Home Supporting structure Golden Knights film study: Why there should be optimism with a new power play look

Golden Knights film study: Why there should be optimism with a new power play look

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A lot has gone well for the Golden Knights during their 6-2-0 start to the season. If you’re looking for a weak point, it’s the same area that has plagued them for more than two seasons: the power play.

Vegas ranks 20th in the NHL with a male advantage, converting at just 18.5%. That’s nearly identical to the Golden Knights’ rate last season, when they finished 25th in the league at 18.4%.

Losing the special teams battle has already cost Vegas twice this season against their toughest competition. The Golden Knights are 6-0-0 when scoring at least as many power-play goals as the opposition. They are 0-2-0 in the two games they lost that battle, against Colorado and Calgary.

Unlike last season, when Vegas positioning and strategy seemed to remain largely the same, new coach Bruce Cassidy is mixing things up early in search of a combination that works. After Cassidy’s most recent change, the Vegas power play is starting to show signs of life. They haven’t produced any goals yet, at least not often enough, but they are doing great things on the ice and the numbers show it.

The biggest change is Mark Stone’s stance. We’ll dive into his new role and how it will impact the entire power game.

Cassidy started the season conservatively, placing players in positions and roles they are comfortable with or have played most of their careers. This included Jack Eichel on his off-wing half-wall and Stone on the side of the net below the goal line. The result was a power play that seemed stagnant at times, with the puck not moving as quickly as Cassidy would like. While running a solid power play in Boston for several years, one of Cassidy’s biggest accents was quick puck movement.

After four games, Cassidy decided to reconfigure the power play. He’s placed players in places they may not be as comfortable with, but which he thinks will eventually be more effective once they learn them.

“It’s something I thought about over the summer, but didn’t go,” Cassidy said. “I wanted to let the guys play what they did and see if it worked. We will keep trying until we succeed, until our power play is a weapon. Right now they need more reps, and we’ll see how it goes.

The first aspect was to swap Eichel with his strong side. While one of Eichel’s greatest strengths is his ability to hold pucks long enough to pick the right pass, Cassidy would prefer his off-wing player to shoot at the net or move the puck quickly, so he traded Eichel for Jonathan. Marchesault.

“Marchessault likes to shoot the puck, so he’s on his elbow now,” Cassidy said. “When he spins towards him, I hope he just thinks about hitting him on the net. Whether in the bumper for the tip, the back post or in the net, he has all three options.

The most impactful move, at least in my eyes, was getting Stone into the “bumper” area in the middle of the ice. This is one of the most difficult roles to play. Constantly surrounded by opposing penalty killers, playing the bumper requires quick decisions and big vision – two things Stone excels at.

“I think he’ll do really well there because it’s a position that takes a lot of hockey IQ and intelligence, and he’s got that,” Cassidy said of Stone. “He can often face the puck. It has a quick release, and that’s what you need if you want to score.

In Stone’s first game in that role, Oct. 20 against Winnipeg, he’s already shown a new wrinkle to the Vegas power play.

In the video above, Stone uses his instincts to open passing lanes in the middle of the ice. On this play, Marchessault finds it with a cross pass that Stone quickly moves to the net. It’s not a hard blow, but it surprises the goalkeeper and generates a scramble in front of the net.

The lack of speed on that high toe kick may actually work in Vegas’ favor. This makes the shot incredibly difficult for the goalie to direct out of harm’s way. Rather than just kicking him in the corner, the puck hits the goaltender and dies in front of the crease, ripe for rebound chances. That’s exactly what happened in the next game against Colorado.

Once again Marchessault feeds Stone for a quick redirect on goal, but this time Chandler Stephenson is there for a quick follow-up chance. Colorado keeper Alexandar Gerogiev spreads out to give Stephenson a chance, then Stone rushes in for a third look that would have scored in the gaping net if not for some great play from defender Bowen Byram to get his skate on the shot.

“I thought we had some good looks from Stone’s slot,” Cassidy said after that game. “A few tips, and I think he worshiped a puck and Byram got a big block. These are the games we are looking for, closer to the net.

Creating those scrambles up front is one of the best ways to score power-play goals. It breaks down the penalty structure and allows the team with the man advantage to outnumber the opposition in front. Vegas has already scored a goal directly from the point play this season, when William Karlsson deflected Alex Pietrangelo’s shot pass against Los Angeles.

High point has become a popular game as it is a way to get around shot blockers.

“I think we’re just trying to get the pucks to the net, and a lot of teams are so focused on blocking shots,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “If they’re in the shooting lane and you put it one foot to their left down the ice, but we have a stick, that’s just as helpful. It’s basically getting it across.

Stone’s quick thinking makes him ideal for the bumper position because the puck is rarely on his stick for long. One of the best examples of that in the last four games came against Colorado on Saturday. The game didn’t go exactly as the Golden Knights planned, but when Eichel’s cross pass intended for Marchessault bounced through the air, Stone’s instincts kicked in.

Stone sees the puck in the air, pulls defenseman Erik Johnson away from him to establish his position and catches it with his glove. When Stone puts the puck down, Johnson expects him to spin and shoot, positioning his stick to the left of Stone, hoping to deflect that shot in the air. This leaves the passing lane to Marchessault wide open. Without even a glance from this side of the ice, Stone quickly returned the puck to Marchessault for a one-timer.

“I think the middle guy, if you’re proud to do it, you can get some real quality chances,” Stone said. “You can get loose pucks. I certainly had a lot. I think we have guys in places that are proud of this place. This is ultimately when your power play will be successful. If you have a guy who doesn’t want to be there, it’s going to be tough. Guys should be prepared to learn these spots. If we can get the guys to buy into this, we’ll have tons of success in the future.

Even with those changes, the Golden Knights’ power play hasn’t been the weapon they hoped it will end up being. Once they settled into the area they looked dangerous, but getting to this point was always a struggle.

“Our starters have been very average,” Cassidy said Thursday. “I don’t think we sometimes finish our routes and support the final touch to get the separation. Sometimes it’s execution, sometimes it’s puck support.

The power play has certainly looked better over the past four games, and the stats show a marked improvement as well.

Golden Knights power play every 60 minutes

Shooting attempts Blows xObjectives High chance of danger

first 4 matches

79.07

44.19

5.66

9:30 a.m.

last 4 games

94.48

58.64

6.32

16.29

Vegas has gone from being ranked between No. 27 to No. 31 in most of these stats, to being ranked between No. 11 to No. 22. The power play is far from set, but it has shown some major signs of improvement under its new configuration.

“There’s some newness there, but I like what I’m seeing in terms of airtime,” Cassidy said. “Their mentality of guys who end up in good places and in terms of how they can produce. Now it’s just a matter of clicking and finding the games that are automatic to them. Some of that is just going to take time.

(Photo by Mark Stone: D. Ross Cameron/USA Today)