The Golden Knights dropped their first closeout game in franchise history in Game 5, falling in San Jose 5-2. It was far from a perfect game for either team, but the Golden Knights certainly didn’t play a terrible game (like they did in Game 1).
So, the difference between winning and losing is minuscule. I asked six players and the head coach the exact same question, “If there’s one thing that you think needs to change from Game 5 to help you win Game 6, what would it be?” Here are their answers.
I think we’ve got to get more people going to the net, more scoring chances inside. I thought we stayed on the outside a little bit too much last game. I think we’ve got to get more pucks to the net, more people to the net looking for rebound goals and more ugly goals. -Gerard Gallant
Play more shift-by-shift, a little bit more urgent. Bring the intensity to them rather than waiting to see what they are going to do. Bring the game to them. -Alex Tuch
The first 10 minutes of the game, they were buzzing early. We didn’t play a terrible game, but we didn’t play a game you need to play to close out a series. Every night it’s whoever wants it more. -Jonathan Marchessault
I’m not sure it’s something that needs to change. I liked that we were disciplined, we stayed out of the box a lot more. I think that’s a big part of it. That part I’d like to continue and a good start would be nice. -Nate Schmidt
I wouldn’t say change that much, just be a little bit sharper. Our execution wasn’t perfect last game. I thought we had the right mindset in a lot of areas however no sustained o-zone time. Could be the forecheck, could be holding on to pucks, it’s probably different in every scenario, but we know we have a bit better in all areas. -Max Pacioretty
You’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate and vice-versa, if it goes against you, you have to keep going. For us it’s just to keep playing the same way. Come out playing well and try to be the aggressors at home. Plus, they were probably a little more desperate than we were and now we’ve got to match that. -Paul Stastny
I would say it’s forechecking. We’ve got to put more pressure on them and need to forecheck as a group of five. -Shea Theodore
It’s a wide range of answers, but they all have merit. My answer is a bit of a combination of Theodore’s and Pacioretty’s. In this series, it starts and ends with the Golden Knights ability to put pressure on the Shark’s defensemen. The best place to do it is in the offensive zone with a good forecheck, but it applies in the neutral zone and defensively at the blue line. The Golden Knights need to be tighter to the Sharks players as well as a bit more connected as a unit when they are trying to get the puck back.
This being said, it’s not like the Golden Knights were bad at it in Game 5, they just didn’t capitalize on the mistakes they created. There were five or six terrific chances that if Vegas converts just one, we may not even be talking about the Sharks anymore. So the biggest piece that needs to improve for me is the final one. When the chance is there, bury it.
At home, they’ve been able to do it against San Jose, especially early in games. It has to happen again in Game 6.