The Game 6 puck drop of the Western Conference Final is just hours away. The Vegas Golden Knights have lost two straight, not played well with any consistency, yet still had the game on their stick in the third period.
The Dallas Stars scored the big goals in Game 4 and Game 5. As a result, the pressure is building on the Golden Knights to drive the stake through the heart of the Dallas undead, who have refused to quit.
Get the Game 6 Golden Knights pregame here.
Dallas will also get a huge emotional boost in Game 6 when captain Jamie Benn returns from his two-game suspension.
Dallas is going to have everything going their way. From Benn to goalie Jake Oettinger standing on his head, Dallas has found the keys to their success. Now it’s time for the Vegas Golden Knights to adjust but also rediscover their winning formula.
Or things will get tense for Game 7 on Wednesday. Very tense.
We do these before every game. Visit VegasHockeyNow.com often.
4 Things Golden Knights Must Change
The Dallas Stars are getting to the VGK defensemen and creating chances. It’s scrambling the Golden Knights and opening the game. The Golden Knights are a structured, disciplined team, but every team is at a huge disadvantage when chasing the puck.
Adin Hill bailed out the Golden Knights for most of Game 5 as the chances were point blank.
“We have to skate. I think we have to give options to our D,” said Jonathan Marchessault. “One of the points we want to be better — we’re a fast team. We’ve got to do that and support each other.
Uncharacteristically, the Vegas Golden Knights have been easy to play against in Games 4 and 5. Call it sending a message. The Golden Knights must begin finishing their checks with some ill intent.
As this space noted after Game 5, the Golden Knights’ gaps were loose, giving Dallas space to skate and create pressure. They’ve been backing up in the neutral zone, exacerbating the problem. The Golden Knights must pressure the puck and be tight to their assignment. Suffocate them. Frustrate them. Make every pass and every shot difficult.
“We have to be more physical. It’s still the playoffs, and it’s on us to make sure we play a nice, gritty game,” Marchessault said. “…We have a great opportunity, and we know that.”
The Golden Knights have backed up and played soft. More of the same will lead to more of the same.
Seems simple enough, but the Golden Knights have not lit the lamp when they had the chance. There are always two sides — It’s good to get chances, and that’s good. However, the Golden Knights have had glorious chances with the game on their stick but not converted.
Jack Eichel had a breakaway and a two-on-one in the third period of Game 5.
Others had Grade A chances, too.
It’s the playoffs, and chances are at a premium. The team that loosens its grip on the stick and picks the good spots will be happy, and the team that grips its stick too tight and misses or buries the puck into the goalie will not be happy.
4. Survive the first 10 minutes.
The Dallas Stars will go for the jugular in the first 10 minutes. They’ll try for the knockout punch, and the Golden Knights have to lock down their zone, then push back.
Put it all together. Weather the storm. Be physical. Skate. Finish. The Golden Knights must arrest the momentum from Dallas and send a message in the first period.