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Assessing Blame For Golden Knights Latest Skid

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last week, one of hockey’s most honest and loudest voices tweeted out an observation that Golden Knights fans have seen play out for months now.

Former NHL’er and Spittin’ Chiclets star Ryan Whitney simply noted Vegas’ latest struggles and the fanbase sounded off in his replies. Some fans blamed the players, others blamed specific players. Several questioned the coaching staff and many were frustrated by the front office’s vision. The responses were passionate and the judgments were evenly distributed among the organization.

There are likely a dozen reasons why the Golden Knights are currently a little better than a bubble team with scoring issues. Injuries, chemistry, and lost leadership are some to name but other problems are deeper than that. Especially, on the offensive side of the ice. So, who’s to blame for the current skid?

Here’s a defense for the parties that were most blamed in Whitney’s replies. How much is shared and who should be let off the hook?


Since early December, Vegas is 25th in goals scored (75), 26th in scoring per game (2.78) and 27th in 3rd period goals scored (23). Of course, the players are responsible for putting the puck in their opponent’s net but the coach is the one that draws up and designs a game plan. In his first 24 games as Golden Knights coach, Bruce Cassidy was considered a Jack Adams front-runner. The hockey world praised his seamless transition and prematurely hyped a Bruins vs. Cassidy Stanley Cup final. Beginning in late November, that noise quieted down. Lack of scoring, weaker goaltending, and key injuries disintegrated VGK’s double-digit Pacific Division lead.

Despite their low offensive production, statistically, Vegas’ special teams have been outstanding over the past two months. Since December 1st, the Golden Knights are 5th in power play percentage (27%) and 7th in penalty kill percentage (83.1%). Immediately, Cassidy dramatically improved Vegas’ notoriously inept PP and it’s still thriving. After a slight dip, the PK is performing at an elite rate. Even through difficult stretches, Cassidy continues to get the most out of his two units.

Jack Eichel

We should start by asking this, is Jack Eichel still hurt? There’s been no chatter about an injury hampering Eichel’s abilities but maybe the center is keeping it to himself. How else can he explain the countless lost puck battles, hesitancy to shoot, poor passes, or sloppy backchecking? Earlier this season we begged for the 26-year-old to take over and become the offensive weapon Vegas’ front office heavily invested in. Since his return from injury, Eichel hasn’t been much of a threat.

Some fans are beginning to grow weary watching Eichel on a nightly basis. His grace and extraordinary talent are on full display every game but it rarely translates into points for Vegas. The harsh reality is, Eichel is -10, has recorded two goals and three assists in 2023. Vegas is 3-6-2 in those games. As the 12th highest paid NHL player, Eichel is 69th in Points Per Game (.89) with only one power play goal. It’s not enough. Losing Mark Stone has clearly devastated the Golden Knights but the time for Eichel to step up is past overdue.


It’s time to discuss the construction of this roster. This summer the organization traded two scoring wingers for cap space, shedded offense (51 goals), changed their philosophy in net, and continued to build a roster completely reliant on a few players. There’s no question that injuries have disrupted the Golden Knights success. It hasn’t reached last season’s epidemic but Stone’s current absence has severely hurt the club. Dating back to 2021-22, without their captain, the Golden Knights lack leadership. Stone even discussed Vegas’ unfamiliar locker room with Sirius NHL radio last summer.

Everybody in that dressing room has to take a good hard look in the mirror and get back to the way things were done in the past and get back to our roots a little bit. It was a difficult year as far as adding 10-15 new players. It seemed like we had to reintroduce ourselves every night. We got to get back to being that hard working team out working our opponents. -Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio, 06/18/22

From 2020 to 2021, Vegas’s front office fiercely defended allocating $12M in goaltending. This season they dedicated far less. To be fair, Robin Lehner’s injuries impacted the FO’s attempt at finding a comparable replacement, but there was always a chance Thompson would win the starting job in training camp. This season, they are paying starter Logan Thomson close to the league minimum. Backup Adin Hill takes home $2.2 million per season, which raises the total to $2.9 million in net. That’s almost a ten million drop in cap space. It’s inconsistent with what the organization repeated a few years back.

Lastly, management’s decision to move offense in the offseason has come back to haunt them. The Golden Knights are missing offense from top line and depth line players this year. Their inability to replace past scoring is a large reason why Vegas is currently stuck in a 1-5-2 stretch since the captain went out.

When the Golden Knights return to the ice next week, the pressure will be on to snap out of their funk. Somehow, Cassidy’s club will need to turn it around in order to regain control of the division. For that to happen, Cassidy, Eichel, and management will need to bring their best.


Q&A With Dr. Pinegar On Mark Stone’s Second Back Surgery


VGK’s Path To The Playoffs Is Wide Open Despite Tricky Schedule


  1. DeezNutz

    I hate to say it but the common denominator that’s been there through all of their struggles are the Misfits. I’ve meebr seen a group of players work harder and generate more scoring chances that never go in. The Sharks 3-1 series choke job, the Dallas series goal drought and the Montreal series embarrassment. You will see them buzzing most nights looking like our best line out there inky to accomplish absolutely nothing. Every year that passes they get a half a step slower which is expected but I think it’s time we got rid of 1 or maybe 2 of them and go from there. We are stuck with Eichel and Petro but everybody else should be on the trade/sell block because this team as its built cannot score goals consistently like good teams do. You watch them it’s like they are giving it their absolute all battling through the trenches just to pot 1 goal every 30 shots while the other team just needs to get control of it in our zone and it’s in our net with ease. I’m tired of watching it.

  2. Steve

    Management’s strategy is spending big money on stars and then filling in the rest of the roster with AHL warm bodies and cheap last leg journeymen. Unfortunately, the big gamble on high priced talent hasn’t panned out. Max Pacioretty stated on his way out that there was no overwhelming pressure to win.

    Kelly McCrimmon got lucky the first few years by utilizing his Wheat Kings network of players. That well has now gone dry. It’s time to reset the management team and move forward with a different strategy and culture.

  3. THE hockey GOD

    Grape stomper and owners are doing the local fans no favors. We should get lower ticket prices than all the out of towners and people who root for other team.

    As far as why the team is in a slump, look at the injuries. That is pretty obvious. Anyone who can’t see the obvious is making it more complicated than it really is.


    PS firing PDB was a big mistake.

    • Duckboy

      Cheaper tix are coming

      Anecdotal but have heard several season tix holders say resale is tough this year and they aren’t re-upping their 5y package

      Plus you have to sell success or hope for season tix commitment. I see neither here for a few years. Wait for the buy low moment in a couple years, unless we buy players this deadline and make the rebuild later and longer.

      • gerald dombrowski

        The problem is everytime the team goes bad they get rid of the coach , if the team cannot play without Mark Stone , it’s time to get rid of these players.Myself I don’t hanging on to a guy that plays a couple games a year and scores 3 or 4 goals isn’t worth whatever he’s making, all these big money players should be performing in contrast to what their getting paid, someone who makes 60 million a year should be able to perform to his money making standard, if not he’s not worth keeping,imoa

        • THE hockey GOD

          weren’t you owner of ice creamery fountain in Bowery Boys, with Slip Mahoney and Horace Debussy ‘Sach’ Jones ?

          welcome to the jungle

  4. Richie-Rich

    PS: Firing Gallant was a big mistake, bringing in Lehner was mistake #2, and the nail in the coffin is trading Tuch for Eichel. I can sprinkle in a few more like letting Schmidt go. I am not sure what Kessel adds to the team that wasn’t already there last year. Krebs has come around in Buffalo and I daresay that he and Tuch wouldn’t be any worse than what this current roster is delivering. All that and The Grape Stomper is shelling out massive amounts cash for a team that is not getting any better whatsoever.

    All this talk about another “elite” 1st line LW or RW is nonsense. To think that the entire team hinges on one line delivering wins is ridiculous. It sure hasn’t paid off for Edmonton.

    My mind hasn’t changed on PDB, every place he has been he’s taken a good team and under his leadership they have regressed. Gallant on the other hand has taken every team in the past 5 years and has had them contending.

    Just like last year, I said we would know about the trajectory of this team by mid-January. The questions have all been answered and the grade is a C- at best. It’s time for a fire sale and for M&Ms to be sent packing. It’s time for a locker room flush and Eichel, Smith, Kessel, Amadio, Hutton, should all be dressed up and in the store front window with for sale signs on. Bring in a new GM and let him decide best how to manage the sale at the trade deadline. The new GM should be given some time to evaluate Cassidy in order to see if he wants to keep him or not.

    This season’s headed in the wrong direction. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.

  5. knights fan in minny

    scmittys play was declining

  6. Mark Stone’s Injury

    No one is touching Eichel, Smith is the best trade bait on your list, Amadio and Hutton bring maybe a good AHL player or 3rd round picks. Kessel is done after this season. Any trade will hurt this team. Bring is another superstar for what or whom? Looks like Vegas got caught holding their cards after someone went down and out. Oh well VGK fans, it takes most team decades to win. A cup, welcome to the club.

  7. Goldy

    They aren’t “Misfits” anymore and never will be. That was a one off. I’m not talking about just that line either – it’s meant as an overall cultural statement. Each season has a different personality. Add to it: They got paid and the chip on the shoulder went away, those that didn’t got moved to accommodate stars. Watch what happens in contract years. Suddenly the hunger reappears. It’s human nature for all but the most driven.

    FO wise: It’s like the Yankees did for so long. Buy a bunch of expensive players with no concern for where the pieces fit and hope talent alone makes it happen. That works every so often, but rarely.

    Don’t look for the best players – look for the right ones.

    That said – they are in the mix and all you need is to get in to have a chance. Let it play out and enjoy it as the entertainment it’s meant to be.

    • TS

      My feeling is that Cassidy can Mix and Match, Shuffle them to Buffalo, trying for the payoff, but he CAN’T SCORE FOR THEM. Injuries to key players cha ge things, true. But the active players STILL should be able to find the dang net, right?? Like, it’ the SAME net EVERYWHERE!!
      Is this slump ultimately more about ATTITUDE / CONFIDENCE, then? I hear Cassidy’s frustration. He knows the team has more WIN in them than they are showing recently. We ALL are feeling the same. . . . Sigh. . . .

    • Brian Lawrence

      I was thinking of the same thing about how the Yankees bought in to try and get a WS. Same mentality with the FO here; same results.

  8. John

    The roster is poorly constructed based on the way Bruce Cassidy wants to play, his system relies on guys winning puck battles and scoring the tough goals near the net that require getting your nose dirty. Jack Eichel is a superb talent but he is not a leader, without Stone there is a void that exposes the lack of leadership. I don’t think blowing it up makes sense this year because there are a some players like Domi, Barbashev, Accari and if they want to really go for it Timo Meier who would make an immediate difference. Stone going on the LTR gives us room for 2 of these guys .

  9. Roberto

    The front line is easy to blame, in particular Eichel and his contract, but offense has to connect with the defense to succeed. With only 5 players on the ice driving results, you can’t overlook the defense’s impact on scoring.

    With that in mind, a big reason for the mini-swoon was Whitecloud and Theodore getting injured. Them being out has led to Petro playing way too many minutes, and placing all the pressure to drive results from the blue line on his shoulders. The All Star break probably couldn’t have come soon enough for him. I hope his hot tub was firing nicely this past week.

    Missing camp probably held Hague back, but he hasn’t taken the big step forward, which was expected. Maybe with lines back in order he’ll more consistently excel. Hope so, as it’s needed.

    We’ll see how the next few weeks go. I’m hopeful the blue line gets things back in order, a move is made to take Stone’s slot, and off they go. If not, up goes the Fire Sale sign.

  10. Bobby

    Players need to fit the system… Going from wide-open, run and gun, to a defensive structured ‘protect the goalies’ system… And being forced to dump and chase, the zone play employed by LA, Dallas, etc. They just don’t have the style of player to fit the new system. Too many nice perimeter players, need more grit.

    • LVsc

      exactly right.

      and most of the press, players, and fan commenters won’t admit it. keep pretending it is something else, when it is so obvious.

      Perimeter champs, net front chumps.

      Most blame goes to the Front office for that. they built their team with perimeter fancy dan players, they created their own cap crunch, they brought in the zone defense coach, which makes for very few quick transition rushes for the Vgk, and that negates the effectiveness of perimeter players……
      and now they are reaping the results.

      the f.o. can retool this team with a few trades, but the soft perimeter crap has to go.

      However, this team seems lost without Stone, and that will be very difficult to replace

  11. Jailbird

    I’ve said for some time now that we just aren’t physical enough. Other than #28, no tuff gritty players. Other teams know this and just push us around. At intermissions when they show the game stats, they used to have “hits”. They don’t even include that anymore , because it is so lopsided for the other team. With Stone gone, #9 is going to have to engage and take over. Can he do that?

    • Eichel – no way not a chance. A good player but a 10 mill a year waste.

    • knights fan in minny

      if they need grit then you go after jvr and domi at the deadline mier will command a haul and he wants to get paid

    • TS

      Jailbird, absolutely! The toughness left with Reaves, though KK is trying to make a statement, and Carrier is usually physical…other than those 2, WHO is willing to do the heavy hitting? And other teams make us pay again and again.

  12. THE hockey GOD

    Song by Jethro Tull ( I am listening to little grass shack now) 91.5 fm

    Let me bring you songs from the wood

    To make you feel much better than you could know
    Dust you down from tip to toe
    Show you how the garden grows
    Hold you steady as you go
    Join the chorus if you can
    It’ll make of you an honest man
    Let me bring you love from the field
    Poppies red and roses filled with summer rain
    To heal the wound and still the pain
    That threatens again and again
    As you drag down every lovers’ lane
    Life’s long celebration’s here
    I’ll toast you all in penny cheer
    Let me bring you all things refined
    Galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale
    Greeting well-met fellow, hail
    I am the wind to fill your sail
    I am the cross to take your nail
    A singer of these ageless times
    With kitchen prose and gutter rhymes

    Songs from the wood make you feel much better
    Songs from the wood make you feel much better

    Songs from the wood

    Let me bring you love from the field
    Poppies red and roses filled with summer rain
    To heal the wound and still the pain
    That threatens again and again
    As you drag down every lovers’ lane
    Life’s long celebration’s here
    I’ll toast you all in penny cheer

    Songs from the wood make you feel much better
    Songs from the wood make you feel much better

    • THE hockey GOD

      velvet green by ian anderson – > aka jethro tull

      Walking on Velvet Green
      Scotch pine growing
      Isn’t it rare to be taking the air?

      Walking on Velvet Green

      Walking on Velvet Green
      Distant cows lowing
      Never a care
      With your legs in the air
      Walking on Velvet Green
      Won’t you have my company?
      Yes, take it in your hands
      Go down on Velvet Green with a old country man
      Who’s a young girl’s fancy and an old maid’s dream

      Tell your mother that you walked all night on Velvet Green
      One dusky half-hour’s ride up to the north
      There lies your reputation and all that you’re worth
      Where the scent of wild roses turns the milk to cream

      Tell your mother that you walked all night on Velvet Green
      And the long grass blows in the evening cool
      And August’s rare delights may be April’s fool
      But think not of that my love
      I’m tight against the seam
      And I’m growing up to meet you down on Velvet Green
      Now let me tell you that it’s love and not just lust
      And if we live the lie

      let’s lie in trust

      On golden daffodils to catch the silver stream
      That washes out the wild oat seed on Velvet Green
      We’ll dream as lovers under the stars
      But civilization’s raging afar
      And the ragged dawn breaks on your battle scars

      As you walk home cold and alone upon Velvet Green

      • JV

        Have you seen the Jack with the Green?
        He’s missing here, and not scoring any goals.

        • THE hockey GOD

          a song by Jethro Tull

          Have you seen Jack-in-the-Green?

          With his long tail hanging down.
          He sits quietly under every tree
          In the folds of his velvet gown.
          He drinks from the empty acorn cup.
          The dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
          And taps his cane upon the ground –
          Signals the snow drops, it’s time to grow

          It’s no fun being Jack-in-the-Green:

          No place to dance, no time for song.
          He wears the colours of the summer soldier;
          And carries the green flag all the winter long.
          Jack do you never sleep – does the green still run deep in your heart?
          Or will these changing times, motorways, powerlines, keep us apart?
          Well, I don’t think so.
          I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.

          The Rowan, the Oak and the Holly tree (the larch?)

          Are the charges left for him to groom.
          Each blade of grass whispers, “Jack-in-the-Green.”
          “Oh Jack, please help me through my winter’s night.”
          And – “We are the berries on the Holly tree:
          No !! the Mistle Thrush is coming. Jack, put out the light!”

          • TS

            Thg, boy, you are going back aways. Jethro was as heavy as they came, back then.My bro is an old- rock guy…has all the original vinyl..60’s on…

          • JV

            I was keeping with the “Songs from the Woods” theme. That was the last Tull album I bought.

          • THE hockey GOD

            “I was keeping with the “Songs from the Woods” theme. That was the last Tull album I bought.”

            heavy horses is pretty good

            stormwatch, last of three to close out 70s was ok, but not as good
            as first two. Sort of like VGK coach Cassidy; ok but not as good
            as GG or PDD( to date, subject to change)

  13. Bobby

    How about “We Used to Know” great Tull song. Eagles Hotel California sounds strangely familiar in parts. Hmmm.

  14. James

    Omg omg holy crap these ppl who bring up Galant, Fluery, Schmidt etc… please don’t comment. Your ridiculous . Hockey is an effort game. And the knights are being out played almost every night. Brake up the misfits, Karlsson is the weak link there. Stevenson skates harder than any player every game. So put him between smith and marchessault.

  15. Jailbird

    I’m going to just stop worrying the team. I am going to root them on and hope for success. With Stone gone, the team must make some moves to bring in what we need. Period! I am a fan of hockey and the Knights and am going to ride the waves with them!

  16. THE hockey GOD

    RL , 27 mil in hole, declares bankruptcy

    did anyone see RL
    in RL in line filling out a form
    the Dollar Loan Center ???

    • TS

      Thg, where the hell was his financial advisor? With all the managers, agents,etc around him, did NO ONE warn him about the snake oil salesmen out there? Absurd.

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