27 seconds into the game last night the Golden Knights got onto the board with a 2-on-1 goal from Keegan Kolesar on a nifty feed from Teddy Blueger. It was the perfect start for Vegas in what was bound to be a difficult road game in Tampa.
For the next 39 minutes and 33 seconds, the Golden Knights were not as potent. They collected just eight shots following the goal for a franchise-low nine shots through two periods. They struggled to generate anything off the rush, they couldn’t set up in the offensive zone for extended stretches, and the forecheck was non-existent.
Then, the game started to change. Not necessarily in how the Golden Knights were playing, but more so in the physicality and temperature of the affair. A hit from behind on Jack Eichel woke the Golden Knights up, an after-the-horn scrum continued to turn up the heat on the game, and when the 3rd period came, Vegas appeared much more engaged and ready to fight back.
At the end of the day I think we found our emotional needle. That little scrum may have dragged us into it even if we lost key players. A couple of those shifts really got us engaged. I’ve always been okay with that for our group. I feel like when we get dragged into it, if we are not dragging ourselves into it, we usually come out ok. And we did again tonight. -Cassidy
This is something Cassidy has spoken about in the past. He believes when the team plays with an added level of emotion that they take their game to a higher level.
Emotion is not easily measured and obviously it’s not ideal for the Golden Knights to be assessed with 75 minutes of penalty time as they did last night. But, in the 11 games in which VGK have taken a major penalty or a misconduct, they’ve posted a record of 7-3-1 and they’ve won five of their top seven most penalized games.
We were just fired up with the boys standing up for each other. -Karlsson
It’s a tricky concept as the hope would be that the emotion is there every night. For Vegas, it just hasn’t, yet that’s not abnormal for any team in a league with 82 regular season games.
The question becomes how they can make sure to keep that level high moving forward and especially into the postseason when the games really count.
They can’t rely on someone taking a cheap shot or a scrum that leads to 10 players being ejected from the game to help “drag them into the game.” It must come ealier, and more often, if it truly is going to have the impact on the games Cassidy and many of the players believe it does.
For one night, the emotional needle rose to the level it needed to for the Golden Knights to beat one of the best teams in the NHL. Moving forward, they need to make sure it stays there as often as possible.