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Golden Knights Analysis

Kingerski: Golden Knights Need to Send a Message



Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars have seized the Western Conference Final. Whence seemed out and left for dead as they no-showed in a Game 3 shutout loss, the Stars rallied around their captain Jamie Benn, whose boneheaded cross-check on Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone was the Stars’ death knell in Game 3.

Yet Dallas found a way. They found emotion in a negative. The Dallas Stars look like a new team and, in the process, have made the Golden Knights look like an old team.

The Golden Knights have not played their typical, strong, and disciplined game. With the Stanley Cup Final on the table, the Golden Knights opened up their game. They’ve traded scoring chances, too often hanging Adin Hill out to dry, and inexplicably yielded the neutral zone allowing Dallas to have speed into the offensive zone.

Stone thinks the Golden Knights are giving too much respect.

“I think we were kind of backing up a bit. As you look at that second goal, we got four guys across the blue line, we let them enter through the center of the ice,” said Stone. “Gotta start taking away the middle of the ice a little better.”

It’s the equivalent of an NFL team losing the line of scrimmage. You’re going to have a bad time.

There’s been no lack of effort, but there’s been a lack of adherence to the principles and game that brought them to 3-0 in the Western Conference Final.

It’s time the Vegas Golden Knights sent a message. Early in Game 6 would be ideal.

Make no mistake, we’re not talking a Ryan Reaves knuckle sandwich to Jamie Benn’s grill or a line brawl in some silly display that puts them shorthanded.

The message the Golden Knights need to send is by squeezing the daylights out of Dallas from the puck drop in Game 6; gaps so tight Dallas puck carriers can smell the pregame meal on their breath. Then finish those checks.

Maybe a few mitts under the visor, too.

When Game 6 begins, Dallas will feel a tidal wave of momentum. They’ve won two in a row, and they’re getting their captain Jamie Benn back. The game-winning goal in Game 5 will also play a factor. Adin Hill committed a few felonies by robbing Dallas of sure goals throughout Game 5. He was spectacular, but soft goals change series.

And Hill coughed up a softy that was the deciding goal. Odd as it sounds, getting one of those goals boosts a team’s mental outlook. It’s like the hockey gods are on “your” side.

And the Golden Knights need to squash that feeling as fast as possible. For every second, they allow the Dallas momentum to grow, and for every period they play open or on their heels, the likelihood grows they will squander the series in historic fashion.

“Twenty-four giveaways. I mean, we’re trying to go to the Stanley Cup final against a desperate team. So, to me, that’s the game right there,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “So that falls under urgency, obviously. (We’re) not making the right decision with the puck or not supporting it. So it starts right there, and that’s the first thing we’ll go to correct.”

Only twice before has a team down 3-0 in the Conference Final forced a Game 7. If you think Game 6 will be pressure-packed, just wait until the oppressive pressure of Game 7 with the Stanley Cup Final on the line and the Stars having won three straight.

It seems prudent to do everything possible to avoid that situation.

Edmonton fought back in Round Two. Things got chippy. Teams got their dander up, and hands were thrown.

Doesn’t it seem odd that the Golden Knights haven’t sent those little messages in this series?

The Golden Knights need a return to the in-your-face play that eliminated the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers and staked the Golden Knights a 3-0 series lead in the WCF.

It’s time to send a few messages.