Through the first three games of the series, the Golden Knights have tallied five goals total with just three coming at even-strength. While Vegas leads on the even-strength shot tally in the series 71-62, the scoring chance numbers per NaturalStatTrick.com actually show Dallas ahead 60-48.
Following Game 1, a game in which Vegas was bullied a bit early, Pete DeBoer used a phrase he had previously been known for in his time in New Jersey to describe the series-opening loss.
I don’t know what the chances were but it was a low-event game both ways. I didn’t think their offense gave us a lot of difficulty. -DeBoer
When DeBoer was behind the Devils bench from 2011-2015 the brand of hockey his teams were known for was often described as “low-event.” That means the shot numbers, chance numbers, and hopefully, the goal numbers are down. It’s a brand of hockey that has worked for many teams over the course of the past decade but one the Golden Knights have always viewed as the nemesis.
When the Golden Knights are at their best, they are creating chances in bunches. They tilt the ice in their favor and they impose their will on the other team. That’s how they overwhelmed Chicago, how they eventually cracked Thatcher Demko and the Canucks, and how they made their way out of the round-robin as the #1 seed. Going back further, that was the brand they played when DeBoer first arrived and it’s how they played for the entire Gallant era as well.
In Game 1, Vegas created just 14 scoring chances in the game at even-strength and only racked up seven through the first 2 periods. In Game 2, they tallied nine in the 1st period alone and finished the game off with 19 despite playing six fewer minutes of even-strength time. Then, in Game 3, they were back to struggling to create chances, totalling 17 but just 10 through two periods.
|Even-Strength TOI||Scoring Chances||Chances/Min|
|VGK Game 1||54:52||14||0.25|
|VGK Game 2||46:45||19||0.41|
|VGK Game 3||52:15||17||0.32|
|DAL Game 1||54:52||27||0.51|
|DAL Game 2||46:45||17||0.37|
|DAL Game 3||52:15||20||0.38|
Meanwhile, Dallas has stayed fairly consistent. They had a breakout period in the 2nd of Game 1, but aside from that, they’ve created about the same number of chances per minute in every other period of the series.
So, I asked following Game 3, is low-event hockey bad for the Golden Knights in a series against the Dallas Stars? DeBoer kind of scoffed at the question and started his answer by saying “Well… we want to win.” He continued.
You’re playing one of the best defensive teams in the league in this series. So you aren’t going to get a choice to play high-event hockey, they’re going to grind and make it tough defensively and that’s just how it’s going to be and I think we’re comfortable in that type of game. -DeBoer
But they need to have a choice, don’t they? Vegas dictates play when they are playing at their best. Excellent defensive team or not, if the Golden Knights want to win, they need to live in the opposing team’s zone, constantly put pressure on the defense, and create bunches of chances. They did it well in the 2nd period of Game 2 and sure enough, it helped to generate three goals and ultimately a victory.
Now, after nine periods and a quick overtime DeBoer is saying they don’t have a choice?
We’re not looking to get into a track meet here. I didn’t think (Game 3) was too low of an event (game). I thought we had a lot of offensive zone possession. It’s playoff hockey, it’s not going to be cute, it’s not going to be making unbelievable plays every time you score. -Alex Tuch
Why not get into a track meet with them?
Vegas has the better forward group, should be better overall offensively, and definitely have the better goalie(s). If more chances one way means more the other too, which team should be expected to finish the most off?
In Game 2, Vegas gave up multiple odd-man rushes but they created a few as well. Vegas scored two brilliant goals off them while Dallas could barely muster a shot. Dallas called Game 1 “Stars Hockey.” They want to keep scoring chances low for Vegas, even if it means they sacrifice a bit of their own.
The Golden Knights seem content with relying on extended time in the zone without many truly dangerous chances to eventually pull through, as it did in the Vancouver series.
But this isn’t the Canucks they are playing. As DeBoer said, Dallas is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Vegas’ scoring woes aren’t going to disappear overnight against this team. They need high-danger chances. They need transition chances. They need the game to open up from time to time.
However, after their second loss in three games, they don’t seem interested in playing high-event hockey at least not until they are behind. So far, it has not worked and there doesn’t seem to be any urgency to change.