Welcome to Golden Grades for Monday’s historic Vegas Golden Knights win over the St. Louis Blues. The VGK had 15 different players on the scoresheet, a team record, in a 6-1 win.
Robin Lehner has been rounding into form since his return from a concussion and yesterday might have been his most important outing. Early in the first period when the game was still up for grabs, Lehner made the saves he needed to make. I would implore you not to look past this point of the game because it’s huge. To see Lehner make the critical saves when there was still momentum at stake and the balance of play could shift if one goes in was important. There were a few times during the game Lehner was having an issue with puck tracking, but hopefully, that continues to improve as well.
Post-game head coach Pete DeBoer said he knows success in the playoffs will mean having both goaltenders going. With just over 20 games left, now is the time to hone the blade.
There was a lot to like from the defense in this game, although once again both ends of the ice got off to a slow start. St. Louis came out with energy looking to break a six-game losing skid and pressed the Golden Knights early, but as mentioned the goaltending of Robin Lehner kept the VGK in it until momentum swung.
It was good to see the defense not only activating but contributing. In some games, you see the defense jump into the rush or pinch down the wall repeatedly without results. Instead, Alec Martinez scored twice and every defender except Shea Theodore had at least one point. Games like this build confidence and that’s exactly what Vegas needed after its three-game losing streak.
Three of the six goals came from the defense which is great to see. Jonathan Marchessault getting back in the goal column is good to see and really important. Tomas Nosek continues his hot play, and Will Carrier recording a goal and an assist are also encouraging. But on a night when the offense was flowing freely, the line of Cody Glass, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty had a total of three shots. Stone had none of them. I realize Chandler Stephenson will be back after serving his three-game suspension, but you can never tell when injuries or other issues will happen. It would have been nice to see Glass pick up his play with this line, and maybe find some spark. That didn’t happen, and Glass remains a work in progress.
Special Teams: C
The power play is still a bit of a sore spot for me. There were only two chances going either way in the game, but again the Vegas Golden Knights power play stagnated quickly. Movement off the puck was minimal most of the time. I don’t care what sport you’re playing, the easiest guy to cover is the one who isn’t moving. Lanes don’t open by themselves, and if the only guy moving is the one with the puck trying to create his own lanes, chances will be hard to generate. The VGK power play is far better when the feet are moving as much as the puck.