The Golden Knights have always been a pretty good offensive team. They currently rank 7th overall in total goals since 2017 and sit in 5th this year after what was considered a down year finishing 12th.
One of the main reasons for that has been how deadly they’ve always been off the rush. From the moment the Golden Knights stepped on the ice for the first time, transition offense has been their calling card. James Neal helped VGK to their first-ever win on a quick-strike chance off the rush and they’ve been doing it ever since.
However, over the course of the last two years, there have been extended stretches in which that style of offense has dried up for Vegas. The most notable instances came in postseason series against the Canucks, Stars, and Canadiens.
When Bruce Cassidy was brought on board as the third coach in team history, he knew that had to change. Of course, no one would want to take away from the Golden Knights’ most consistent avenue of generating offense, but it was clear they had to build other roads to success as well.
Even though we’ve been good all year I think it’s been more rush. We’ve really focused on our power play and the pace of that and I think it has shown up well for us lately. Now it’s about building in some O-zone play where we don’t get chances off the rush. -Cassidy
That focus has started to shine through for the Golden Knights, especially in the last few home games, a trio of wins.
One particular place that has worked well in helping to create extended O-zone offense has been in utilizing the area below the goal line. Over the past few years, you really only found Golden Knights with the puck under the red line when they were forechecking or cycling. Most of the offense then came from low-to-high patterns.
Recently though, which really showed up in the last game, the Golden Knights have been more intentional in using the ice below the goal line. One such example was an excellent pass from Mark Stone to Chandler Stephenson which set up Vegas’ fourth goal against Nashville. VGK’s OT goal in the same game also came from Stone drifting under the red line before feeding Hauge’s one-time bomb.
The best example though was Michael Amadio’s goal against the St. Louis Blues. When Stephenson picked up the puck, he headed down near the goal line using that open ice to help drag a defenseman with him. That helped him open up the pass across the ice to Stone. Then, as that D came with Stephenson, Amadio headed into the vacated space below the red line and got lost by the Blues’ defense. He popped back up and presented his stick to Stone, who went tape-to-tape for a tap-in goal.
Still, over the course of the last five games, most of the Golden Knights’ goals have come either off the rush or from special teams. But, Vegas is clearly heading in the right direction to working in more threats when they do have extended offensive zone time.
With the power play coming along, it really stands as the final piece between the Golden Knights and avoiding those pesky scoring droughts. No one would say they’ve mastered it yet, but steps in the right direction are a great sign that they might by the time they really need it.