Having not played a game in nearly five weeks, William Karlsson was tasked with one of the most difficult jobs in the NHL. Stop Connor McDavid.
Might as well throw me into the fire, or to the wolves, or whatever you guys say. Yeah, just right at it, so I better be on my toes. -William Karlsson
Playing alongside a makeshift line created specifically for this matchup, Karlsson, Michael Amadio, and Jonas Rondbjerg pulled it off.
I thought Karly did a great job against McDavid. He played against him not all the time but a lot of the time, and they did a really good job. You have to if you are going to beat Edmonton. You’ve got to keep him in check. He’s going to get his looks but all in all Karly did his job great. -Cassidy
In eight minutes of ice time against the league’s best player, Karlsson’s line allowed just three shots on goal while starting every shift either in the defensive or neutral zone. As Cassidy said, McDavid and Co. got their looks, they generated 12 shot attempts, four high-danger chances, and .56 expected goals, but when the game ended the Oilers had not recorded a single goal at even strength.
Karlsson shoulders the brunt of the load as the center, but his wingers deserve a ton of credit as well. Jonas Rondbjerg delivered his usual solid defensive outing while Michael Amadio has continued to insert himself among VGK’s most reliable players.
Amadio is an important part of our team that probably flies under the radar because he’s not a big special teams guy. We need him to be more of a veteran out there that we can rely on and as the night went on he did a good job. Listen, he’s playing against McDavid, he’s the best player in the world, so we’re showing faith in him and he gave it back to us. That’s going to bode well for his teammates for the coaching staff, for everybody. That’s how you gain respect and he did a great job. -Cassidy
The shutdown role Karlsson, Amadio, and Rondbjerg provided the rest of the forward group better offensive matchups. Jonathan Marchessault, Ivan Barbashev, and Nic Roy had to share the ice with McDavid for just three minutes and it led to them having the most effective offensive game for the Golden Knights.
This is the blueprint for Vegas to continue its success against their most dangerous Pacific Division rival. With the Oilers playing much better defense this year than last, keeping McDavid at bay becomes even more important. If the Golden Knights can designate one line to eat up most of the minutes against him, it frees up everyone else. It worked in February, if these two teams meet when the games really count, Vegas expects it to work again.