Last month was a big one for two of the Golden Knights’ most reliable forwards. Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone really made an impact in March, combining for an impressive 43 points in 31 days. The club benefited from the two top compilers and posted a 12-5-0 record over the month. Unfortunately, March ended and the Golden Knights began April with a shootout loss against the Minnesota Wild.
Of course, it’s only one game and Vegas picked up a point in the process so there’s no much to gripe about. Last night’s SO loss was only the Golden Knights’ 11th defeat through 35 games this season. The club has set themselves up nicely for a postseason position. However, the loss to Minnesota carried over a trend that should make Vegas fans a bit uneasy.
The Golden Knights rely so much on Pacioretty and Stone to produce offensively that when they don’t, the team struggles to score. In their 11 regulation, overtime, or shootout losses, the top two forwards have scored in just three of those games. Without Pacioretty and Stone’s one-two punch, the Golden Knights average an anemic 1.27 goals per loss.
Especially, in a division featuring a Colorado team that just scored nine in a game and a pesky Minnesota group that averages close to three goals per 60. For Vegas to eliminate both in the postseason, they’ll need to rely on more than just the top line.
Pacioretty & Stone Postseason Production Per Game
Pacioretty: 0.82 Postseason Points Per w/ VGK
0.62 Career Postseason Points Per
Stone: 1.07 Postseason Points Per w/ VGK
0.77 Career Postseason Points Per
The issue for the Golden Knights isn’t just a problem in the regular season. Going back to their first postseason series as Golden Knights in 2018, when Pacioretty and Stone’s offense dried up the team crumbled. Against the San Jose Sharks the pair tallied ten goals in the first four games of that series. Game’s 5-7, the two veterans combined for one goal. One.
Sadly, their postseason slump didn’t end against the Sharks. In last season’s playoff bubble, the two were again the Golden Knights most lethal forwards. But like the prior postseason, when Pacioretty and Stone didn’t score the team most likely lost. In eight playoff losses in the bubble, Vegas’ two most reliable wingers only produced two goals. One of them came in the Western Conference finals series loss against the Dallas Stars. It’s an unsettling pattern that’s continued into this season.
Pacioretty & Stone Goals Scored In Playoff Losses
2018-19 Postseason: 3 Goals Scored In 4 Losses
2019-20 Postseason: 2 Goals Scored In 8 Losses
Postseason Total: 5 Combined Goals Scored in 12 Losses
Under their current salary cap structure, it would take some heavy creativity to find another reliable option. Also, you could argue those players already exist on the current Golden Knights roster.
It’s pretty simple. If Pacioretty or Stone’s offense goes missing it’s unlikely the Golden Knights will advance throughout the playoffs. On the flip side, if the two spread out their offense in a seven-game series Vegas will be tough to eliminate. They’ll be even tougher to beat if they can rely on more players to generate offense on nights when Pacioretty and Stone get blanked.