
BOS – 8.66 (1st)
VGK – 11.58 (19th)

2020-21
BOS – 8.68 (5th)
VGK – 10.29 (20th)

2019-20
BOS – 8.97 (6th)
VGK – 9.99 (9th)

2018-19
BOS – 9.4 (2nd)
VGK – 9.8 (5th)

The numbers back up Cassidy’s claim of a goalie-friendly system. Now it’s up to him to prove the numbers are about his system and not the personnel playing inside of it.

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30 Comments

  1. THE hockey GOD

    good article ! Considering the MAF data is skewed due to his Billy Buckner moment in VgK history.

    • MAF gaffe was game 3 get over it. It is not the reason we loss a 7 game series to Montreal. You probably forgot the 2-0 breakaway in OT caused by Petro. Also, Buckner’s error was game 6 they still had a chance in game 7. Unless we are presume VGK quit trying after game 3 and Boston quit after game 6. Your opinion must be pretty low to believe those teams just gave up and quit the series after those gaffes.

      • knights fan in minny

        VGK FAN if you dont agree with the hockey dunce your view does not matter hey hockey dunce still waiting for the authorities your a fraud

      • Galdom

        THG, we should try to forget but I have tried and it is extremely hard to forget the MAF gaffe in game 3. It it was at such a critical point in the series and I personally believe it was a huge part of why they lost to Montreal. Opinions can differ on that point but no one could argue that it certainly did not help. There is absolutely no coaching system in the world that would’ve helped out MAF on that play.

        • THE hockey GOD

          yes Galdom I agree with you 1000% , as do most savvy hockey fans. And that ‘distance’ was less than three feet. Maybe that stat is an outlier?

          It is forever etched in annals of VGK hockey. There is no ‘getting over’ or letting it slide. It is there , like that statue of naked lady outside of T mobile for everyone to gawk it. It is forever etched in the minds and annals of VGK hockey. It is not lore or legend yet, that takes time. But one day it will be.

          • Blitz

            Yep cause non-MAF hockey has been amazing so far for VGK.

          • Yes series was over down 2 games to 1.

            I guess TB, Colorado series is over also 2-1

          • VGK was still the series favorite after game 3 you know nothing about hockey or sports.

            You live on negativity.

        • Tim

          Galdom, agree totally with a minute and half to win the game MAF serves up a gimme was a turning point in the series. Giving up 4 goals against San Jose in the 5 minute penalty is a close second. To add insult to injury Marshy then ties the game and MAF gives up the goal in overtime to send us home. Don’t get me wrong we all respect what he did for this franchise but there’s no getting around he’s lost some big games at crucial times.

          • He also stole games for the VGK that we had no business winning.

          • Tim,

            He won more than he lost that is what I’ll remember.

          • Tim

            To my fellow posters below servel20 and VGK fan you post but you don’t get it. I’m not being critical but obviously you don’t know the concept of sports. When the moneys down the cream comes to the top. Which means when crucial playoff games are lost by inadequate play you are not a gamer. This is what separates the men from the boys. You can talk all you want but Montreal and San Jose were on MAF. The Dallas series was on Patch and Stone again not gamers when it counted most. If you recall first Dallas game 1 – 0 are you shitting me we couldn’t push a goal across in 60 minutes.

  2. JJ

    In close, out far. High danger or low soft breeze. Our current *ahem* ‘starting’ goaltender is no match for any puck in motion unless it is in the rough at Augusta.

  3. knights fan in minny

    miromanov re ups

    • VGK Fan

      Minny,

      Thanks, that great news he had a great year with the HSK and no player bonus over the next 2 years which is important considering our LTIR situation for the next 4 years.

  4. JV

    Doesn’t help when the d-men constantly abandon the front of the net, especially Theodore and Pietrangelo, leaving attacking forwards wide open in front of the goalie. They would drift further and further away and it was just a matter of time before someone snuck behind them.

    • THE hockey GOD

      @JV
      or when you have a D man like 88 who was face planted in front of his own goalies’ crease by opposing, bigger, forward more than once (of course in playoffs the refs swallow their whistles). Major reason why 88 is gone now. Plus his play has slide down exponentially. Most of VGK are getting older , slower, fatter, and maybe after this year the “wake up” call will erase the ‘lazy’ part of it all. Only time will tell.

      CSI Miami is on, never watched the original series. Wait , wait wait, it’s the summer solstice . LONGEST DAY OF YEAR. I am getting my telescope out !! Time to bash those druids come out from fifth dimension back into their cubby holes. There’s one now. BAM ! There is another one BAM ! BACK YOU GO DEMONS FROM THE OUTTER LIMITS. BEGONE YOU DEMONS !!! There is a time lord now, who is it ? DR WHO? Chase them away. BAM
      BAM
      BAM

      cotton
      someone help
      I need cotton
      MORE COTTON
      BAM
      BAM
      BAM !

      ThG is under attack !

    • VGK Fan

      JV,

      Great points Petro gets a free pass on this website. I brought up he blew the overtime game 3 in the Montreal series allowing a 2-0 and its crickets on this website. People only see what they want to see.

  5. Emmanuel

    The million dollar ? is who will be in Cassidy’ s doghouse for lackluster defensive play.

  6. Obvious

    Goaltender friendly… what a laugh

    Lehner is one step away from being locked up in the looney bin.

    There is a reason he hasn’t been kept by any team very long… he is a CANCER

    Only reason Lehner is still around is because fat bastard mcriminal is trying to save face and his own ass.

    Goaltender friendly…. My god this is going to be an all out shit show.

    • Tim

      Obvious, Don’t let Galdom here you calling Lehner looney I did it and he jumped in my shit for being insensitive. Of coarse we all know he walks to a different drummer but in our politicly correct world never call a spade a spade.

      • Galdom

        Tim, you can say whatever you want about Robin Lehner as you are entitled to your opinion and I’m sure you have no issue with me challenging that if I don’t agree. Sometimes an argument can get heated where the wrong words can be used and everyone does it at times.

        Fans who like Lehner we’ll defend him when he has criticized and likewise with fans of Fleury. I try to use facts and truth when making an argument and if I stray from that then it’s on me and I have to better.

        But again, it seems as many of us do that. VGK fan for example was saying that being critical of Fluery for things that actually happened was me seeing what I wanted to see when that was not the case as I was actually reflecting on actual facts.

        Lehner has had multiple injuries this year and some of them serious as he is having surgery and he is “looney” in your words and inspite of all that he produced the same numbers that Fleury produced in both Chicago and Minnesota this season. Many people never liked that I mentioned that even though it was factual.

        When people say that Lehner historically has not been able to handle a larger workload as a true number one goalie I don’t challenge that because it’s true. I don’t accuse people who say that of seeing what they want to see.

  7. Tim

    Cassidy will be tested a team getting long in the tooth with questionable goaltending will be a challenge. I still think we’ll be 5th in the Pacific but maybe he’ll prove me wrong. Really it’s baseball season and I’m enjoying watching my team every day. My team the Guardians are young and hungry unlike the Knights who basically even by Stones interview said the team went through the motions last season in a not to united locker room.

    • VGK Fan

      Tim,

      I loved watching them in the 90’s after the Browns left town that 95 season was amazing and they will always be the Tribe to me.

  8. Galdom

    Thank you Tim for your posts. It reiterates exactly what I have been saying about Marc Andre Fleury’s gaffes at crucial times. Just because people love him and he smiles a lot doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen and we should just ignore it. There is nothing wrong with being critical of those moments. I don’t understand how VGK Fan thinks someone who is critical of those moments is seeing what they want to see. There is no fucking way I wanted to see Fluery let in four goals in on a power play against San Jose or make that horrible mistake against Montreal. The reason why I saw it was because it happened and I am not blind.

    Fleury has a history of making very bad mistakes at inopportune times. However, overall his tenure as a Golden Knight was a positive one with more ups than downs. The first season in particular was spectacular from game one right through the entire playoffs.

    • Chuckles

      Year two rat a tat goals in loss to San Jose big example. Only True Hall Of Famer though. The Flower. Make or break season year six. We shall see. We think goaltender boom or bust in Vegas.

    • VGK Fan

      Gladom,

      Your comments are fair.

      I just don’t believe going down 2 games to 1 in a 7 game series means it is over I’ve followed sports since the 1970’s and I’ve seen many teams fight back from being down 2 games to 1 and come back and win. I just don’t think it is fair to blame an entire 7 game series on a game three gaffe. Why does Petro get a free pass on the 2 on 0, break away in game 3 overtime. Why is there no blame on the 0 goals on the power play or the lack of coaching adjustments.

  9. Bobby

    The Cassidy hire is looking better by the day…

  10. Obvious

    Isn’t going to take long before Cassidy realizes the team can’t stand lehner and his never ending bullshit

    In true investment banker form though 2 faced foley could care a less how the team does as long as the stands are full and the fans keep drinking his kool aid

    If he cared he would have punted fat bastard mcriminal long ago

    At some point every company fails when that one inept management team takes the wheel. Too bad that happened so soon in Vegas

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