It was supposed to be the gauntlet of all road trips and it’s living up to everyone’s expectations. After three games and three points on their four-game trek, the Golden Knights are trying to shake off last night’s 4-1 loss and finish strong in Tampa. However, the team seemed to be distracted by the conditions of the game instead of the outcome.
I saw a lot of effort and a little bit of lack of execution. You know the puck was bouncing, ice conditions weren’t great but both teams were playing on it. -Pete DeBoer
It’s unnecessary for the Golden Knights to make any excuses at this point on the road trip. Vegas has worked hard to earn their three points in three games and have set themselves up for a chance to take home five of a possible eight, assuming they play a great game tomorrow.
So, why focus on the conditions of the ice when it’s out of their control? Ignoring the final score, the Golden Knights have nothing to feel sorry for and should take comfort with their effort against a clear Stanley Cup contender like Florida. The playing surface was choppy and slushy but it wasn’t the reason why the Golden Knights left Sunrise, FL empty-handed.
It doesn’t help that both teams are playing with a tennis ball out there, it’s bouncing everywhere. The ice is terrible so it’s a little harder to get into it. -Max Pacioretty on ATTSN intermission
It’s difficult to accept ice surface excuses when the game against the Panthers was more than skipping pucks and unlucky bounces in front of the net. And, as DeBoer and Pacioretty mentioned, both teams were forced to adjust to the landscape that made it more difficult to play.
In reality, it wasn’t the conditions that led to Nolan Patrick’s breakaway shot that sailed wide of the net, or the poorly directed power play passes setting up Florida’s shorthanded chances. It’s unlikely that the humid sheet of ice impacted Mark Stone’s ability to bury a clear game-tying goal, nor did it force Shea Theodore to leave behind the puck in front of his own open net. Those are real, tangible reasons why they fell 4-1 to a great team.
Keep it simple. I mentioned the ice before. I think both teams have to do it and the team that does a better job of that will obviously get more chances. It’s really hard on a goaltender when you have traffic in front of you and you don’t trust the bounces right now. We’ve got to take advantage of those. -Pacioretty on ATTSN intermission
It was clearly in their heads the entire game and probably hurt their chances to win the game. Poor conditions on any given night is an element that neither team can control. What a club can control is their conduct, effort, and finish on the ice. Vegas succeeded on two of those three but ended up losing to an outstanding team. So why can’t the Golden Knights players, coaches, and broadcasters leave it at that? The opponent and Vegas’ effort for that matter deserve more respect than a lame excuse that could be used dozens of times in a season.
Vegas is too good of a team for excuses and we’ve heard them several times before. After their last two playoff exits the team told us that hot goaltenders were why they hadn’t gone deeper but failed to mention their poor, excessive shooting. They’ve blamed goalies, refs, the ice, time zone changes, or even travel delays. And it seems like every time they lose this year they can’t wait to point out how many players are missing.
This is year five of hockey in Vegas. VGK fans understand when they’re being fed hogwash. Not every excuse that has been made falls under that category, but at the same time, not every loss can be excused away as something the Golden Knights couldn’t control.
Lastly, just because the Golden Knights qualified their surface complaints by recognizing the Panthers skated on the same ice shouldn’t make it acceptable. The excuses made last night not only discredited a highly-talented opponent but also the efforts given by the Golden Knights on the road against three quality opponents. Let’s cross our fingers that the ice conditions at Tampa’s Amalie Arena are suitable enough for Vegas tomorrow. Otherwise, I’m sure we’ll hear about it, or worse, something else that caused them to lose.