Connect with us

Vegas Golden Knights

Golden Knights Notebook: Inside Info, Attacks & Counter-Attacks



Vegas Golden Knights, Bruce Cassidy, Western Conference Final

LAS VEGAS — Dallas Stars coach Pete DeBoer coached the Vegas Golden Knights for three years. Last season, Golden Knights assistant coach Jon Stevens was an assistant with Dallas.

Yes, players and coaches have met before.

The Western Conference Final between the Golden Knights and Dallas begins Friday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena. And to accommodate TV, Game 2 will be at noon Sunday.

The teams played three overtime games this season, and much like their battle with Edmonton, the Golden Knights didn’t have a good regular season record. Of course, there will be no 3v3 five-minute period to decide these games. The games will be won and lost at even strength, or at least 5v4.

“There are some similarities to Edmonton in terms of they have a dominant line, whether they play them together or split them up. (Roope) Hintz is probably as close to McDavid as there’s left … a real dynamic player. Pavelski probably has some similarities to (Leon) Draisaitl in his ability to finish,” said Cassidy. “They’ve been on the power play more than any team in the playoffs, in terms of numbers. So they’re looking to create those situations — similar to Edmonton. They rely on that.”

Hintz has 19 points (9-10-19) in 13 games.

Staying out of the penalty box will again be crucial, though Dallas isn’t converting at 50% like Edmonton. Dallas is “only” at 31.7%.

One interesting little wrinkle is the amount of inside dirt the coaches have on their opposition.

Last May, Golden Knights management led by GM Kelly McCrimmon terminated DeBoer. It was a blindside for the coach, who admitted after being hired by Dallas that he was “rattled” by the experience.

Monday night following Game 7, Pete DeBoer punted the question about facing his former team, but his laughter without a denial said enough. While DeBoer might know who puts the sugar on his cornflakes, Golden Knights assistant coach John Stevens was an assistant in Dallas last season.

He, too, might know a few things about the opposition.

“(The information), the little things of a system or an individual (help). So that’s where that helps — their defensemen against our forwards or our forwards against their forecheck. We have a guy in the room, John Stevens, who coached in Dallas last year, so he’s going to know the individual tendencies of a lot of the Dallas guys,” Cassidy said. “So I think there will be more information available early in this series. (Assistant coaches) Misha (Donskov) and (Ryan) Craig may know how (DeBoer) likes to coach. So I mean, we have our meeting as well.

“I’ll just put my feet up and relax, and because those guys have all the information, it’s up to me to decide what to do with it in a couple of days.”

The Golden Knights had the top record in the Western Conference, while Dallas lead the Central Division for much of the season before finishing second. The four teams remaining are, at best, non-traditional markets none further north than Las Vegas, though there is some question which city is further north, Raleigh or Las Vegas. It’s an anomaly in a predominantly northern sport, to which Cassidy joked, “I’m just a Canadian.”

No players were available Tuesday, but Cassidy already has a good idea of how the Xs and Os could play out. Attacks and counter-attacks.

The Vegas Golden Knights will give up some offensive zone time to keep Dallas to the perimeter. That’s been the VGK idea all season, but there will be some differences between Dallas and Edmonton. Dallas likes to outnumber the puck carrier, especially down low. Whereas Edmonton played more “man-to-man,” allowing the Vegas Golden Knights to win single battles with cutbacks and slippery skating, the Dallas Stars will converge.

“With Dallas, they’ll swarm you early (in a possession). They may try to outnumber you low, five guys or four guys to two or three to choke off those cutbacks,” explained Cassidy. “So in this series, we’ll need to support the puck better early for our first touch and then maybe change sides out the other side of the net or walk up from there. (We’re) not going to have a lot of time and space early. It’s not just you against your guy. That’ll be the difference.”

Cassidy also expects Dallas to use a winger high in the zone to create more neutral zone traffic and take away the rush.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, there isn’t another coach in the NHL who is as forthcoming and communicative regarding the game’s strategies. More coaches should explain the Xs and Os, at least a little bit. What, are coaches afraid the other guy doesn’t know how they play? The education of fans is worth its weight in gold.

Good on Cassidy … even if he’s just a Canadian in hockey.

Get VHN in your Inbox

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

VHN on Facebook

Vegas Team & Cap Info

Get VHN in your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.