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Golden Knights Snap Analysis: Tight on McDavid, Big Responses Win Game 1

The Vegas Golden Knights were a shutdown defensive team for most of the first 45 minutes of the game. Connor McDavid got no space, and Edmonton had…



Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights were a shutdown defensive team for most of the first 45 minutes of the game. Connor McDavid got no space, and Edmonton had only one high-danger chance. It was a brilliant effort against McDavid. The Golden Knights won 6-4 in Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena. 

But Leon Draisaitl was wide open a few times. He didn't miss. His four goals fueled Edmonton.

There were more than a few things the Golden Knights should like and take from Game 1. However, as Aerosmith announced their farewell tour sans a Las Vegas date, the Golden Knights also lived on the edge by overplaying McDavid. 

They are clearly a deeper team and probably a better team, but the explosiveness of McDavid and Draisaitl presents a never-ending problem. 

Edmonton has an extraordinary power play, but the Golden Knights' PK could have been better, too. Coach Bruce Cassidy said Edmonton's first power-play goal was a missed assignment. 

However, Chandler Stephenson blanketed McDavid at 5v5, keeping the Golden Knights' advantage.

"Their powerplay gave them a lot momentum and offense," Chandler Stephenson said. "So (I liked) just sticking with it and not quitting. (It was) just a good game."

Despite scoring five goals, the VGK had to hold on for dear life in the third period. And if you're betting the under in this series, you may have a bad time. 

Vegas Golden Knights Snap Analysis:

**Special Teams

Mark Stone's power-play goal in the first period narrowed the special teams' deficit. The Golden Knights' PK held form, but Edmonton too often had easy zone entries, and while the penalty killers jumped to defend McDavid, Draisaitl had a clear look at the net from far too close. 

Edmonton scored on two of three chances. The good news was the Golden Knights limited them to just three chances. 

**Line Matchups

Cassidy kept his finger on the pulse of defending McDavid. Chandler Stephenson drew the assignment for the first half of the game. William Carrier and Nicolas Roy did a lot of defending McDavid in the second half of the game. 

Both did extraordinary jobs. 

"That was something that we want to be able to do, just roll the lines, not match, just try to get everybody out against anybody," Stephenson said, though he clearly saw a lot of McDavid and Draisaitl in the first 30 minutes. 

**X's and O's

The Vegas Golden Knights played tight gaps on McDavid. That can be dangerous, but the Golden Knights zone coverage had a little wrinkle for the powerful Oilers. In addition to the typical fixture in the middle of the ice to take away the cross-ice pass, Cassidy had his winger and defender triangulate McDavid. The tactic forced McDavid into a few turnovers at the Golden Knights' blue line, leading to VGK odd-man rushes. 

If the Golden Knights can continue to pin McDavid to the wall, they're set up for success. McDavid got impatient and tried to force a few plays. 

**More Line Matchups

Cassidy also got Jack Eichel free from McDavid, putting his top center against the bottom Edmonton forwards. 

**Creating Space vs. Edmonton

The Golden Knights played on the rush more than Cassidy indicated they would. They pushed the Oilers' defensemen back, creating space and speed. Michael Amadio was outstanding and got inside the defensemen on the rush, creating a few chances. 

The Golden Knights' forecheck was disruptive, as well. They extended zone time, especially in the first two periods, keeping the puck away from the Oilers' forwards. 

"Pursuit. Puck pressure on their D. I thought we forechecked extremely well," Cassidy said. "You get a lead in the third period, but sometimes that goes away because you're you get less aggressive for obvious reasons; the way they can leave their zone, but we got back to it when it was 5-4." 

**Targeting Stone

Edmonton targeted Mark Stone. Darnell Nurse whacked Stone's back a few times. Stone responded with some hard slashes of his own, but Edmonton clearly wants to soften up Stone. 

For new hockey fans, such things are tolerated in the playoffs. 

**Big Time Responses

The rapid response team was clutch for the Golden Knights. When Edmonton scored the first goal and tied the game 3-3, Ivan Barbashev and Jack Eichel stormed the Oilers' zone. It was a good display of pushback, and Barbashev knocked a pair of response goals. 

The goals spoke well of Eichel, too. 

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