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What VGK Did Wrong In Game 3 And How They Can Correct It

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The Golden Knights’ performance to start Game 3 was unrecognizable compared to how they played in Dallas in the first two games of the series. They were outshot 30-10 in the first half of the game and if it weren’t for an other-worldly goaltending performance from Logan Thompson would have been trailing by five or six rather than just two.

Of course, Vegas stormed back into the game with a 4-on-4 goal followed by a shorthanded tally but never got their game going in the right direction at 5-on-5 for the entirety of the 76 minute game.

There were two main problems that plagued the Golden Knights in Game 3 and they worked hand in hand to allow the Stars to dictate a majority of the contest. First, VGK’s puck management in the neutral zone was poor. They turned the puck over on countless occasions leading directly or indirectly to transition chances the other way. This meant as the game went along they became more committed to dumping the puck into the offensive zone. That’s where problem two arose, Vegas struggled to slow down Dallas’ exits along the walls.

Combine them both, and it led to one way traffic coming at Thompson for most of the night, illustrated perfectly by a 27-4 edge in high-danger chances and 54-26 in overall scoring chances to Dallas.

They took it to us. We had no business being in that game. LT stood on his head and allowed us a chance to get back in it. We have to learn from it and have a better start in Game 4. -Brayden McNabb

The first issue is a simple one to fix. Game 3 was not the first time the Golden Knights have had puck management issues this season and typically they were able to correct it quickly. It’s the other aspect of the game that is a bit more concerning.

We have to play through their hands. There’s a lot of time we’re going up as defensemen or forwards coming back and we’re doing fly-bys. We need to close on that guy whether the D goes up and ends it and the forward reads off him and gets over the middle speed or the forward gets up and ends it because the D wasn’t able to get there in time and then the D recovers to the middle to get over their middle speed to neutralize it. -Bruce Cassidy

Here’s an example of what Cassidy is talking about.

Click for clip on mobile device.

When the puck is shot in, the first forechecker is not there in time to challenge the first Dallas pass. The second one is late to the next pass which causes the defenseman to have to come down to challenge the play along the wall. Vegas do not have enough players to neutralize the “middle speed” player (in this case DAL #95) which gives the player on the wall multiple options. He can either chip it out along the glass, which he did, or pop it into the middle and hit the “middle speed.”

We need to do a better job of having their D facing up against the glass because that’s when the physicality can come it. It’s really hard to join (the rush) when you are looking at people in the front row as opposed to what’s going on up the ice. -Cassidy

The other issue is Dallas’ goaltender.

Too many goalie handles. He plays the puck well (Jake) Oettinger in terms of getting out and stopping it. He’s effective with it and efficient. -Cassidy

On that same clip above, Oettinger goes out to get the puck and doesn’t knock it down. Had he, Dallas would have had an even easier exit. Often times during the game, he did, which allowed the Stars to exit even quicker, leading to Vegas continuing to be late at challenging the player along the wall.

It wasn’t all bad though, as there were glimpses of what VGK can do against that style of exit. Here’s an example that led to one of the Golden Knights’ best chances in the 1st period.

Click for clip on mobile device.

William Carrier worked to carry it in which helped allow all five Golden Knights to defend against the ensuing Dallas breakout. But even then, when the puck is sent deep into the zone, the Stars had the proper structure to exit along the walls. Nic Roy eliminated the quick play up to Jamie Benn (DAL #14), then when it did get to him, Carrier came flying in to force the puck back towards the goal line. An excellent forecheck by Brett Howden caused a turnover and the puck eventually made its way to Alex Pietrangelo in the low slot.

The Golden Knights have the ability to correct the problems that caused them problems in Game 3. It starts with taking care of the puck at the blue line and it ends with being quicker and harder against the exits along the walls. If the Golden Knights do it in Game 4, it will make Game 3 look like an anomaly. If they don’t, they’re going to head back to Dallas in a bit of trouble.

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50 Comments

  1. Ken – your being kind suggesting a bit of trouble. big trouble would be more appropriate. When you have your opponent down you don’t let them get back up. They should never have put themselves in that position for game 4. All they needed was the same performance as games one and two and your article wouldn’t even be necessary. Don’t complicate things – they looked and acted tired, they played like shit for the bulk of the game 3 and didn’t deserve to win. They know better and that’s the worst part of them loosing. Come with the winning attitude and that’s a huge start. Hopefully this evening they will do just that.

    • Anand

      hdbiker7851, so they should sweep Dallas.

    • Emilio

      This isn’t the Capitals we’re talking about here. It’s Dallas. A really good hockey club. They’re going to take a game or two. That’s okay. Vegas has to respond with a hard boot to the throat.

      • Anand

        Exactly Emilio, I was being sarcastic.

        hdbiker7851 sounded like Tim for a moment expecting that every single game should be a masterpiece.

        Dallas is a fantastic team who could win again tonight.

    • JB

      Your post makes no sense HD. Every team up 2-0 wants to make it 3-0 but that’s not reality. Dallas wasn’t the top team in the west for no reason. I don’t think even the most passionate Knight fans expect us to sweep a team like Dallas. Like I said back before the series started this would most likely be a 5 or 6 games series, (with 7 not out of the question)! Tonight is the key game. I honestly think that the winner tonight will most likely win this series!

      • JB – reading comprehension is necessary – I didn’t say win every game nor did l say l thought they would. I was responding more to Ken’s bit of trouble comment.

        • JB – by your post you believe as do I tonight ‘s game is critical which goes back to my original post that got everyone up tight. There an old saying you might remember or consider – a couple of bulls are standing on a hill over looking all the cows below, the young bull says let’s run down a get a piece, the old bull says let’s walk down and service them all.

      • Rashaad

        I agree JB. If Dallas wins tonight I would certainly see them as the favorite to win the series. Dallas can certainly win tonight. Great team. Great goalie, Great defense, extraordinary offense. They had 8 players on their roster that scored 20 or more goals this year. No other team did that. Tonight is massive. If Dallas wins there would be no shame in that.

        I do believe that Vegas will win tonight’s game. I respectfully don’t agree with HD that all it will take will be the same performance as game one and two. I respect Dallas much more then that. I think to win tonight Vegas will have to be perhaps even better then they were in games one and two. If not, then things get much more interesting.

    • Pistol Pete

      hdbiker one thing we can count on is for you to come in and be critical of the team when they have a bad game. Good game and you have little to say. You and I watched a different game. Although Dallas got the better of Vegas the first 30 min. I watched it over and over. The worst thing was the VGK PP in the second period. That was horrendous, the turnovers and shorthanded rushes. The first 6-7 min. of the game it was a track meet with both teams skating their asses off. Actually Vegas had something like 13 zone entries out of 15 with most shots being blocked and Petro when a VGK shot finally landed nearly scored the first goal of the game (yes LT made key saves before that). What happened here is DeBoer sent his team in with a mission to beat opponent players to the puck and it worked. Dallas was getting better rushes and a few turnovers. Yeah they were playing at their best and Vegas was not able to match it. Welcome to playing one of the best teams in the league when your timing and puck management can’t match it for that period of time. No team no matter how good is going to be able to escape being dominated in various segments. Why do series go seven games? Play goes back and forth is why.

      You wrote:

      “Don’t complicate things – they looked and acted tired, they played like shit for the bulk of the game 3 and didn’t deserve to win.”

      I already indicated the intensity of both teams was there from puck drop, Dallas just outplayed Vegas. Either team can do that period to period or more than one period. Didn’t deserve to win? Really? Coming back from 0-2 and defending well enough in the third period. What would your tune be if Barbashev or Hanifin had scored in the last minute of regulation which both nearly did? Still not deserve to win?

      • Pistol Pete

        Double-checked it. In the first six min. got the puck into the Dallas zone 13 of 15 attempts. 9 out of 11 resulted in first VGK shot landed (Petro). Very intense. Both teams checking and playing their butts off just that Dallas was more successful in generating high danger chances and forcing turnovers. Just overall Dallas dominated in terms of shots landed and creating turnovers, strong on the puck. Anybody who watched this and would say Vegas did not show up to play does not know a game when they watch it. Why in the world would the VGK with a chance to take a commanding 3-0 lead at home and to sweep, why would they not show up to play? Makes absolutely no sense.

  2. Gee it seems like Cassidy read my post..and FINALLY deemed that the one place Mantha should not be is on the ice with his soon to be former teammates that actually care and WANT to win…and strive to be the best they can possibly be!

    • Rashaad

      Mantha may get in again at some point. Having a big body is very useful for the rigours of playoff hockey. I didn’t expect much physicality from him as he has never been that type of player. I’m very happy that Amadio is coming in for Mantha.

      In a post about a month ago, talking to Pistol Pete, I had mentioned that if the roster was fully healthy that the five including Amadio, Dorofeyev, Howden, Cotter and Mantha would be fighting for two available spots. Amadio and Howden seem to have those two spots at the moment. Depth and internal competition is a great thing to have.

      On a funny note, when I had said this the hockey god insulted me and said that Mantha would never be a healthy scratch. Called me clueless, and a bunch of other insulting stuff. I think he was still mad at me for calling him out on saying that Marchessault should have been a healthy scratch in last year’s playoffs.

      Anyways as Ken has tweeted out, Anthony Mantha is a healthy scratch.

      • Pistol Pete

        Rashaad I can understand Cassidy using Howden and Amadio ahead of Dorofeyev. Both are playoffs-tested and were excellent last time. Amadio racked up postseason points way above his regular season average and Howden did an excellent job skating on the Stephenson-Stone line. Howden and Amadio are both big bodies, they hit and check. Dorofeyev is still a work in progress as far as his physicality is concerned. He could get his chance next season on the Hertl-Stone line (assuming Stephenson is not re-signed). I don’t see Stephenson getting extended unless Theodore is traded in which case I believe both Stephenson and Marchessault will be re-signed.

    • knights fan in minny

      ammadio has chemistry with wild bill he is faster then slo mo mantha and h hits people to good move

  3. Jack Hammer

    TS, I will no longer post on this site unless it exclusively has to do with hockey. That is my ultimate promise to you Madam. I will not stray. I have great respect for the way you responded to my post with logic and kindness.

    Wishing you a day filled with kindness, compassion, and joy.

    Lets Go Golden Knights!

  4. knights fan in minny

    do not play sloppy for the first half of the game no mantha love it time for ammadio show what h has

  5. knights fan in minny

    come on 8:30

  6. knights fan in minny

    hakstol out at Seattle

  7. knights fan in minny

    get fired up ts

  8. ThG

    VGK is mucho banged up now

    stars are surgically dissecting the VGK key players, hague and karlsson

    wait for it

    meanwhile Jihad Joe is telling israel to stop kililng terrorists that are trying to wipe them off the planet, what a piece of shit this loser turned out to be.

  9. ThG

    the new dragon basically sucks, this is not medieval games, you want that shit go to excaliber; this is NOT
    the GAME OF THRONES
    it is GAME OF HOCKEY.

    What does dragon have to to with hockey ? Nothing, it is satanic and evil creature. St. George slayed the dragon.

    There is no place in hockey for dragon. It is little wonder that nearly all real hockey fans hate VGK. Over the top bull shit like this.

    • ThG

      Dragons in the Bible: What does the Bible say about dragons?
      Does the Bible talk about dragons? If so, what does it say?

      In the King James version of the Bible, the word “dragon” appears several times. While dragon today refers to a mythical flying creature, the word previously had a larger semantic range. According the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, when used in scripture, dragon seems to refer to a large serpent.

      Bible verses about dragons
      Ezekiel 29:3 says, “Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.”
      Psalms 74:13 recounts when the Lord divided the sea by force, but also says he broke the heads of dragons.
      Isaiah 34:13 also contains a reference to dragons. That reference reads, “And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.”
      Revelation 12:3 reads, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” Later, in Revelation 20:2, the text calls Satan a dragon. It states that the dragon will be bound for a thousand years.

      The dragon symbolises the devil. It’s mostly in Isaiah and Revelation. You don’t need to guess about it either. It’s explicitly stated in the Bible.

      Revelation 12:9

      And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
      Revelation 20:2

      And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

      The dragon is also nurturing the anti Christ, some see SloJoeInflation as the anti Christ, others see the new fake pope (marxist piece of shit) in Rome as anti Christ and as last pope. Furthered by fact that he doesn’t want to be buried with the rest of the popes. This pope is REal dope, or as Muhammad Ali would say Pope A dope.

  10. Satan

    I like the dragon.

  11. Jose

    I didn’t even know that dragons were real. I thought they were using some kind of prop that looks like a dragon. I think this is irresponsible and wrong. What if the dragon sets some of the fans on fire or even worse, eats them hole. William Foley, this a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  12. Richie-Rich

    They played poorly for 76 minutes with the exception of the 4-on-4 and short handed shifts that ended up goals for the VGK. I think Ken lays out exactly what happened.

    It’s not like the VGK hasn’t seen or hasn’t had this problem over the course of this season. They have. I find it very difficult to believe that Cassidy didn’t recognize what was happening. A time out was definitely in order, but wasn’t called. The entire team, with the exception of the goaltender needed to have a timeout reset at the end of period 1. It didn’t happen. Making matters worse is that they came out in period 2 with the exact same mindset and game plan with no answers to what Dallas was doing to them.

    With that said, and behind us. This team still found a way to tie and almost win this game. They have the ability. I am fairly certain we are not going to see the same performance tonight. I expect to see corrections made.

    I believe it is time for Dorofeyev or Amadio to be plugged into the lineup in place of Mantha. But, does Cassidy?

    • Pistol Pete

      R-R as I posted above to hdbiker (perennial complainer) I saw intensity from puck drop not playing poorly per se. If playing poorly means not being able to match the play of your opponent through no fault of your own other than being outplayed by an very good team playing at the peak of the powers, so be it they played poorly but that is not the point. The point is two very good teams playing each other it is possible for one team to dominate that other for extended periods of time and that is what happened the first 30 min. of that game. Not saying countermeasures can’t be implemented to prevent it from happening again in game 4. They can. When something like that happens it is possible to prevent it from happening again in this case hopefully for the remainder of the series. Dallas is a very good team though.

      • PP – what did l post that wasn’t true – even your buddy RR saw the same thing. Your problem is the rose colored glasses and you can’t stand critical posts. I assure you that you are no greater loyal fan than l. Sorry you always see comments that don’t align with yours as perennial complainer. Of course we have had this conversation previously even when l agree with some of your BS.

  13. NAM

    I don’t think Mantha is a bad player, but I don’t think he improves this team over what it already had. Personally, I think Bruce *had* to play him and when we were winning, great! Losing a game and having a veteran VGK SC guys on the bench changes things. Ammo isn’t better or worse than Mantha at a high level, but he has been a pretty solid player here for a while and has even had clutch goals in the playoffs. I am all for the change and personally I think Ammo has been pretty solid this year.

    Until this season is officially over though I am not going to quit saying it. Not picking Smith back up was a mistake. He is the 1 piece the Karlsson line has been missing the entire season. Instead of getting the guy back we are scratching his 2nd and 4th round pick temp replacement.

    • JB

      First,Smitty did not have a good year. Second, what makes you think he was even available to “pick back up”? He’s gone, he’ll remain gone!

      • NAM

        Smith didn’t have a good year and neither did the penguins. I don’t think Smith’s value in PIT is what it is in Vegas. Team leader in Vegas for 6 years. Probably not a team leader in PIT with Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel etc etc. New lines, new system, new place to sleep, on and on. Are you telling me he would have had a bad year in Vegas? Maybe, but I bet he would have been just fine.

        You are right maybe availability wasn’t there. Maybe PIT likes what they got for a 3rd round pick and the fact they didn’t move him was probably some sign. Smith had an extra year. PIT may have like that or others may not have, Vegas included.

        I do know he fills a spot that hasn’t been filled all season. Including the guy you just gave a 2nd/4th for.

      • knights fan in minny

        smitty is a good player he had great chemistry with wild bill i loved watching those two kill penalties they were very good

    • Pistol Pete

      NAM extending Barbashev vs. Smith was the correct play imo. Smith has been missed though. No argument there. Fortunately though with Stone on LTIR McCrimmon was able to acquire Hertl more than making up for Smith.

      • NAM

        Yeah I don’t like to do the Barb vs Smith comparison personally. I get why it happened, but paying Hill was where I thought the mistake was. Not hindsight, I thought it at the time. He was great in the playoffs, but so was the top NHL “goalie friendly” defensive system he was playing in. LB and LT at ~2.5mil combine would have been awesome. Worse case you buy at the deadline. Anyway, the go-back-in-time exercise is all for not.

    • NAM, not retaining SMITH was NOT a mistake, he had and has lost a step…his GWG in Game 5 was a total flub that ended up in the back of the net. I wasn’t in agreement to pay Barbashev $5 million but as compared to Smith game wise and obviously age wise was a no brainer!

      • NAM

        He lost a step? Where did he lose this step? In one play he lost a step on the GWG? Two nights ago Hanifin passed the puck to the other team 8000 times. Did Hanifin lose a step? I personally don’t think so. I think he was having a bad night in a harry situation.

        Last season Smith was 3rd in goals, only 2 goals behind the team leader Marchessault, and was 4th on the team for total points. He was also arguably the best 200 foot player behind Karlsson. Not sure what step he lost. This season? He played in a new system with a team that wasn’t the SC winning golden knights, his home for the last 6 years, with great weather and not in the shithole that is Pittsburg. How would he have looked here? Better than Mantha I would imagine.

  14. Frank

    Look at it this way. We had a very poor game on Saturday (especially the first and parts of the second period) and it still took OT for them to beat us. I like our chances tonight to go up 3-1 and put this series in a stranglehold.

  15. NAM, I was from jump street in agreement about Hill and the contract, I didn’t want to be right about it obviously, but at this point in time at least take solace in that it was ‘only’ a 2 year contract.

    • NAM

      Yeah it really could have been much worse with more years. I like the guy, as a VGK fan, just didn’t think he was worth the hype money and LB and LT also both killed it when they could play.

  16. We will agree to disagree on what we saw last year, but yes ANYONE is better at this point than Mantha.

    • Emilio

      Completely agree. Mantha does not play VGK style hockey. For whatever reason Mantha cannot seem to integrate with this teams way of play. He has a great shot. However he hardly, if ever fights for position. So if the time and space is not given to him (no no in playoffs) he doesn’t get to use that shot. He doesn’t set his teammates up either because he quits during board battles or haphazardly initiates them. Not sure if it’s fear, indecisiveness, laziness, really not sure. However it’s certainly costing the team chances. With Ammo, Howie, or Doro you those boys will get into the play and at least make the opposition cough up the puck and set up a chance. Mantha does not give this team any of that, which is required in the POs.

  17. ThG

    i am so happy scripts 34 is carrying the game local so we can all bypass the woke broke shit at ESPN , especially emily craplin all over the place. Broker story on RL
    having a broken knees, when that was farthest from the truth. Maybe they will get a clue one of these days and drop the diversity bull shit and hire the BEST person for the job instead of filling quotas to make Jihad joe, aka Genocide Joe happy.

  18. knights fan in minny

    sit your ass down mantha

  19. Earl the Replanted Transplant

    Is it my imagination or is P.K Subban a total douchebag? Dude is as good of a commentator as his brother is a goalie. He hates the VGK because they dumped his bro. I can’t stand ESPN, with the exception of Mark Messier.

    • knights fan in minny

      hard to say h picked vegas to repeat

      • Earl the Replanted Transplant

        Maybe it is a bias of mine, but I prefer the TNT crew. It isn’t just games against with the VGK where I can’t stand his commentary, it is every game. That and the in game ESPN play by play guys are meh. Oh and before someone says it is an ethnicity thing, I like Anson Carter from TNT. Not a fan of P.K.

        • knights fan in minny

          tnt is the best subban take him or leave him messier is boring tnt guys are the best eddie o Boucher the studio guys are good biz is a character

        • knights fan in minny

          ace is good to

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