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Knights on Ice — Just One Goal and Not Enough Chaos
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, October 21, 2021


When you only score 1 goal in a game in the NHL these days, you will most likely lose. Combine that with very little chaos and no matter how well your goaltender plays, it will be a disappointing night.

Last night Robin Lehner was the best player for the VGK, but the lack of scoring and the defensive miscues in front of him led to the VGK dropping their second game in a row and 2 of their first 3 games to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 3-1 at T-Mobile before a much smaller crowd than normal. Last night’s attendance was just 17,690, less than we’ve known over the last 4 years.

With a 2-1 game late in the 3rd period, a large number of seats were vacated, especially in the lower bowl. Is the golden egg cracking among the fan base? Losing popular players in the off season didn’t sit well with a portion of the fan base and for the first time in 4 years, there’s some discord.

The salary cap is a monster and it has reared its ugly head in Las Vegas. Getting out of the gate slow so far does nothing to silence the grumbling fans.

Injuries are part of the game, but when your team is constructed in such a manner that your offense is saturated within the top 2 lines, an injury to any of those 6 forwards is problematic, even if your goaltender is playing well. Losing 2/3 of your top line can be insurmountable.

Last season, Mark Stone scored 21 goals and assisted on 40 others. Max Pacioretty had 24 goals and assisted on 27. Alex Tuch had 18 goals and 15 assists. The Vegas Golden Knights were the 2nd-highest-scoring team in the league with 191 goals in 56 games. Only Colorado scored more with 197 goals.

These 3 players were not only missing from last night’s game, but it appears that they might not be seeing the ice anytime soon. Their 63 combined goals accounted for a third of the total scored by the VGK last season. Their 82 assists contributed to 43% of the other goals scored.

It may not get better for a while, as their next 2 games at T-Mobile are against the Edmonton Oilers who may have the best 2 players offensive wise in the league, followed by a defensive team in the NY Islanders who gave Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay a run for their money in a 7-game Conference Final. The Lightning snuck by the Islanders 1-0 in Game 7.

I wish I had more optimistic news for you, but the current situation is tentative at best. Lehner isn’t the problem. Rather, the often-reliable system the VGK are known for is currently in chaos. There is good chaos, which will cause the opposition problems, and there’s bad chaos, which was on full display last night, especially on the game-winning goal scored by Viadimir Tarasenko on a 3-on-0 at the 9:49 mark of the 3rd period. When Alex Pietrangelo turned the puck over to his old team in the neutral zone, 3 St. Louis forwards swooped in on Lehner and there was nothing he could do except hope and pray he got a piece of equipment on the shot from Tarasenko. That didn’t happen; the puck slid under his right pad. St. Louis added an empty-net goal with Lehner on the bench for the extra skater.

This game could have been a blowout early, as St. Louis was ready at the drop of the puck, getting off 7 of the first 9 shots in the first 8 minutes of the game, a majority of them grade-A chances on Lehner. Vegas did stem the tide in the final 12 minutes of the first, getting in their share of chances. Vegas wound up with a 1-0 lead on William Karlsson’s first goal of the season at the 8:17 mark of the first. Ironically, 4 years ago on Oct. 21, 2017, William Karlsson scored his first goal as a VGK against St. Louis at T-Mobile. He’d scored 96 goals as a VGK before last night’s goal, the only one for the VGK.

A few familiar faces were in attendance last night and for the first time since game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, David Perron and James Neal were in T-Mobile at the same time with the other Misfits who are still part of the magical team that Las Vegas fell in love with during the 2017-2018 season.

“He was our best player tonight,” Karlsson said of Lehner. “He gave us a chance to win the game.”

“We just needed to create a bit more chaos, I think,” Lehner said. “But we’ve got to clean up som. I don’t know how many breakaways or 2-on-1s (we allowed). That’s not been [a problem] since I’ve been here. If we clean that up, we can give ourselves a better chance.”

“This is a league where it’s the first team to three usually,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’ve got to find three goals a night, someway, somehow. I know [Karlsson’s] line consistently is going to chip one in for us. Where are we going to find the other two?”

Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez left the game at 7:05 of the third period after crashing into the boards. There was no update on his condition.

“You’re always concerned, especially when a guy like that limps off, because he’s as tough as they come,” DeBoer said. “If he’s limping off and not coming back, you know he’s hurt.”

The VGK had a paltry 13 hits in the entire game. St. Louis had 31. The 4th line of Reaves and Carrier last season would have had 13 hits by themselves.

My 3 Stars of the Game: Vladimir Tarasenko (GWG, plus 11 shot attempts and 7 SOG); Jordon Binnington (42 saves on 43 shots), Robin Lehner (35 saves on 37 shots, including a few breakaways)

The next game is tomorrow at 7 p.m. at T-Mobile vs. Edmonton

Your comments and opinions are welcome here at Las Vegas Advisor or you may contact me directly at [email protected] or on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of Vegas Hockey Guy or on Twitter @TheRealJoePane

One other note: If you’re reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter and would like to access it earlier in the morning before I share it on social media, it’s usually published by 8 a.m. the morning after a game on LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game.

Karlsson’s opening goal

Tarasenko’s GWG

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