Knights receive a score aid in all 4 units
Max Pacioretty and the Vegas top line are rolling straight ahead.
Ditto with William Karlsson’s group on the second unit and all along the lines.
Conclusion: The Golden Knights are exploiting four very productive lines ahead of their semifinal showdown with the Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-seven series that begins Monday in Vegas.
In all, the Golden Knights have seen 16 different players score so far in the playoffs and 21 score at least one point.
“We’ve had so many contributions from so many guys,” said Vegas coach Pete DeBoer, whose team knocked out favorite Colorado in six games in the second round after beating Minnesota in a seven game streak for. open the playoffs. “We are the sum of our parts.
And these pieces shoot all the cylinders, with their pairs of blue lines. The Golden Knights are far from addicted to the top of the line.
“In a series, it’s probably harder to play against four lines that throw you over and over,” said Montreal forward Corey Perry. “You know what you’re getting every time a line hits the ice. But then, on the other hand, the big guns can take over from a series. “
Teams can strategize whatever they want to slow down Pacioretty, Captain Mark Stone, Karlsson, or Jonathan Marchessault. But that’s about when a fourth in line like Keegan Kolesar or William Carrier will gain momentum. Both scored goals in Game 6 against Colorado.
Just do their part.
“Everyone has four good lines,” Carrier said. “Everyone that goes deep in the playoffs, they roll four lines and everyone can play and participate. The guys have been in and out of the roster and everyone has produced for us.”
DeBoer is also constantly rotating new players. For example, defender Nick Holden missed Game 4 against the Avalanche – his former team – to come back in Game 5 and then make a big contribution with a goal in Game 6.
It is important to stay ready for the game.
“The whole year the coaching staff, the coaching staff, have done a good job of making sure the guys who aren’t there get what they need so they can make their contribution.” , Holden said. “It’s great to see guys coming in and going out and being able to step in and contribute. At this time of year you’re going to need everyone to contribute in one way or another and we’ve made this series that.
Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon knows exactly what a championship roster looks like. After all, the Golden Knights have qualified for the final four in three of their four years, including a Stanley Cup appearance in 2017-18.
“We have some really good players, star players,” said McCrimmon, who was Vegas assistant general manager before he was promoted in 2019. “But we also have really good depth.”
Karlsson leads the way for Vegas with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in this playoff series. Marchessault had a hat trick in Game 4 against Colorado, while Mattias Janmark had a hat trick in tiebreaking Game 7 against Minnesota. Janmark was acquired by Vegas in Chicago in April.
“We made a very important transaction with Janmark,” said McCrimmon.
Before that, a huge signing with defender Alex Pietrangelo, who agreed to a seven-year contract last October. The longtime Blues star – he helped Saint-Louis hoist the Cup in 2019 – took a little while to settle in, but he’s finding his rhythm in a big way.
Pietrangelo helped keep tabs on Colorado’s top forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, while contributing one goal and four assists in the series.
“Some nights your first row will get the best of the other front row,” Pietrangelo said. “Some nights they have to do a job and shut them down and you would expect other people to pick up on the offense. That’s what we’ve been doing all the playoffs.
It won’t be any easier against the Canadians, who are also well balanced – they have four players with four goals – and enter as underdogs. The two feature world-class goaltenders in Carey Price for Montreal and Vézina Trophy finalist Marc-André Fleury for Vegas.
“It’s going to be fun,” Perry said.
NOTES: Canadiens interim head coach Dominique Ducharme doesn’t expect forward Jake Evans, along with defensemen Jon Merrill and Jeff Petry, to be available for Game 1. The trio could be back soon.
AP Hockey writer John Wawrow and AP freelance writer WG Ramirez contributed to this report.
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