After winning their first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings, the Edmonton Oilers are set to begin their second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday in Sin City, after they dispatched of the Winnipeg Jets in five games.
This series makes up Edmonton’s second straight intriguing goaltending opponent. The Kings had flipped Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick into Pheonix Copley and Joonas Korpisalo by season’s end but Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon’s squad went to even more desparate measures this year.
Golden Knights had more than their fair share of goalies
Robin Lehner started the season on LTIR and never seemed to have a chance of playing this year. This resulted in the Golden Knights starting the season with Logan Thompson and Adin Hill as their tandem. Additionally, Laurent Brossoit started the season on injury reserve, recovering from double hip surgery in the offseason.
Thompson and Hill both played well through the course of the regular season but both suffered injuries. This resulted in Brossoit getting recalled from the Henderson Silver Knights, where he had been assigned after clearing waivers after struggling in an initial rehab stint in the AHL. However, after three games, Brossoit also went down with an injury. Hill returned for a short stint early from injury, but ultimately the squad ended up recalling Jiri Patera and trading for Jonathan Quick. The two were able to stabilize the crease for a period behind a strong defensive team.
The first goalie to return from injury reserve was Brossoit, who stole the net from Quick and has been Coach Bruce Cassidy’s go-to guy down the stretch. Brossoit played the large majority of big games down the stretch of the regular season, in addition to starting all five games in the first round.
Of note, Adin Hill has returned to active duty, backing up for all the games in the first round, but has not played a minute since his injury. After the Oilers saw four different starters through four games against the Golden Knights this year, it’s expected that Brossoit will get the nod to start on Wednesday.
The Oilers played Brossoit in one game that he started at Rogers Place and saw him come in relief during a second appearance in Vegas. Here’s how the goals broke down during that sample, in addition to breaking down how he fared in the first round:
Brossoit starts in Edmonton on March 25
The play starts below the goal line before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins feeds Leon Draisaitl. Brossoit is in RVH before and after the first pass, but as Draisaitl hits Zach Hyman on the back door, he is still leaning towards the glove side while rotating over his shoulder and stretching with his leg to the far post.
The Oilers lethal power play goes to work against a more porous Golden Knights penalty kill. The puck goes to Connor McDavid low on the right half wall. Draisaitl also creeps lower in the zone, receiving the puck on his backhand before basically stick handling into a one-timer to himself. Brossoit is in a more elevated stance on his post, and doesn’t pick up the shot option until late so he’s beaten along the ice.
Warren Foegele walks in off the wall off the rush. There’s multiple pass options, so Brossoit is in a more elevated stance, almost not expecting a shot. Foegele lets the release go through the defender’s stick. Brossoit collapses back into his butterfly from the elvated stance, resulting in the shot leaking through his arm.
Brossoit enters in relief against Edmonton on March 28
Brett Kulak streaks down the right wing after coming out of the box. He releases from the dot with a pull then push release to the far side. The pull pulls Brossoit to the glove side and collapses his gloves, resulting in him not being able to chase the far side post and shot in time.
Round 1 Game 1 versus Winnipeg
Pierre-Luc Dubois drives the puck wide into the corner on the blocker side. As he approaches the goal line, Brossoit enters into RVH. Howver, as soon as Brossoit starts going down, Dubois throws a pass to Kyle Connor high in the zone. Brossoit is late reacting to the pass that ends in a one-timer. He also overslides the shot, going into a block towards the far side as the shot beats him to the weak side.
Dubois gets a partial break, driving wide on Mark Stone with speed. Brossoit gets into a settled stance, but his gloves collapse in front of his body and forward. When the shot goes high blocker, Brossoit is chasing and ends up pulling off the puck as he reacts on the shot.
Brossoit is an extremely flexible goalie, which makes his ability to keep his edges and stay on his feet elite even among NHLers. When the initial shot is batted down, Brossoit ends up on his heels and off balance but is able to keep his edges. His movement through the broken play isn’t textbook but he’s following the puck. However, when the shot comes, he gets a bit stuck in his stance and is beat five-hole.
The Jets get a late developing 3–2 down low. The first pass goes to the short side guy, with Brossoit following him outside his post on his feet. However, the puck is one touched across to the back door for the tap in, with Brossoit chasing the play with an incomplete rotation.
Round 1 Game 2 versus Winnipeg
The Golden Knights penalty kill gives up a point shot. Brossoit appears to have a beat on it, but as he moves to his glove side, he sits a bit back on his heels in the butterfly. The puck gets tipped to his blocker side, but he’s taken himself out of position by moving into the initial trajectory.
Late developing 2–1 for the Jets results in a pass to the front that ends in a backhand tip. Brossoit moves to the stick blade, but he doesn’t rotate to be square to the new angle. This results in his glove shoulder trailing behind, which leaves that side of the net open for the goal.
Round 1 Game 3 at Winnipeg
The play starts with a d to d pass across the top leading to a shot attempt from the right point. That attempt results in a tip from the slot from Connor that beats blocker over his blocker on a tough play.
Nino Niederreiter gets the puck off the wall on the entry. Niederreiter pulls the puck around Alex Pietrangelo before pulling it into the top corner. Brossoit barely adjusts to the new angle with the pull of the puck, and with his glove position collapsed in front of him, meaning that he has further to chase in order to catch the puck.
Mark Schiefele walks in off the left flank and shoots far side. Zach Whitecloud possibly ramps the puck, but Brossoit is a bit deep, and with his collapsed glove position, he’s late chasing to the top corners once again.
Vladislav Namestnikov tips the point shot on route to the net. Brossoit is able to get a piece with his left pad, but it kicks right back into the slot where Adam Lowry can tap it home. Of note, Brossoit’s scramble leaves the five-hole open as he’s stretching without the tops of his pads down and is pushing flat along his original angle.
Round 1 Game 4 at Winnipeg
As Blake Wheeler walks in from the right flank on the power play, two Vegas sticks partially obstruct the shot release. As this happens, Brossoit is shrinking back into the net and once he settles in his stance with his gloves collapsing forward, he ends up pulling off the puck, opening up and chasing to the far top corner.
It’s not really possible to read anything into the play after the puck pops up into the air and there’s multiple sticks chasing after it before it lands in the net, but there are some underlying causes to the rebound that starts the play. Vegas is on the penalty kill, but a shot from distance while Brossoit is in his elevated stance results in a delayed reaction so he can’t control the rebound.
Round 1 Game 5 versus Winnipeg
The Jets are pressing with a six-on-five situation. The immediate play starts with Wheeler in the corner and Brossoit on his glove side post in RVH. The pass goes to Connor at the net front, where Brossoit gets eyes on the stick blade but he doesn’t rotate coming off his post, causing him to chase with his blocker after pushing.
What the numbers say
Brossoit has not played a lot this year, but he’s been consistently good in the small sample available. Here’s how his metrics break down for the season so far:
|Vegas Golden Knights||Laurent Brossoit|
|Added to Win||5|
|Took Away From Win||3|
|Added to Loss||1|
|Standings Points Impact||7|
What the Oilers can do to beat Brossoit
After starting five different goalies during the regular season, the Vegas Golden Knights have leaned on Laurent Brossoit come playoff time. The former Oiler is playing the best hockey of his career this season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tendencies that the Oilers will be able to take advantage of.
Brossoit’s biggest strength has always been his skating, as he’s able to move around the crease dynamically, catching up to cross ice plays. In fact, one issue he had going back to his junior days was the fact that he was too active in the crease, taking himself out of position. This has improved at the pro level, but paints a picture of what his underlying tendencies still might be.
Based on the games that he played in the first round and against the Oilers this season, there are some definite trends in the goals against that the Oilers will be able to target. The first is that Brossoit employs an elevated stance when the puck is on the perimeter, which helps him stay mobile for passes but results in him reacting to unexpected shots late, with shots beating him clean, particularly on the ice, or generating rebounds. Brossoit can also get caught drifting in broken plays, meaning he is just slightly out of position when that shot does come.
This isn’t the only place where his stance pops up as an issue, as when he settles into a deeper stance, his glove position can cause some issues. Whereas Joonas Korpisalo had his glove hitched off his hips in the first round, Brossoit projects his hands aggressively forward but ends up collapsing them in front of his body. The result is a further reaction to shots to the top corners on either side, making him prone to goals that are labeled top shelf.
Post play was a major theme in the first round on both sides, as Korpisalo and Stuart Skinner were both targeted with plays coming in and out of RVH at different points in the series. Brossoit heavily used RVH when he was part of the Oilers’ organization, but a build up of wear and tear on hips caused him to use alternative techniques in recent years. However, after offseason double hip surgery, he’s been able to return to the most prevalent post play technique in the league. In doing so, he does not always have a consistent rotation coming off the post, resulting in him being off angle on quick shots off a pass and some slower transitions between positions.
Brossoit has not played a ton of minutes this year, but looks to get the bulk of the work in the second round when his Golden Knights take on the Oilers. This is a goaltender that Oilers’ Goalie Coach Dustin Schwartz should know well, having coached the BC-born goalie since he was drafted by the Oil Kings in the WHL Bantam Draft. Between that familiarity and the trends showing up in video, the league’s highest scoring offence will have specific areas where they can attack the opposing goalie.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire