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Golden Knights Make Statement In Win Over Rangers

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Last night was a good reminder. To fans, to the New York Rangers, to the rest of the NHL, and even to the Golden Knights themselves; when Vegas plays at their best, they are an absolute juggernaut.

On a night where the Golden Knights played with multiple starters still out of the lineup, they completely took it to the Rangers in all phases of the game. It was a familiar sight to those who have watched hundreds of Golden Knights games over the past five years, but one that hasn’t quite been as common this season as in years past.

Against New York, Vegas was exiting their own zone with ease, flying through the neutral zone, generating chances off the rush, and forechecking as a unit to keep the pressure on the Rangers all night long. It led to a game that appeared to be fairly close for 25 minutes to get completely out of hand by the time the full 60 had elapsed.

We started turning those pucks over at the blue line and we started defending in our D-zone instead of playing… giving them time like we’re killing a penalty. When you let them go D-to-D and get pucks to the net and win battles, you’re not going to beat that team. -Gerard Gallant, NYR coach

Vegas scored five goals in total but tallied four in the final 32 minutes of the game when their hard work early started paying off.

I thought in the 1st we were a little slow, but in the 2nd we upped our pace and caught them a few times in between. -Pete DeBoer

The main difference came in the center of the ice. While Vegas’ in-zone defending was solid the entire night, they struggled to control the puck through the neutral zone early against a good Rangers team. In the 2nd, those issues cleaned up and they looked like the team many projected to win the Stanley Cup before this season game.

When the Golden Knights move the puck through the neutral zone with possession it feeds the most dangerous aspect of their game, scoring off the rush. However, play through the neutral zone goes further than just to generate offense. It allows a possession-heavy Vegas team to live in the offensive zone where they can establish a forecheck, and it also gives the d-men good positioning to defend once the puck does eventually come out of the zone. In turn, it leads to quotes like this from opponents.

We didn’t handle their speed very well. We were turning pucks over, we weren’t defending well, we weren’t on the forecheck. We weren’t stopping any pucks on the forecheck. We weren’t getting any shots. -Ryan Reaves, NYR forward

When VGK are at their best, they overwhelm the opponent into feeling like they can’t do anything right.

We’re going to create offense, we’re going to get pucks to the net, but when we are defending well we are a really hard team to play against. There was a big commitment tonight to defend well against a really good team. -DeBoer

They did just that last night, allowing 19 shots in the game and only four in the final period.

After a couple of losses in a row including one in which DeBoer called his team “uncharacteristically soft defensively” against the Predators, the Golden Knights reminded everyone just what they can be. Now imagine what it’ll look like with the reinforcements on the way.

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37 Comments

  1. Tim

    Ken When is the big question? I’ve of a different era but going balls to the wall should be an every game occurrence not this bullshit we didn’t have the jump tonight. Your getting paid a lot of money so having jump every night should be a given. If your not up to par be it injury or sickness next man up. If he doesn’t have the jump then next man up. You get 18 guys out there and make it clear your going ball to the wall or your joining the pine brothers. Janmark is a good example he had some Covid issues which slowed him up but since then his passes are crisp, his defense is outstanding, he’s always moving and creating that’s a hockey player. You can put the Misfit Line in the same category always moving always thinking always aggressive. If everyone would adapt that attitude we would be a Stanley Cup team. Unfortunately to many players make far to many turnovers which puts our goalie in a bad spot. Theadore, Coghlan, Petro are all big offenders. You play hard for 60 minutes you’ll usually win as you saw last night you take a period or two off your going to lose. I don’t want to hear you can’t play hard every night if that’s the case your in the wrong profession.

    • THE hockey GOD

      “going balls to the wall should be an every game occurrence” impossible to maintain this pace and have anything left in tank for the real season. Last two years were examples. Have to have wise use of energy, when to turn it on, and when to conserve. These players are not machines.

      • Tim

        THG, I disagree you can say we ran out of gas I’ll say we had goalies we had no answer for. Playing 15 or 16 players like we did last year will for sure beat you down but with 18 I don’t see it. I played and coached all my life be it baseball and sure hockey is much more physical but here’s my point. Certain guys can perform nightly and some can’t I’ll go with that. My question is if you have the right 23 man roster there’s no reason giving guys a game off if they fall under the category of not going all out then you replace them with a player you scratched the game before. Keep a rotation so everyone is fresh and hungry for every game. This we didn’t have our legs doesn’t fly with me. The third and fourth line that plays isn’t much better then the players scratched if you pick the right guys not rejects like Brooks and Amadio. We play Chicago and Toronto next two games then 5 days off. After that first game or two you play who you feel are the best watch and see who’s waring down next game insert 3 new players who will have lots of energy and hungry for more playing time which will energize the whole team. This isn’t rocket science and sometimes you have to think out of the box. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we can’t be more creative. That’s whats wrong with sports the creative teams win and the others just scratch there head and wonder what happened.

      • Daryl

        So what you are saying is that the players are purposely not going all out to save energy for the playoffs???

      • Alex

        Dumbest fan base in sports on display here

        • knights fan in minny

          alex dumbest ass hole in nlv thuging malt liquor drinking loser

    • Pistol Pete

      Tim, Ken is right, when the Knights click, fire on all cylinders they are a tough team to beat, a Cup favorite. Since they are built as a rush team, defending is the key—good defense and the offense flows—this is the DeBoer philosophy. I listen to Shane Hnidy, the VGK play-by-play commentator and analyst. He made the point following the Preds game that no team puts 82 good games together. A good to great season is 50 or more wins which is up to 30 losses (reg and OT). That’s a lot of losses, generally subpar performances discounting close games against opponents playing well. Hnidy was not making excuses for the Preds loss, not in my opinion, just talking from the perspective of an experienced NHL veteran—a true insider. Hnidy is a valuable resource in improving my understanding of the NHL game—so is Ken btw.

      • I look at the game a lot differently than most, including Shane. To me, I just want to be able to see the moments that show they have what it takes to win the Cup. I don’t need 82 games of perfection. I know they are good enough to make the playoffs, so I want to see if they have what it takes once they get there. Games like last night show that they can still impose their will on even the best teams in the NHL, which is a massive piece of the puzzle.

        I’d like to see better defending consistently against the good teams and then I’d also like to see them start generating offense that is NOT off the rush. If they leaned into it like they did Year 1, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but they’ve changed coaches, systems, personnel to become more of an in-zone low to high type team and I still can’t say I’m certain they can overcome when a team locks it down and has a decent goalie (which they will inevitably face in the playoffs).

        The wild card is Eichel… but he comes with another wild card himself, which is other players being injured or traded to make space for him.

        • Tim

          Ken, Theres a difference between perfection and playing hard every night. Your going to lose your share of games but to go in the locker room knowing you gave your best effort that night is what sports are all about. To my point of no jump, didn’t have our legs, or no puck luck doesn’t fly. Of coarse when we play a good goalie makes the game tough but when you can’t get the goalie moving right to left and constantly put the puck in his bread basket or pads that’s not bad puck luck that’s not making the goalie work. You have to get in a goalies head but especially in the last two playoffs the goalies at Dallas and Montreal got in our heads. To DeBoers credit he’s got in the heads of the Avalanche but other teams not so much. I assume they watch film but as my sergeant once said don’t assume anything. Shutting down the star players and making the others beat you would be a given but I don’t see us doing that only in the Avalanche do I see that happening. Your right Jack Eichel is the wild card if he can move and shoot like the top centers in the league it could energize the rest of the team. He should be one hungry mother after not playing for a year.

      • Tim

        Pistol Pete, Your all missing my thoughts. No one will play and win 82 games but coming out flat is unacceptable. Playing hard losing to a team clicking on a given night or many given nights, or the goalie is playing out of his mind will happen. Doing a post game interview and telling us we didn’t have it tonight is unacceptable. I’d bench that son of a bitch in a heartbeat and put someone in who’s ready to sacrifice and wants to go balls to the wall for 60 minutes. Not these 30 and 60 minutes of going through the motions. I’ll compare these players to Navy Seals, Army special forces and so on. Do you think we took days off because we didn’t have the jump are you shitting me. We had a job to do and so do the Knights and there job is to dismantle the enemy. Simple play hard win or lose no excuses.

      • Daryl

        I agree that it’s impossible to see 82 games of excellent. I completely disagree with Hindy on the numbers though. Hindy has said several things that I disagree with, but it seems more and more that home announcers HAVE to be biased when reporting.

        This last game is one of the best games I’ve seen from VGK. What really bothers me is that very seldom have they played like this. They’ve had several good games, but not great games. In order for them to have a chance, they will need to play this way every game against the good teams.

        • Tim

          Daryl, Thank you exactly what I’ve been saying good effort every night win or lose. This we didn’t have our jump shit doesn’t fly with me.

    • Pistol Pete

      Tim, Shane Hnidy is correct, and with his experience as an NHL D he should know, no team matter how good will put together 82 good games. In fact assuming 50 and more wins is an excellent season, that entails losing up to 30 games, games that are generally played subpar, close games against teams playing well notwithstanding. But Ken is right, when VGK is firing on all cylinders they are tough to beat, a Cup contender. DeBoer has it right—five man defense is the base from which offense flows. Defense first and you win games.

    • I hear ya, but I honestly don’t think it’s an effort thing. Obviously there are going to be nights from time to time where guys don’t have it, but as a whole I think the reason it hasn’t all come together is the way they play. When things are going right for them, they literally become unstoppable, but when teams force them out of their game, it gets stagnant and they start to make mistakes. As for the when, hopefully the answer to that question is May and June.

  2. Pistol Pete

    Tim, I would not expect complications with Eichel’s surgery. The bone has already fused with the artificial disc—it’s only a matter of time before the medical personnel clear him for contact. Any delay in seeing him back in Vegas should only mean he’s wrapping it up with the post procedure rehab team in North Carolina. I’m pretty optimistic he gets cleared in time for the February make-ups, so far LAK, EDM and CGY.

    • Pistol Pete

      As a footnote, my first post on the 82 games to play well, I thought it did not get posted so I rewrote it albeit not exactly the same, but I agree with Ken’s response concerning that VGK go out of sorts when the opponent disrupts their game. Good point—that’s mental and addressable. A good one for the VGK team suggestion box!

    • PPete – how in hell do you kn ow the bone is fused to the artificial disc – we have had that discussion before and I still don’t see MD or anything close behind your name. Its o nly a matter of time before medical personn el clear him to play – you have no clue that’s the case. I can assure you all your wishing or whatever you call it means zero to nothing and zero left town as to when he will be on the ice in vegas let alone on the ice to actually play in a game.

      • This will be the last time I post this as I believe I posted at the beginning of your inquiry/complaint regarding my positive outlook on Eichel’s ADR procedure–if one wants to learn they have to listen to the MD. At 12:40 Dr. Prumack indicates it is around six weeks that “the bone actually grows into the disc so that it’s not going to come out”.

        It goes without saying that the rate of success is not 100% or that recovery time will be longer than hoped. I just choose to assume, gamble if one will, that Eichel will catch the upside.

        You’re killing me hdbiker–I already explained this!

        https://podcast.sportsnet.ca/31-thoughts/why-eichel-wants-a-disc-replacement/

        • At 32:50–at six weeks the implant has been integrated into the bone and the bone is as strong as it will get. Full contact at 8-12 weeks which is more a matter of getting his game back up to speed (conditioning etc.).

        • PPete – you missed the point regarding the issue with your statements – the way you address your post suggests you know exactly what you are talking about and that is far from the truth. If you prefer to think along those lines say so IN MY Opinion then it wouldn’t come off as if you knew for fact. I hope for your sake you don’t believe everything you hear or read. It appears that maybe you finally figured that out by your statement above – “It goes without saying that the rate of success is not 100% or that recovery time will be longer than hoped”. As a side note – operation was done in Colorado any idea why he is in NC for rehab? I haven’t bothered to check but since you have an extreme interest in him being in Vegas I was wondering if you knew. Not that it really matters but you seem to have a greater interest in him than most. I hope he is all you expect as I would hate to see you disappointed and witness a waste of 10 mill. It’s all about what’s good for business.

  3. Pistol Pete

    I did not realize Stone is a point/game with VGK—159 pts/158 games.

    Eichel has 20 more points than games to close his gap—355 pts/375 games. With VGK—piece of cake!

    • Pistol Pete

      I neglected to point out that Stone has 54 more points than games to attain a career point per game (470 pts/524 games). That will be hard to accomplish—harder than Eichel making up 20 from an earlier career position. That Stone has a point and game as a Knight stands though—very nice.

      • Pistol Pete

        Clearly, VGK is a good gig for Mark. Cap well spent.

        When Stone plays, team morale can’t be much higher. Eichel has captain experience too so hopefully he has the potential to have a similar positive impact on team spirit.

  4. Pistol Pete

    Sweet to see Patrick and Howden team up for that goal. Carrier/Howden/Patrick—that could gel into one the best 4th lines in the league. Patrick and Howden—two very young first rounders. It’s all about being in a good organizational situation.

  5. Pistol Pete

    Having a system that encourages D men to join the rush probably engenders an overall high defensive skill level for the forwards.

  6. Galdom

    I can’t wait to see them lay a beating on Marc Andre Fleury just like they did on Gerard Gallant’s Rangers.

    I could see them putting up at six spot tomorrow night.

    Vegas 6
    Chicago 2

    • Galdom – I am a huge knight supporter but l wouldn’t be disappointed one bit if Fluery won the game for Chicago tomorrow night assuming he is goal and smiled all night doing so. Vegas 2 Chicago 6 with the walrus in goal would be interesting.

      • Galdom

        I’m hoping that doesn’t happen

      • VGK losing to CHI by any score would be a disaster and not anything I would find “interesting”. “Interesting” would not include playing a poor game which is the only way VGK should lose to CHI. I admit it’s cool having Fleury return, that is “interesting”. Hard to believe any true VGK supporter would not be disappointed if Fleury wins the game.

        • The Real TS

          I love Flour and I hope he makes through all 4 periods tonight! Go LVGK!

        • PPete – there was a reason for the Fleury win comment despite how big a true supporter I am for the Knights. I am certain if you think about it you will understand. I can’t think of a better term to explain that happening than what you posted a “disaster”. After game comments would be worth the price of admission!

  7. Daryl

    I would like to thank Reaves for helping VGK out with 3 of those goals!!!

  8. Liked the pre-game tribute– class. Again, Marchy was a real playmaker–scrappin’ for loose pucks, second-chance shots at goal, great effort. Good, fast-paced game by all. Sorry, Reavo, but your team couldn’t keep up…

    • The Real TS

      And I wish I had seen more! Can’t afford cable so I had to dick around with the rabbit ears on the 1995 Sony Trinitron!

      Go LVGK!

      • knights fan in minny

        why dont you just go smash and grab a new tv i bet you can get some friends to help when your done stealing a tv you can celebrate with a colt 45

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