The Vegas Golden Knights find themselves in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive year. They were able to defeat this year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Colorado Avalanche, in six games. The final game was high-action, as it looked like both teams were playing for the Stanley Cup. After a slow start, the Golden Knights were able to advance due to their shot-blocking ability, fantastic play by the “Misfit” line, and depth scoring.
Slow Start, Quick Response
Vegas has been no stranger to playing from behind in this series. In all but one game against Colorado, Vegas surrendered the first goal. In Game 6, this was no different as 23 seconds into the first period, Devon Toews was able to beat Marc-Andre Fleury on the Avs’ first shot.
However, much like they have been for the entire series, the Golden Knights were resilient and were able to answer back. Unlike in previous games, they were able to score just 52 seconds later on Nick Holden’s first goal of the playoffs. This seemed to set the tone early as both teams came out of the gate flying.
Shot Block Party
Throughout the series, Vegas seemed to make a point of getting in front of every shot the Avalanche took. Going against one of the teams with the highest shots per game, this mentality takes a lot of courage and sacrifice to buy into. This team-first play is a key reason why the Golden Knights were able to advance to the third round.
In Game 6, the Golden Knights continued this trend by blocking 34 shots. This seemed to frustrate the Avalanche, as the Golden Knights were able to capitalize off of these blocks and turn them into offensive rushes. Alec Martinez led the way for his team as he was responsible for nine blocks. Fellow defenseman Zach Whitecloud record seven blocks in the game as well.
Misfits Stay Golden
During the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Golden Knights have been lead by their “Misfit” line. The line, consisting of Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson, has combined for 26 points through the first two series. Karlsson leads the line and team with 11 points in the playoffs so far. Out of the 26 points for the line, 12 of them have been goals, with half being scored by Marchessault.
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Game 6 saw Karlsson score and add to his team-leading points total. So far in the postseason, he has made a steady argument to be considered for the Conn Smythe Trophy if Vegas were to make it that far. He seems to have found his confidence and is playing like he did when he scored 40 goals during the Golden Knights’ inaugural season.
These three players have been leading the way on their team despite not leading the forwards in ice time. The “Misfits” received around 16 minutes of ice time during Game 6, which is about the same as the entire series. The fact that these players can have this much of an impact despite not leading the team in ice time shows how much chemistry these players have with each other. They are used in all situations on the ice and have shown their value to head coach Peter DeBoer.
In Game 6, Vegas’ depth played a key role in the victory. Both Keegan Kolesar and William Carrier recorded their first goals of the postseason. Kolesar scored with 5:33 left in the second period to give the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead. This goal was the direct result of the hard work he has put in since being given a spot in the lineup. In Game 5, he was responsible for a key block late in the game to help seal the win for Vegas.
Carrier’s goal came at the 11:46 mark of the third period and acted as an insurance goal for the Golden Knights. His goal capped off a stellar game for the fourth-line player. In his 8:35 of ice time, he had a rating of plus-2 and only one hit. Similar to Kolesar’s goal, he was able to find the back of the net by getting to the front of the net and deflecting it past Philipp Grubauer.
The Golden Knights find themselves facing off against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup semifinals after a dominant victory over the Avalanche in Game 6. Vegas is currently on a four-game win streak and will look to their success against the Avalanche to carry them on to the Stanley Cup.
I am a former Jr. A hockey player that is currently attending school at San Diego State University. At SDSU, I study Journalism and Public Relations while also playing on the school’s rugby team. Hockey has been a big part of my life, as I have been playing since I was three years old. Other than hockey, I enjoy watching and playing all kinds of sports.