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Powerplay Woes for the Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights have not had a very prolific powerplay during their short time as an NHL team. The team’s recent performance especially, showed just how poor their play on the man-advantage has gotten

The problem

During the 2020-2021 campaign, the Vegas Golden Knights got away with having mediocre powerplay during the regular season.  They were ranked 22 in the league in powerplay percentage with 17.82%.

Though they made it to the playoff semifinals, they ended up dead last in PP goal percentage at 9.30%.

They were able to produce enough during 5-on-5 in the regular season to accommodate their lack of PP scoring.  This was compounded by the format of the 2020-2021 season, and that there were only three competitive Western Division teams.

When the post season began it was obvious that better competition was going to dampen their 5-on-5 play.

It was clear almost immediately that Vegas’ powerplay was not even close to where it needed to be.  In the first round against Minnesota, Vegas ended the series with two PP goals in 15 attempts giving them a success rate of 13.33%. This series went to game 7 after Vegas gave up a 3-1 series advantage.

In the second round against Colorado, Vegas put up two PP goals in 13 attempts, making their success rate for the second round 15.38%.

In the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs against Montreal, the Vegas Golden Knights scored 0 goals in 15 powerplay opportunities.

The final tally of Playoff PP goals for The Golden Knights was four goals in 43 attempts.

With three of the four Golden Knights losses to Montreal having been decided by only one goal, a more successful powerplay could have been the difference-maker for them

What needs to change?

A major problem for the VGK is that the man-advantage doesn’t play to their strength. The team plays its best hockey on transition and on the counterattack.  They are known for fast breaks and blazing transition, not for methodical passing and set plays in the offensive zone.

Despite this, they attempt to create the perfect play after setting up which leads to them wasting precious time while on the advantage.  Instead of prioritising setting up shop on the powerplay traditionally,  they need a more dynamic approach that facilitates their speed.

Another issue they have comes at the beginning of the man-advantage.  When they start in the offensive zone, Vegas has a tendency to lose possession early into the advantage.  This forces Vegas to reset in their zone, often sucking them of energy and momentum. This is where they struggle the most while on the man-advantage.

Team and management both need to recognize the powerplay problems they have. Though it is likely they have already started working on possible solutions, there is still cause for concern.

It did not seem like management was addressing Vegas’ powerplay struggles properly last season. Their difficulties against Montreal brought much more attention to the powerplay issues.

If Vegas doesn’t figure out a new strategy for their powerplay soon, they will continue to come up short in their endeavors.

Featured image courtesy of Chase Stevens and the Las Vegas Review-Journal

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