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Golden Knights Break Outs Broke Down In Game 1

When the puck dropped last night the Dallas Stars had a clear initiative and they wasted no time showing it to the Golden Knights. They want to forecheck the Golden Knights as heavily as possible and challenge every single Vegas exit.

In the first two rounds, the Golden Knights looked like they were holding a clinic on how to break the puck out of the zone. It felt like every time Vegas would head back into their own they’d collect the puck, move it once or twice and exit the zone with ease. Then, the Stars entered the picture and Vegas’ clinic turned into something out of the first few scenes of a Mighty Ducks movie before Gordon Bombay works his magic.

Here is the very first shift of the game.

First, Theodore tries to go up the wall and is denied. Then, Martinez throws an aimless pass up the center of the ice that’s picked off for a scoring chance. Pacioretty then gets it and is crunched by two guys keeping him from exiting the puck out of the zone. There’s a puck battle that Vegas loses. Dallas actually clears their own zone for Vegas’ first exit of the game. The Stars reload, send it back in, and immediately McNabb loses a race but still gets it to Schmidt. He sends a no-look pass to Marchessault, which doesn’t connect. And finally, Smith isn’t first on a loose puck off a block.

Seven Golden Knights players are mentioned in that paragraph. Every single one of them either made a poor play or saw the Stars pressure beat them to the play they wanted to make. If you watch that clip multiple times, you’ll honestly forget the game is being played at even-strength. There are white and green jerseys everywhere and the Golden Knights can’t seem to handle it.

They’re chucking pucks around, reaching with their sticks, getting beat up along the boards, and getting outskated, badly.

Here’s another shift just a few minutes later from the same period.

I won’t break this one down play by play, but Vegas’ clearing attempts are all feeble. Backhand flips, no-look chips, and hopeful slides are the characteristics of the way the Golden Knights are trying to get the puck out of the zone.

It went on and on in the 1st period and continued to appear across the entire 60 minutes of the game.

So, the question now is can they adjust?

We know darn well that the Golden Knights have the ability to break the puck out of their zone. They’ve been doing it quickly and cleanly during these entire playoffs and it has been an emphasis from Pete DeBoer since he took the job.

You’ve got to find a way. You get what you deserve in this league a lot of nights and we just didn’t put in enough work to earn a win. -DeBoer

The excuse of three games in four nights has been bandied around by just about everyone including DeBoer. That excuse rings hollow to me personally as the bigger difference is simply the opponent.

Vancouver defended really well but didn’t have that heaviness that Dallas has. We haven’t played the best defensive team or one of the top two defensive teams in the league yet. This is going to be a different series and we’re going to have to get our head around that. -DeBoer

Dallas is not going to suddenly back off and look like Vancouver or Chicago when it comes to forechecking. They’ll be there, breathing down the Golden Knights’ necks, on every shift they can for the remainder of the series.

If they look like they did in Game 1, this series will be over in a hurry and the Golden Knights will be taking a sad charter back home from Edmonton. But, if they can get back to the way they’re capable of transitioning from defense to offense, the series will change quickly. There were flashes of it in the 3rd period but it needs to be more consistent.

The Golden Knights are in a real playoff series now, they have to respond, and it’s going to start and end with whether or not they can deal with the Dallas forecheck.

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16 Comments

  1. DOC aPositiveFan

    The boys WILL come back in game two. You can’t play much worse, and only lost 1-0. Revo will bring some juice back to the physical game. For whatever reason they weren’t ready to play last night … that won’t happen in game two. I expect that once they get that first goal, they may come in bunches after. Lets unleash that KNIGHT-TIME STORM!!!!! GO KNIGHTS GO !!!

    • Dave Collingridge

      Vegas looked like Vancouver in Game 7 – dominated, losing puck battles, and unable to break out.

  2. Jake

    The fact the PDB likes really structured breakouts, and his former captain is on the other side probably didn’t help anything. The Knights are going to have the read and react more this series than they have had to so far this playoffs

  3. Hasan Zia

    Something that I recall Mike Sullivan (Pens coach) saying to the effect, is that his players need to create space behind defenders. What he meant was that when players step up to them at the blueline, there needs to be someone close by to receive the short, tight, quick pass. If there isn’t someone there, then the player coming with speed needs to use the ice behind the defenders which basically meant that his players coming with speed should chip the puck off the boards to the area right behind the defender. The player coming in with speed is likely going to get to that puck before the defender, or draw a penalty. It’s something the cup winning penguin teams did against the DeBoer’s superior Defensive team in 2016, and against the Superior Washington Capitals. It’s something Vegas can do vs the defensively superior Dallas team

  4. THE hockey GOD

    Stars haven’t had a single back to back in playoffs, Knights had two.

    NHL, as usual, sucks in scheduling and about everything else. They do this every so often, and the players let them get away with this cr ap.

    You’d think the coach would bring in some fresh players, but no. Other than goalie, they should have brought more energy with two or three more starters.

    The veterans were gassed.

  5. If Vegas needs a lesson or two on screening the goalie l hope they are watchng tampa vs islanders right now. Shots from the point two goals in a row and islander goalie had no chance. When Tampa has the puck in offensive zone there is always someone directly in front of goalie.

  6. Jake

    In all competition your heart has to be in it. If it isn’t, you most often don’t win.

    End of analysis

  7. A VGK Fan

    Ken, we all have established your personal feelings are absolute garbage when it comes to analyzing the team. So you should stray from mentioning them in your articles, or letting them sway your journalism. That being said, yes our team sucked. Yes, we couldn’t get break outs, and our forechecked sucked. One thing you completely miss in this article the the fact that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE Dalas was well prepared to know how and where the break outs were gonna happen and made sure to be at the right spots at the right time? That, in combination with our guys just not having the usual energy and forecheck, made it for a long game.

    Also, this is a great game to demonstrate why Reaves is absolutely essential on our team. You think Dallas would lay out hits the way they did if they knew Reaves was gonna be on the ice? This game looked exactly like how VGK looked like before Reaves came on board, I remember the days where we simply relied on speed and finesse to score (and lets be real, we were just lucky half the time in season 1). Reaves coming evened the balance of speed skill and physicality, and let the other team know they werent gonna bully us around. The fact you always undervalue this aspect of Reaves and avoid opportunities (like this article) to address why Reaves could/would/should have been helpful, just shows to me your bias and your incompetency in true journalism.

    it’s as if you got something personal against the guy.

    Anyways, Game 2 will be MUCH different with Reaves back and our team adjusting our breakouts to avoid Dallas’ forecheck.

    • THE hockey GOD

      the guy brings nothing, but five minute majors ; and momentum to other team.

      he doesn’t play when the team is down one or two goals, all he does his jibber -jabber on bench; minds well sit him on end of bench nearest to other team and talk to pierre mcwire or whatever that nbc talking head name is , who sits in between the benches. McGuirre.

      Canucks beat up the chief, no. 2, every game, and the goon didn’t do a thing.

      they tried to chop the knees out from Smith several times, the goone didn’t do anything.

      He’s worthless, and needs to go.

  8. AVGK FAN – Just a question – how long have you been watching or participating in hockey? Not that anyone really cares but you go on and on when it could be said in a few words. Vegas didn’t show-up to play Sunday night mentally or physically with or with out Reaves period, Do I believe the hit that got him suspended was intentional no but it was stupid and they lucky to survive the 5 minutes damage free – apparently the league believed otherwise. Yes I like Reaves but he dogs it on occasion just like the others did Sunday Would he have made a difference Sunday night probably not it takes a team to win not an individual. Vegas one dimensional approach on offense is what killed them and they didn’t or couldn’t adjust and figure it out. Hopefully a lesson learned and they show up tonight with a winning attitude which they sure didn’t have Sunday. I hope they took a lesson from Tampa last night on screening the goalie. Go Knights Go. The announcers last night think you will win tonight hope they are right.

  9. Juan Merrill

    Hey professional writer who makes a living covering the team and talks to the players/coaches/front office on an almost, if not daily basis and watches literally every second of every game multiple times—stop giving your opinions and let me spew out mine. I almost can’t believe what I just read. It makes me laugh when the comments are full of people saying you have no idea about the inner workings and machinations of an NHL locker room, yet you are almost undoubtedly (besides Jason) the only person who posts here that has set foot in one. You have become the Howard Stern of Vegas hockey – those who like your writing come here to see what you’re saying and gain insight while those who hate it come here more often than your fans just to leave nasty comments.

    Anyone can read a stat sheet. Not everyone can correctly and thoroughly analyze hockey. The vast majority of us recognize and appreciate the hard work that you do and are thankful for all the interaction/explanation/banter. My preferred medium is Twitter because you are very engaging and helpful in real time.

    While I don’t always agree with your takes, they are never not insightful. More often than not, your thoughts just reiterate what I also think I’m noticing in game. Over the past three years it’s clear to see no one is safe from your criticism, but you also aren’t afraid to eat some well-deserved crow when a player proves you wrong.

    As for Dallas, if you think less than 10 minutes of Ryan Reaves was the difference in this game you are mistaken. Dallas played their style of hockey better than we played ours. Dallas is still going to hit tonight. It’s what they do. Ryan Reaves isn’t going to stop that. What he does make other players think twice about is the extra-curricular stuff, and I saw way more of that from Vancouver and Roussel than from anyone on the Stars. We may very well win tonight with Reaves on the ice. He for sure isn’t worthless. He has value. He isn’t however, the driving force behind most of our wins and his absence was absolutely not the reason we lost two nights ago.

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