In Game 1, the game plan for the Golden Knights was simple, literally the age old hockey cliche.
Get it in deep.
From the very first shift of the game the Golden Knights consistently sent puck after puck after puck deep into the Dallas zone and then hounded their defensemen until they’d unwillingly give it back.
Vegas’ forecheck was buzzing from puck drop to the final shift a few minutes into overtime. It’s become the hallmark of the Golden Knights’ offensive system, and the head coach was not shy in making a declaration about it moving forward in the series.
That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do it Sunday, so you can put that in print or whatever it is these days. That’s our game and we’re not trying to hide from it. -Bruce Cassidy
Just as it won’t be news to the Stars on Sunday, Vegas’ forecheck didn’t surprise Dallas in Game 1. They knew it was coming, they knew how effective it can be, they just didn’t handle it well at all.
Part of it was execution on us and part of it was them coming at us hard early. You’ve got to give them credit, they were ready to play and they played well. -Pete DeBoer
The dominance of the forecheck was why the ice was tilted so heavily in Vegas’ favor most of the night. The Golden Knights generated 11 takeaways as they denied every exit route out of the Stars end. It looked like they came into the game knowing exactly what Dallas was going to do with the puck, and that’s because, they did.
Each team pre-scouts how each other break out and if you can get in on the forecheck and make guys lives difficult going back for pucks eventually things will be turn over. -Zach Whitecloud
That’s exactly what happened.
When you play behind them you are going to get some back. You aren’t going to get them all back but when you are forcing them to make a breakout play they now have to execute in order to get out of the zone. Then it comes down to effort. It’s just effort plays. -Cassidy
The forecheck laid the foundation for a territorially dominant game for the Golden Knights. They spent much more time in the offensive zone than Dallas and in a game where funky hops ruled the day, Vegas’ extra zone time meant they created more of the luck for themselves.
As the series moves on, the Stars will likely come back with more of a focus on breaking the puck out of their zone. They’ve felt the tenacity of the VGK forecheck and they should be more prepared for it in Game 2 and beyond. But, no matter how much emphasis is put on it, the Golden Knights will not stop coming.
It’s been a big key to our success the entire playoffs. When we’ve gotten to that part of our game we’ve been a really good team because when we do create turnovers we’re dangerous enough to put pucks in the net. The 5-on-5 numbers reflect that. -Cassidy
Per Cassidy’s request, it’s now “in print or whatever.” Now it’s up to Dallas to handle it much better than they did in Game 1… if that’s even possible.