Golden Knights Analysis
VGK Grades: Golden Knights Big Boys, Goaltending, & Grounding McDavid
The Vegas Golden Knights looked lost during and after Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena. Tones in the locker room were hushed. And as the Edmonton Oilers have done in all three games, they scored early.
But that was it for Edmonton. There were no more highlights and few chances as the Golden Knights made a statement in a 5-1 win at Rogers Place.
Get the Golden Knights recap here.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were scoreless. Instead, Jack Eichel scored three points, and the Golden Knights will have a golden opportunity in Game 4 for a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Golden Knights Analysis
The Golden Knights flexed their discipline and leaned on McDavid throughout the game. The star center never really got free and never built momentum.
Despite the first goal, the Golden Knights continued swarming Edmonton. In the first few minutes, it looked like the Golden Knights might run Edmonton out of their own building.
Instead, the Golden Knights put them on lockdown.
There’s no chalkboard diagram for increased “want-to.” The Golden Knights were on every loose puck, the forecheck kept Edmonton off-balance, creating turnovers and offensive zone pressure, and especially in the first 40 minutes, the VGK took the puck the puck off the mid-wall and back-wall to the front of the net.
Two minutes after the first goal, Jonathan Marchessault scored his first goal of the playoffs, and the VGK squashed Edmonton for the remainder of the game.
The Golden Knights even figured out how to solve the vaunted Oilers’ power play.
Don’t take any penalties. Duh.
Edmonton didn’t get a full power play until the final five minutes, long after the game was decided.
Golden Knights Report Card:
Jack Eichel: A+
Eichel downplayed the McDavid matchup before the series, but he needed a big game. The 2015 second-overall pick couldn’t let McDavid and Leon Draisaitl fill the net and not respond. It’s cliche, but it’s true: Your best players must be your best players. Eichel delivered with three points (1-2-3) and was also stout in the defensive zone.
Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft tried to get McDavid away from Chandler Stephenson and against Eichel in the second period. Even that backfired, as Eichel clearly won the battle.
McDavid and Draisaitl had only three shots each.
Adin Hill: A
A little opinion here — Hill should have started Game 3. Brossoit has been leaky. When Hill, a 6-foot-5 goalie, took over the pipes five minutes into the game, he brought a steady calm. TV announcers did a disservice to Hill by calling him a backup or saying there was no pressure. VHN would disagree on both accounts.
Brossoit was serving pizzas in the slot, and it almost burned the Vegas Golden Knights twice in the first few minutes. Hill didn’t make saves look difficult. He stopped all 25 and didn’t give many rebounds; that’s a huge bonus and means the defense doesn’t need to chase the play or puck.
Jonathan Marchessault: A
The Golden Knights’ top-line winger has been quiet in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He scored his first goals Monday and led all players with six shots. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Marchessault tied McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with four scoring chances.
We couldn’t give everyone an A. If a line was a little on the wrong side of the puck, it was the fourth line. They allowed four scoring chances against just one.
That’s not a bad C+, but one on the curve. Roy won only 33% of his faceoffs, and he’ll need to up that, but any negatives are pure nitpicking.
Bruce Cassidey: Mastery
Cassidy dug into his team after Game 2. He was uncharacteristically curt, even through his polite tones. The home loss stung, and he called out his team for being “out teammate’d.”
It was a bold move. Coaches know that stuff gets back to the players. For all of the denials that players don’t read or listen to in media, many absolutely do. Family and friends talk, too.
The team played a nearly perfect, disciplined game. Puck support. Proper positioning and gaps. And no stupidity.
Evander Kane swatted the hornets’ nest, and rather than chase Kane around the ice for retribution, the Vegas Golden Knights took the puck away and didn’t give him the time of day.
Even after Kane tried to stir the pot at the end of the first period by charging about 100 feet to hit Alex Pietrangelo at the horn, the VGK didn’t bite.