The Vegas Golden Knights have had a shaky game the last few games. In fact, they’re sliding on a three-game losing streak . They, as well as the fans, are hoping to end that slide with a win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
The Golden Knights faced Chicago once this season, and it resulted in a shoot-out victory. History could repeat itself, or the Golden Knights could get a regular victory perhaps… if they focus on the following areas:
Thomas Reid once wrote, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Many fans would agree that the Golden Knights’ defense has been the weakest link.
The current regular defensemen are Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Jon Merrill, Brayden McNabb, Nick Holden, and Deryk Engelland. Recently, however, Gerard Gallant has been flirting with some change in the defense, specifically with Engelland. He was considered a healthy scratch against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nicolas Hague rejoined the lineup. Against the Detroit Red Wings, Engelland was moved to pair with Holden, and Merrill was a scratch.
The Columbus game resulted in a win, while the Red Wings game was a last-minute loss. This doesn’t mean that scratching Engelland is the solution, or that he’s the hole in our defense. Not by a long shot.
Think about this: the Golden Knights are currently the third most penalized team in the league. The three players with the most penalty minutes are all defensemen: McNabb, Engelland and Hague. Merrill comes in at number five. If the players could find a way to still play defense without getting too many penalties and keeping away from the penalty box, the Golden Knights might be on more stable ground.
The puck-handling by the Golden Knights has gotten a bit dicey. They’re still making decent plays when they have the momentum going, but the giveaways have gotten a bit out of control.
Let’s look at the Capitals game for example. The Capitals were already up one goal on the Golden Knights, and the Knights were in possession. Jonathan Marchessault had the puck, and he was looking to pass it but had some pressure coming at him. He tries to pass to Paul Stastny, but the pass was picked off by the Capitals and resulted in a 2-0 score for them.
Our giveaways have been astronomical lately. There have been a number of turnovers, and a few of those turnovers have turned into goals for our opposing teams. With a little more pass practicing, focus, and some assistance from a blue line that meshes better, this team could become a force to be reckoned with.
Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Hopefully the couple days off between games meant the Golden Knights focused on these issues, and we can mark a W on our tracking sheets on Thursday.