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Shift Back To Vegas Should Free Mark Stone Of Phillip Danault

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Four games into this Stanley Cup Semifinals series with the Montreal Canadiens, the Golden Knight’s captain, and best player, has been held without a point. He’s been on the ice for just two of the Golden Knights’ 10 goals in the series and has registered a measly five shots in four games. He’s posted a -1 rating and below 50% share numbers in Corsi, shot share, scoring chances, and expected goals.

To summarize, the Habs have bottled up Mark Stone as well as anyone has been able to since he’s become a Golden Knight and it’s a huge reason why the underdog is tied in the series with three games to go.

But, there is good news, and that’s where the next game is being played.

One of the biggest reasons for Stone’s ineffectiveness offensively in this series has been the matchup he’s been facing. In Game 4, Stone played a total of 16:15 of ice time at even-strength, an astounding 12:21, or 76%, was played while sharing the ice with Phillip Danualt. In those 12 minutes and change, the Golden Knights did not generate a single high-danger scoring chance while allowing four, they allowed 78% of the expected goal share, and they did it while taking 10 of the 14 draws in the offensive or neutral zones.

Danault has been doing this to superstars the entire postseason and he’s doing it again to Stone… when the Habs can get the matchup.

As the series heads back to T-Mobile Arena tomorrow, the Golden Knights now control last change. At every stoppage, they’ll have the final decision as to whether or not they want to put Stone on the ice at the same time as Danualt, and if series history is any indicator, they’ll shy away from that option at every pass.

Mark Stone TOIvs. Phillip Danault
Game 15:49
Game 26:19
Game 311:01
Game 411:31
Games in Vegas12:08
Games in Montreal22:32

At home, Stone is seeing more than five minutes per game extra away from Danault than he has at the Bell Centre. Most of these minutes have been against Montreal’s 3rd and 4th lines, where Stone has seen much more success territorially.

Stone has started a shift in the offensive zone 24 times in the four games. Danault has been out there for 14 of the 24, but just three at T-Mobile Arena.

For the Golden Knights’ offense to really get going in this series, they need their captain to generate scoring chances in bunches. Stone has taken just five shots himself and he’s been on the ice for 28, fewer than six other Golden Knight forwards including last night’s overtime hero Nic Roy.

Pete DeBoer and his staff came into the series knowing the challenge Danault would present to Stone, and they adjusted accordingly in the first two home games. But now, having seen four games of it, they may look to avoid the matchup even more in Game 5. It’s up to Stone to take advantage of it.

**Stats for this article were sourced from NaturalStatTrick.com*

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33 Comments

  1. Jeff

    Ken, the 1st and 2nd line has been MIA most of the series. Almost a replay of last year. Is it totally the defensive matchup all over the ice or have they come down with some sort of throat affliction?

    • Danault, Gallagher, and Lehkonen have a lot to do with it, but the style of play the Habs use impacts the way VGK will generate offense too. Yes, it is somewhat similar to Dallas as they really pack it in and make it very tough to get chances in the low slot. Plus, the Habs have done a good job getting out to the points and taking away VGK’s shooting lanes.

      • Howard

        Trap Hockey, easily defeated with CROSS ICE PASSING. I’m thinking less of Deboer as a coach in this series, because it’s an easy adjustment for VGK to make. Instead, they insist on middle and side stretch passing – no idea why. Habs dcore is gawd awful slow.

        All VGk needs to do is as soon as they get into the ozone, Pass the puck in the direction the Habs trap from and this should result in easier chances for VGK.

  2. Joshua Bennett

    Ken, if this matchup causes such a problem for stone. Why do we not change our shifts to get him away from Danault ? I see analyst always talking about last change, but once the game gets going why not just simply switch up the rotations to get the matchups you like?

    • They can only do so much when the puck is in play. That’s when VGK have gotten a majority of their time away from this matchup but when you are on the road you don’t get a lot of that time. Plus, the other team can counter right back.

  3. Vic

    Anything to do with the exit of #20 screwing up the line? I think so. Best of three series now, and time to wake up. At least Nosek hit back against their defense, but 5 or 6 guys sleepwalked through the game. Ten hits by Anderson after Fleury woke him up with the gift. He’s a big guy, and he was crushing our defense all game, which takes a toll. VGK also making Perry look like a stud for some reason. Their defense needs to be bumped more, but only a few of our guys are finishing checks. This helps explain why the VGK had a hard time exiting their d-zone and also why the Habs had an easy time leaving theirs….creating a ridiculous number of grade A changes. Big problem to overcome….Habs have the best PK and we have the worst PP. No excuses for Stone….time to turn on the animal style we have seen so many times which is what it takes to win a cup. Petro is doing it finally, and #90 saved the season.

  4. THE hockey GOD

    Good article, i was wondering when 61 would show up. He is bottled up and he passed up body checks repeatedly last night.

    The major story in hockey world. Hockey world being all things CANADA. Is the officiating, or lack thereof, in what is NOW GAME 4. Yet the same officials did both games, and HABS won game three. Nary a word after game 3. What a double standard.

    They are calling for the officials’ heads on pikes !!

    I expect officials to call more in Tuesday’s game because of all the pressure these “fans” are putting on league.

    Reading some of the comments and distortion of what went on the ice is pathetic. It’s one thing to listen to the talking bobble heads on TV disrespect the VGK and play up their bias. And now this. Just filter out these noise. They have nothing but same old NHL refs swallowing their whistles. It happens every year, and it’s been going on for decades.

    Ten plus years ago, Malkin of the pENS, clobbers the Red Wing’s captain in game two at end of game. THe rules say it’s an automatic suspension. NHL turns a blind eye.

    So whiners DEAL WITH IT.

    tHg

    • Coyote

      Hey THG,
      I agree with you about the NBC announcers – it’s sickening to have to listen to them (I’ve tried the mute option, but that was way too boring.) However, the MTL crowd went just as crazy on the refs after game 3. At least on the internet places I was visiting. Especially the non call for Marchy’s high stick.
      What bothers me about that is the refs have missed calls both ways. (I understand MTL has been affected more by the poor officiating, but MTL fans are totally myopic.) I used to have the Sharks as my least favorite team, and I used to believe it was MN fans who whined the most of any fans, but now MTL is #1 for me in both catagories. Except John Merril, of course. I’ll always have a fond feeling about any of our misfits.

      • THE hockey GOD

        hey Coyote, welcome to jungle and thanks for shout out.

        yeah they were, but now the story has blown up. I was not happy when they let JM go. I thought he was steady on D. He played well for the Red Wings. Then they let him go.

        MTL only has two really good D men and they have logged some pretty heavy minutes already in this series. No 6 and no.8, they were forced to give them both breaks and Edmundson no 44 picked up some more playing time in last game.

        time management becomes important the longer the series goes

  5. Slapshot Sam

    It’s high time to show the world the talents of the Knights and demoralize these over achievers that are in way over their heads! Go Knights Go!

    • Based on the way its going to think Montreal is all about being over achievers is a little radical in my opinion. They are giving the Vegas Knights fits one way or another and have gotten to the semi finals believing they are capable of winning and have gone about their business to prove that is the case. They were identified as the under dogs just as Vegas was against Colorado which proved to be an advantage in Vegas’s case against Colorado as they appear to play better hockey when faced with that situation. Vegas is not out of the woods yet and Montreal is still very dangerous whether people want to believe it or not which means this could very well go 7 games. Can Vegas prevail – yes I believe so but its not going to be a cake walk that everyone predicted when the series started.

      • Julie

        Aw, HD, let Sam live a little 🙂

        Hope you are doing great these days!

      • Julie

        HD, question – I just saw some panel on tv talking about who PDB goes with Game 5. They pulled up the stats for both Fleury and Lehner for this and last year’s playoffs. The numbers were similar between both. However, one showed more shutouts and one of the panelists said the more shutouts shows more inconsistency in the goalie. I don’t recall why. What do you think?

        • His take the shut outs distort the save % as l recall Fluery was 91.8 and Lehner was 91.2 Since Lehner had for shutouts his take was since both played the same number of games Lehner let it more goals per game that were not shutouts hence not consistent. Interesting take as watching that panel it kind d of caught everyone off guard. Mathimaticly he is correct if that is how the save percentage is figured which l would assume is the case

          • Julie

            Thank you, yes that sounds familiar to me. I recall more now – he had also said he expected a higher save % with 4 shutouts and the fact it wasn’t higher showed a problem. That was one reason he said Fleury should play Tuesday.

  6. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Hey Ken, What did PDB think about your ideas here?

    I assume you are in contact with him to pass on your coaching wisdom!

    • I apologize for trying to educate fans.

      • THE hockey GOD

        Doc is not a fan, everyone knows he’s related to Jason.

        • DOC (Go Knights Go)

          Yea we’ve already established, he’s my uncle! 🙂

      • Don’t apologize they need all the education you can provide. All you need to know to realize that is just read some of the posts. Many are blinded by the idea the knights walk on water and have zero shortcomings.

  7. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Will be interesting to see who is in net Tue.

    I imagine Fleury, but would hope Panda gets another shot, after that great job yesterday.

    We’ll see.

  8. The only thing I have seen from the knights is the bad passing going on they flick the puck in the air and race to get control at the other end Montreal passing is sharp and precise knights have to work on puck control they do that the shots will come

  9. Pistol Pete

    Great analysis Ken, however I think we will see more production from the forwards vs. basically assisting on D men goals, it’s just taking four games to begin to figure MTL out.

    I don’t think VGK has really been playing all that bad this series, below their level or whatever, yes some but the sky is not falling. Hockey is hockey and sometimes things don’t click as wanted. I have not finished watching game 4 but the second period was stronger than the first. Bear in mind, MTL came back from 1-3 vs. TOR and swept WPG. Clearly they were doing some things right, perhaps good defense and man to man coverage. Whatever they did has continued to work some for them this series. Really should be 3-1 if not for Fleury’s lack of focus at the end of game 3 so in that sense VGK is rolling over MTL basically.

    Fwiw, the other series is very similar in terms of goal scoring. Each series has one 4 goal winner and a 2-1. VGK has actually scored one more goal than TBL (10 to 9), so I would not say it’s been a scoring drought for VGK, not really, mostly D are scoring but that’s fine, DeBoer has them playing like forwards. VGK and TBL have each averaged 3 goals for their 2 wins.

    Btw, MTL is a career nemesis much like MIN. VGK is 1-2-3 vs. MON regular season. 4-2 against both TBL and NYI. Besides MIN and MTL, BOS is the only other team to give VGK regular season fits (1-4-1).

    https://records.nhl.com/franchises/vegas-golden-knights/all-time-record-vs-franchise

  10. Stephanie

    They’re fans are the whiniest fans ever.

  11. Paul T

    As someone said, this series is not as close as it feels…it should be 3-1 heading back to the fortress. My bet was a 4-1 series win…a freakish misplay, ‍♂️ oh well, happens, I expect a PL win tomorrow similar to game 1 with or without Chandler

    • Think you might be taking too much credit for Game 4 then. To me it was a split up there, even though the games were decided backwards.

      I still very much like Vegas’ chances though.

  12. Pistol Pete

    As for my VGK/TBL goals comparison (3 per winning game for the first 4 games), TBL just blasted through that average by blowing out the NYI 8-0. It’s going to take some doing tomorrow for the VGK to keep up with that! I’ll settle for 4!

  13. Pistol Pete

    So tempting to draw a comparison between Krebs and Caufield, mainly that they are both first rounders and made the transition to the NHL after playing a few AHL games. The unfortunate differentiator is Krebs got hurt. If not for that he could be in these playoffs producing like Caufield. If Stephenson stays out, maybe just maybe? Ken says definitely not!

    • THE hockey GOD

      CC went 15th, Krebs 17th, I knew the habs were going to take him. I was hoping VGK were going to trade up to get him. He’s a much, much , much better player than Krebs. Before and after the draft.

      • Pistol Pete

        He’s more of a goal scorer. We’ll see on the assists and +/-. IMO it’s too early to call. Caufield has already scored six goals in 23
        games (4 regular season/2 playoffs) which is pretty decent. He’s -2 and very very small. Small and too early to know how much of a two way liability and how much he will score long term. Injuries at his diminutive size are definitely one concern.

  14. Mike StG

    Ken (or anyone) –
    I read an analysis of how Habs got control of play in Game 4. Basically, they changed their zone entry from dump and chase to carrying the puck in against Vegas’s 1-2-2 defense. How can Vegas counter that adjustment by MTL? The 1-2-2 allows Vegas to gap up so going to a 1-1-3 would affect that, but maybe standing them up at the red or blue line would be more effective? It seems like they turned the tables and now Vegas forwards are spending so much time and energy in their own zone defending that it’s affecting their ability to attack.

    • THE hockey GOD

      employ the Freddie Shero 1970s Philadelphia defense against the Red Army hockey team from Russia. Stand up between your red and blue line and smash every thing that moves. Hopefully they will be using the boards to help with smashing. Taking each player out with solid body checks so they are disrupting the flow. I am not saying take penalties or employ dirty tactics. However, the VGK like to use their sticks more often than not. Let’s see how well that goes. If you noticed in this series the HABS are winning nearly all the puck battles along the boards, whereas in regular season the VGK did. That has to stop.Better line match up help in that regard.

      btw the “hockey world” (meaning everything back east and everything Canadian) is playing up the fact that HABS appears to have gotten the better part of deal when they got 14 (I guess they over looked the OT goal assist by 67).

      • Pistol Pete

        Suzuki is unlikely to ever be the 30 goal guy Patch has been.

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