It’s common in the NFL. Dez Bryant vs. Josh Norman, Julio Jones vs. Patrick Peterson, or Larry Fitzgerald vs. Richard Sherman. Top wide receiver vs. shut down cornerback.
Often times in the NHL teams have their defensive stalwarts, but not always are they asked to do what top cornerbacks in the NFL are expected to do. Here in Vegas, the Golden Knights have that, his name is Luca Sbisa, but we can’t go with the football term, so we’re dubbing him the “superstar shadow.”
Coach was pretty much saying every time he’s on the ice you’ve got to be out there. Wherever he lines up on the draw, make sure you are next to him. -Luca Sbisa
That was what Sbisa had to say about Vladamir Tarasenko, but he’s been doing it for a few games now. Look at his TOI numbers against the opposition’s scoring superstar the last three games.
|Opponent||Total TOI||Player Shadowed||TOI vs. Shadow|
|St. Louis||18:48||Vladamir Tarasenko||12:46|
That’s one of his roles. He plays against the top lines a lot and against the top players. That’s a role that he likes and he’s done a pretty good job of it. -Gerard Gallant
At even strength against those three top players, while Sbisa is on the ice, the Golden Knights have allowed just one goal in three games. Think about that for a second. 25 minutes and 51 seconds against Vladimir Tarasenko, Evander Kane, and Brad Marchand, and Luca Sbisa has held them to ONE even strength goal. That, is a recipe for success.
Next up is Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks. Normally this should give the Golden Knights nightmares, but with Luca Sbisa: Superstar Shadow on our side, Gerard Gallant and VGK fans can rest easy and start dreaming of a 7-1 start.
Hopefully Sbisa continues to have success in this role. We are going to need it. It has definitely been impressive thus far. I feel like the Blackhawks have a lot of weapons beyond Kane but shutting him out would do wonders for our chances of winning. Not holding my breath on a win for this game but, hey, the team has already surprised me time and time again.