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Gawlik: The Vegas Golden Knights are Not in a Slump!

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Chandler Stephenson - Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Sammi Silber- Washington Hockey Now)

The Vegas Golden Knights are not in a slump despite going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. The Golden Knights are not in a slump despite not scoring a five-on-five goal in their last four games. The Golden Knights are not in a slump for giving up the lead (points percentage) to the Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division.

The Vegas Golden Knights are not in a slump. The Vegas Golden Knights are in a scoring drought, there is a big difference.

The Golden Knights players and coach Bruce Cassidy constantly look at the big picture. This is a process-before-results type of team. If the process is right, the results will come.

Is the process right? Yes and no. The scoring side of the process definitely is concerning. “If we finished some of those “grade A’s,” we’re not sitting here talking about a loss.” Coach Bruce Cassidy after Monday’s loss against the Calgary Flames. “Jack had a breakaway shorthanded, Barbashev late (breakaway), Nic Roy was in all alone twice, Jack’s two-on-one, and I think it was Nic’s back door play from Marchessault.”

Cassidy’s statement above can be used for any of the last three games. The scoring chances were there. The execution to find paydirt is lacking. Sure, it is alarming to see the team’s best scorers not finishing. It is alarming that the Stanley Cup champions have not scored a five-on-five goal in the last four games.

Still not convinced this is not a slump? Hear me out.

Through the first 12 games, the Golden Knights scored 50 goals for an average of 4.16 goals per game. During that stretch, the Golden Knights scored three or more goals in every game. This team knows how to score and will find their scoring touch soon enough.

Special teams have seen a major improvement year over year. In the 2022-23 regular season, the Golden Knights’ power play ranked 18th and the Golden Knights’ penalty kill ranked 19th. Through 22 games this season, the power play ranks 11th and the penalty kill ranks 6th. Special teams are giving the Golden Knights a leg up in every game this season.

The tandem of Logan Thompson and Adin Hill has been nearly immaculate this season. Thompson and Hill have combined for a .928 SV% and 2.36 GA/G.

Do you still need more convincing that this is not a slump? Okay, fine.

The Golden Knights have given up 52 goals in 22 games which ranks 4th best in the league. I can assure you any team that averages 2.36 GA/G will be near the top of the league standings come April.

Something can be said about the depth of the Golden Knights’ defensemen. The Golden Knights have used nine defensemen through the first 22 games of the season and had their top six defensemen intact for just a handful of games. Please reference the paragraph above about the Golden Knights averaging 2.36 GA/G.

The lack of scoring is a fair criticism. Four games without an even strength goal is not a recipe for success. Chandler Stephenson has been moved to the wing in an effort to spark his scoring. Ivan Barbashev has just six points after receiving an extension worth $25 million and a $5 million hit to the salary cap. Not to poke the bear, but Reilly Smith has 12 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins and has the same $5 million hit to the salary cap.

Players like Nic Roy, Paul Cotter, Brett Howden, William Carrier, and Keegan Kolesar are not counted on to score goals night after night. But those five players mentioned have combined for just 12 goals.

Where would this team be without the resurgence of William Karlsson who has 21 points (10 goals).

One more time. The Golden Knights are not in a slump, they are in a scoring drought. Is there panic in the locker room? Not at all. Watch these two post game press conferences from coach Cassidy.

This is from the 2-1 overtime loss to the Flames.

There is no panic there, just an honest assessment of the team not finishing.

The next post game press conference is from the Golden Knights 5-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets back on Nov. 2.

The vibe from coach Cassidy is not much different. Sure, he is a bit happier. Who is not after a victory? But he gave an honest assessment of what he liked and what the team needed to work on going forward.

If the Golden Knights starting losing games 4-1 or 5-1 on a regular basis, then we can consider it a slump. Until that moment comes, which it is not going to, this is simply a scoring drought that the team can easily rebound from.

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