LAS VEGAS, Nev. — As the Longfellow poem goes, “One if by land, and two if by sea...and 88 if by air.”
That’s where Brent Burns (88) went to overcome the Vegas Golden Knights’ forecheck in last night’s 2-1 Game 6 double-overtime victory.
Burns wasn't credited with assist here, but he deserved one: With no great options around him, little time on clock & #VegasBorn on top of him, he lofted a perfectly-placed area pass to create 50-50 battle at center ice between Meier & Engelland. Couture did the rest #SJSharks pic.twitter.com/1SnvhkcPgB— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 22, 2019
“Man, that was like four hours ago,” Logan Couture quipped, when asked about how his opening frame goal developed. “All I can remember is Timo winning the battle with Engelland, poked it over to me. I knew we only had about 10 seconds left.”
“That was also Timo Meier pushing their D back, creating space for Logan coming underneath,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic pointed out, before conceding, “All three guys made nice plays.”
The loft area pass is a tried-and-true method for countering a ferocious forecheck. This isn’t the first time in this series that the San Jose Sharks have used it to positive effect. This was just in the first six minutes of Game 1:
Here's an example of #SJSharks staying tight, breaking out together, outquicking #VegasBorn forecheck, capped off by deft Vlasic area pass that avoids icing, allows SJS to forecheck pic.twitter.com/fDdwQxf9EZ— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 11, 2019
“Yeah, you got to go to that sometimes, if they’ve got a good forecheck and they’re covering a lot of guys. You have to create battles in the neutral zone. That one worked out,” Justin Braun said, before cautioning, “But we don’t want to go to that too often. Then they’re knocking it down, coming back at you. You still want to make tape-to-tape passes.”
Braun, of course, is right. But sometimes, you have to take what’s given. In a contest where San Jose enjoyed precious little open ice, this is how they manufactured some daylight.
Beating Fleury High Glove?
After Game 5, an exuberant Tomas Hertl “guaranteed” a Game 7. After Game 6, an equally-exuberant Hertl may have revealed his strategy for beating Marc-Andre Fleury.
“Last couple of games, I was shooting at his glove side,” Hertl said of his non-glove side overtime strike. “So maybe he was cheating on it?”
This was an intriguing revelation given the fact that “Fleury has allowed a playoff-high 8 goals, high-glove.”
The Sharks have scored 9 of their 15 goals against Marc-Andre Fleury to the glove-side of the net, including Logan Couture's 1st period goal. Fleury has allowed a playoff-high 8 goals, high-glove. #SJSharks #VegasBorn #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/plnZQW4vnD— The Point (@ThePointHockey) April 22, 2019
On one hand, as Greg Balloch noted recently, shooters generally try to go high anyway. So perhaps this is much ado about nothing.
On the other hand, anecdotally, it appeared as if Fleury’s high glove was being targeted. Coming down the wing, Timo Meier missed at least two lasers high-glove.
It’s at least something to watch in Game 7.