Anyone else feeling a bit of deja vu from the last playoff run?
The Golden Knights seem to be able to generate chances but the puck just will not go in the back of the net. Through two games Vegas has attempted 144 shots with 70 of them making it to Cam Talbot. He’s stopped all but three despite consistent pressure from the Vegas offense.
To most, including myself, it reminds me of the Dallas series, and the back-end of the Vancouver series before it. But to Mattias Janmark, who was on the Stars team that ended Vegas’ season last year, he doesn’t see the parallels. When asked if the Wild are defending the Golden Knights in a similar way, he took a moment to think about it and then said “not really.” He went on…
It’s hard because I was on the other side. I don’t think (Minnesota) plays too much of the same style as we played in Dallas. I don’t see too many similarities but I think in the playoffs all the series are similar in some ways. It’s always hard to score in the playoffs. -Janmark
One place in which Minnesota is very different from Dallas is in their commitment to block shots. In 123 minutes of hockey, the Wild have stepped in front of 40 Vegas shots. Meanwhile, in 5 games, or 304 minutes, the Stars blocked just 60 Golden Knights shots.
Another difference is where the shots are coming from for the Golden Knights. The first heat map is from this series while the second is against Dallas.
As you can see, the Golden Knights were much more reliant on shots from the point last year as opposed to below the dots this year. Against Minnesota, they’ve abandoned the points in an attempt to get closer attempts. Plus, if you look at the area directly on top of the VGK logo, Vegas couldn’t generate much of anything from the slot against the Stars, where they’ve already had three attempts in just two games against the Wild.
Where they are similar though is in both teams’ ability to clear the front of the net. The Golden Knights have been unable to generate second and third chances against the Wild, as they struggled against Dallas. Despite the differing areas of the initial shots, Vegas can’t seem to get find their way to the puck first in order to generate more than one attempt per possession.
Janmark certainly didn’t mean it this way when he answered the question, but one has to wonder if this is an indictment on the Golden Knights offensive structure as opposed to a stylistic flaw that’s being exploited similarly by their opponents.
As the series goes on, we will learn more in that regard, but as for now, Janmark expects to see the Golden Knights adjust to the challenges being presented by the Wild in their own end.
We just have to step up our game and I think if you want to make it long in the playoffs you have to gain momentum the longer every series goes. You have to make tweaks to your game and kind of take control and that’s what we’re looking to do. -Janmark
The momentum of the series is there for the taking if the Golden Knights can build on the offense they found in the final two periods of Game 2. If they don’t though, the similarities between this year and last may start coming into focus more clearly for the only player to see both sides of the Golden Knights these last two seasons.