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Tag: John Stevens

Dissecting VGK’s Underperforming Penalty Kill System

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the few sore spots for the Golden Knights to this point in the season has been their penalty kill. Operating at just 75% efficiency, the Vegas kill has allowed 10 goals and some important ones.

Similar to the defensive structure, a system overhaul was put in place this season on the penalty kill with assistant coach John Stevens taking the reins.

The Golden Knights play a much more passive system than they had been deploying under Pete DeBoer. It’s also multiple, meaning it doesn’t look the same against every single opponent.

In DeBoer’s highly aggressive system, the Golden Knights would take away the pass across the blue line in an effort to contain the puck to one side of the ice. Then, they’d use angles and stick position to find numbers advantages in order to take away the puck. In the new system, there’s a set plan in place, but it can change from game to game. Head coach Bruce Cassidy gave a pair of examples from recent games.

When there’s a true elbow shooter like (Tage) Thompson in Buffalo we would rather avoid that one. They ended up getting the shot they wanted and scored. When Toronto was here with (Auston) Matthews and (Mitch) Marner on the elbows, we would rather give (Morgan) Rielly the shot from the middle and deal with the screen and tip in front. -Cassidy

When they identify a particular strength of the team, they look to alter the system slightly in order to take away that option. Regularly though, the plan is to make sure the shots come from outside of the faceoff dots.

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VGK’s New Assistant Coach Was The Defensive Tactician Behind Multiple Stanley Cups

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in both 2012 and 2014. They did it with a very specific style of play that led to a countless number of teams attempting to copy their way to success. That style relied heavily on possession, shot suppression, and tactically sound defensive hockey in all three zones.

A suddenly familiar name was a huge reason why.

As an assistant coach, John Stevens has an unbelievable track record. The defensive numbers, the penalty kill numbers, all of the possession metrics point to him being a brilliant defensive hockey tactician. -Jesse Cohen, Producer/Host of All The Kings Men Podcast

Stevens stood behind the bench as an assistant coach for the Kings from 2010 to 2017. During that time, he ran LA’s defense which allowed the fewest goals and shots while winning 44 playoff games and two Cups.

There are people who accuse Jonathan Quick of being a “system goalie.” If that’s true, though I don’t subscribe to this theory, it’s John Stevens’ system that made him. -Cohen, Producer/Host of All The Kings Men Podcast

Stevens also was the mastermind behind a penalty kill that boasted an 87% penalty kill in the playoffs and finished above the league average in seven consecutive seasons.

Earlier this week, Stevens was announced as the new assistant coach for the Golden Knights.

We’re definitely looking for someone to run the D and PK. Hopefully look for someone with some experience and knows the West more than I do. –Cassidy to TSN 1200 on 6/20

The only real knock on Stevens is his pair of stints as a head coach in the NHL. In Philadelphia, he got off to a rough start seeing his team finish dead last in his first season. The Flyers turned it around under Stevens earning a playoff berth in his second season and winning multiple rounds before being bounced in the conference final. He was fired shortly into his third season after a 13-11-1 start. In LA, Stevens was promoted to “Associate Head Coach” in 2014 before assuming the job as real head coach in 2017. His Kings made the playoffs but were ultimately swept in the first round by the Golden Knights. 13 games into his second year, he and his 4-8-1 record were kicked to the curb.

I think he is an astute hockey mind and a tremendous human being, but I don’t think that anybody could have done the job he was asked to do with the Kings. -Cohen, Producer/Host of All The Kings Men Podcast

Hoping to have his name engraved in the Cup for the third time, Stevens appears to be the perfect fit to run the Golden Knights’ defense and penalty kill in 2022-23.

A Look At The Best Available College Free Agents

It’s rare that a top prospect goes undrafted in the amateur draft. There are seven rounds, 30 players selected (31 now) which is plenty to restock all of the NHL rosters and their AHL and ECHL affiliates.  However, many college free agent players have become impactful NHL’ers over the past. Adam Oates, Ed Belfour, Dan Boyle, Tyler Bozak, Conor Sheary and Torey Krug were all NCAA free agents. You can call it great or poor scouting but either way there’s value with some NCAA’s nomads.

March 1st is the date teams can dive into the college free agent market and sign any player that has gone undrafted after three years of eligibility. Vegas will be able to join the party whenever that final payment clears, which appears now to be closer to the 6th than the 1st. It shouldn’t make a big difference in the case of college free agents because every one of the Original 30 have passed on these players at least once, probably two or three times.

The other way players can become free agents is if they fail to come to terms with a team that selected them. Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes were both players that were drafted but couldn’t come to terms with their original teams. Both players signed with the Rangers and are a major part of their core. Can GM George McPhee sign a March prospect that others passed on? Here are this year’s top prospects who remain free agents.

Josh Healey

TSN’s Bob McKenzie wrote about the Ohio State Buckeye a few weeks back that contained one of the coolest scouting reports.

Hits too hard for college hockey. His game will be better suited to pro. -NHL Scout

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