It’s not surprising that the defending Stanley Cup champs have a clear identity of how they look when they are at their best. On Opening Night, it took a little while for that style of play to show up, but once it did, the Golden Knights did what they seem to always do against the Seattle Kraken, win by multiple goals.
After the game, Bruce Cassidy used a term that perfectly describes the VGK style that has been so successful.
If it doesn’t work the first time, we’re a second-effort team. That’s what I loved about our team last year. We can be a second-effort team in the O-zone yet we still make plays like Stephenson’s goal off the rush. -Cassidy
Second effort team. What he means by that is the Golden Knights are constantly working to get themselves into a position to keep putting pressure on the opposition, especially in Vegas’ attacking zone.
Work above the puck, work to the puck, support if someone else is going to the puck, put pressure on the puck all over the ice. Your routes to get there should be heading back your way after you lose it. You can’t cheat, so to speak, and get caught behind the net all the time. When everyone’s doing it, it allows our D to stay up in the play and that’s when we’re at our best. -Cassidy
Cassidy harps on “reloads” a lot, so much so that we even made a video about it last year. The reason he does is because when the team is doing it consistently, it generates offense against every style an opposition throws at them.
A good example is the wacky goal by Jonathan Marchessault against Seattle. What looks like a goofy deflection off a boneheaded decision by Brandon Tanev is actually created by both Marchessault and William Karlsson working from below the goal line back toward the turned-over puck.
This particular play happens because of countless other ones that made Tanev feel like he was under pressure with the puck. He panics and slides it towards his own goal where Marchessault, who is headed back up the ice, tips it into the open cage.
That’s the league, if you don’t have second-effort then you better have all the best players because you’re going to have to execute the first time and I don’t think it works that way. -Cassidy
Becoming a second-effort team didn’t happen overnight for the Golden Knights. Cassidy recognized it as an area for improvement quickly after arriving in Vegas, and he altered practices to instill it into the Golden Knights’ game.
In practice, I noticed a lot of the drills we were doing, after the initial rush we just went back into line, so we started playing it out until you hear a whistle. That way it becomes a bit of a mindset that you are not done, just because you didn’t score, you’re not done. -Cassidy
Now, it’s the lifeblood of the Golden Knights offense. Sure, they can make highly skilled plays both off the rush and in the zone, but when those dry up, there’s always something else to rely on.