How Vegas Stopped the Bleeding
Two adjustments paying dividends for VGK
One of the season’s underreported stories is how the Vegas Golden Knights went from worst to first in 5v5 defense.
The extent of that turnaround is illustrated by Micah Blake McCurdy’s HockeyViz model.
In late October, VGK was giving up 36% more expected goals per hour played than league-average, a catastrophically bad mark.
Just five weeks later, VGK was allowing 28% fewer xGA/60 than average, an elite defensive output.
For one thing, VGK did not change their defensive zone coverage.
Inexperienced or foolish coaches tend to ascribe xGA issues to poor DZ play. They harp on their Ds to be more physical, order their Fs to collapse to the slot, and only compound the problem.
The DZ bleed-out is a symptom of a different disease.
Vegas cured it by looking up-ice.
Adjustment 1: From 1-2-2 to 1-1-3
Remember this clip from the 2021 outdoor game between VGK and COL?