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Die Las Vegas Golden Knights versuchen, die Mauer zu bauen

von NFI Redaktion

No, not The Wall. Calm down, Jethro. It has become an NHL tradition for the Las Vegas Golden Knights to find a way to acquire the biggest piece on the Free Agent or Trade market, either in the summer or at the deadline. They usually do this by waiting for something to fall from Mark Stone or Jack Eichel, and then using the LTIR space. Other teams may cry about it, and they usually do, but those are the rules. Mark Stone and Jack Eichel are injured. Somehow their thing. Mike Tyson will admit Jake Paul to the hospital on Netflix

This time is no different as the Knights acquired Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames last night with Stone’s spleen money, and Hanifin was likely the biggest name left in the defenseman department. At least since Hanifin’s former teammate Chris Tanev stumbled to Dallas earlier. It’s clear what Vegas is looking for here. Hanifin is nothing spectacular, but pretty good at almost everything. Standing at 6’3″, he’s a big man but not a lumbering one. He will join a defense where none of the six D-men used during the playoffs will be under 6’3″, which doesn’t make any of them too slow.

What this will improve is what the Knights want and likely need to do to get out of the Western Conference. Their likely path back to the Finals goes through orders to the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, two of the highest-scoring teams in the league. After that, it’s one of the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, or the Colorado Avalanche – with the Avs and Stars being two of the top three teams in the league. Looking closer, Kelly McCrimmon sees in April and May that Edmonton, Colorado, and Winnipeg are among the best rush teams in the NHL and that they move the puck with possession and speed into the offensive zone, the quickest way to get screwed before the trophies are handed out.

The Knights are one of the better teams when it comes to preventing clean entries: Screenshot: AllThreeZones.com And we’ve seen that in practice when the Knights ended the Oilers‘ 16-game winning streak last month. They suffocated Edmonton right at their blue line, with pressure from both sides forcing the Oilers to dump the puck in or risk a turnover, turning the Knights on the ice in the opposite direction. And once you dump the puck against the Knights, it’s pretty much over given the size and mobility of their defense. The Knights don’t place a high value on exiting their zone with possession as they prefer to get the puck out of their zone, deflect it, or float it and let their forwards chase it down in the neutral zone. As you can see here, their top four before Hanifin’s arrival were among the best at not turning the puck over the goal line: Screenshot: AllThreeZones.com

Hanifin is average in such matters as he lies right on the axis. But with better support from the Vegas forwards than the Flames, he’ll likely gain effectiveness as long as he can hold the blue line against players like Pettersson, Miller, Draisaitl, McDavid, MacKinnon, Robertson, Hintze, and so on. Playoff hockey is slower compared to the regular season and is played more along the boards and in the corners. The places where the Knights excel, especially if Stone miraculously heals, come in Round 1, Game 1. Hanifin brings them even more of that, and if any rival really wants to shut the Knights down four out of seven times, they will have to go into the dark and angry places. Acquiring Hanifin will only bring them closer to more opponents. And of course, the Knights are likely not done yet. They never are. Even with Stone’s return, they seem to be lacking a bit up front. That’s why they have let go of other first-round picks to go after Jake Guentzel. But a team can handle a bit of a shortage upfront if they can prevent games from turning into track meets, which is clearly their goal and specialty. And if all else fails, there’s always Adin Hill waiting in the wings, the man who secured their path to the Cup last spring and currently ranks third in the league when it comes to more saved goals per game than expected. Just as it has always been.

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