Throughout the course of this season the Golden Knights have been in survival mode. Whether the reasons have been self-inflicted or not, this version of the Golden Knights hasn’t looked anything like the ones we’ve grown accustomed to watching in the past.
Often times we hear coaches talk about the process over the results. Basically saying that over a long season it’s more important how a team is playing than whether or not they get a win on any given night. This season, the process for the Golden Knights hasn’t been great. They’re allowing far too many chances, the power play is pushing historically bad levels, and they aren’t finishing the opportunities to the same degree they are capable of. The results have been ok, but everyone’s aware they could be much worse.
There is one place where the process has been stellar, if not elite. It’s when the Golden Knights have trailed late in a game and have been forced to remove their goalie to push for the comeback goal.
Vegas has spent 11:40 with their net empty this year which has resulted in just one goal for and three against. Not exactly the results a team is looking for with the goalie pulled, but not terrible. However, the process has been excellent, and there was no better display of it than last night.
Trailing by two, Pete DeBoer opted to pull Laurent Brossoit from the goal with 4:08 left in the final period. At that moment, Vegas had Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Nic Roy, Reilly Smith, Chandler Stephenson, and Jonathan Marchessault on the ice. With the help of a timeout 68 seconds in, all six of those players put in more than three minutes of ice time in the final four, and Pietrangelo and Theodore were on the ice for a three minute and 47 second long shift.
The Golden Knights hemmed the Red Wings in the defensive zone for nearly the entire shift, needing to re-enter just twice in the four minutes. They forced Detroit to ice the puck three times and caused multiple turnovers with the forecheck.
Vegas generated nine shots on goal while attempting 13 shot attempts. They hounded rebounds, they moved the puck well, and they won 6 of the first eight faceoffs, all in the offensive zone.
In the end, Thomas Griess stopped every shot he saw and the Wings potted an empty netter from 85 feet away to put the game away.
It’s the third consecutive time the Golden Knights have pulled their goalie and looked incredibly dangerous in doing so though. Against Dallas, Jonathan Marchessault came up with the game-tying goal, helping VGK send the game to OT where they would eventually win. Against the New York Islanders, Vegas spent a little more than two minutes with the net empty and generated seven shot attempts, five on goal, and 0.6 expected goals.
Overall this season, the Golden Knights sit in the top five in the NHL in shot attempts, shots on goal, expected goals, scoring chances, and high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes when they have their net empty.
To this point, it’s only rescued one game despite five opportunities. But the process has been great, and as long as that continues, the results will eventually follow.