Since January 1st, the Golden Knights were statistically one of the worst teams in the NHL. Over the last four months, Vegas finished in the bottom ten in; Wins, Regulation Wins, Goals For, Goals Per Game, 5-on-5 Shooting Percentage, Losses When Outshooting Opponents, Wins When Outshooting Opponents, Goals Scored in 1st Period, Goals Scored in 2nd Period, Power Play Percentage, Penalties Drawn, Hits, Shootout Win Percentage, and Wins When Trailing First.
Incredibly enough, they only finished a few points behind the final Wild Card spot.
We got to camp and we were never at full health. You’re tired of hearing it, I’m tired of talking about it for as much as we have but clearly it’s the overarching issue that dominated our season. -McCrimmon
The numbers not only show Vegas was a below-average team in the second half of the season but struggled in a myriad of offensive statistics. Leading the way was the Golden Knights’ now notorious inadequate power play. Yet the organization is looking beyond the numbers.
I have great faith in the coaching. I’m not absolving responsibility on us as coaches either. We’re going to look at everything and I think we showed that in what we did during the season. We changed responsibilities, we had different voices, different looks. We’re going to keep looking at this until we get it right and I’m confident we will. -Pete DeBoer
Of course, it was an unfortunate, injury-plaqued season but it’s fair to ask if coach Pete DeBoer and his assistants adjusted enough in the final four months. Did the staff design or tweak enough to help generate more offense in the first 40 minutes of games? Unfortunately, it felt like DeBoer stuck with having “great faith” in what most would consider status quo.
This year’s been even more trying obviously just because we saw the potential of what we thought we were capable of doing. I didn’t feel we ever had the opportunity to really get that and build on that. That’s the frustrating part. That’s hockey. Sometimes those are the cards you’re dealt. -DeBoer
From the period of February 1st to April 1st, Vegas was 25th in scoring per game. The Golden averaged 2.84 goals per game while allowing 2.92 goals per game. It was a forgettable stretch garnering only 25 points in 25 games. Considering the Golden Knights’ are blessed with deep resources, someone in the organization had to foresee the slow descent to postseason exile.
Back to the power play. In plain terms, it failed again under DeBoer and his coaches. Let’s be honest, the lack of creativity and success is on the coaching staff.
VGK PP Since January 1st (Rank)
0.46 PP Goals Per Game (27th)
22 PP Goals Scored (29th)
17.7% PP % (25th)
21 5-on-4 Goals For (28th)
Dating back to the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs Vegas’ power play has been painfully ineffective. Offensive special teams have not only cost them games it may have cost them a series or two. In 19 games against the Wild, Avalanche, and Canadiens, the Golden Knights had the lowest PP% of any postseason team. The Colorado Avalanche had triple the amount of power play goals in nine fewer games. To compare numbers with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored 21 power play goals in 20 games, Vegas got four in 19.
After failing to fix the power play again, it’s quite concerning to hear DeBoer say he has great faith in coaching.
I’d love the opportunity to have a chance to work with a healthy group here and see what we can accomplish. But that’s for other people to decide. At the end of a season, there’s an evaluation of everybody, and decisions are made. You’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution. We’ll see what those results come out as. -DeBoer
DeBoer is considered a detailed coach. However, it felt like a lack of details hurt Vegas at times. Consistently struggling to score on special teams and in the 1st or 2nd periods hints at a lack of adjustment and correction. The harsh reality is that the team failed and DeBoer’s boss never confidently confirmed if the coach would 100% be back for the 2022-23 season. Kelly McCrimmon said in his exit press conference that he would sit down with his coach this week but never tipped his hand.
The disappointing play since January 1st down should be judged by management but then again injuries will eat most of the blame.