When Vegas started the series, Laurent Brossoit was their guy in net. He had taken over the Golden Knights’ crease since returning from injury, posting a .927 SV% and 2.17 GAA for a record of 7–0–3 in 10 starts in the regular season, which was followed by a 5–2 record in his first seven starts of the playoffs.
However, following what appeared to be a significant injury to Brossoit in the first period of Game 3, Vegas was suddenly forced into Plan B. Adin Hill played the last 47:48 of Game 3—coming off the bench as the backup—a role he had occupied since Game 2 in the Winnipeg series. Hill had been out of service since March 7, only seeing action in relief in Games 2 and 3 before his start in Game 4.
Bruce Cassidy’s other option in goal is Jonathan Quick, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings via the Columbus Blue Jackets swap at the trade deadline. However, the 37-year-old is in the twilight of his career, where the .876 SV% in 31 games with the Kings and .901 SV% in games with the Golden Knights highlight how much his play has fallen off.
With Vegas entering the remaining best of three starting tonight without Brossoit nor Logan Thompson or Robin Lehner as goaltending options, let’s take a look on how the Oilers can attack Adin Hill and Jonathan Quick for the remainder of the second round series.
For a sample, I looked at Hill’s regular season start in Edmonton, his last five regular season games plus his start in Game 4.
November 19 at Edmonton
The shot pass from Ryan Murray ends up on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’s stick, who spins and fires at Hill before Warren Foegele bangs in the rebound. The slot line pass gets Hill moving, then the cut back from Nugent-Hopkins gets Hill committed to the butterfly, trailing the play.
Darnell Nurse drives wide from the point with speed. He normally shoots from here, so Hill commits to a butterfly early. Nurse makes a perfect cross-seam pass to Leon Draisaitl, who waits for Hill to blow past the shooting lane as he’s fully committed to his lateral push, eventually putting it in the open top half of the net.
A turnover on an Oilers power play is bad news for anyone, but with Connor McDavid alone in front of the net, Hill gets frozen. When the puck goes to Zach Hyman on the back door, Hill’s push is flat as he doesn’t get a full rotation, and ends up reaching his blocker while sprawled out on his stomach.
McDavid burns by Alex Pietrangelo to get a partial break during overtime. McDavid looks like he’s going to pull to his backhand to the far side, but makes a quick move to chip it short side after Hill cheats to the new angle.
February 18 vs Tampa Bay
Goal 1: Perry throws a puck to the middle from the half boards, where Hill gets caught between post integrations and leaning away so the tip beats him to the short side.
Goal 2: The Tampa Bay power play feeds Steven Stamkos off the left wing flank, who powers it past Hill. Leading to the shot, Hill was looking through traffic, leading him to be late on the lateral adjustment to the new angle.
Goal 3: Turnover leads to a partial two-on-one. Corey Perry freezes Hill a bit deep in his crease, as the Vegas netminder reacts to a half butterfly while the shot goes over his glove
Goal 4: Hill makes the first save on the breakaway, but as the rebound gets recycled to the point, Mikhail Sergachev is shooting through bodies so Hill doesn’t get a clean track on the puck and can’t make the save.
February 27 at Colorado
Goal 1: Missed pass while playing the puck leading to an open net. Not much to read into here, although Hill isn’t a great passer.
Goal 2: Hill is committed to the blocker side reverse vertical horizontal, but as the Avs player moves behind bodies, you can seem him duck down to try to find the puck. When the seam pass gets to Mikko Rantanen from J.T. Compher, Hill is late and flat on the shot, leaving open net.
March 1 vs Carolina
Goal 1: Martin Necas is able to cut to the middle on the rush on Pietrangelo, shooting from the hashmarks. As he does so, he freezes Hill in his crease and is able to beat him glove side.
Goal 2: Brent Burns was looking for Staal’s stick twice in the sequence, but it’s another goal where Hill can’t find the puck through traffic.
March 3 vs New Jersey
Goal 1: The Devils power play is able to feed Bratt for the cross ice one timer. It looks like Hill gets a good rotation and beats the pass, but when he gets there he’s not in a position to react to the shot and make a save.
Goal 2: Mercer cuts across the tops of the circles on McNabb before firing a wrist shot to the high blocker far side. The lateral movement freezes Hill’s gloves ever so slightly.
Goal 3: Low to high play goes from Boqvist to Wood at the net front. Hill starts to cheat across to the far post and is beat back to the short side as such.
March 7 at Florida
Goal 1: Florida enters the zone with numbers. There’s a slot line pass, albeit not with a huge change of angle. The biggest thing that changes before the shot is the fact the puck ends up behind a screen. Hill is out of position to his glove side, not really giving himself a chance on the blocker side shot.
Goal 2: Vegas turnover at the blueline results in an in-zone three-on-one, with a high to low pass followed by the cross-ice pass to Barkov on the backdoor. Hill gets to his blocker side RVH, but can’t quite get a full rotation, ending up reaching his glove as the puck slides just under his arm.
Round 2 Game 4
Theodore turnover results in a Kostin shot from the slot. Kostin misses, but Hill overreacts to the short side, blowing past his post, so when Bjustad wraps the puck, he can’t get over on the lateral play quick enough as it banks off his pad
The low-to-high pass from McDavid to Bouchard sets the Vegas defenders as screens, which Hill struggles to navigate as the one-timer blows past him.
Draisaitl’s lateral play to Ekholm sees Hill get across to the shot, but with Ekholm drifting during the wind up, the shot results in an adjustment of angle. Hill’s glove freezes as he adjusts to the blocker side on the far side slap shot.
McDavid walks up the half wall, feeding Nugent-Hopkins in the slot. The play sees Hill move laterally again, while Vegas ends up with layers of traffic in front of the goalie. Hill moves into the new angle with a brief sightline, but with the shot going outside the screen and his feet not set, he ends up reaching with his glove and gets beat
All goalies are going to be vulnerable to pre-shot puck movement. If a particular netminder was unable to make saves after he establishes position he wouldn’t last long, so changing the angle to have more space to shoot at can be extremely effective. With Hill’s big frame, he is particularly vulnerable.
This showed up in the video a couple different way. The first is on the traditional cross-ice pass, with the puck getting moved from east to west. The video shows a lot of selling out on the first pass, ending up on his stomach, leaving the top of the net open, especially if the shooter has time for a brief hesitation. Hill can also struggle to get a full rotation to the new angle, which leaves him reaching with his gloves with not much to back it up, which showed up in both movements from his stance and from his post play.
The second scenario this vulnerability shows up is when he is following a puck carrier through different reference points across the ice. Best practice is typically to have smaller shuffles that help maintain a neutral stance so that a reaction can be made in any direction at any point. However, Hill has a habit of getting deeper and wider in his stance as the shooter moves across, often sinking back into his crease at the same time. The result is larger shuffles across these different reference points, that momentarily freeze him, especially in his gloves, leading to a lot of goals that beat him clean to the top corners.
Hill is 6’4″ so theoretically he can look over traffic to see releases. However, the video shows that he often settles in his stance for limited sightlines, struggling to track through traffic and getting beat on these types of plays more often.
This is particularly highlighted when the puck is moving in and out of blocked sightlines. When the puck is passed or skated into new angles where there is traffic, Hill doesn’t pick up the puck quickly, so that brief hesitation seems to be the best time to shoot as he’s unable to react.
I’d expect Edmonton to continue to take advantage of this trend by using low-to-high passes to their defencemen. The Oilers defence corps has some heavy shots, particularly with the Ekholm-Bouchard pair on the ice. Having these players drive in from the point and hitting them with passes from low in the zone not only gets Hill moving laterally, but quite often sets up last minute screens with defenders and attackers alike often crowding around the net.
It seems unlikely that Vegas will use Quick in any other capacity other than relief in an Edmonton blowout, but here’s how his start in March against Edmonton broke down.
March 28 vs Edmonton
Quick misplays the puck behind the net, resulting in a scramble at the net front. He’s somehow able to wave his paddle and get a piece of the Draisaitl shot but it’s not a technically sound save.
Quick is not tall by modern day standards, and he typically tries to find pucks through traffic by looking low. This backfires, as he’s unable to find the puck through the screen as the Bouchard shot beats him high blocker side.
Turnover ends up with a Nugent-Hopkins shot from the slot that goes in glove side. Quick is in his typical deep stance, but with his glove hinged to his hip and the half butterfly reaction, there’s a lot of space up top.
Quick is an extremely mobile goalie, but sometimes it can’t be to his own downfall. Nugent-Hopkins gets the seam pass across to McDavid on the powerplay, resulting in Quick selling out on the pass into the splits with his gloves reached out. When McDavid feeds it back to the middle, Quick has no chance on the Draisaitl shot.
Once again, Quick settles low in his stance at the first sign of traffic, so the Nurse shot from distance on the outside can beat him high to the blocker side.
Draisaitl back door pass to Kane off the rush leaves Quick sprawling out with little rotation and his gloves reaching, leaving Kane a relatively empty net to hit for the goal.
Summary on Vegas’ new tandem
With Laurent Brossoit getting hurt in Game 3 along Logan Thomson and Robin Lehner being out long-term, the Vegas Golden Knights are left with Adin Hill and Jonathan Quick as the goaltending options for the remainder of their second round series with Edmonton.
Despite being out from early March until the playoffs with an injury, the expectation is that Hill will start the remainder of the games as Quick has had an extremely poor 2022–23 campaign behind two of the stronger structures in the NHL. If it does get to the point where Quick has to go in, I’d expect it to be open season for the Oilers’ offence against a goaltender they’re all too familiar with after last year’s first round match up. Having said that, that doesn’t mean Hill comes without fault.
Based on video of his recent regular season games and recent match-ups with the Oilers, there are two specific areas where the Oilers should be able to exploit Hill. The Calgary product’s lanky frame makes him vulnerable to lateral movement, where he opens up and reaches on passed pucks while his skating results in his gloves being unable to react to shots on carries. As a taller goaltender, the typical narrative would be that Hill would be able handle traffic well, looking over screens. The contrary appears true, with Hill struggling to track pucks through traffic, often settling for blind reactions to where he thinks the shot is going.
The Oilers were able to pot four goals on Adin Hill in Game 4. Based on his tendencies shown in past play, there are enough weak spots that I’d expect the potent offence led by McDavid and Draisaitl to continue to put up numbers as the second round match up carries on.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire