A big story heading from Round 2 to the Western Conference Finals for the Golden Knights was limiting shots in close to the net. San Jose lived in front of Marc-Andre Fleury’s goal, but couldn’t get enough past him to win games. It was assumed if the Jets did the same, the result would be different.
Vegas defensemen made it a point coming into the series with Winnipeg.
Yeah they’re strong and fast, and they can make plays. They’ve got guys that play well in that slot, and play well in tight. That’s going to be our job to make sure that we eliminate those chances. -Shea Theodore on 5/10/18
In Game 1 everything was a mess, especially the first eight minutes (unless you are Ken). Early on in Game 2, it could’ve gone the same direction. In the first period, Vegas allowed multiple scoring chances from the Jets in front of the net. In other words, Winnipeg had a flurry of shots in Fleury’s kitchen.
Well we don’t want to allow chances in front of the net.- Brayden McNabb,
In the first eight minutes of Game 2, the home team had eight attempts on the Golden Knights net from 21ft. or less.
19:27 1st Period: WPG Shot #55 WHEELER, Backhand, Off. Zone, 8ft.
18:32 1st Period: WPG Miss #27 EHLERS, Backhand, Goalpost, Off. Zone, 14 ft.
18:21 1st Period: WPG #25 STASTNY, Backhand, Wide of Net, Off. Zone, 11ft.
17:03 1st Period: WPG Shot #8 TROUBA, Wrist, Off. Zone, 16ft.
15:47 WPG Shot, #29 LAINE, Backhand, Off. Zone, 21ft.
14:53 WPG Shot, #17 LOWRY, Wrap-around, Off. Zone, 8ft.
14:20 WPG Shot, #13 TANEV, Deflected, Off. Zone, 11ft.
12:07 WPG Shot #55 WHEELER, Wrist, Off. Zone, 8ft.
Throughout Game 2, Vegas left room in front of their own net but the Jets could only muster up one goal in sixty minutes. In one tight situation, Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt belly-flopped on a loose puck in front of the Golden Knights net. It allowed Fleury to settle the puck and stop the play.
If we can allow Flower to see that first one, it’s our job to get it out of there. Can’t allow second or third chances. -McNabb
Luca Sbisa told us prior to the series that diving or laying on the puck is sometimes the best option.
Laying down forces a guy to pass it into your body or take the shot. If it ricochets off a skate or stick usually it creates havoc. That’s when you have to tie people up. -Luca Sbisa
It’s not a perfect science but it works. Overall, the Jets got opportunities close to the net in Game 2 but Vegas did a great job of snubbing out any real threat killing any chance of a momentum swing. Holding a two goal lead for most of the game was a huge benefit to sticking to their game plan as well.
I’m not suggesting the Golden Knights are purposely allowing close pen shots because that would be crazy. However, having a goaltender like Fleury in net allows his teammates to occasionally make a mistake. He’s just your ordinary superhero playing Conn Smyth type hockey.
**Stick tap to NaturalStatTrick.com for the heat map.**
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