When a team is in complete control of a game like the Golden Knights were Sunday, it allows a coach to balance his players’ minutes a bit more evenly.
It was a luxury coach Pete DeBoer was given when his team held a multiple-goal lead for most of Game 1. He wasn’t forced to utilize Theodore for 28 minutes like he had in the past with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. DeBoer also balanced his forwards, using player’s like Ryan Reaves and William Carrier more than their season average. In fact, Reaves played the third-most minutes he had all season and hit the ice more than Max Pacioretty in Game 1.
Take a look at how DeBoer was able to roll his guys out in a dominant Game 1 compared to the rest of the playoffs and regular season.
Game 1: 19:40 TOI
Season Average: 22:14 TOI
Postseason Average: 22:57 TOI
Game 1: 16:00 TOI
Season Average: 19:25 TOI
Postseason Average: 18:44 TOI
Game 1: 16:21 TOI
Season Average: 18:52 TOI
Postseason Average: 19:13 TOI
Game 1: 14:38 TOI
Season Average: 17:55 TOI
Postseason Average: 16:42 TOI
Game 1: 14:50 TOI
Season Average: 10:09 TOI
Postseason Average: 10:04 TOI
Thanks to Antoine Roussel, Reaves was needed more than normal but it wasn’t just “to keep the flies off the honey.” Extra minutes for Reaves and Carrier equates to less postseason wear and tear on the top-six. Being that it was Game 1, DeBoer should have some well-rested stars for tonight’s matchup.
Going forward, if the Golden Knights and Canucks go deep in their second round series, or games go into overtime, DeBoer should have a bench full of fresh legs. Hopefully, the Golden Knights won’t be forced into a four or five overtime period game, but if they do, the advantage goes to the team that spread their minutes out in earlier games.
If the Golden Knights are able to perform as they did in Game 1, I’d expect DeBoer to deploy the same strategy again tonight. Any situation that has Vegas up by multiple goals, the bottom six, and the fourth line specifically, should see more ice time. But chances are the Canucks will permit that by sending Roussel on the ice to create his typical havoc.
Remember, Reilly Smith said this about Roussel and his antics.
"He's running around out there but I don't think he's distracting anyone but himself." -Smith on Roussel
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) August 24, 2020
So, I’m assuming if Roussel is out there mucking it up, DeBoer will be able to rest his stars again. If only Vancouver’s pest knew how to keep flies off the honey.