In January, Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt was embedded with the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching staff.
Around this time, Tampa Bay was getting ready for the visiting San Jose Sharks. Tampa Bay goalie coach Frantz Jean commented on Jones’s tendencies:
On game days he posts a scouting report that breaks down the opposing goalie’s tendencies. Tonight, for instance, after Jean notes that San Jose’s Martin Jones is especially vulnerable to high-blocker and high-glove shots, the Lightning will score four times in those two areas during a 6–3 win.
The Vegas Golden Knights would beat Jones to the high-blocker twice in five minutes in Game 2, sending Jones to the showers early.
I asked Jones about Jean’s comments last month.
“I don’t really care what other teams are doing for stuff like that. Doesn’t matter to me,” responded Jones. “I could care less, to be honest.”
I followed up by asking Aaron Dell about his general mindset when he knows that the opposition is targeting his perceived weaknesses: “You try not to be think about it. The more you think, the more you don’t play your regular game. I try to block it out as much as I can.”
Dell then told a funny story: “There was one game in Arizona a little while ago, two quick ones go in high glove. For about the next 10 shots in a row, everybody shot high glove. I kind of knew it was coming at that point, which was kind of nice, helped me know where they were going to shoot.
He added, “The bigger issue is when I play against guys I know. And I know what they do. They change that up. So I’m kind of expecting them to do something.
“If I know what guys like to do more, then it becomes more distracting than if I’m thinking about what they might know [about me].
“For the most part, I try to play everything the same way.”
As for Jones, we’ll see if the Golden Knights continue to try him high tonight.
How will the Hertl line respond?
In Game 2, Vegas was successful in limiting the previously-dominant Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane and Gustav Nyquist line at 5-on-5. Specifically, it appeared as if they were able to get the puck out of Hertl’s hands, negate the forecheck and limit Hertl’s speed through the neutral zone.
By my count, the Hertl, Kane and Nyquist line recovered the puck just twice on 12 dump-ins in 6:55 at 5-on-5.
“We weren’t as successful in the last game as we were in Game 1 [on the forecheck],” Gustav Nyquist admitted. “That’s something we have to change, for sure, be better at.”
Hertl also went 0-for-5 in offensive zone faceoffs at 5-on-5, which certainly didn’t help his line’s offensive cause.
Beating the forecheck
Just one minute into Game 2, it was clear that we wouldn’t be watching a replay of Game 1.
In Game 1, San Jose was able to ward off the Vegas forecheck. In Game 2, as we can see in how Max Pacioretty (67) and Cody Eakin (21) got inside, not so much.
“We just didn’t execute as well. They did a good job of getting pressure on us. We kind of threw pucks away,” Justin Braun acknowledged. “We got to do a better job of being more patient with pucks when we do have it.”
Brenden Dillon added, “I don’t think they did anything in Game 2 that we weren’t expecting or out of the ordinary. When we’re focused on what we’re doing well, we’re able to execute that, we’re going to be successful.”