Last year, due to a combination of inconsistent play and players in the lineup, the Golden Knights struggled to find and maintain an identity in the way they play.
One game into the 2022-23 season, there’s already one emerging.
I thought we had really good sticks. We were knocking down a lot of pucks. That’s been an identity. We’re such a long team. If we can close in little sections, that’s when we’re able to bat down pucks and go the other way. Overall it just felt like we were in sync. -Mark Stone
Where it was most noticeable in the season opener in Los Angeles was in the neutral zone as the Kings attempted their breakouts. The Golden Knights hounded LA, constantly breaking up passes or forcing them to turn back and start over. A perfect example is the game-winning goal.
With our size on the forecheck and they don’t have a huge group of defensemen, and we can skate, when we get in there it’s always going to be a battle and when we are winning those battles it’s tough to get the puck back for the defense. I know playing against big forwards that can skate it’s hard. -Alex Pietrangelo
But it extends to the other two zones as well. In the O-zone while forechecking, VGK’s length makes life difficult on the opposition by limiting passing lanes. Vegas’ active sticks disrupted multiple exit chances for the Kings and led to quick-strike offense.
In the D-zone, the Golden Knights used their new zone defense structure to eliminate passes through the center of the ice. Their size and skating skill help keep the puck to the outside and there is almost always at least one VGK body between the puck and the goal.
A key to maintaining this identity is patience, something the Golden Knights excelled at in the opener. Rather than forcing the Kings into making mistakes by creating numbers advantages in puck battles, Vegas did it with positioning and size and allowed the mistakes to come to them. For the Kings, it had to feel like there were opposing sticks and players all over the ice. This helped feed what the Golden Knights do best offensively.
The strength of our team will be transition but you have to play the game in front of you too and I thought we did a good job of that. -Bruce Cassidy
The last piece of the puzzle is another area in which Vegas experienced challenges a year ago, puck management. A big part of what made the Golden Knights tough to play against in Los Angeles was their structure. The only way to properly set up in the neutral zone, check in the offensive zone, or defend for extended periods of time in the defensive zone is with proper structure. Step one in maintaining that is not being caught out of position when the puck is turned over. Sloppy play through the neutral zone or unforced turnovers in the offensive zone leads to rushes the other way. The Golden Knights managed the puck much better than their opponent and it bled into every other part of the game.
We bought into puck management. They play a 1-3-1 in the neutral zone so if you try to get through there and try to make pretty plays that’s where LA is very effective. So I thought tonight that we managed the puck and tried to play in behind them and take what they gave us. It really worked well. -Cassidy
It’s just one game, so we’re a long way from being able to confidently say what we saw at Crypto.com Arena is what we’ll see consistently over the course of the season from the Golden Knights. But the groundwork is there for it to become a staple of Vegas’ game this year.
Length, size, skating, and active sticks make the game hard on every team in the league no matter their talent or system. The Golden Knights achieved it and played with a clear identity in Game 1 of the season.
Next step: Repeat.
Coach Cassidy is off to a decent start. Training camp, preseason and first league game.
I should have mentioned rookie camp and the planning and work that started as soon as he was hired.
If this coaching change is successful it’s going to make up for previous missteps.
THE hockey GOD
massive man games lost last year to injuries to key players are not “mis steps”.
Well maybe in minds of some people.
Just one game in, but reason for hope, for sure. Must come out flying tonight against a bad team. No let down boys!
THE hockey GOD
@JB massive amount of chicago black hawk fans , who live in vegas, will “Come out” tonight. Traitors that they are to the city.
‘Fan Sided Daily Website had nothing but superlatives for the VGK’s 1st game! All aspects of the game were a plus. Good to see the positives…for a change…
Word is Hague and Carrier play tonight. Amadio to be scratched.
What an opportunity for Cotter who Cassidy has really been pushing along. Go Paul…be a productive passenger!
Anything less than a blowout against Chi-Town would be worrisome.
I also think that the most likely “shiny new toy” to arrive in LV is Patrick Kane but it’s a less than 1/3 chance.
knights fan in minny
6-2 vegas win phil the thrill gets on the score sheet
Go back to trolling kiddies on the internet you sick pedo
knights fan in minny
fuck off you piece of shit your trhe only one i troll you piece of shit loser 2-0 are you still bitter simpleton