Typically 4-0 games on the road are pretty straight forwards. A team comes into an opposing team’s arena and beats them on their home ice. But for whatever reason, I have twelve takeaways from the Golden Knights 4-0 Tuesday night victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Overall it was a solid game of the Vegas Golden Knights and a road win they will certainly take. It wasn’t perfect, but the Oilers really struggled at points in the game and the Golden Knights took advantage.
I don’t even have him as a separate takeaway but Laurent Brossoit had a strong game. It wasn’t the greatest goaltender performance on Earth but he made big saves when needed and earned his first shutout as a member of the Golden Knights.
Twelve Takeaways 2/8 4-0 Win over Edmonton
1- Welcome Back to the Bubble!
For the first time since what was known as “the bubble” the Vegas Golden Knight returned to the city of Edmonton. This time, they played with fans in attendance, were allowed to leave the hotel, and unlike last time, they ended this trip to Edmonton with a win I am sure some players were on the brink of having PTSD flashbacks to what will go down as one of the strangest years in NHL history.
“It’s funny because we were talking about the hotel. It smells exactly the same way as it did. It brings back some memories for sure,” said Golden Knights forward William Karlsson who now has back-to-back multi-point games.
2- Hutton and Pietrangelo
In his first game back from injury, Nicolas Hague did not last long on the first defense pairing with Alex Pietrangelo. After a bad turnover which led to a good chance from Oilers forward Zack Kassian, Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer swapped Hague with Ben Hutton.
Hutton went on to play a strong game and continues to have a solid season since being signed as a free agent midway through the season for the Golden Knights
“He has been steady. When I play with him I know what I can get from him. He has been consistent, he moves the puck well. All of those things make my life easier when I am playing with him,” said Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on Hutton.
3- Risky Business for Brayden McNabb
There were a handful of times Tuesday night where Oilers captain Connor McDavid skated through the neutral zone with the puck and Brayden McNabb stepped up to stop him. In typical McNabb fashion, this means throwing a big hit. But McDavid was not on the receiving end of anything massive Tuesday night. Instead, McNabb simply slowed down McDavid enough that the Golden Knights were able to steal the puck back and regain possession.
This is a risky move as if you miss the hit on McDavid you then give one of the fastest and most skilled players in the entire NHL time and space to make plays. But if there is one player on the Golden Knight that knows how to perfectly time a hit it’s Brayden McNabb, and Tuesday night he didn’t get beat once.
4- McDavid Alone is Scarier Than a Power-play
McDavid drew a handful of penalties Tuesday night with two of them being interference calls on Shea Theodore and Max Pacioretty. While not intentional, taking a penalty and giving the Oilers powerplay a shot may be the better option for the Golden Knights than letting McDavid skate up on the rush.
That leads me to my next takeaway.
5- Shorthanded Weapons
The Golden Knights scored their league-leading eighth shorthanded goal of the season against the Oilers Tuesday night. After blocking a shot, William Karlsson sprung Reilly Smith who passed back to Karlsson for his goal.
Take this chance and compare it to if the Golden Knights were to give McDavid that time and space and it is likely a completely different game that we are talking about.
6- McDavid and Draisaitl Shut Down
Speaking of McDavid, and his fellow partner in crime Leon Draisaitl for that matter, the Golden Knights did an excellent job at shutting both superstars down Tuesday night. McDavid was held without a shot until the third period and Draisaitl only had three shots on the night.
“The penalty kill was big against them because they play most of that. I think for us most of it was in the defensive zone which I thought we did a good job in. Once we got our legs under us in the second period we jumped to getting on pucks and taking away their space,” said Pietrangelo.
The Oilers seriously need to change up their offense if they want to ever win a Stanley Cup with McDavid.
7- The Oilers Need New Jersey Numbers
A crazy strategy that I had, that might just be so absurd that it works, is for every member on the Oilers to change their jersey number to something that closely resembles no. 97.
Think about it- players obviously defend differently when McDavid is on the ice and most players in the heat of the moment don’t stop and look at a guy’s face to distinguish which player is which. Instead, players and even coaches just glance at jersey numbers for a quick synopsis of who is on the ice.
If the Oilers were to change some of their player numbers to be more in line with 97 say have someone be 79, 96, 95, 93, 67, etc. then maybe, just, maybe, they can generate some more offense in the midst of confusion. Hire me Ken Holland.
8- Oh, and a Goalie Too
Oh, and while we are on the topic of the Oilers being the Oilers, they desperately need a goalie. Tuesday night Mike Smith returned to play in just his seventh game of the season. He gave up two goals on six shots in the first period alone. Reilly Smith also cooked him with a well-placed shot that breezed right past his ear.
Smith is not a starting goalie in the NHL anymore. He’s 39. Mikko Koskinen who currently sits in COVID-19 protocols is a decent option, but far from a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender. Marc Andre-Fleury to the Oilers makes a lot of sense to me.
9- Nothing From Evander Kane
One more thing from the Oilers before we get back to the Golden Knights. Tuesday night marked the first time Evander Kane has played the Golden Knights, not in a San Jose Sharks uniform. To the benefit of the Golden Knights, Kane was invisible on the night. He caused no antics but did have five shots on goal which were all turned aside by Brossoit. Just the way the Golden Knights like it.
10- Smith Starts Streaking
Reilly Smith had a goal and an assist Tuesday night and is slowly starting a scoring streak for the Golden Knights. As NHL trade rumors grow due to cap space being needed for Jack Eichel’s return. Smith has been a name discussed on the NHL trade market.
But with two goals in as many games, the Golden Knights may realize that keeping an original misfit is Smith may be better for their chances at a Stanley Cup this season.
11- Is Max Pacioretty Playing Hurt?
The Golden Knights got scoring from tons of different players Tuesday night. Alex Pietrangelo scored his 500th career NHL point, Brett Howden stayed hot, and the Misfits were on the board. But the Golden Knight’s top line of Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty were held scoreless.
Pacioretty, in particular, has seemed a little off since returning from a wrist injury against the Flordia Panthers. After he went on a tear in the month of December, he has not scored a goal in nine games. Makes you wonder whether or not Pacioretty is battling yet another injury or not.
12- Burying on Limited Chances
Overall the Golden Knights did not have the best chances offensively Tuesday night against the Oilers. However, in the limited chances they had, the Golden Knights took advantage and made the Oilers pay.
Okay, gonna go watch Boba Fett now. Goodnight.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) February 9, 2022