With a crucial victory on the line in Game 5, the Vegas Golden Knights failed to get much going as they suffered an embarrassing 4-1 loss in front of a displeased sellout crowd at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday night.
Through the first forty minutes, the Golden Knights were especially flat as they were completely shut down by the Montreal Canadiens, who now are only one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.
The Golden Knights most dangerous offensive players have taken a lot of criticism throughout this series and for good reason as they have been missing in action. While many hoped that they would show up tonight for this game, the most important of their season so far, it was the same story as the first part of this series, as the Golden Knights couldn’t get anything going offensively.
Bringing Cody Glass into the lineup could be an interesting idea to give the power-play some fresh blood in an attempt to give it some life
Head coach Peter DeBoer even tried shuffling the lines multiple times in this game, desperate to find a combination that might be the answer to solving the Canadiens defense. Nothing he tried worked as it didn’t seem to matter who was on the ice, it was always the Canadiens controlling play.
Now the Golden Knights are in a precarious spot as they must win both of the next two games to stay alive and advance to the Stanley Cup finals. That journey begins on Thursday as they travel back to Montreal where they will face a Canadiens team that will be looking to earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup. Some drastic changes need to be made before then for the Golden Knights who cannot afford a repeat performance similar to the last two games.
“We’re going to Montreal and we have a job to do,” said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo after the game.
The Canadiens have all the momentum at the moment as they have gone on this cinderella run. Will the Golden Knights be able to get back to playing their style of hockey? It starts with a regrouping before their game on Thursday. Luckily for the Golden Knights, they have plenty of veteran voices on the team to help with that process.
Concerning Golden Knights trend developing
Tonight’s game marked the second straight where the Golden Knights were thoroughly outplayed and were clearly the weaker team. That’s not a good trend to have in a series where the Golden Knights will now need to win two straight games, especially considering the fact that they will be on the road for Game 6.
Their issues start and end with their offense and goal-scoring. Even the defensive lapses can, at least partially, be attributed to some of the frustration with what is going on in the offensive zone. Give the Canadiens credit, they have made life very hard for the Golden Knights and have been playing great hockey.
Head coach Peter DeBoer needs to find a way to break the strong defensive structure that the Canadiens have been using to shut the Golden Knights down. They have had no answers and it seems that as this series has gone on, the Canadiens have only gotten better at slowing things down and suffocating the Golden Knights.
Power play woes continue
The Golden Knights power play is going through a very difficult stretch. The unit has been one of the team’s most obvious weaknesses throughout the entire season and it has cost them during these playoffs. When the game gets tighter during the playoffs, power-play goals become a valuable commodity.
DeBoer, who throughout media availability said the Golden Knights didn’t worry about the power play “narrative,” should perhaps look at the numbers. The Golden Knights are just 3-of-13 on the power play in the semifinals and just 4-of-41 throughout the 2021 playoffs. Clearly, it’s a huge problem.
The Golden Knights power-play struggles have been well-documented but despite it being identified as a major point of weakness, not enough has been done to address it. While players such as Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty are gifted offensive players, there’s something about the power-play structure that clearly isn’t working for them.
Mark Stone had a terrible stretch in the second period when he turned the puck over and then failed to get back on defense, eventually watching the puck fly into the back of his net.
Bringing Cody Glass into the lineup could be an interesting idea to give the power-play some fresh blood in an attempt to give it some life. Glass is a creative offensive player that has had some success on the power-play. However, it’s clear that the coaching staff doesn’t fully trust him to play a complete game and his presence would come with some drawbacks. If those would be worth potentially helping the power-play is impossible to say without the evidence.
Golden Knights show signs of frustration for the first time
The Golden Knights have been in some tough situations during these playoffs. They allowed the Minnesota Wild to force a Game 7 in Round 1, an elimination game that the Golden Knights ended up winning. They fell behind 2-0 to the Colorado Avalanche early in Round 2, a series that they ended up winning. They have shown a remarkable ability to fight back during these playoffs, but tonight was the first tough situation they faced where they looked visibly defeated at times.
Mark Stone had a terrible stretch in the second period when he turned the puck over and then failed to get back on defense, eventually watching the puck fly into the back of his net. He has struggled throughout this entire series, he has yet to record a point, and today he showed a few visible signs of frustration.
Even the Golden Knights fans have had enough and are showing their frustration. The crowd booed their home team at the end of the second period. Something that had never happened in the young but flowery existence of the franchise.
“We weren’t playing very well, so maybe we deserved it,” the Golden Knights Brayden McNabb said after the game. “We have great fans, we love our fans. I’m sure they were frustrated, as were we.”
It has been a rough go for many of the Golden Knights so far this series, especially the forwards, so some frustration is expected. However, it was slightly shocking and concerning that while, in other big moments, the Golden Knights looked like they dug deep, tonight they looked like they were caught on their heels.