Plenty of praise has been lauded out by Vegas Golden Knights’ players after the team changed their defensive format from a man-to-man concept to a zone defense. The belief was that teams were taking advantage of holes in their man-to-man concept, so head coach Gerard Gallant switched the team’s defense two games ago with the idea that a zone defense would give players more energy as it cuts down player movement.
“The way we’ve tweaked our D-zone (coverage), you have a little more energy,” Deryk Engelland said. “It’s less chasing around and more positional, so maybe that plays a little bit of a factor in it, and I think that’s a big part of why we wanted to change it.”
According to Jesse Granger of The Athletic (subscription required), the Golden Knights were on target to give up the most goals in their short franchise history. The hope is that these changes should solve some of the team’s defensive issues.
- There were some concerned faces Friday after Anaheim Ducks winger Ondrej Kase, who has a history of concussions, was hit hard by Winnipeg’s Anthony Bitetto, just two minutes into the game, according to Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required). Kase got up slowly and immediately headed to the dressing room, most likely to undergo concussion protocol. Fortunately, Kase returned to the ice not long after and resumed action, which is good considering the amount of time he has missed (51 games so far since the start of the 2018-19 season). “A guy goes down and he comes off the ice and leaves the bench, you’re usually just waiting for word that he’s done something to his shoulder or his elbow or his knee or whatever it’s going to be,” head coach Dallas Eakins said. “For him, to go in and everything check out fine is great.”
- Despite expecting to miss 10 to 12 weeks, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is ahead of schedule, according to The Athletic’s Craig Morgan (subscription required). Hjalmarsson, who has been out since Oct. 12 after breaking his fibula when blocking a shot, is already walking on his own and should be expected to start skating soon. The team still has no timetable for his return. “Nik is progressing well,” president of hockey operations John Chayka said. “No new timetable at this stage.”
- Sticking with the Coyotes, Morgan also reports that forwards Carl Soderberg (lower-body injury) and Lawson Crouse (upper-body injury) are both game-time decisions for Saturday’s game against the Sharks. The team did recall Michael Chaput in case neither player can play today.