One of the main reasons for the switch behind the bench was to help the Golden Knights generate more offense. The primary focus was on the power play, but a huge part of Bruce Cassidy’s mission in Las Vegas is to help a talented group of offensive players score more at 5-on-5.
They can no longer be completely reliant on chances off the rush, turnovers in the offensive zone, and shots from the point to generate the offense. While those tools must remain in the box for the Golden Knights, improvement on in-zone offense generation will likely be the difference between what has happened in the previous few playoff runs (and the one that came up short of the postseason), and what could happen this year.
Through four games, it’s not happening.
The Golden Knights have tallied 12 goals, which on its face is plenty for four games, especially for a team getting good goaltending and playing strong team defense. It’s how those goals are being generated that is the concern. Here’s a run-through of each of the 12 goals.
Goal 1 vs LAK (Rush) – Bad change by LAK leads to 3-on-1 rush. Marchessault to Karlsson to Marchessault.
Goal 2 vs LAK (Power Play) – Rebound shot deflects off a King’s skate, then off Eichel’s skate to his stick where he roofs it. (Technically not a PP, as the guy had just left the box but hadn’t rejoined the play)
Goal 3 vs LAK (Power Play) – High-tip from Karlsson on a beautiful shot pass from Pietrangelo.
Goal 4 vs LAK (Rush) – Pietrangelo creates turnover in the NZ, Stephenson finds Stone who shots through traffic.
Goal 1 vs CHI (Rush) – 2-on-1 started from inside VGK’s blue line. Cotter buries it
Goal 1 vs SEA (OZ Turnover) – Flubbed pass, partially created by Carrier, by Kraken leads to 2-on-1 in front of the goal. Carrier to Kolesar into the net.
Goal 2 vs SEA (Power Play) – Seattle overcommit on PK, Pietrangelo makes strong move and pass to Roy who finds Marchessault for tap-in.
Goal 3 vs SEA (Power Play) – Stone attempts jam play on power play, puck falls off stick before attempt, directly to Smith who slams it home.
Goal 4 vs SEA (Rush) – Stretch pass from Stephenson to Marchessault, Marchessault carries into zone shoots from odd angle.
Goal 5 vs SEA (In-Zone) – Eichel wins 2v1 stick battle in corner to create space for Kessel behind the goal. Kessel finds Theodore activating through the slot. Theodore slides it in.
Goal 1 vs CGY (Goalie Error) – Carrier flips a shot on net, Markstrom whiffs on glove save.
Goal 2 vs CGY (In-Zone) – VGK win draw, work puck to point where McNabb takes wrist shot hoping for a tip. Howden works around two players to reach out and get a stick on the puck, deflecting it in.
So, four power play goals, four rush goals, two in-zone, an OZ turnover, and a goalie error. For most teams, this variety would be viewed positively as it shows an eclectic collection of ways to score. But for the Golden Knights, it remains concerning because the variety still relies heavily on chances off the rush and a power play that isn’t yet convincing.
To be successful over the course of the entire season, and more importantly in the postseason, Vegas will have to take greater advantage of their time in the offensive zone. The best example is Los Angeles, where they outshot the Kings 43-24 at 5-on-5. However, did not score a single goal by generating a chance from inside the offensive zone.
Instead, they potted a pair of goals off horrible LA mistakes (bad change, stretch pass), and got the other two with the man-advantage.
Especially with the balanced lineup Cassidy is currently deploying, there has to be more danger coming from each of the top three lines. In Calgary, the Golden Knights amassed just three high-danger chances at 5-on-5 and two of them came from the 4th line of Carrier, Roy, and Kolesar.
To make matters worse, look at the shot chart from that game.
There’s not nearly enough in and around the goal mouth to be threatening. It’s a trend the Golden Knights have to work out of their game, especially against strong defensive teams.
This year, the Golden Knights can’t rely on shot volume and expected goals or use the “hot goalie” excuse. The in-zone offense has to improve, and despite a 3-1-0 start to the year, it simply hasn’t to this point.
Has it occurred to anyone that the VGK players are overrated and just a hair above AHL?
Maybe a tad better than the silver knights lol. It’s nice to see 5 goals a night however 3-2 loss to the best team in the division so what . Stone and Eichel seem to be playing good hockey in both ends ,I’m sure they are frustrated give it a little time . Is anybody watching Petro he is making some bad decisions it almost seems like he thinks he can skate like a 20year old and he cant , he is Constantly in trouble and it makes him look bad in the neutral or d zone . He either needs to adjust his thinking to his reduced speed or… please prove me wrong. Theodore is plus 6 Petro is even and I think the boys particularly Thompson are covering for his mistakes . Love the new pp they are finnaly moving and creating chances . Love the goal tending . We’re back to seeing some good hockey .Go Knights.
THE hockey GOD
Petro has played mostly well this year, he had a bad game last nite. But other than that he has been doing better than I expected.
The ping pong goal off No. 2 Whitecloud really turned the tide. The calgary player was head hunting with his shot, that was totally uncalled for in that situation. It rang off his high chest, he went down, and out. Flames player left open and bingo bango bungo into the net. When a team does that you expect the opposing team to retaliate. But this year there seems to be very little of that in this team.
This analysis is spot on. VGK is paying over $20 million for that top line, just barely and it isn’t even producing close to the number of points expected through 4 games. It’s not creating high danger chances 5on5. What’s worse is that The Flames exposed just how defensively inept that line is. Neither Kessel or Stone have the speed to keep up with Eichel. I think you have to consider putting some speed and puck handling on that line. That means you have to consider Cotter & Marchy or Smith & Marchy. You move Kessel and Stone down and have them skate with either Karlsson or Stephenson.
Other than Carrier, Kolesar and Cotter I have not seen enough toughness out of this team. McNabb will take the body and is excellent on hip checks.
One only needs to watch how Calgary completely took over last nights game physically to see just how weak the VGK is on the ice. They got manhandled by Calgary in the last 30 minutes of last nights game and it was ugly.
Did anyone else find it comical in that second period. We’d commit a penalty 2 minutes up we commit another penalty another couple minutes later another penalty. I was laughing and my wife got pissed at me. You have to admit that was bush league all the way. Logan Thompson put up with an inept performance from the Knights. Anyone still think Eichel is worth 10 million a year now that’s another problem. I see our PP is heading in the same direction as usual. Oh well as shitty as we played to a good team on the road we still only loss by one.
THE hockey GOD
yeah Tim, that is expected in Canadian rink, with Canadian refs. Nothing new here in Gary “hose bag, as in panty hose” Bettman’s NHL. Been happening
for last six decades.
I think four games in with a new coach, a new system, and half of a new roster is a little early to give up on Eichel, don’t you? RR had some salient points about possible adjustments. It’s a long season. Why don’t we wait and see what happens?
knights fan in minny
you are right rob
Rob, agreed. A wee bit early to judge a season. Cassidy’s system seemed to be working until Tuesday loss. The team will regroup, be more ” composed”, and not repeat that 2nd period meltdown. HOPE.
Rob, Not giving up on Eichel as a player but I don’t believe he is what they built him up to be. In any sport a star shines through and the eye test tells you this guys got it. Do you feel that way about Eichel?