Max Pacioretty was not pleased.
Pacioretty sat there at the podium in his ripped-at-the-collar team logo moisture wicking shirt and displayed a look that could be described as sour. The questions came from the media, and no matter what was asked, it all seemed to point to a particular stretch of time in a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche: the dreaded second period.
This season the middle frame has been the worst for the Golden Knights, and tonight was no exception as the Avalanche scored four goals to go from trailing 1-0 to leading 4-1. For the record, Vegas now has a minus-7 goal differential in the second period this season.
“Guys are upset,” he said. “We were so out of sync with penalties and played a poor period in the second. We left Flower (Marc-Andre Fleury) out to dry.”
“We’re really upset with the way we played tonight.”
Golden Knights captain Mark Stone agreed.
“We take three penalties in the first eight minutes of the second period and lose flow, lose a lot of our top guys sitting and they don’t get five-on-five shifts consistently,” Stone said. “It just took a lot of flow out of the game and they completely dominated us for the last 15 minutes of that second period.”
The other key element that never got it in gear for the Golden Knights was the forecheck. Normally the forecheck is important in any game, but doubly so against an Avalanche team with a cadre of slick-skating puck-moving defensemen.
“They have four or five good puck-moving defensemen,” said Stone. “If you turn pucks over they turn it and go. You saw that pretty clearly tonight.”
“We weren’t getting pucks deep,” he continued. “We weren’t getting the forecheck established. If you turn it over they transition better than anyone else in the league. We’re not going to beat this team off the rush. We have to make them come 200 feet to beat us and I don’t think we did a very good job of that.”
“When we make life easy on them… they’re out of their zone and making plays,” said Pacioretty of the Avalanche defense.
“It’s not just going out of the way to play physical but taking away the time and space for their D to make plays and move pucks. They were getting out of their end way too easy.”
Indeed, the Vegas forwards never did get a chance to establish much zone time. Puck retrieval was almost non-existent. There was no cycle game, no winning battles on the boards, no high level of compete. That just can’t happen against a team as talented as the Avalanche.
“I don’t think you can move on when you lose a game 5-1,” said Stone. “You have to see what went wrong.”
“The good thing is we get to play this team again in another couple days.” said Pacioretty.
Head coach Pete DeBoer even thought the VGK were lucky to be up 1-0 after the first period, calling it a bit of “fool’s gold” and saying he didn’t like the D and citing the rash of penalties in the second period as well.
“No one’s happy about the way tonight went,” said DeBoer. “Tomorrow is going to be all about our response.”
“We got a good, old-fashioned ass-kicking tonight.”