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’?