Everything that could go wrong for the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in Los Angeles did.
Not only were they thoroughly outplayed in every aspect of the game in a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, but their captain Mark Stone left the game in the second period with a leg injury that looked serious, though we’re still waiting for all the details.
Stone is not only the team’s captain but also their best player who is a key piece in the Golden Knights gameplan and crucial to everything they want to do.
With the Golden Knights down 4-1 headed into the third period and morale low due to Stone’s injury, head coach Peter DeBoer let backup goalie Laurent Brossoit play the last 20 minutes. In a moment that characterized how the night went for the Golden Knights, Brossoit failed to stop the first shot he ever saw for his new franchise and the Kings managed to extend their lead.
“This is the worst game we’ve played since I’ve been here,” commented starting goalie Robin Lehner to the media after the game. “We’re going to look at this and fix it. It should be a red flag.”
The entire night was a disaster and the Golden Knights are going to want to forget about this one quickly and move on with their season.
The good news is that they have six days to rest before they play their next game on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues. That time off should help the players rest up some minor injuries as well as allow head coach Peter DeBoer to figure out what caused this brutal performance and work towards fixing it.
Golden Knights captain Mark Stone helped to locker room
While one regular-season loss is nothing in the grand scheme of things, the potential loss of Stone for an extended period of time is daunting for a team that relies so heavily on him. The injury occurred during the second period when Stone stole an errant pass from Kings goalie Cal Petersen and unleashed a shot. He immediately took the weight off of his leg and was helped to the locker room.
Seeing a player leave a game with a non-contact injury is never a good feeling and hopefully, Stone’s injury will turn out to not be as serious as originally feared. Without their captain for the rest of the game, the Golden Knights moved Evgenii Dadonov into his position in the lineup. Dadonov did get a few solid scoring opportunities but he isn’t the same player as Stone, as are very few guys are in this league, and it only made it more obvious how devastating a major injury would be to the Golden Knights.
After the game, DeBoer didn’t have an update on Stone’s status saying, “It was an innocent play and he just locked up.”
Kings stars shine bright, Golden Knights Stars nowhere to be found
Much like the Golden Knights run through last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the biggest difference between the two teams in this game was the play of the big names on either side. The Kings saw their best players have great performances as they made life tough for the Golden Knights. Anze Kopitar finished with a hat trick and a five-point night, Drew Doughty got a goal and three assists for himself, and Dustin Brown opened the floodgates for the Kings as he got the team’s first goal.
On the other side, the big names for the Golden Knights were nowhere to be found after a huge night against the Seattle Kraken in the season opener. While the top line, with Dadonov instead of Stone, did score near the end of the game, it was a garbage-time goal that meant nothing. The original line of Max Pacioretty, Chandler Stephenson, and Stone was on the ice for 8:55 of 5-on-5 ice time. They had a CF% of 20%, had 4 shots compared to 15 against, and had 3 scoring chances compared to 9 against.
“We just need to play better,” said forward Reilly Smith. “It’s just one game but we need to learn from it.”
The Golden Knights cannot afford absences from their best players like they had tonight. Failing to even be competitive against a Kings team that is expected to miss the playoffs is an embarrassment for a franchise that expects to be competing for the Stanley Cup this season.