Editors Note: This is part two of a two-part series released today. Check out part one.
Losing eight of twelve games after acquiring a franchise centerman is not ideal.
But for the Vegas Golden Knights, it is the current position they sit in as just 22 games remain in the 2021-22 NHL regular season. The Golden Knights have dropped from first in the Pacific Division to third over the past couple of weeks and if the Edmonton Oilers win tonight, they will pass the VGK as well.
Many Golden Knights fans are on the brink of panic. All these fans have ever known is pure success as the NHL’s 31st franchise has never missed the playoffs in four seasons. While the ultimate goal of the Stanley Cup has not been achieved just yet, it is still safe to say that the Golden Knights are one of the most successful expansion franchises in NHL history.
But in 2021-22 the pressure is on to win the Stanley Cup more so than in past years. However, with the way the current season is going, many people are counting the Golden Knights out as contenders.
Today with Vegas Hockey Now we will look at ten tidbits on the Golden Knight’s season and go over five reasons to be optimistic about the team, and five reasons to panic if you are a fan of the team.
REASONS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
1- They Can’t Score
The biggest issue that has been plaguing the Golden Knights lately has been their inability to put the puck in the net. Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins it seemed like a miracle happened as the VGK scored more than one goal. But two goals is not enough to beat a team like the Penguins.
The Golden Knights have scored two or fewer goals in their last four games. After it seemed like the powerplay turned the corner, the man-advantage is back to struggling. Players like Shea Theodore, Evgenii Dadonov, Nicolas Roy, and Chandler Stephenson are entering another scoring drought.
Call it what you want, running into hot goaltenders, the powerplay not doing its job, puck luck, shooting accuracy, etc. But the fact of the matter is that you have to score goals to win hockey games. The Golden Knights are not doing that and need to simplify their game if they want to get the offense back on track.
2- No Standout Seasons
Looking around the league the Golden Knights not being able to score starts to look even worse. The Arizona Coyotes are coming off a three-game stretch where they scored 22 goals.
One thing, in particular, the Golden Knights are lacking this season is a standout player who is having a better than average season. Max Pacioretty looked to be that player with 11 goals in December but injuries have halted him. Chandler Stephenson had a tremendous start to the season but has since been inconsistent in his scoring. The only argument I can make is for in this department is Jonathan Marchessault.
Compare this to Stanley-cup contending teams across the league who are getting unorthodox seasons from their star players. Nazem Kadri has 72 points in 56 games for the Colorado Avalanche. Chris Kreider has 38 goals, Johnny Gaudreau has 51 assists, and Jonathan Huberdeau is leading the league in points.
The Golden Knights are having several players put up career numbers as well with Stephenson, Brett Howden, Zach Whitecloud, Keegan Kolesar, and others on pace to do so. But these are depth players. What they really need this season is for one of their superstar players to take the reign of the team and put the team on their back.
Easier said than done of course.
3- A Lack of Chemistry
Injuries have done a number on the Golden Knights this season. But one thing that goes under the radar when you have as many injuries as the VGK have this season is the effect it can have on the lines. Chemistry is something that is hard to find in the current NHL. But when it is obtained it can become a deadly asset to any head coach. Just look at the Misfit Line.
The Golden Knights overall have had a revolving door of players come through their organization in just four and a half years. This can do a number on the team meshing together as just as it seems you have something a player is either hurt, traded, or another player comes in and shuffles up the lines.
Take the line of Stephenson, Pacioretty, and Mark Stone which had tons of success in December. Injuries and the addition of Jack Eichel have completely reworked that group.
4- Frustration from Leaders
I mentioned this Friday night in my postgame but the Golden Knight cannot get frustrated amidst their current struggles. Especially when it comes to the veterans on the team in guys like Eichel, Marchessault, and Pacioretty. In the last two games, we have seen some of the frustration start to seep through.
Both Marchessault and Pacioretty took unnecessary retaliatory penalties in the Golden Knight’s last two games. Pacioretty went as far as to sucker punch Kris Letang. Also, after his return to Buffalo, Eichel was a little bitter towards Buffalo Sabres fans as well.
You can’t have this from your leaders and the Golden Knights core and veteran guys in the room need to be better both on and off the ice. Especially with guys like Stone and Brayden McNabb out.
5- A History of Gut Decisions
To cap things off here we need to address the elephant in the room and that is the Golden Knight’s history of constantly shifting personnel when success is not on the table. We all know the story of how things ended up with Gerard Gallant, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Reaves, and Alex Tuch.
Many fans have been questioning if we will be seeing upper management pull the trigger and make some brash decisions once more. The Golden Knights are not there yet, and hopefully will not get there this season. But with the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline on the horizon, who knows that Kelly McCrimmon is plotting.