The Vegas Golden Knights are struggling right now. There have absolutely been bright spots through the first four games of the season, but there is no way to avoid the truth. With the injury bug having it’s way with the team at the moment, we are all waiting to see things turn around.
Not a single person is doubting that when the roster is healthy, this team is an absolute top contender in the NHL.
Unfortunately, Friday night’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers was not the switch flip that everyone had been hoping to see. There were bright spots coming from the younger guys of the organization, but it was not enough in a 5-3 loss to the Oilers. Especially in a lackluster performance against a team on their second game of a road back-to-back.
With Oilers head coach Dave Tippett being quoted saying, “You can tell there was fatigue in our group,” you would expect there to be more of a push from the Golden Knights. While they came out strong early on, each period seemed to fizzle as the minutes ticked away.
Nic Roy got the ball rolling in the first period with a tip-in goal 3:34 into the game. While the period was not pretty for Vegas, there was some hope that they would be able to continue some momentum and build on what they had shown in the first frame. As the first period came to a close with a 1-1 tie, with Edmonton’s goal coming from Zach Hyman, the game was still anybody’s to lose.
Once again starting the period off strong, the Golden Knights saw Nolan Patrick find the back of the net for the first time in a Vegas jersey. Unfortunately, the celebration of a lead was short lived as Hyman picked up his second of the night just two and a half minutes later. With Leon Draisaitl picking up his first of the night less than two minutes later, the Oilers had their first lead of the night.
There was something about early period scoring for the home team as Nic Hague also picked up his first of the season just over two minutes into the final 20. There was once again some hope of a victory as the game was tied 3-3 with plenty of time remaining.
Once again, however, the Oilers responded quickly as Zack Kassian reclaimed the lead for Edmonton less than three minutes later. With an empty net goal from Leon Draisaitl for his second of the game, the Oilers secured their fifth straight victory as the Golden Knights slid to three straight losses.
Once again, Vegas fans were treated to another standout performance from 22-year-old defenseman Nic Hague.
Regarding his future in the league, VGK head coach Pete DeBoer said, “Nic has all the tools to be a great NHL defenseman for a long time. He’s big. He’s rangy. He’s got a good skill level. He can move pucks.” Following it all up with, “There’s not a lot to not like about his game.
Persistence of powerplay problems
The Golden Knights need to figure out ways to score while on the man advantage. Through nine power play opportunities this season, Vegas has yet to capitalize on a single one. This has not been a problem through just the first four games of this regular season as it hurt this team throughout last season too. While there will likely be improvement when some of the top performers return from injury, there is still need for the team to show some promise with guys like Pacioretty, Stone, and Martinez out. So far, there has been nothing that has clicked.
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