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“Run It Until They Stop It”: VGK’s Plan To Continue Stopping Colorado’s Top Line

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After the Golden Knights won a crucial Game 3 against the Avalanche, we pointed out the strong performance by the Golden Knights top line’s compared to the highly touted Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen line. It’s only gotten worse since for the Avalanche’s best players.

They’re frustrated for sure. -Jared Bednar, COL coach

The Golden Knights top-six have outplayed, outproduced, and outworked the Avalanche’s top performers for the past three games. Vegas’ impact players have held the MacKinnon trio to just four points since their eight-point explosion in Game 1. In the following nine periods, Vegas allowed only one goal from Colorado’s big three.

MacKinnon/Landeskog/Rantanen Line vs. VGK

Game 1: 8 Points (5 Goals, 3 Assists)
Nathan MacKinnon 2 Goals, 1 Assist
Gabriel Landeskog 2 Goals, 1 Assist
Mikko Rantanen 1 Goal, 1 Assist

Game’s 2-4: 4 Points (2 Goals, 2 Assists)
Nathan MacKinnon 0 Goals, 1 Assist
Gabriel Landeskog 0 Goals, 1 Assist
Mikko Rantanen 2 Goals, 0 Assists

It’s tough checking, especially for those guys. They’re not just dealing with one line, they’re dealing with multiple lines. People saying, ‘well you got to get them away from the Stone, Stephenson and Pacioretty line’ but then they got the Karlsson line who’s doing equally as good a job. There’s some heavy lifting there and we haven’t found a way. -Bednar, COL coach

Once the series shifted to Las Vegas, Colorado’s stars went dark. Landeskog failed to register a shot on net, MacKinnon was -3, and Rantanen hasn’t recorded an assist. A pretty stark difference from the 5.00 goals scored per game the Avalanche averaged in their first five postseason games. Execution, momentum, and will shifted when the Golden Knights hit home ice.

Too many missed passes, bobbled pucks, not recognizing when we have time to make a play. That starts to get frustrating and that starts to get counterproductive. -Bednar, COL coach

Bednar proclaimed after his club’s second straight defeat that he wasn’t concerned but his high-end players needed to produce. Every coach, player, or fan watching the series understands if MacKinnon isn’t scoring, chances are Vegas will go on to advance, and possibly in six. Bednar expects his horses to get going tonight.

Tonight’s outcome is enormous. With a win, Vegas can end the series at T-Mobile Arena in Game 6, a loss will force them to defend home ice to extend the series. The result will come down to which team executes their strengths more. Can Colorado’s heavyweights snap out of their offensive funks or will Vegas’ top six further suffocate MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen?

They got to stay with it. It’s a best of seven series, it’s not a best of four. I fully expect our guys to take another step in this series and in the home game. Our big line will have to be big part of that. -Bednar, COL coach

The Golden Knights really see it much differently. In this morning’s press conference Pete DeBoer referenced an excerpt from a book written by Bill Cowher, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach. He said Cowher would get frustrated when a running play would gain 10 yards and the offensive coordinator wouldn’t call the same play over and over again until the defense stopped it. DeBoer views this series the same way.

Run it until they show they can stop it. -DeBoer

So there you have it. It’s on the Avalanche to change. The results of that change will define the seasons of both Vegas and Colorado.

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2 Comments

  1. Summerlin AndyB

    Another great analysis, Jason.

    It makes me want to bet……the UNDER;)

  2. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Good job Jason! Why does Ken keep covering up your write ups, so soon? 🙂

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