The Vegas Golden Knights were shutout for the second time this season as they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0. The effort was there, but the results were not. The injury crisis for the Golden Knights continues to change the way the team approaches games.
There was no way the Golden Knights were going to beat the Maple Leafs on pure talent. The Golden Knights tried a tactical and simple approach in the early stages of Tuesday’s game. Chipping pucks off the boards on breakouts and getting the puck deep seemed to be the game plan.
However, no offense was able to be generated off of this and the Golden Knights did not register a shot on goal in the first period until over nine and a half minutes passed. The Maple Leaf’s stars eventually broke free and the Golden Knights were doomed.
The “Big Four” of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander all found the scoresheet, and the Maple Leafs torched the Golden Knights 4-0.
“They played better than us obviously. We didn’t generate enough especially to start and we got down and couldn’t really generate much. It’s a frustrating game. We know we need to be better,” said Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb.
Golden Knights v Maple Leafs Takeaways
Alex Pietrangelo is trying to take the team under his wing
With nearly every top scorer out of the lineup, the Golden Knights scoring has taken a hit. However puck-moving defensemen such as Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, and Alex Pietrangelo remain on the roster.
Pietrangelo has been doing it all. Skating the full length of the ice, jumping in on offensive rushes, and leading the team with their top stars out.
“He is a horse, ever since he came here he has been a horse and he is up and down the ice and he is one of the top defensemen for a reason. We love him and he is a great player and we are lucky to have him,” McNabb said about Pietrangelo.
The problem is that nothing is going right for Pietrangelo.
The Golden Knight’s alternate captain has yet to score a goal this season, only has one assist, and is a minus-6. He continues to be the Golden Knight’s top defenseman in terms of ice time, playing over 24 minutes on Tuesday. But just like the rest of the team, Pietrangelo has been snakebitten in terms of scoring.
“I don’t think we can ask more (from Alex Pietrangelo). The guy does everything for us. Great leadership with some of the guys out of the lineup and not around that we don’t have he is kind of grabbed that and taken it. He was our best player tonight other than Lehner,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer on Pietrangelo.
Golden Knights lines lack chemistry
With William Karlsson now out of the Golden Knights lineup, the misfit line of Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault has been broken up. Brett Howden got a shot as the top-line center alongside the remaining misfits Tuesday night.
After the first period, Howden was replaced by Chandler Stephenson as Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer saw enough. Stephenson is still the Golden Knight’s leading scorer and we are a month into the NHL season.
In some cases, injuries can provide unique line combinations that a coach may have never thought of that surprises everyone and has chemistry. The best example of this that I can think of is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel line that was put together in 2016 when Evgeni Malkin was out of the lineup.
The Golden Knights need something like this to emerge in their forward lines. But with an overall lack of team offense, any hopes of chemistry have been thrown out the window early on in the season.
“I think what we have seen is that when we have energy and we are dialed in we can still be a hard team to play against so we can still scrape out some wins with the guys that we have out of the lineup,” said DeBoer.
The only line that seems to have some sort of chemistry is the line of Evgenii Dadonov, Keegan Kolesar, and Nicolas Roy. This line has proven to be a good checking line that can provide some offense. However, like the rest of the team, they were absent against the Maple Leafs on the scoresheet.
The Golden Knights will be back in action Thursday night. They continue their Canadian road trip with a stop in Ottawa against the Senators. Puck drop is set for 4:00 pm local time.