The Vegas Golden Knights are in a rough patch after accumulating 19 of a possible 20 points in the first 10 games of the season. The Golden Knights accumulated just nine of a possible 18 points in the last nine games.
Alright, maybe that was not the best wording.
The sky is falling!
That definitely was not the best wording.
We are all a little concerned. No one enjoys seeing the Stanley Cup champions struggling. But are the Golden Knights really struggling? Or is it just a string of bad luck?
Snake bitten. Bad puck luck. The puck had eyes. Circumstances, not excuses. We have heard various players and coach Bruce Cassidy elude to any number of those things when things are going well and when things could be going better.
Watch Mark Stone below. This is from the Oct. 30 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
🎥 Stone: We're a pretty resilient group. We hang in games. pic.twitter.com/rOptqGfT2X
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 31, 2023
Did that sound like the captain of a team that just finished a month in which they did not lose a single game in regulation? Did that sound like the captain of a team that just earned 19 of a 20 points the season following winning a Stanley Cup?
Watch this post game interview with Alex Pietrangelo.
🎥 Pietrangelo: Sometimes the hockey gods are testing you. pic.twitter.com/traloFNfxP
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 9, 2023
“Sometimes the hockey gods are testing you. It was a good test these last couple of game.” Pietrangelo after losing to the Los Angeles Kings Nov. 8.
Those two post game press conferences are a small example of what the locker room is feeling after a win or a loss. Process before results. Stone felt things were just a little bit off after defeating the Montreal Canadiens at home in October. Sure, he was happy the team won. But there was concern from an overall perspective. Pietrangelo embraced the loss to the Kings and found something positive to take from the loss.
Reasons for optimism
Goaltending: Adin Hill and Logan Thompson are healthy and performing at high levels. Hill is 8-2-1 with a 2.07 GA/G and .929 SV%. Thompson is 5-2-1 with a 2.48 GA/G and .920 SV%. The Golden Knights will win the Pacific Division easily if Hill and Thompson can sustain those numbers.
Wild Bill is back: The center of the third line has been the Golden Knights’ best center all season. William Karlsson has 20 points (9 goals) through 19 games. Karlsson is performing at a level that could lead to Selke and Lady Byng consideration.
Defense is healthy: Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins was the first time the Golden Knights iced all six of their top defensemen together. Nic Hague will need a few games to get his feet under him.
Cassidy will find the right mix: Coach Cassidy will not sit around and wait for the lines to click. Below is a what Cassidy deployed during Sunday’s loss against the Penguins. Unfortunately the line juggling did not produce any goals against the Penguins, but placing Karlsson on the wing did lead to a Karlsson late goal against the Dallas Stars earlier in the season.
Barbashev’s struggles are apparent on the new season. Cassidy will find a way to ignite Barbashev. It could mean a demotion, healthy scratch, or by leaving him on the top line. Barbashev is too good of a player to struggle for much longer. Cassidy will place Barbashev in the right place to succeed in the lineup.
Bruce Cassidy’s line adjustments here in the third period.
Cotter – Eichel – Marchessault
Karlsson – Stephenson – Stone
Barbashev – Howden – Amadio
Carrier – Roy – Kolesar
— Ryan The Hockey Guy (@RyanHockeyGuy) November 20, 2023