The Vegas Golden Knights found a way to earn against the New York Islanders while facing a lot of adversity. Tobias Bjornfot made his Golden Knights debut, Lukas Cormier made his NHL debut, and Grigori Denisenko played in his second game with the Golden Knights.
There was a lot to like about this game, here are the pluses and minuses.
+ Logan Thompson
Thompson made 27 saves on 29 shots. More importantly, Thompson made every save he should have and many he should not have. The Golden Knights had a good game defensively, but the defense was leaky at times. Thompson saved multiple breakaways and directed rebounds to low-danger spaces.
LT appreciation post 👏 pic.twitter.com/eXXLk6Wd0a
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 7, 2024
+ Jack Eichel
The Golden Knights acquired Eichel to be a difference maker, someone who could carry the team through the toughest of times. The fortieth game of an NHL season is never a must-win situation. But it was pretty close for the Golden Knights. Eichel got himself into an open space on the ice and scored the game’s first goal just six minutes into the first period. It took Eichel just 31 seconds into the third period to score and give the Golden Knights a three goal lead.
Coach Bruce Cassidy always brings up, “timely goals and timely saves.” Eichel did his part in getting the timely goals.
– Nic Hague and Tobias Bjornfot Defensive Pairing
Before judgement is passed, it needs to be acknowledged that Bjornfot was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings just ~48 hours prior to this game. It will take time for him to get acclimated with the Golden Knights’ system and players to get acclimated with Bjornfot.
The pairing of Hague and Bjornfot struggled, as their grade on Hockey Stat Cards suggests. Hague and Bjornfot left the front of Thompson’s net open on many occasions and failed to clear the front of the net on the Islanders’ second goal. As stated above, better days are expected.
— HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) January 7, 2024
+How About that Third/Fourth Line?!
In normal conditions the line of Nicolas Roy, Keegan Kolesar, and Brett Howden would be the Golden Knights’ fourth line. That line had the highest three rankings on the Hockey Stat Card for the game. The Golden Knights need to have secondary offensive contributions on a nightly basis, especially with all the injuries.
+ Pavel Dorofeyev Scores in Consecutive Games
Dorofeyev is up to 10 points (five goals) in 20 games. That is a 20 goal pace over an 82 game season. The Golden Knights may have the solution to their lack of scoring from the second line left wing position in Dorofeyev.
+ Lukas Cormier Gets Assist in NHL Debut
Cormier looked the part of an NHL player in his debut. Coach Cassidy trusted Cormier to quarterback the top powerplay unit and it led to Cormier’s first career point coming on his first powerplay. Cormier had 19:46 of ice time which was greater than Alex Pietrangelo, Hague, Alec Martinez, and Bjornfot. Coach Cassidy has a high level of trust in the rookie.
+ Dealing with Adversity
Coach Cassidy was asked for injury updates on William Carrier and Zach Whitecloud after the game. That question led to updates on Adin Hill, Ben Hutton, William Karlsson, and Danill Miromanov. There was a light-hearted moment as Coach Cassidy said, “Let’s keep going while we are hot,” as media members asked about injured players.
The injury bug continues to pester the Golden Knights in their seventh season, but the team continues to find positive ways to deal with the adversity created by injuries.