You can feel the anger. You can see the frustration. You can understand the struggle in searching for answers.
For the Golden Knights, home is not a happy place right now. And all the jumping up and down from the fans, all the imploring from the in-game hosts to get loud, all the music everyone has grown accustomed to isn’t going to snap this team out of its current funk in T-Mobile Arena.
This is on the players, plain and simple.
The Knights have lost four in a row at home. They have begun the eight-games-in-nine stretch at T-Mobile with two losses. The notion of taking the Pacific Division title grows dimmer with each defeat as San Jose has taken control of the top spot.
And it’s not any one thing that has been the cause, though if you are willing to look at it objectively, you’ll see the team hasn’t played a full 60 minutes in any of the recent home losses.
Certainly not Tuesday in falling 5-2 vs Arizona.
Coach Gerard Gallant may not be a math wizard, but he knows percentages. And here’s his take from what was a very brief, angry and contentious postgame news conference Tuesday:
It was 2-2 game and all of a sudden, we try and get cute and start making drop passes through the slot and turn over and then they go the other way on odd man rushes so you know, we get 40-something shots.
I didn’t like the way we played. I thought we played about 10 minutes of real good hockey tonight. There was no passion in our game. There was no aggressive forecheck in our game. We played a soft game, and in my opinion, we gave them three goals from our mistakes.
Not from what they deserved. And they played well, you know I give them credit but when you are going to give them three goals like that you are not going to win many games. -Gallant
So it begs several questions. Why play cutesy with the puck? Why not be more direct? Why not come out with some jump? Was it a lack of respect for the Coyotes, who have played the role of doormat to the Knights in the past? Was it trying to play to the crowd?
I’m not sure the players have the answers. But it’s up to them to fix it.
We didn’t battle hard enough. We were in a good spot going into the third, with 2-2. We just didn’t battle, we weren’t good enough.
Definitely no reason for that group to be losing a game like that. We have the work ethic, all the skills that we need to be successful and we just don’t make it happen. We need to be willing to want it more than the other ones. -Jonathan Marchessault
Nate Schmidt, who also tends to tell it like it is, said there are multiple issues plaguing the Knights right now.
(It’s) more of the same. Not showing up at home, not finishing games, just a lot of things from our game that are just not characteristic of our group.
Right now, it’s tough. It’s tough when you have good parts of the game, you know, you push back to tie the game and just think that you’re going to be easy for the third period. I mean they’re pushing too.
It’s this time of year. It’s hard to win this time of year. And I know we just don’t have it for the whole game and that’s just not going to be enough to win. -Schmidt