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Golden Knights Displayed Defensive Masterclass In 3rd Period Against Tampa Bay

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights entered the 3rd period against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a lead. Of all teams in the NHL, the Lightning stand as one of the best challenges to hold down as a team tries to protect a lead for the final 20 minutes.

On Saturday, the Golden Knights not only did it, but they put on a clinic of exactly how the Bruce Cassidy defensive system can and should operate when it’s working optimally.

For the most part coming back into our own end in the 3rd period we got into our spots and had good sticks and let the play come to us. We didn’t panic. That is as good a test as you are going to have against a very good offensive team. -Cassidy

In a little more than 15 minutes of 5-on-5 play, Vegas allowed Tampa Bay just nine shot attempts, three on goal, four scoring chances, and a measly two high-danger chances. The Lightning spent most of the 3rd period in possession of the puck in the Golden Knights’ end, but couldn’t generate much of anything until it was too late.

There are a couple of things they do really really well in the O-zone. They get moving around, they always have a net presence, and they find those seams. We tightened up after (the first Kucherov chance) and gave them a bit more time to the outside. So we kept them in check for the most part. -Cassidy

Tampa’s high-end offensive weapons make living in the defensive zone a precarious game. They showed it early in the 1st and again during stretches of the 2nd. But the Golden Knights regrouped heading into the 3rd, and shut the door.

At times they are spread out rimming it to each other and moving it back and forth and it can feel like you are hemmed in but they really don’t get anything. It is easier playing in our type of structure. You would like to get out there and break it up quick but the way we play we give them the outside and they don’t generate much, which is a win for us. -Brayden McNabb

In Game 56 of the season, it was easily the most impressive defensive period of the year.

I think we’re getting it pretty good now. We didn’t give up much from the slot, and we sorted it out quickly. It tells me our guys are making the reads. I thought we closed plays pretty quickly with the wing/center switches which tells me they’re confident now in those. -Cassidy

This isn’t to say the Golden Knights haven’t looked comfortable and confident in the defensive system this season, but they’ve never faced and passed as stiff a test as they saw Saturday night.

We felt pretty comfortable in that situation and I thought it went well. They’re a high-powered offensive team and the way they get rolling around they can cause some confusion. You have to be really aware but the way we played in our structure we did a really good job and didn’t give them too many looks. -Brett Howden

Tonight the level of competition drops drastically as the Golden Knights take on one of the worst teams in the NHL in the Chicago Blackhawks. But when they return home, a bunch of strong teams will parade through T-Mobile Arena. Calgary, Dallas, Carolina, and New Jersey all visit in the next two weeks and the Golden Knights take a trip to Colorado during that span as well.

Succeeding in the defensive zone is the most important aspect of the game for a Cassidy-coached team. If things go well defensively, the rest of the game comes naturally. It happened against the Lightning and there’s a lot of confidence from players and coaches it will continue.


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  1. Roberto

    Much of the focus of the Pre-All Star Skid/Panic Button Pressing was on Stone being out, and deservedly so given his Hall of Fame excellence. I thought though, even it wasn’t mentioned too much, Theodore and Whitecloud being out had a lot to do with the malaise. I was glad to see they’d both be back after the break, and the 5-0 run has a lot to do them in the lineup.

    Sometimes in the Stone/Eichel atmosphere, we forget how fortunate the team is to have two young dudes like that that are defensively responsible, and active, fast puck drivers (and affordable!!!). Hope Hague picks it up more, so there’s three, but he’s still solid and along with Pietrangelo and Martinez, that’s a superb 6 man deep blue line.

    Continued health and good fortune for the fellas.

    • TS

      Roberto, I commend your positive attitude!So much whining here, so it’s great to hear the up- side! I feel our team is nearly complete again, sans Stone, and the boys are feeling their comfort zone again. Cassidy has had quite a challenge, and the guys are rising up to it!

  2. Jailbird

    I agree. Having all 6 of our starting D-men back, has made a big difference. Knights need to see what LB can bring, so starting him tonight was the plan all along, regardless of this little “bump” Hill got. We need to take care of business vs the hapless Hawks tonight. They have had a way of playing spoiler against us. Get off the plane, dominate, get two points, fly home !

  3. knights fan in minny

    game day we need to hang a 5 spot on the hawks

  4. Sorvino

    Vegas 6
    Chicago 3

  5. So much for the hapless Hawks who won this evening thanks to Petro and delay of game penalty.

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