For the first time since becoming a franchise, the Golden Knights deployed a new system in the defensive zone. As opposed to playing strict man-to-man across the entire defensive zone, Gerard Gallant and his staff advised players to show more of a zone look, handing off puck carriers when the opposing team cycles.
(To read much more about the new system, how it works, what it looks like, how it’s different, and the benefits, check out yesterday’s article breaking it down with clips and illustrations.)
The new system was far from flawless in its first appearance as Vegas allowed multiple goals while trying to sort out plays. However, universally across the locker room and the coaches room, there’s a belief that it will eventually turn into something much more efficient than the simpler man-to-man system of the past.
I spoke about it in-depth with Paul Stastny, Nate Schmidt, and Gerard Gallant. Here’s what they had to say.
It wasn’t a big deal really. Players probably talk about it more than we do, it was a minor tweak. There were still some mistakes made but no matter what system you play there’s going to be some mistakes but I like what I saw last night. Moving forward we’ll see. Hopefully it keeps working and we’ll try it. You’ve got to change things when you are not winning. You don’t want to change a whole lot but you can do minor tweaks and hopefully, it helps. -Gallant
That’s a tough team to do it against because their D-men are so active. But the more we do it the more we’ll get comfortable. It’s like anything, sometimes you change something little, you don’t want to overthink it because when you overthink it that’s when you get in trouble. -Paul Stastny
That’s about as active as a d-group as you are going to see and I thought we did the whole ‘bend don’t break.’ We didn’t have a lot of time to practice it a lot but I thought we did a pretty good job of picking it up and going with it. -Nate Schmidt
The other, I mean I shouldn’t say the other because we haven’t completely changed, but the other stuff we were doing we found some teams were taking advantage of some stuff we were doing and giving them too much open ice so we’re hoping this works out. -Gallant
It’s definitely not man-on-man. That is the way we want to play. More support, more layers, more backing each other out, more guys helping each other out in battles. Where if a guy gets beat you aren’t scrambling to try and come off a guy. Back each other up a little more, support each if something happens. In this system, you are going to block more shots and we are going to have to communicate more. For most of the game we did a pretty good job for just picking it up and going with it. -Schmidt