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Golden Knights Notebook

Golden Knights Room: Marchessault Says ‘We Know We Have Them’



Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS — Later in the second period, the Vegas Golden Knights got a good scare. Leading 4-0 and on their way to a comfortable 7-2 win in Game 2, Florida Panthers power forward Matthew Tkachuk had center Jack Eichel in his sights.

Tkachuk plowed Eichel with an open-ice hit, seemingly injuring the Golden Knights star, who got up and skated straight to the locker room.

It was a clean hit, and no penalty was called, though the Golden Knights earned a power play from the following scrum, and Tkachuk was given a 10-minute misconduct in the melee.

“(I was) just getting the puck on the right, took a couple of crossovers, kind of toe-picked a little bit, and (I) saw him at the last minute,” said Eichel after the game. “He finishes a hard (check). What I saw was a clean check on me. And it’s a physical game. You’re going to get hit sometimes. So you just move on, you know?”

As the Golden Knights t-shirt says, “It hurts to win.”

Eichel returned for the third period, seemingly no worse for wear. He played nearly 14 minutes and had a pair of assists. The Golden Knights center is also front and center in Conn Smythe discussions.

Golden Knights Discipline, “We Have Them.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy nonchalantly called out one of Florida’s biggest weaknesses. Florida takes penalties. Lots of them. Rough ones, dumb ones, little ones, and hard ones. They take penalties and give their opponents a power play.

Even with an average power play, the Golden Knights were happy to take advantage. They got seven chances in Game 1 and four more in Game 2. They scored two power-play goals in each game, too.

“If you’re playing against one of the most penalized teams in the league in the regular season and the most in the playoffs, you’re going to get on the power play if you’re working to draw your penalties,” Cassidy said flatly. “So you might as well (score). It’s important that it’s working because if not, you can really lose momentum, and they can gain momentum from kills. So that’s the importance of it.”

One thing the Golden Knights have not done is engage in “extra-curricular activities” during the competitive periods of the series. Referees Steve Kozari and Chris Rooney have exerted control by dishing 10-minute misconduct penalties by the handful.

Tkachuk earned a pair of 10-minute misconduct penalties Monday. He has three in two games. In Game 2, refs gave out 11 misconducts, six to Florida and five to the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights exercised significant discipline until the message-sending and rough stuff in the third period. Winger Jonathan Marchessault was pleased with their “just play” attitude. He spoke like a true original Misfit.

“(Discipline) is part of our game plan. We know we have them. We know if we roll four lanes and get a good forecheck, we’ll get rewarded,” said Marchessault. “And topping that off, I think our discipline has been unbelievable. They wanted to set the tone, being undisciplined like in Game 1, and we set the tone back by scoring the first goal there.”

Special Teams

The power play and penalty kill have been the seldom-mentioned detractions from the otherwise stellar Vegas Golden Knights’ run. At 5v5, the team is punishing opponents with forecheck-created turnovers and goals.

But special teams have been a hindrance. Before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, their penalty kill ranked 14th of the 16 teams which qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (65.3%). Their power play ranked a pedestrian ninth of 16 (19.7%).

If not for an empty-net power-play goal at the end of Game 1 (their second PPG), the Golden Knights would have been a net zero on special teams despite seven chances, having scored one power-play goal but allowing a shorthanded tally.

The Golden Knights reversed those trends in Game 2 by shutting out the Florida Panthers on four power plays but scoring twice in four chances.

The plus-two ratio was another high point of the blowout, which may have damaged the Panthers’ spirit. The Golden Knights will have a chance to claim a 3-0 series lead for the second consecutive series Thursday at Florida Live Arena.

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