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Golden Knights Took Crowd Out By Taking Away Winnipeg’s Ability To Get To Dangerous Areas

Nate Schmidt played the game of his life and his stick was a big reason this story was able to be written. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Game 2 started out frantic. Back and forth action forced goalies in both nets to be at their best to keep the game tied. The Winnipeg crowd was buzzing and the Golden Knights appeared destined to be headed for the same fate as Game 1 if any puck slipped past Fleury.

Luckily, unlike in Game 1 when the second shot he saw beat him from 40+ feet out, Fleury was able to turn away every early chance, including one that snuck under him and was cleared off the line by Nate Schmidt. The game was playing into the hands of the home team, again. Even though the Golden Knights were getting chances, the building was ready to explode and the game was ready to snowball like it did Saturday night.

We didn’t feel like it started poorly at all. We liked our start. -Paul Maurice, Jets head coach

Then, the tide turned a bit. The Golden Knights spoke about getting through the first 10 minutes. They did, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. However, once it got there, things changed and remained the new way for the next 30 minutes. 30 minutes that not only won Game 2, but got the series under control for the Golden Knights, and now have the Jets on their heels heading to T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday.

The Golden Knights first goal came 13:23 into the 1st. That goal shut the crowd down, but the rest of the 1st and the entire 2nd refused to let them, or the Jets, back in it.

From the 11 minute mark of the 1st period to the dying seconds of the 2nd, the Golden Knights dictated the game. In the final 10 minutes of the 1st, Winnipeg attempted just two shots and neither made it to Fleury. In the 2nd, Vegas came out quick and instantly drew a penalty. Then, aside from one great chance that hit the post, every time Winnipeg had the puck they couldn’t create anything truly dangerous. In the 2nd period, they attempted 24 shots but just eight got through. They entered the zone rather easily, cycled the puck at will, and took many shots, but hardly ever were able to get to the puck where they truly wanted it.

The Golden Knights defense kept everything to the outside, they never allowed a moment in which there was not a player between the puck and the goalie, and they forced the Jets into shots they didn’t want to be taking. Advanced stats will tell you Winnipeg had a big period offensively, but watching the game and especially listening to the crowd tells a much different story.

In part you have to give them credit, they had real good sticks on the puck. We didn’t do a whole lot of clean things with the puck because they were good, they were on the puck, and they didn’t make it easy. We didn’t do anything clean, we didn’t do anything quickly. -Maurice

Every time the Jets got in close, Vegas threw everything they had in the way of shots. They blocked six and caused many others in close to be shot wide of the net in the 2nd period alone. It was an endless display of taking away dangerous ice and the result was taking the Jets and their fans out of the game.

Obviously you feel like you didn’t (get enough chances) because you only score one goal and it was a power play goal. There wasn’t a whole lot either way, a playoff type game. -Blake Wheeler, Jets Captain

We’re used to the whiteout crowd in Winnipeg being loud, rowdy, and nonstop, but for a 30-minute stretch, they looked perplexed as they sat on their hands nearly silent. Their Jets had the puck, they were in the Golden Knights zone, they just couldn’t get anything near the goal. Winnipeg mustered up only eight shots on goal over that stretch and none truly challenged Fleury.

The game remained 2-0 for nearly 36 minutes of game time and when Winnipeg finally got on the board and got their fans going, the Golden Knights first line sprung into action and did their part in taking the 15,321 white clad maniacs right back out of the game.

It wasn’t a perfect game, or really anything close for the Golden Knights, but it was a road playoff game in a hostile environment. They withstood the initial push, got their lead, and did what they had to do to keep the game, and the crowd, under control for as long as they could. In Game 2, it was long enough. Now it’s up to the Jets to figure out how they’re going to do the same on Wednesday and Friday. That’s easier said than done though, and if you don’t believe me, read the articles that followed Game 1.

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3 Comments

  1. Jonathan

    Good analysis, at times I felt like the Knights dominated the Jets and as a whole for the game I still feel that it wasn’t as close as the 3-1 score indicates. That being said, when I examine some of the statistics it certainly appears closer than the game I watched. I think part of that is because the Knights allowed the Jets to possess the puck often enough (this wasn’t 3rd period Game 6 versus the Sharks domination), and they allowed a fair number of shots, but it never seemed like any sort of sustained attack and it often felt like huge amounts of time were wasted in the neutral zone. Time that the winning team wants wasted, and the losing team cannot afford to be wasted. That has the “feeling” of dominating a team even though you’re not actually pressing the advantage and taking your own shots. It still feels like you’re simply not allowing them to do what is absolutely required to make a comeback and thus win. I admit, I’d like to have seen a little bit more of the usual Knights philosophy — “The best defense is a good offense,” because I think that’s a strength of the team is playing ahead just about the same way they always play. This worked, too, though. It was a great win, a key win.

  2. Jay

    That first line had some magical moments. There were stretches where the Knights werent exactly on point but they played well enough to allow the offense to break into some streaks at opportune times. They just need to hold tight and play smart. If they do throughout the whole game the offensive weapons will generate goals.

  3. Alan

    What stood out to me about last night’s game is how the team rallied together and scored that crucial 3rd goal almost immediately after Fleury let it one. It shows how determined the team were to fight for their MVP and smack down the white noise as soon as they began jeering him. Speaking of which, I know that one of the purposes of home ice is to jeer and get under the skin of the visiting team but this whole business of jeering the goal keeper and cheering for the backup goalie is in my opinion bad form and I for one am glad that this rarely happens at the T-mobile because we know the best way to get under the visiting team is to cheer on the home team until our lungs pop. I hope we remain classy and show the world how to win a championship like true champions do.

    Go Knights Go!

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