SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the second straight game, the Vegas Golden Knights got stuck in first gear. And while they played better in spurts against the Arizona Coyotes Thursday while losing 3-1, Saturday, they weren’t able to get untracked and it led to a less-than-inspired performance.
The Knights spotted the San Jose Sharks a 2-0 lead 6:37 into the contest and the Sharks closed out the preseason with a 4-0 win at SAP Center. The Golden Knights dropped their final two preseason games and finished with a 3-4 re cord. It starts for real Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena against the expansion Seattle Kraken on national television on ESPN.
“I’m glad exhibition (season) is over,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “We didn’t go 0-7. We didn’t go 7-0. We were somewhere in between.
“I think the good thing was we got accomplished what we wanted. We got a real good look at a lot of young guys. Guys got an opportunity to play. All three of our goalies on our depth chart, starting at the top with (Robin) Lehner, all got two full games each. So I think mission accomplished. Now we start for real.”
Yes, DeBoer moved some pieces around with his lines. He had Evgenii Dadonov skate with William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault. Really Smith, normally the third member of the Knights’ Misfit Line, was with Nolan Patrick and Mattias Janmark. Keegan Kolesar was on the top line with Chandler Stephenson and Max Pacioretty. Peyton Krebs, getting one last look to try and making the Opening Night roster, was with Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg.
But the Knights’ energy level as so low it probably didn’t matter who was skating with who. This, coming off a lackluster performance 48 hours earlier against Arizona might normally set off alarm bells. But the real opening night roster may still be missing some pieces. Shea Theodore hasn’t played since the first preseason game. Nicolas Roy has missed the final three. William Carrier has been out the last two.
The decisions to be made may not be any harder or easier. But moves are coming, probably as early as Sunday morning. So we’ll see what happens.
Three takeaways from Saturday’s game:
1. Does Krebs make it?: Is Peyton Krebs in the lineup Tuesday vs. the Kraken? It may depend on Roy’s and Carrier’s availability for Tuesday. He didn’t play all that badly and considering he was on the fourth line, it’s hard to criticize him. DeBoer moved him up in the second period between Marchessault and Dadonov, and later with Patrick and Kolesar, which was a little fairer in terms of evaluating what Krebs can really do.
“Peyton did a really good job,” DeBoer said. “We started him on the fourth line and by the third period we had moved him up and we really like the way he competes.”
Krebs said no matter what happens, he felt like he got a fair shot to make the team.
“I did the best I could,” he said. “I think you have to show some versatility and I tried to do that.”
2. Is the penalty kill a problem? The Sharks were 1-for-3 on the power play and in seven preseason games, the Golden Knights were not sharp, managing just a .703 percentage on the PK (8 goals on 27 PK attempts).
“I think it’s an area we need to to tighten up,” DeBoer said. “I think we will be a good penalty killing team but we allowed too many goals in the preseason.”
3. Another injury: So much for getting out of the preseason unscathed. Zach Whitecloud left the game in the second period and did not return.
DeBoer indicated that Shea Theodore, who was injured in the third period of the preseason opener against the Sharks back on Sept. 26, should be ready to go Tuesday vs. the Kraken.
“I don’t think (Whitecloud’s) injury is serious,” DeBoer said. “But we’ll know more tomorrow (Sunday).”
But if Whitecloud can’t go, it perhaps opens the door for Dylan Coghlan, who took a puck to the face in the third period but stayed in the game, or perhaps Kaedan Korczak, to be on the opening night roster. Either way, we could see just how deep the blue line is for this team.