There was a couple of positives Friday night for the Vegas Golden Knights. They got a point in the standings, got Jack Eichel on the scoreboard, and had Max Pacioretty end his scoring drought.
But that was pretty much where things ended in terms of positives for the team as they dropped their third straight game 4-3 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings. The Golden Knights simply do not look like a Stanley Cup contending team right now, and maybe not even a playoff team at that.
“I didn’t love our night… I will have to rewatch the game. We did some good things we managed to scrape a point out but it wasn’t our finest effort in our mind,” said head coach Peter DeBoer.
The Calgary Flames passed the Golden Knights in the standings this week as they continue their eight-game winning streak. The Kings are now just three points behind and the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, and even San Jose Sharks are in striking distance.
The desperation level is simply not there for the Golden Knights coach DeBoer says.
“I think we have got to get used to the fact that we are in a race here for positioning to the finish line and everybody we are playing has that hunger that you have got to bring this time of year,” said DeBoer.
Defensively the Golden Knights struggled as the Kings offense led by Andreas Athanasiou took charge. Whether it was breakout passes, battles on the boards, or man coverage the Golden Knight’s defense struggled.
“It’s frustrating. I think we just have to do a better job winning those battles. I think we have to be a little bit harder on the puck and have a little bit more support in some areas,” said Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore.
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Discipline is another issue the Golden Knights have been faced with as of late. It seems as if the frustration of losing games and not scoring for 147:57 is starting to get to the team.
At the end of the first period, Chandler Stephenson took what DeBoer called an “unnecessary” penalty. All through the game Stephenson and Adrian Kempe were chirping each other. Stephenson took an unsportsmanlike penalty and Kempe made him pay scoring on the ensuing powerplay.
The Kings, Flames, and Avalanche have all proven simply to be better teams than the Golden Knights these past three games. And for a team that has their eyes on the Stanley Cup this season something has to change or else the Golden Knights might be in jeopardy of missing out on the playoffs as a whole.
What Needs to Change?
The excuse of players coming back from injury needing time to play better needs to end now. The Golden Knights do not have 10-15 games to spare for Pacioretty to go on another goalless drought or Mark Stone to struggle when he comes back. We are in the stretch run now and every game matters.
Evgenii Dadonov, Nicolas Roy, and Mattias Janmark are all together on a line that might as well be called “The Invisible Line” as none of them can score. Dadonov and Roy haven’t scored in ten games and for Janmark it has been 11 games.
Elsewhere William Carrier can’t finish to save his life, Stephenson is cold, Nicolas Hague looks like a pylon, and Alex Pietrangelo needs to contribute more offensively.
I really don’t see any specific issue that the Golden Knights need to fix. Just that everyone needs to be better. They will have the chance to do so Sunday afternoon against the San Jose Sharks at 4:30. It’s a must-win game for the Vegas Golden Knights. Then again, so was tonight’s game.