The Vegas Golden Knights are above .500 for the first time this season since opening night. Despite the injuries, the pieces seem to be coming together for the team. Who knows how much better this team can improve when names like Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty return. Oh and allow me to introduce you to my friend Jack.
But the Golden Knights have a lot of areas to their game that they need to improve on before these star players join the roster. The Golden Knights had just one shot in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens which set a franchise low.
The team continues to come out slow, sloppy, and lazy. They played eerily similar to how they did against the Toronto Maple Leafs a few days back. But the opposite result happened Saturday as the Golden Knights were able to rally with five unanswered goals and win 5-2.
“Tonight was not just a poor start, that was a horrendous start,” said head coach Peter DeBoer.
Golden Knights Takeaways vs Canadiens
Robin Lehner Out to Dry
A wise man by the name of Desiigner once said “panda, panda, panda, panda, panda, panda, panda.” For the Vegas Golden Knights, that seems to be their game plan entering games recently. Robin “Panda” Lehner has been nothing short of incredible backstopping the Golden Knights in all but one game this season.
Saturday night he did it again with 18 saves in just the first period alone and 36 in total. While Lehner has been great, this is a recipe for disaster for the Golden Knights and not a habit they want to continue. Thankfully for the team, they were able to give Lehner some goal cushions Saturday. Lehner even got an assist!
“We have been giving up 15-20 shots every first period. He (Lehner) has been outstanding all year and tonight is another example of it. He weathers the storm for us and lets us get to our game. But we have got to get to our game earlier. We can’t rely on him every single first period to stop that many pucks but he has been absolutely phenomenal,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said about his goaltender.
Last year Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury won the Jennings Trophy as the goaltending duo that had the least amount of goals scored on them in the regular season. So far this season the Golden Knights have given up 33 goals in 11 games.
Lehner is not the problem, it is the offense scoring for him that is.
“He was critical. That game could’ve been 5-0 in the first. The fact that it was only 2-0 allowed us to scratch our way back in,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.
The PowerPlay is Finally Alive
Thankfully for Lehner, the offense for the Golden Knights showed up in Saturday’s game. Not only did the Golden Knights go on to score five unanswered goals, but two of them came on the powerplay.
Up until Saturday’s game, the Golden Knights were the only team in the NHL that had not scored on the man advantage. At ten games, this tied the Buffalo Sabres for a record to start the season. The Golden Knights powerplay drought stretched back into the 2021 playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.
“Every time you go another game without scoring on it (the powerplay) you hear about it so the pressure starts to build. We have some new combinations with the guys we have out of the lineup and it has taken a little bit of time. It was obviously timely tonight and we do not have to deal with that goose egg anymore, said DeBoer on the powerplay.
With new personnel on different units and a simplified game plan, the Golden Knights scored two powerplay goals Saturday. Both came off of point shots from defenseman Pietrangelo and Dylan Coghlan. Simplicity is something the Golden Knights have to continue if they want their powerplay to continue to roll
The Golden Knights will take on the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow at 3:00 local on the road to finish out their road trip. Both teams will be playing the back half of a back-to-back.
“We’re going through adversity. We’re scratching and clawing to stay in the race. Every point matters right now, it’s as simple as that. The league is getting tighter and tighter, you can’t fall out of the race early,” said Robin Lehner.