The Vegas Golden Knights lost 5-3 against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night, giving them a four-game losing streak. The Knights have been up and down all season, but have really struggled recently as they have lost six of their last seven games.
There are many reasons people have suggested as to why the Knights are having are hard time maintaining leads this season: lack of passion, poor work ethic, sickness, weak defense, sloppy play without culpability, underperforming players, etc.
While these are all probably right, I wanted to find out exactly why we lost against the Blackhawks when the VGK came out so strong at first. After watching the game in person and then going back to watch the tapes, here’s what I discovered:
The whole team is really to blame for this loss, but defensive failures were a big reason. The Blackhawks had several 2-on-1s last night offensively that lead to goals or solid scoring chances. One reason for this was that our defensemen were too busy trying to score (“playing” forwards) to be able to get back and defend turnovers. And since the Hawks were on their game last night and took advantage of lots of sloppy passes or missed shots, they were able to make the rush.
I’m not saying defensemen shouldn’t take advantage of a chance to take the puck up, but after they’ve lost the puck, they need to get back on D fast.
Note: In this last goal, Shea Theodore makes the mistake (again) of going for the puck instead of playing the pass. He needs to remember to trust the goalie and the poor angle that that the player with the puck had before passing it. Had he focused on the pass, the outcome could have been different. This same play has happened several times with the same outcome when Theodore was defending because he ignores the pass (think final goal in our Stanley Cup run against the Caps). It should be addressed.
Our forwards created a lot of scoring chances throughout the game; they outshot the Hawks 42-26. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford had a great game for sure, but he did give up a lot of rebounds, and that’s where our forwards failed. The Knights weren’t in front of the goal waiting for those rebounds or wraparound passes. It caused a number of missed opportunities.
The lack of communication was an all around problem. Two of the goals against the Knights were a direct result of two players going to the puck or a player at the same time, leaving other players completely unguarded for a pass. This is the team playing as individuals instead of teammates. The Knights don’t have the same team chemistry this season as they did the first year, so communication really needs to be a priority.
Notice the three VGK players in the same spot practically falling over each other in the last video. COMMUNICATION.
- The Vegas Golden Knights only had three minor penalties, which is an improvement from the usual five.
- Alex Tuch played very well and the fans and players were happy to have him back. He even almost had a goal.
- The new line of Tuch, Paul Stastny, and Cody Glass has a lot of potential. I would still put Glass back as center, keep the first two lines the way they usually are, and add another wing.
- Lots of scoring chances. As long as the Knights stay strong offensively, they’re bound to get some “puck luck”.
The Vegas Golden Knights have a chance to end their losing streak on Saturday against the LA Kings at 1 PM PST.
We suspect there may still be some line changes coming, especially with respect to Cody Eakin. Eakin still remains scoreless this season and was seen heading back to the locker room early in the third period of Wednesday’s game. He didn’t return for the remainder of the game and Gallant said he heard that Cody “had a cramp” but would know more the next morning. It will be interesting to see whether he’s in the line up this weekend.
Either way, we support our Knights no matter what and can’t wait to cheer them on for back-to-back games this weekend.