Given the fact that he has missed the last seven games with an injury, Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is the only star player on the team that gets a pass from any recent criticism. Every other star on the team has been awful lately. And the Golden Knights are 1-5-1 since Stone's injury as a result.
Their most recent loss came Friday night against the New York Rangers which marked their first three-game road losing streak of the season. Both the Seattle Kraken and Los Angeles Kings have now passed the VGK in the Pacific Division standings as the NHL All-Star Break looms.
Nobody can replace what Stone brings to the Golden Knights as he is a one-of-a-kind player that the VGK are lucky to have. But every team goes through injuries and the remaining star players on the team's roster have not stepped up in his absence.
"It starts with us. There is no secret to it. To win the hockey game your best players have to be your best players… it not only about the production it is about your effort too," said Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault, who was the only player on the team last year to score 30 goals.
The biggest standout is Jack Eichel, the star centermen the Golden Knight's paid a hefty price for to acquire last season. This season he has gone through scoring slumps and is also just coming off a eleven-game injury. In his last nine games, Eichel has just a goal and an assist and is a -12.
He has had his moments in games where he tries to take over and generate chance, but nothing has resulted of it as Eichel looks unmotivated. One has to wonder if he is still dealing with some sort of pains from his leg injury.
Chandler Stephenson is the other big name who has gone cold lately. Without his consistent linemate in Stone, he has been moved all throughout the lineup and with different linemates. He has three points in his last nine games and has no goals in his last eight as a result.
The Misfit Line of Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson has always been a consistent source of offense for the Golden Knights. Amidst this current scoring slump, they have been the only glimmer of offense for the Golden Knights, making them a one-line team.
But offense has dried up as a whole with even this line not being able to score. Smith, despite leading the team in goals, has zero in his last eleven games and Marchessault has zero goals in his last eight.
"That's probably why we're losing a lot of games right now. We have to show up and we have to find a way to produce. I think when you get scoring chances it is positive. But we have to keep pushing. It's adversity that I think a lot of hockey players face and you have to get out of it quick," said Marchessault.
All of this inefficient scoring has created a trickle down affect in the Golden Knights lineup as bottom-six guys like Michael Amadio, Nicolas Roy, and Paul Cotter have been moved up to the top-six in an effort to patch things up, keep the Misfit Line together, and generate offense.
It has not worked, as against the Rangers, Michael Amadio was the latest player benched in the third period. But it's not necessarily these bottom-six guys' faults as most of them are used to a more limited role. The problem stems from a much bigger issue that was never addressed in the offseason.
With Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonnov, Mattias Janmark, and even Nolan Patrick all not returning for the Golden Knights this season, the team was lacking depth scorers, specifically at wing. Outside of signing Phil Kessel, the team's only goal scorer against the Rangers, the team has not addressed this issue.
Now that Stone is in limbo once more and the remaining star players aren't producing, this issue is being brought to light once again. Perhaps the Golden Knights could go after a name at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline to salvage their season. Because it is slipping right now.