Yesterday, we went through the Golden Knights Top 6 goals of the postseason, today it’s time to pick some apples. We took a different approach when selecting six elite playoff assists. Many were picked because of their pure beauty not their impact. Others were a blended mix of spotlight skill and the game situation. So, let’s start dishing.
6. Stephenson and Howden Assist Stone’s Second Goal of Game 2 vs. Winnipeg
After a disappointing Game 1 loss to open the postseason, Vegas’ captain knew he needed to steer the ship. Mark Stone did just that in Game 2 of the opening round vs. Winnipeg. In the final period, Stone assisted on Chandler Stephenson’s tiebreaker and wrapped the game up with two goals. Brett Howden started the rush from the defensive zone and flipped it over to Stephenson on the wing, who found Stone for a perfect tap-in down low. Each forward touched the puck and it resulted in a point for the home team. Even though it’s a different sport, coach Norman Dale would’ve been proud.
5. Karlsson’s SCF Game 2 Between the Legs Assist to Amadio
William Karlsson was superb throughout the entire postseason. The Swede always seemed to have the puck at the right time and in the right position. And he did it with flare. Take this Michael Amdio goal for instance. He didn’t need to do much, he just kept his stick down. The goal didn’t impact the game much but it made the top highlights on Sportscenter that night.
4. Howden’s SCF Game 5 Backhand Cross-Ice Assist on Stone’s Second
It felt like it was going to be Stone’s night from the opening faceoff. He had several solid shifts to start Game 5 but came alive midway through the 1st period. VGK’s Captain opened the scoring on the penalty kill but later buried an exquisite one-time feed from Brett Howden. Stephenson came streaking into the offensive zone and dropped the puck back to Howden. The winger then flicked a slick backhand cross-ice pass setting up Stone for his second of the evening. It came in the middle of a barrage of Golden Knights goals, but Howden’s was one of the best assists of the postseason.
3. Roy’s Soft Saucer to Stephenson in Game 3 vs. Edmonton
It was really tough to rank the Top 6 assists, take Nic Roy’s for example. Stephenson’s goal made it a four-score game, so it wasn’t drastically needed. If it had been a tighter game, this apple would’ve ranked higher. However, it was a beauty. Roy’s pass was expertly timed and Stephenson’s touch was velvety smooth. Magnificent really. For some reason, the NHL labeled it as a shot by Roy and a rebounded goal by Stephenson. Not sure why but the official scorers were caught sleeping on that play. Just for bookkeeping’s sake, Alec Martinez was awarded the secondary assist.
2. Eichel Sets Up Marchessault’s Opening Goal in Game 3 vs. Dallas
It felt as if the two top Conn Smyth contenders were making eye-opening sequences every night in the playoffs. Take Marchessault’s goal to start Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Eichel gloved a high puck and settled it enough to fool the defenders and the goalie. The center’s body was set up to take a wrist shot on net but blindly hit Marchessault with a goal-scoring assist. It was deceptive, instinctive and created a shot that sailed by one the best goaltenders in hockey.
1. Zach Whiteclud’s SCF Game 4 Tight Window Pass To Chandler Stephenson
Stephenson had the hot hand in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, scoring the first two goals of the match. What jumpstarted his offensive burst was a perfect pass in the neutral zone by teammate Zach Whitecloud. The play began with the defenseman retrieving a loose puck just outside of the offensive zone. Whitecloud sent a simple pass with pinpoint accuracy that resulted in a by-the-nose breakaway by Stephenson. It should be noted that Florida was caught on a bad change but in my opinion, it makes Whitecloud’s intentions even greater. He recognized a quick opportunity and didn’t hesitate to lead Stephenson with the assist. Also, keep in mind this goal occurred 1:38 into Game 4. Full disclosure, I’ve watched this highlight on loop. It was a tough decision, but Whitecloud’s assist topped the list.
We could keep going. It’s difficult to limit dozens of assists down to six. Nevertheless, we’re bound to our series of The Creator-influenced Top 6 lists. Next up, Top 6 Saves!