Golden Knights Analysis
Golden Knights Snap Analysis: Silencing McDavid, How VGK Won Series
The Vegas Golden Knights did what no other team could do this season. They largely stayed out of the penalty box in Game 6 and, more importantly, stayed between McDavid and the net for the final 57 minutes. The Golden Knights also got a handle on Leon Draisaitl, who was on a Stanley Cup Playoffs-record goal-scoring pace.
In the end, the Golden Knights’ depth swung the pendulum in the second period, while they got four goals from the original Misfits in a convincing 5-2 win at Rogers Place.
Edmonton scored two goals in the first three minutes of the game but didn’t score again. The silence of the Edmonton crowd throughout the third period said everything you’d need to know.
The win means the Golden Knights get their third crack at the Clarence Campbell Bowl (and fourth “semi-final” appearance, including the 2020 Stanley Cup tournament in the bubble). The Golden Knights won the Conference in their inaugural season but haven’t returned to the Stanley Cup Final since.
The runway is cleared. They are better than the Seattle Kraken and Dallas Stars, who play a Game 7 Monday. The winner faces the Golden Knights.
4 Reasons Golden Knights Advance & Won Game 6:
The 6-foot-6 netminder, who was acquired for only a fourth-round pick last August and was no more than one of the horses on the Golden Knights’ goaltending carousel this season, not only played like a big goalie but a big-time goalie. He made the saves he needed to make a couple that could have been goals.
Hill stopped 39 of 41, including a spiffy blocker save on Mattias Ekholm midway through the third period. If Ekholm scores, the Oilers get a shot of adrenaline, and the Rogers Place crowd would have gone bonkers. Instead, the VGK kept everyone quiet, and the pressure remained on Edmonton.
The truth, which many argued early in the series, was starting goalie Laurent Brossoit became increasingly leaky, especially in Round Two. Hill taking the crease following Brossoit’s Game 4 injury was a blessing in disguise (that VHN indicated at the time. Hey, sometimes we get it right).
3. Edmonton Out of Oil & Gas
The Oilers relied heavily on two players. Draisaitl was on a record pace but clearly didn’t have any gas in the tank as the series dragged on. The Golden Knights pressured him, grinded him in all three zones, and forced him to play defense. After helping Connor McDavid carry the team, the pair were toast by Game 6.
That’s a win for the Golden Knights’ depth. They were hard to play against, they made the NHL’s reigning Batman and Robin play 200 feet by putting the puck deep in the zone and forechecking (and backchecking). In the regular season, McDavid had 153 points but just two even-strength assists and one even-strength goal in the series.
For a team built on two players and power play success, when the Golden Knights took those weapons away, Edmonton could not compete.
2. Jack Eichel
Eichel was a monster in the defensive zone, and — here’s a point that shouldn’t be overlooked — Eichel more than doubled McDavid’s 5v5 point total.
McDavid was limited to just three points (1-2-3) at even strength. Eichel had seven (2-5-7).
Eichel’s work in the defensive zone was everything new and improved about the center. Gone are questions about his dedication or maturity. The 26-year-old in his first playoff run is showing the hockey world his true potential.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Eichel has a 71% goals-for rate (10-4) at 5v5 and a solid 56% expected-goals for.
1. The Misfits
Chandler Stephenson (not an original), Mark Stone, William Karlsson, and William Carrier.
The jobs they performed against the best players in the world should allow them to sleep well. It’s hard to imagine the Golden Knights stalwarts playing any better. They chipped in offense and, more importantly, suppressed Edmonton’s offense.
Stephenson and Stone don’t have great advanced stats in the series. Their Corsi and scoring chance rates were in the 30s, but they scored two goals against allowing four.
Considering the level of competition, that’s a win.
Karlsson was in the 40% range for both Corsi and scoring chances but was on the ice for just one goal against, compared to two goals-for.
Carrier was not on the ice for a goal-against.
In a series about scoring, closing the door on Edmonton was every bit as important as scoring, if not more.
Western Conference Final bound.