Two games, zero goals, and just one point which came in the final minute of Game 2 on a secondary assist. Those are the combined series numbers of superstars Mark Stone and Kirill Kaprizov.
Stone has been bottled up, almost looking frustrated on the ice, while Kaprizov has shown flashes of brilliance but for the most part has been kept to the outside and under heavy pressure.
Each has had one individual highlight moment, one in which Stone stickhandled through three Wild players drawing a penalty and nearly scoring, and the other where Kaprizov got in close and was robbed by a ridiculous save from Marc-Andre Fleury, but otherwise, the two main events in the series have been quiet.
Slowing down the two stars starts with defensive matchups. The Golden Knights have leaned heavily on Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb when Kaprizov is on the ice. More than half of the time Kaprizov has been out there, he’s skating into that pair. On the other side, the Wild have gone a bit more by committee against Stone. All six of their defensemen have shared the ice with Stone for at least eight minutes with Jared Spurgeon leading the way last night and Jonas Brodin taking the most minutes in Game 1.
As far as line matching, they’ve seen a lot of each other. Stone’s first line has skated against Kaprizov, Hartman, and Zuccarello for nine minutes in Game 1. That number decreased to just six in Game 2, with Stone seeing more of Joel Eriksson Ek.
Where each of the stars has started is important as well. Both Stone and Kaprizov have seen greater than 60% of their shifts start in the offensive zone. Both coaches are willing to abandon the matchup if it means an extra offensive zone start for their best player.
As the series shifts to Minnesota, the power to match lines and pairs now resides in Dean Evason’s hands, not Pete DeBoer’s. Does he look to find more favorable matchups for Kaprizov and Co. or is he comfortable with the fact that his best has been able to neutralize Vegas’?
If I had to guess, we’ll probably see the Wild try to get Kaprizov away from McNabb and Theodore as often as possible in Game 3 in an attempt to free him up. In the two games, Kaprizov has only been on the ice for two high-danger scoring chances when out there with McNabb and/or Theodore.
It’s clear on both sides though, focus on shutting down Stone and Kaprizov is at an all-time high.
I think obviously they’re paying special attention to him, whoever is up against him. But clearly, people around him are getting opportunities and we’re happy with the chances we’re getting. Clearly, we need to bury some of them, but the way he’s playing the game and how he’s playing the game in all three zones is real good. He just has to stay the course like we do and believe that we’ll all breakthrough. -Dean Evason, MIN Head Coach
I don’t know if they’re doing anything different with Stone than we’re trying to do to Kaprizov and Fiala. It’s the same story every year in the playoffs. The key guys get a lot of attention and when you get attention like that from really good, structured teams it’s hard to score and you have to be comfortable in that, and you have to rely on your depth and other guys to get you goals. That’s just the reality of this time of year. -Pete DeBoer
I mean, he’s their best player. He’s everywhere. He plays well. Honestly, he’s the real deal. He’s a great player. He’s been great all year. We’ve got to make his life harder. We’ve got to keep going. Same thing with Fiala. He’s a great player. They move well with the puck. They’re a threat every time down the ice and you have to be aware when you play against them. I think we did a pretty good job overall. -Jonathan Marchessault
In my opinion, the Golden Knights need Stone more than the Wild need Kaprizov in this series. Especially with Max Pacioretty missing, Vegas’ offense really relies on consistent point production from Stone. While the Wild have needed Kaprizov’s game-breaking ability in the past, and could have used it in Game 2, the depth of their lineup allows them more flexibility in the event that Kaprizov is unable to get on the board.
The usage numbers tell us that games in Minnesota should favor the Wild when it comes to matchups regarding Stone and Kaprizov. Vegas will no longer be able to consistently dictate the defense pair Kaprizov will face, while the Wild can hone in on which pair they prefer against Stone. Minnesota has held its own against Stone with any of their six defensemen, while Vegas has relied on Theodore and McNabb. Without last change, Vegas’ other four defensemen will have to step up.
The bigger issue on the road though is the depth of the Vegas lineup. The Golden Knights’ bottom-six have struggled when faced with difficult matchups. Minnesota’s power line of Eriksson Ek, Greenway, and Foligno have dominated the Golden Knights when presented with favorable matchups. They created heaps of dangerous chances when sharing the ice with the Vegas 3rd and 4th lines while they’ve been held more at bay against the top-six (overtime goal moments after the power play notwithstanding).
All in all, shutting down Stone and Kaprizov seems to be high on the priority list for both teams. So far, each have been successful and it’s meant a pair of low-scoring games in which the teams have split.
It’s only a matter of time though. The question is which ace in the hole will hit the table first. If you are rooting for Vegas, you better hope the Stone card is played before the Kaprizov one.
*TOI stats for this site were sourced from NaturalStatTrick.com*
I think one of the hardest parts of the roster that I’m trying to understand right now is how we can continue to deploy the fourth-line with it’s current construction. I may be a Glass, Stan—but doesn’t he give our power play something that we have been missing?
He’s not a crazy weapon on 5v5 but he’s not a defensively liability. I think given the right wingers, he could help bolster some that would make Vegas more rounded.
Plus, I wonder when we will stop hiding behind the scaring your opponent fallacy in the playoffs.
I agree with you but at this point I just don’t see it happening. Let’s see if Glass travels with the team to Minnesota.
THE hockey GOD
at least stone has an excuse > No Max Pax.
The rookie Russian has deer in headlights look
That’s another foolish remark.
Olympic champion, Khl Superstar ( top goal scorer 2 years in a row ??!!.. you high ,the fact it takes 3 ppl to hover him is insane ,and if ya think he’s scared of the Vegas “Lites” ( not a compliment, saying their close to Rupaul ,in the expansion settings) ..he pummeled ya defenseman “Toilet tissue ‘ Whitecloud, like a schoolyard punk …. our house tomorrow, hope Stone ain’t too tired …he,and his 2 teammates, gonna be busy ……
Are you illiterate?
THE hockey GOD
averaging two weak shots on goal per game ?! = not much stock. Go back to your ice shack in Siberia BORIS the cLOWn and take your wife Jinklu with you .
I’m glad ya put Hockey in small font,it shows your Pseudo penis envy !! Your girl crush on Stone ( How many goals in the season Opie? 20 ? ) Kaprizov has the golden lites scared …as they should be !!! BTW Kaprizov has 27 !!! Sit down in ya Vegas trailer park home while we Laugh at your team from the stands …. wild win tonight 5-3
Yup. Vegas WAS busy last night, game 3—- they were busy SCORING!!!!! The WILD have their hands full of the KNIGHT’s power players for the rest of their series!! GO KNIGHTS GO!!!!
DOC (Go Knights Go)
I have had a mustache for over 50 years now. Tried a beard a couple times in distant past in another life.
My wife hates beards and has forbid them in our almost 30 years together.
But now, with my situation she has relented. So I stopped shaving a week or so ago, and won’t again until the Knights season is over.
I don’t look particularly good in a beard, but I shall have my playoff version this year!
Without Patch the D has a whole different focus….easier to key in on Stone and now Tuch (which hopefully becomes more difficult going forward). I agree with the earlier comment re Glass….his passing and front of net ability are a plus.
Does anyone really know what happened to Patch? This don’t ask don’t tell policy is amusing.
Its becoming comical……the only pro sport that does this…..archaic….all we know is that 2 weeks ago GMKM mentioned that his injury was more serious than Noseks’ (who also seems to be out again)…the secrecy, I suppose, is to not let the opposition how to set their D……and protect the player when he returns….it seems so odd that their is no further pressing on this by the media…he is a huge part of the team and the media just shrugs their collective shoulders at the lack of info
THE hockey GOD
horse racing is the same, and a few others
Probably being Phazed out like Parise, with the Wild ( old and worthless, unless getting greasy goals off the Young rookie feeds????!..97 is good but prise??? Done !!!
The Misfit Line, Tuch and Theodore have played all 49 playoff games. The first season Marchy was the bonafide star going 21 pts in 20 games. Stone is posting the highest pts/game thus far.
Through 2020-2021 game 2/round 1 (all four seasons):
Smith: 43 pts (11 G/32 A) 49 games (.88 pt/game) +8
Marchy: 38 pts (16 G/23 A) 49 games (.78 pt/game) +10
Theodore: 37 pts (11 G/26 A) 49 games (.76 pt/game) +10
Karlsson: 31 pts (13 G/18 A) 49 games (.63 pt/game) +11
Tuch: 26 pts (17 G/9 A) 49 games (.53 pt/game) +6
Less than four seasons:
Stone: 30 pts (13 G/17 A) 29 games (1.03 pts/game) +1
Patch: 19 pts (10 G/9 A) 23 games (.83 pt/game) -1
Yesterday was a good start forTuch on the Stephenson/Stone line.
As THG stated, Stone not the same when missing the leading goal scorer which screws up the line and the team. Then Nosek goes down out of the gate, and that changes the penalty kill dynamic. Stone looks more focused on defensive play which is needed against the Wild as it felt like they had 7-8 guys on the ice for about half the game. They really throw the puck around well and play with discipline. Big trouble if Fleury can’t continue his insane play. I think the tide started turned in game 2 when our side started finished their checks and the Wild lost some of their speed.