The Vegas Golden Knights have won their last two games in a spectacular fashion. With the recent addition of Mark Stone, lines were changed and the Knights’ game was sparked, bringing back much needed offensive effort and, most importantly, goals. But the addition of Stone and the line changes, though impactful, were not the most important changes made by the Knights. Instead, MOVEMENT has been the biggest change that helped the Golden Knights get the goals they needed to win. Movement has been the missing element of the Knights’ game in the past several weeks. Let me explain…
There are several contributing factors to the success of the offense in any sport. Positioning, speed, skill, line chemistry, accuracy, and mentality, to name a few, are all wildly important. However, even if all players are positioned perfectly in front of the net and their passing is accurate and quick, without movement, they become too easy to defend and therefore, ineffective. Unfortunately, that’s what we have been seeing too often from the Golden Knights this season… especially on the power play (Note: this whole article could be written solely about the power play).
The last two games however, were different. The power play was successful, finally, the scoring chances were plentiful, and the goals started rolling in. Movement was a huge factor in this! Here’s a few reasons why player movement (as in, not standing in one position while waiting for the puck) is so important:
*It creates CHAOS for the opposing defense
It’s much harder to defend something that is moving, and when multiple players are moving and switching positions, it becomes even more difficult. When players are on the move and trading places, defenders can have a hard time shadowing their player, or defending their zone, while still trying to track the puck movement. This chaos is what allows opposing teams to score on the Knights so often.
*It opens up SCORING LANES
When the offense moves, the defense must move with them. This can prevent defenders from effectively blocking the imaginary line that lies between the puck and the net (scoring lane).
*It creates SPACE
When a player has more open space around them, they can move and position themselves to make better passes and take better shots. But defenders obviously know that and try to take that away. That’s why players must move to find, or create, open space.
I know, this is so obvious and simple, but unfortunately the team has been lacking in this area for while, with the power play displaying the worst of it. Thank goodness our team is back to doing things right! With a game tonight and Sunday, we’ll see whether this momentum carries on. If it does, the Vegas Golden Knights will be a serious threat this playoff season.
*Pacioretty- I don’t know if he just needed to start playing with his old rival, Mark Stone, but Patches has been playing great the last two games. It was his movement and quick shot taking that defeated the Knights’ power play demon (*cough* Adam Kutner *cough*).
*Smith- Do I even need to mention him after last night’s game? That was easily his best game of the season. He led the first line to be a formidable opponent to the Panthers last night. They actually looked like the line we all came to know and love last year! With 2 goals last night and points in the last 4 games (points in 8 of the last 10 games as well), Smith has finally found his stride.
*Theodore and Miller (and really, all defenders)- These guys have been playing great offense from the blue line recently. They’re always consistent as D-men, but their scoring efforts in the last two games have made a big difference. They’ve put points on the board, helped significantly on offense, and created positive momentum for the team. In fact, during last night’s game, the majority of shots came from the defense, and they were quality shots!