Scoring droughts are the worst. It’s the most frustrating thing a player or a team can go through and the Golden Knights are mired in a pretty difficult one right now. Vegas has been shutout in three of the last six games and have scored more than two goals in just three of the last nine games.
It’s especially challenging for this version of the Golden Knights for multiple reasons. First, because they know they just went through nearly a full 82-game stretch from the All Star break to the first month of this season where they never struggled to score for more than a game or two. But second, and more importantly, the scoring chances have been there and they simply haven’t put them in the net.
We showed a lot of the scoring chances on our road trip. We had five road games and we probably had 30 scoring chances, most of those were Grade A’s and we only scored one. Are we going to get down because we’re not scoring or are we going to get excited because we are getting the opportunities and eventually we will score? -Bruce Cassidy
On the practice day before heading off for the three-game road trip starting tonight in Calgary, the Golden Knights focused on skills work rather than their normal system-oriented drills. The idea is that the team needs to work on finishing plays rather than generating them and a few extra touches in practice could be what they need to get their confidence back.
That being said, it’s not just as easy as finishing the chances they get, and the Golden Knights know it. Cassidy has a few theories on what has been going wrong, and one is regarding the start of games.
Maybe it was the first five minutes of the game and we weren’t quite mentally into it. So that’s maybe where we need to change our approach to be a little more drilled down. Get into that uber-focused mode so we can play with some leads and then play to our strength which is using everybody all night. -Cassidy
The other theory, and it’s one that isn’t new to the Golden Knights, is about getting to the front of the goal more often.
Sometimes you have to come back to the basics. For me, when I go through slumps I have to go towards the net and get some goals there. There’s some loose change in front of the net and those goals are a little bit easier than opening up for a one-timer. So it’s on me to be a little more predictable and get to the hard area. -Marchessault
While effort is often a buzzword when a team isn’t scoring, Cassidy believes it’s more about what happens before the puck is on any player’s stick than what they do once they have it.
You can try harder to get to areas to score. Try harder to get to the inside, try harder to fight for a rebound, try harder to be the first on pucks on the forecheck to create the next play. It’s leading up to the process (of finishing) where we can try harder. Try harder to work back for a puck, try harder to be available for an outlet. -Cassidy
The hot start built the Golden Knights enough of a cushion to deal with a stretch just like this. Despite losing six of their last nine games, Vegas still holds a one-point lead in the division. But, that lead is shrinking, and in fact, by points percentage, the Golden Knights are no longer on top of the Pacific.
This swing through Western Canada is as important a stretch as the team has had to face this year. Win a couple and they’ll come home in a perfect place without much pressure at all. Lose them all though, and the pressure will start to ramp up rapidly.