With the first week of the NHL regular season coming to a close, the Vegas Golden Knights split their only two games. With a close win against the Seattle Kraken, and a pummeling by the LA Kings. Though there have been glimpses of positives for the team, there are several negatives that need to be addressed. As an injury crisis plagues them, Vegas must deal with their on-ice problems as well.
Vegas showed a lot of great things when they played Seattle in their first game. The sequences that led up to their first three goals are great examples of this. The top two lines showed great teamwork and chemistry during both goals. The chemistry of the second line especially is something that continues to impress with every season. Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Rielly Smith complement one another so well on the second line. Though they may not produce a goal every game, they are always dangerous when they are on the ice.
However, there were major problems that were seen in this game. Coming from the team’s overall failure to put in a full 60 minute effort. After taking a three-goal lead, the Knights seemed to feel comfortable. Forgetting that no lead is safe in the NHL, something that they especially should be aware of. This allowed Seattle to score three consecutive goals to tie the game. They were only able to win after Chandler Stephenson scored his controversial game-winning goal with his foot. Though, by NHL’s official rules, it did not qualify as a distinct kicking motion.
A problem that was present in both of Vegas’ first two games was their powerplay. Through two games, Vegas has scored zero powerplay goals in four attempts. A full remodeling of the team’s powerplay approach is necessary. The system they are currently using is not good enough.
The Golden Knights’ second game against the LA Kings was just a poor showing all around. Despite scoring the first goal of the game, the Golden Knights were completely outplayed.
The Kings scored their first goal because of poor defensive coverage.
The Golden Knights were able to see firsthand what a well-executed powerplay looks like during LA’s second goal. Vegas seemed to have forgotten how to penalty kill during this goal as well. With defenders failing to remove opposing players from screening Robin Lehner, leading up to it.
The third goal was just an unfortunate bounce off of a Vegas player.
The fourth goal came off of an odd-man rush caused by Vegas turning over the puck at the edge of the offensive zone.
The fifth goal was on LA’s second powerplay chance. Vegas’ failure to win the defensive zone faceoff and subsequent poor defensive coverage allowed Drew Daughty to score on a slapshot from the point.
LA’s sixth goal was the result of another turnover by Vegas at the edge of the offensive zone.
Vegas then scored a consolation goal late in the third period, making the final score 2-6. Closing out a terrible performance from a team that constantly seems to forget its quality.
An Injury Crisis
Aside from the games themselves, Vegas could potentially have an injury crisis developing. With Mark Stone exiting the game in LA with what appeared a lower-body injury, and Max Pacioretty apparently sustaining an injury later that same game.
Over the weekend it was reported that Pacioretty will be out for approximately six weeks due to injury. News on Stone’s recovery time has yet to be announced since he is still undergoing evaluation. But many suspect Stone will be out for an extended period of time as well. If this ends up being the case, Vegas cannot afford to lose both of the team’s best point producers to injury.
Unless depth players rise to the occasion and make up for Stone and Pacioretty’s absence, the next couple of months could be catastrophic. VGK management was likely thankful for the six-day gap between games two and three. They probably needed as much time as possible to come up with a solution to their major problem. Only time will tell if they have come up with an adequate strategy to compensate for the absence of such vital players.
Overall, the first week of the NHL season has not been kind to the Golden Knights. It was a week that saw an average performance followed by a bad one. It also saw Vegas lose two of its most important players to injury.
As the Golden Knights attempt to combat their new injury crisis, they must also rectify the problems from their game in LA. Vegas can not allow the issues that were present in that game to follow them throughout the remainder of the season. If they fail to address them properly, similar to their powerplay struggles they will continue to persist.
Featured image courtesy of the NHL
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