Golden Knights Analysis
Golden Knights Analysis; Bad Moons Rising After Games 1 &2
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard scored a power-play goal in Game 2. It was seven minutes into the game and already Edmonton’s second man-advantage. The long-range shot that was stoppable was a microcosm of everything the Vegas Golden Knights are struggling with, some against themselves and others against Edmonton.
The Round Two series is tied 1-1 after Edmonton’s 5-1 Game 2 win, and Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft already laid down the gauntlet for the home fans to make Rogers Place a madhouse Monday for Game 3.
What seemed to be surmountable obstacles for the Golden Knights after Game 1 are beginning to seem insurmountable after Game 2. Bad moons are rising.
The first sword through the Golden Knights’ armor is the Edmonton Oilers’ power play, easily the greatest ever. For many years, this writer has lived on the old-school premise that Stanley Cups are won with 5v5 goals and power plays dry up in the postseason.
The Oilers are slaying that notion. They are feasting on the power play like no other team ever has. Their power play conversion rate actually dipped to 56% after knocking down “only” three of six.
The Golden Knights PK tried a different strategy in Game 2. The top forwards sagged back, leaving a canyon of ice between themselves and the point. The aim was to block shots and focus more on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Afterward, they tried a more aggressive approach based on the score. What happens in Game 3 may decide the series.
“John (Stevens) runs the PK. He’s been in this league for a long time and does a great job. It’s a challenge against this team,” Cassidy said. “So we (got more aggressive) after the first two, throw something different and maybe create a loose puck situation where you get a shorty to get back in the game. Force them into quicker plays. And it’s a dangerous animal. If you’re not on time, then you’re giving them almost easier chances.”
Damned if they do. Damned if they don’t.
In fairness, Laurent Brossoit was in the AHL this season. He’s a third goalie/backup type being asked to carry a team into the Conference Final.
That’s a big ask for a 30-year-old netminder whose career path includes no more than 24 NHL starts in any of his nine seasons. Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, he hasn’t made all the saves he should make in the series. And he’s allowed a few more than he could have stopped.
A softy at this time of year can be a killer. A softy for the Edmonton Oilers is like chum in the water. The Golden Knights are going to need a bigger boat.
We suspect Adin Hill, who played the third period of Game 2, will get the start in Edmonton. In 27 appearances this season, he posted a respectable .915 save percentage.
A few more saves, perhaps even a few the goalie shouldn’t make, would go a long way. Otherwise, it will be over for the Golden Knights.
Kane took the physical, or rather the extra-legal physical advantage for the Oilers. There were a handful of scrums, small melees, and fights in Game 2. Kane was in the middle of every one of them.
If a player can start living in his opponent’s head, he’s won. By the third period, Kane seemed to be collecting mail in the Golden Knights’ heads. Of course, Kane sucker-punching Keegan Kolesar went a long way toward that.
It’s a fine line between dealing with the pest and getting distracted by the pest.
It’s not like the Vegas Golden Knights can afford to take a penalty, right?