Golden Knights Analysis
The Golden Knights Secret Weapon That Changed Their Playoff Fortune
Round Two began to seem like a race to the last goal. Goaltenders were leaking pucks like a mid-’80s Chrysler leaked oil. Neither the Vegas Golden Knights’ Laurent Brossoit nor Edmonton Oilers’ Stuart Skinner could keep the soft goals out of the net.
The Golden Knights were dominating at 5v5, but were tied in the series 2-2.
Brossoit was hurt in Game 3 of Round Two, thrusting Adin Hill back into the lineup. He had not played since early April, but it was show time. The Golden Knights forgot to show up for Game 4, and Hill lost his first start.
He hasn’t lost since, getting increasingly better with each game.
Hill has put on a performance worthy of 34 pounds of silver. In fact, Hill is probably the biggest difference in the Golden Knights‘ recent run of four-straight playoff wins and winning five of six.
All five of those games, and the four-in-a-row, were Adin Hill wins. He made at least 32 saves in three straight games until Sunday’s win in which he stopped 26 of 28.
And the funny thing is, in over 30 minutes of media questions in the Western Conference Final, there’s been, by our unofficial count, only one about the goalie. Hill has become the Golden Knights’ secret weapon.
“We don’t need a goaltender to stand on his head,” coach Bruce Cassidy said following Game 2. “…We need timely saves. We sure got one today.”
The 6-foot-5 goalie hasn’t had to make sparkling stops or windmill glove saves. He isn’t facing a spate of odd-man rushes or wide-open looks from the kitchen. He hasn’t had to dive from post to post to keep the Vegas Golden Knights in the game, but don’t hold that against him.
Instead, Hill has provided what the VGK were lacking until he entered the crease: calm, consistent, stellar netminding.
“He’s been great. In the past few years, it’s good when you have two good goalies. We have four,” winger Jonathan Marchessault said. “It’s quite remarkable that we have four … Brossoit comes in and wins the first round for us. (Hill) comes in and does great in the second round. He just keeps going.”
The calm, steady demeanor means a lot.
Think Matt Murray in Pittsburgh. Andrei Vasilevskiy in Tampa Bay. They never flinched.
VHN asked the well bearded Hill after Game 1 about adapting to the situation and being thrust into duty. He didn’t flinch then, either.
“It’s a fun time of year,” Hill said with a smile.
Scrambly goalies can unnerve their team. Leaky goalies put their team behind and add undue pressure to prevent everything in the defensive zone (leading to mistakes). Soft goals multiply on the scoreboard and create an uphill battle.
No, Adin Hill has avoided harming his team, allowing the Golden Knights’ 5v5 game to flourish.
And when the Golden Knights need a big save, Hill has provided it. His dandy in OT Sunday saved the game as Wyatt Johnston got a clean look at full speed from 10 feet away.
Hill maintained his techniques, stepped forward, closed the five-hole, and that was the only shot he had to face. Just 42 seconds later, Chandler Stephenson became the hero when he buried the winner.
There is no winner if Hill doesn’t make the save.
“Usually, your goaltender has to make some saves so the game doesn’t get out of hand, and that certainly happened as well,” said Cassidy.
Those were the saves that Brossoit was not making in the Edmonton series. That series was in peril until Hill fortified the net, and except for the flatline in Game 4, the Golden Knights have not lost.
Of goalies who have played at least six games, Hill is fourth with a .930 save percentage and third with a 2.28 GAA. He’s swimming in the same statistical company as Vezina-worthy goalies such as Igor Shesterkin and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Brossoit’s save percentages in the Edmonton series were in the .850 range.
Hill was the Arizona Coyotes’ third-round pick in 2015, but after five years with the org, the San Jose Sharks acquired him for a second-rounder in 2021. One year later, Golden Knights GM began stockpiling goalies when he acquired Hill for only a fourth-rounder.
Not a bad swing for the Golden Knights.
It’s not a coincidence as the Golden Knights received better goaltending the wins started mounting. There is a special feeling bubbling around these Vegas Golden Knights. They’re two games away from their second Stanley Cup Final, and they will probably be the best team in that round, too.
And they’ve got a secret weapon. Adin Hill.
Bring the cup home to Vancouver island adin !
I am so glad 😊 that ADIN HILL is finally getting the recognition he deserves. HILL Is so calm and steady in net. In the past Other VGK netminders have been too inconsistent (SUBBAN, BROSSOIT) and my stomach was tied in knots watching them play. My stomach is feeling much better with HILL IN GOAL!