Is it me, or does it seem like this series has already gone on forever and this is just Game Two? I’m not sure how this hockey wormhole opened up, but here we are. The Vegas Golden Knights lead the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in this Stanley Cup Semifinal matchup, and I’m slightly concerned.
Vegas’ scoring goes up and down. Sometimes it’s the star players like Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. Sometimes it comes from the blueline like it did in Game Two, when three of the four goals were by defensemen. The second line exploded the last series and that’s great to see. But in Game One, the top six were silent. Stoned by Carey Price at every turn, the goals had to come from elsewhere.
Fortunately, they did.
We’ve seen the Golden Knights go cold on the scoresheet. That’s why tonight it is absolutely critical that the top six forwards generate offense. It’s ok to be held off the sheet for one game. And I’m not saying both lines have to put up six points. But either the Stone line or William Karlsson’s unit with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith must come out firing and make an impact in this game. Going two games without beating Price and heading into Montreal is not good for the mental state.
The other thing Vegas must do to help itself is to find first gear at the opening puck drop. Too often we’ve seen then struggle out of the gate and have to play from behind. Yes, this is a veteran team that can occasionally pull it off. But that’s always a gamble, and facing a goalie like Price it’s a losing proposition. Especially at home, the Golden Knights can’t afford to waste any more time. They have to come out flying tonight.
Finally, somehow on a talented team of goalscorers, the power play is just powerless. Montreal gave the Golden Knights so many chances to generate while up a man, and yet Vegas couldn’t do it. Don’t expect quite so many power plays from the Canadiens tonight, who came out to knock Vegas off their game and instead ended up chasing it. They’ll be far more disciplined tonight, so the special teams battle becomes even more important.
If the Vegas Golden Knights can execute these three keys, they should be headed to La Belle Provence up 2-0 in the series.