The Golden Knights found themselves in a three-goal hole late in the 1st period against the Blues. It felt like the sky was falling until Vegas stormed back to win the game 5-4 in overtime.
Three nights later, once again, Vegas saw 3-0 on the scoreboard, this time against Pittsburgh. Back-to-back games falling behind by three felt improbable, yet once again they stormed back only to come up a bit short.
A couple nights later, it happened again! 3-0 turned to 4-0 against the LA Kings and it’s officially reached epidemic levels.
Then, Saturday. 1-0 in the 1st. 2-0 in the 2nd, and what do you know in the 3rd, 3-0 again for the fourth straight game.
The Golden Knights lost again. Again they fell behind in the 1st period, again they watched the lead grow to a number they wouldn’t be able to overcome, and again they salted away a pair of points at home they really should have won.
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion as to what’s going wrong, but personally, I’m sick of the intangible excuses that are being made for this team. Tonight’s game was not about a lack of effort, a sense of complacency or any other unmeasurable factor people want to throw around. Instead, tonight was a full display of all that is wrong with the Golden Knights.
It starts with forward depth. This team doesn’t have enough of it. When Cody Glass and Jonathan Marchessault are out they don’t have the horses to fill their roles. And it would be a problem if there were any two of the top nine forwards missing.
Because of it, they’re forced to move Alex Tuch up to the 1st line to play out of position and on a line he has never fit on despite playing 13 prior games with Karlsson as the center. Some line combinations don’t fit, especially when you are playing one player out of position on his off-wing. That’s okay, but when a team is built in a way in which they literally don’t have another option outside of William Carrier, who has been exclusively a 4th liner until 2 weeks ago, it becomes a problem.
That then bleeds down to the 2nd line. The best 2nd line the Golden Knights can make is Paul Stastny between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. It’s a line that has proven to work time and time again, including an unreal start to the playoffs last year, but isn’t truly an option currently because it leaves the bottom six far too bare. So, that forces Chandler Stephenson, to fill a role higher in the lineup that most teams would prefer. Stastny moves down in an attempt to put a bit more skill and vision with a pair of wingers who have proven they can’t be relied upon to score.
Finally, you are left with a 4th line that can certainly do the job of a standard 4th line, but must be expected to do more because there’s not enough scoring above them.
When they need an extra player, they turn to Nicolas Roy, Valentin Zykov, or Keegan Kolesar. All fine players, but none can be expected to score at the NHL level, especially when playing alongside other non-scorers Cody Eakin, Ryan Reaves, William Carrier, and Tomas Nosek.
This is a risk the front office took when they chose to go down a path this offseason of offloading talented forwards for a prospect and a bushel of picks as opposed to attempting to bite the bullet and unload some overpaid role players. When healthy, the team has plenty of offense, when not, they’re short.
Which leads to the next problem. Defensive scoring. With Nate Schmidt having a bit of a down year to this point, the only legitimate offensive threat is Shea Theodore. He may end up outscoring the rest of the Golden Knights blue line combined. If the forwards were putting up three or four goals a night, it would be fine to have a defense focused on defending, but while missing players, the team needs some chip in from the defensemen. At the moment, they don’t have the guys to do it. Nic Hague may eventually become more of an offensive weapon, but while he’s getting his feet wet in the NHL, making sure his defensive game is under control is more important. Brayden McNabb, Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, and Nick Holden are all acceptable NHL level defensemen, but between them, there’s one season of more than 30 points and they’ve played a combined 35 years in the NHL. So expecting to get anything more than they’ve already given to this point is unrealistic.
1st period problems have been evident throughout the entire homestand with the Golden Knights allowing 13 goals in the opening frame in the last six games. However, that’s been a temporary problem. There’s a bigger problem that’s been going on all year, and it’s reared its ugly head these last three games.
The Blues, Penguins, and Kings all scored at least three straight on the Golden Knights. In 13 separate games, Vegas has allowed the opposing team to score three or more consecutive goals. They are 2-10-1 in those games, and 1-6-1 at home.
Allowing 3+ consecutive goals 10/08/19: 4-3 loss vs Boston – 4 straight 10/15/19: 5-2 loss at Nashville – 4 straight 10/21/19: 6-2 loss at Philadelphia – 4 straight 10/25/19: 6-1 loss vs Colorado – 4 straight 11/02/19: 4-3 OTL vs Winnipeg – 3 straight 11/13/19: 5-3 loss vs Chicago – 5 straight 11/27/19: 4-3 OT win at Nashville – 3 straight 12/08/19: 5-0 loss vs NY Rangers – 5 straight 12/12/19: 4-2 loss at St. Louis – 3 straight 12/27/19: 4-3 loss at Anaheim – 4 straight 01/04/20: 5-4 OT win vs St. Louis – 3 straight 01/07/20: 4-3 loss vs Pittsburgh – 3 straight 01/09/20: 5-2 loss vs LA – 4 straight
For the most part, fans only care about wins and losses, but they must remember an NHL season is a marathon, not a race. I know, blah, blah, blah.
Over the past five games, the Golden Knights have won just two of them. Many fans are up in arms screaming about blown leads, consistency, and scoring issues, but they should be happy with that stretch as their team earned at least one point in five straight games. Look at it as a competitive team finding a way to earn a point, even in a losing effort. Last night in Toronto was a perfect example of a well-earned point.
Somehow the Golden Knights found themselves in a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation against one of the better offensively skilled clubs in the league. With their backup goaltender in net, let’s face it the odds were stacked against them. Vegas held a team that averages 3.35 goals per game to one score in 60 minutes. Even more notable was the Golden Knights penalty killers allowed only one goal in six power play opportunities. That lone Leafs goal was scored 48 minutes into the game. The Golden Knights defensive plan, on purpose or not, worked and earned them a point.
A loss isn’t a loss in the NHL. Overtime losses are half a win, and that’s how I’m looking at the Toronto game. Same goes for Vegas’ overtime losses against Montreal and Winnipeg even though those are understandably tougher pills to swallow. Sure you can look at Vegas’ three OTL’s as late-game failures or you can see it as a step closer to a playoff berth.
This season, the Golden Knights have earned an average of 1.23 points per game. That’s a pace that would give Vegas 102 points by the end of the regular season. Remember, no team with at least 100 points has missed the playoffs. Over the past five games of “inconsistent” play, they’ve racked up seven points, which is good for 115 over an 82 game season.
Everyone, including the head coach, knows the Golden Knights have more to give, yet here they sit right in the thick of the playoff chase early in the season. Their PDO is 97.9, which is the 5th worst in the NHL. (For those new to PDO, read this.) They’ve scored seven fewer goals than the “expected goal” rates show and yet they’ve overcome it. The other teams with negative actual goal vs expected goal rates have all struggled mightily (SJS, DET, NJD, LAK). And, they have the league’s 4th worst shooting percentage at even-strength at just 6.47%. The last two years that number was 7.75% and 8.38%.
Put all of that together, and it all points to the same thing. The best has yet to come for the Golden Knights.
Of course, we can’t sit here and celebrate overtime losses for the whole season because eventually, they will have to start earning two points a night rather than one. But as long as they keep pace, an occasional OTL isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s getting them closer to the century mark.
It might sound too simple, and something you’d hear from a coach, but it’s true. Good teams find a way to earn a point. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve heard a coach say that.
There’s a lot to talk about after the first of three Golden Knights rookie games. When that happens, we tend to take the easy route and just chuck them all in one article using bullet points. So, here are 13 bullet points, one for every goal scored in the Golden Knights 7-6 win.
Erik Brannstrom is incredible. This isn’t new, but every time this guy steps on the ice he’s excellent. Tonight he tamed back a bit of his aggressiveness yet still found ways to make a bunch of offensive plays including a dandy of a goal.
The Golden Knights opted to put Brannstrom on the PK (something we wouldn’t project him to do much at the NHL level due to his size). Coach Rocky Thompson (Chicago Wolves) explained why they did it…
“Ultimately, it’s going to take time for him on the penalty kill, but we wanted to see some situations. We dialed it back a little bit later in the game, but we definitely wanted to see. It’s definitely a place where we see him in the future is being a top two defenseman. When you are a top two defenseman you have to be well-rounded, so you can beat those minutes.” -Thompson
Nic Hague had an interesting night proving something we haven’t gotten to see a ton of because we haven’t seen them play actual games against other teams, and that’s his PP prowess. Playing on the Golden Knights lesser talented PP unit, he scored twice from the exact same spot. (Also, I highly enjoyed the celly on the first one.)
The first period was a perfect example of a team playing “Golden Knights” style hockey. Incredibly fast in transition, pushing the puck out of the defensive zone quickly, and capitalizing on mistakes. It did in the rookie game what the Golden Knights did to many teams last year, overwhelm the opponent. Hence the five-goal lead after 20 minutes. Coach Thompson says they started to cheat out of the system a bit and that’s why the lead evaporated.
Finally, a few names have hit the US Patent and Trademark database and one is likely the final name selected for the Las Vegas hockey team name.
The Creator‘s desired Black Knights was ruled out, so he had to choose another adjective. Desert Knights, Silver Knights, and Golden Knights were trademarked by Black Knight Sports and Entertainment. You can see the trademarks by going here and searching “Las Vegas AND Knights”
Can’t guarantee (these are the final three names) but the filings are on behalf of Black Knight Sports and Entertainment. -The Creator
This is the major step we’ve been waiting for as there’s no way for an NHL organization to print and sell anything without a trademark. Otherwise, SinBin.vegas would be printing Silver Knights stuff left and right and raking in the cash.
Trademarks are a much larger indication of the possible team name than domain names, which can be purchased after the fact… or not purchased at all. Plus, trademarks cannot be hidden as they must be registered by the business name planning on using them, while domains can be purchased by anyone and transferred.