The NHL is a wins and losses business, and with that comes the harsh reality that most players are judged by one single measurement of production, goals.
Simply put, the more a player is paid, the more he’s expected to put the puck in the back of the net. When they do, everything is great. It’s when they don’t that things start to get a lot more complicated.
For the Golden Knights, this is amplified even further as they have crashed out of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in large part because of their inability to score, and more specifically, the best players’ inability to score.
I think we have these conversations every day and someone is always riding a goal drought. That’s just how it is. It was Reilly Smith for a while. It was Max Pacioretty after he got back from injury. I just think that’s the NHL today. If you look around the league, there’s very few guys that score consistently all the time, or lines. -Pete DeBoer
The Golden Knights have just five players with at least 10 goals this season, and all of them have had at least some sort of drought.
The most consistent of the bunch, Jonathan Marchessault, is currently riding his longest goal drought of the season of five games. Max Pacioretty, the team’s second-highest scorer just busted an 11-game drought. The aforementioned Smith has gone 10 games between goals twice this year with the most recent spanning the entire month of January. Evgenii Dadonov hasn’t found the net in any of the team’s last 11. Even Chandler Stephenson, in his breakout offensive season, had a stretch of seven games scoreless.
Everybody wants to score, everybody wants to contribute, everybody wants a good stat line. You can talk all you want about the details and intangibles but those guys, especially the guys we’re talking about, measure it by those statlines. -DeBoer
Managing those droughts is a huge part of keeping a team together over the course of a season.
I think everybody handles it differently but I think guys start to wear it for sure. You can see their frustration come out the longer it goes. It’s trying to minimize those droughts to shorter periods and not let it snowball into something gigantic. -DeBoer
That’s been a challenge for both this season and in previous postseasons for the Golden Knights. Injuries have certainly compounded the issue as well this year.
The team’s attitude seems to be pretty good about it though. They’ve mentioned a “natural frustration” that sets in when individuals or the team is not scoring, but as a whole, it hasn’t affected their ability to win games. Unlike many teams that rely on top scorers to contribute the lion’s share of the team’s goal production, the Golden Knights have gotten it throughout the lineup, and especially from defensemen.
When you are winning games it’s a lot easier than when you are losing. -DeBoer
Individually, the droughts will continue for certain players at times during the rest of the season, but as long as the collective keeps chipping in as they have all year, they too shall pass.