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Vegas Golden Knights 2021-2022 Preseason Progress Report

Three games into the 2021-2022 preseason, and the Vegas Golden Knights still appear to be rubbing off the rust. However, that is the purpose of these preseason games, it should only become a major concern if the same issues persist.

There have been positives and negatives to how the Golden Knights have performed halfway through the preseason.  The most notable positive aspect being Nolan Patrick improving Vegas’ powerplay.  Whereas the most notable negative aspect being the team’s overall sloppiness especially while passing. But these are issues that are not likely to persist through to the regular season.

The positive

These preseason games are an opportunity for many players within the organization to earn a roster spot.  The errors they make in these games help them learn for the future and improve on those abilities if they weren’t able to earn a spot for the upcoming season.

During last postseason, Vegas’ powerplay was about as bad as it could have been. It likely would have been more difficult to make it worse than it would be to improve it.  Despite this, many still had doubts about whether it would improve.

Though the power play still looks unrefined and sloppy, there have been some slight improvements.  Nolan Patrick is almost a necessity for the Golden Knights’ powerplay this season.  From just the small sample size so far, he has shown to have good instincts in front of and behind the net. He has good vision and makes smart plays while in the trapezoid.  There was an instance in game one of the preseason that he displayed this.  During a powerplay, Patrick from the side of the net, sent a pass to the slot immediately after receiving the puck. Had Dadonov not hit the post on this play, the game could have possibly tilted in Vegas’ favor.  Regardless, Patrick’s contribution to the play had helped set up a prime scoring opportunity.  Which is always a positive, especially while on the man advantage.

During another powerplay that same game, he played a critical role in Max Pacioretty’s goal.  He was being a nuisance in front of the net after having received a pass, and during the ensuing chaos of him in front, the puck squirted out to Pacioretty who did not miss.  As a reward, scorekeepers gave Patrick the primary assist.

These are just a few examples of how Patrick has the potential to improve the Golden Knights’ power play  this season.

The negative

Over the course of the first three games of the preseason, there have been a handful of problems for the Vegas Golden Knights.  There have been several instances so far, in which the team has missed out on scoring opportunities due to poor passing.  When in the offensive zone, the Knights have often found themselves turning over the puck due to an errant pass or poor pass selection.

This could be attributed to less seasoned players, making “rookie mistakes”.  For instance, Peyton Krebs in game one of the preseason made a mistake that led directly to a goal. The mistake being; after getting put under pressure in his own zone, he made an errant pass to the slot that was intercepted.

It is understandable for prospects such as Krebs to be making these kinds of mistakes. As he gets more comfortable in the NHL, these mistakes will begin to disappear from his game. For experienced players, errors such as this need to be avoided, especially before the start of the regular season.  And there were several instances of experienced players during the past three games making similar errors.

Reality of the preseason

Realistically, the preseason is not an accurate gauge of how the regular season is going to go.  Its purpose is to be a way for players to get back to game shape/mentality. These preseason games also help coaches identify a player’s struggles without the pressure of trying to figure them out during the regular season.

Players understand this, and the ones that are already guaranteed a spot on the roster are likely, not going to take the games as seriously as those trying to make the team.  The inconsistency in the effort is likely the reason why there are several mistakes taking place that normally wouldn’t be.

While the preseason is a valuable tool to players and coaches, it is by no means indicative of how the regular season is going to play out.

Featured image courtesy of the NHL

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