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Mark Stone’s Colorado Blueprint Must Be One And Only Focus For VGK

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche have met six times so far this season. Each team has won three but the Avs hold the slight edge as one of their three losses came in overtime.

It might sound oversimplified, but at this point in the season, every person who puts on Golden Knights clothing, be it players, coaches, management, scouts, literally everyone, should have a one-track mind from now until the end of May.

How do we beat Colorado?

With the playoff set up this season, both the Golden Knights and Avs are already essentially locked into the playoffs. It’s possible the seeds move around, but in all likelihood, they’ll each play someone else in the first round setting up for the inevitable matchup in the second round.

Everyone knows it’s coming, it’s just a matter of what the path looks like to get there. That’s why the focus should constantly be on them. The strategy at the deadline should be aimed at beating Colorado. The goalie rotation should be aligned in a way that best helps beat Colorado. Rest days, line shuffles, injury management, system tweaks, you name it, it should all be focused on that one same thing.

The good news is that Vegas has somewhat of a blueprint of how they can get it done, one Mark Stone helped lay out after the crushing 5-1 defeat on Thursday.

They have four or five really good puck-moving defensemen. If you turn pucks over they turn and go. We weren’t getting pucks in. We weren’t getting our forecheck established. If you put pucks in behind them, they don’t really want to go back and get it. But if you turn it over, they transition the puck better than anyone in the league. -Stone

The Golden Knights heeded Stone’s advice on Saturday as they took a far more direct approach on their entries and saw a five-goal against game turn into a two-goal against game.

Vegas was much more willing to dump the puck in behind the Avs and attempt to work their forecheck. The 4th line had their best game of the six against Colorado spending most of their time in the offensive zone setting up shots from the point, one of which William Carrier tipped in.

The forecheck as a whole had more of an effect, which led a clogged neutral zone against the transition-heavy Avs, and defensively the Golden Knights took a simpler approach to exiting looking to clear the zone rather than feed their own attack.

They play a different style than most teams and we’re going to have to adjust to it. We’re not going to beat this team off the rush. They’ve got some guys who really do a good job. We’ve got to make them come 200 feet to beat us and I don’t think we did a very good job of that. -Stone

Vegas did adjust to it between Thursday and Saturday and it certainly paid off. However, the Golden Knights still needed a power-play goal, a 4th line goal (their first against Colorado in six games), a masterclass from Fleury in net, and a game-winner in 3-on-3 overtime to defeat the Avs.

The question remains, are the Golden Knights good enough offensively to play this style of heavy hockey and score enough to defeat a team that averages 3.42 goals per game?

That’s where the rest of the season comes in. Even though that brand of hockey may not be the best way to beat Los Angeles, St. Louis, Anaheim, or anyone else in the West Division, it’s what Vegas should be working on every single night. They should be trying to add new wrinkles to it by experimenting with lines, pairs, and replacement players. And most importantly, they should have their eyes toward the deadline with an ultra-focus on what must be added to beat Colorado.

We know the Golden Knights can do it, but we also know it can go the other way as well. Vegas has the luxury of time, due to the horrific division and their excellent play on the ice. They must utilize it because come mid-May when the matchup finally becomes a reality, all this lead-up will be scrutinized.

If they use it well, they’ll be headed to the NHL’s version of the Final Four as the West Champions. If they don’t, we’ll all be left wondering what a waste of time this entire year ended up being.

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14 Comments

  1. B-Rad-Lee

    I appreciate the analysis, but if we start playing every game between now and the end of the season as though we are playing against Colorado, then all the Avs have to do is review the tapes for all of these games to see what we are going to be doing. My belief is that tipping our hand in this manner leads to the Avs being very prepared against us and is contrary to what we need to do.

    • There aren’t many secrets in the NHL. VGK knows what Colorado wants to do. Colorado knows ever VGK want to do. It’s about execution, who can do it better. Personally, I’d rather practice and come in prepared than try to surprise them while being unprepared.

  2. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Looks like Panda in the net tonight. We need to concentrate on each opponent and not get caught in looking ahead to anyone else, right now.

    Need to take a pair from the Kings. Go get em boys!

  3. THE hockey GOD

    Walrus going tonight

    If we do A , they do B, then we switch to C, then they go to D

    X
    O
    X
    X
    O

    PS PAndas play in trees, Walruses on the ice.

  4. Vic

    Hard to argue getting past the Avs will be difficult, but the focus needs to be on peaking at the correct time, sealing up the playoff spot and then focusing on the round one opponent. Worrying about teams coming later can lead to disaster, and there are too many examples to list here. If the VGK survive the division, then there are 6-7 teams out there right now that are very dangerous…which will provide a whole new set of worries.

  5. Tony

    We better not take St. Louis and/or Minnesota for granted or we will be watching Colorado face one of those teams. Its all so unpredictable, one hot goalie can end our season.

    • Create chances no goalie can save. Do that, and no goalie will be hot. (VGK did NOT do that in the bubble.)

      • A Fan

        You never seem to worry much about Minnesota. They better not overlook their style of play that we can struggle with also. Look past them and you may not even need to worry about playing Colorado.

      • DOC (Go Knights Go)

        Ken, that’s kind of a naïve statement. “Create chances no goalie can save”. Don’t you think that is something all teams/players want to do?

        It’s damn hard to do this with the caliber of goaltenders in the league now. Oh, that’s right, you never played the game, so you have no practical experience to even make a comment like that. Stick to analysis and not ridiculous statements .

  6. Mike StG

    The slight edge is only for regular season play. Viewed in the framework of playoffs it’s 3-3. There are no points. I think COL is more talented and faster, but Vegas can beat them if we play our game. I also believe that their overplaying Grubauer during the reg season will catch up to them and his numbers will deteriorate in the playoffs. My biggest concern is the Avs making a great TD add that tips things heavily in their favor.

    • knights fan in minny

      agree about grubauer logging a lot of minutes they will probably looking for a keeper on trade day i read something they have interest in quick

  7. Mark

    The series between these 2 teams in round 2 is going to be like a boxing match.

    A series of counterpunches until one prevails in soul crushing defeat for the loser.

  8. Ken you seem to be forgetting something here. There IS another team we have every reason to worry about. Since the Golden Knights came into existence the Wild has been a bigger hurdle for us than the Avalanche. All time records:

    Wild 8-4-1 17 points Vegas 4-8-0 8 points

    Avalanche 11-10-2 24 points Vegas 10-11-0 20 points.

    There is no guarantee that the Avalanche will get to the second round if they play Minnesota. Building our strategy and team around defeating a single opponent we may not even play is just plain stupid.
    I would be more concerned with putting together a flexible team and strategy that could beat any team we meet in the west and would have a real chance against Tampa or Washington in the finals.

    • If they lose a playoff series to Minnesota, they never belonged in the Cup conversation in the first place. I don’t think that’s the case, so I don’t think they are at any danger of losing to them. Might be a tough series, but they won’t win.

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