5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Panic — and 5 Reasons You Should

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Panic — and 5 Reasons You Should

It’s early in the season, but there has already been a wave of panic sweeping over unsuspecting Golden Knights fans. At a shaky 2-4, this has been a tumultuous start to say the least. With that said, here are five reasons you should or shouldn’t panic.

5 Reasons To PANIC!

 

 

1: William Karlsson hasn’t scored.

Yep, it’s true — literally everyone’s pick from the mainstream press had Wild Bill pegged as a sure-fire regression, so of course it was going to be true. The Swede was VGK’s leading goal-scorer last year, and continues to Center the team’s #1 scoring line. After six games, the one-year “prove it” contract GM George McPhee managed to negotiate is looking smarter and smarter everyday.

2: The Power Play is at 0% after beginning the year 0-15.

After posting a 21.37% Power Play Efficiency in their inaugural year, the Golden Knights have begun the year tied with Nashville for the worst PP efficiency in the league thus far. In fact, Vegas has been outshot on many of their own power plays.

3: The D looks terrible, and may get even worse

There’s no use sugar coating it — the defense has looked flat-out lost at times this season. Missing a notable lockerroom presence and top-pair defensiveman in Nate Schmidt for another 14 games doesn’t help. To make matters worse, veteran leader Deryk Engelland appeared to have been injured in today’s game against Philadelphia, and coach Gerard Gallant was elusive with his answer on Engelland’s condition; choosing to label him day-to-day. If the injury doesn’t heal up by Tuesday, Gallant could be forced to recall someone he recently sent to the AHL in Jake Bischoff, leading to yet another change-up in the defensive pairings.

4: Cross-crease passes & odd-man giveaways continue to crush Vegas

In last season’s Stanley Cup Finals,Washington exposed the highly aggressive VGK forecheck, and created multiple odd-man rushes and breakaways for it’s many snipers, practically eating VGK’s chances alive. The Golden Knights looked absolutely lost at times, and that was at full-strength and fully healthy. Unfortunately, it appears that the rest of the league has caught on, as we’ve seen many odd-man opportunities by the opposition, leaving Marc-Andre Fleury out to dry. Could this be a signal that the VGK style is overly aggressive?

5: The Injured/Suspended List 

The Vegas Golden Knights entered the season with the aforementioned suspension to Nate Schmidt. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for players in key roles to join Schmidt on the list of players out, as Alex Tuch, Paul Stastny & Cody Eakin have all spent time on the injured list — with Deryk Engelland possibly joining them soon. One more significant injury to a top player could spell another bad stretch of games for the Golden Knights, as it’s already been difficult without those players. Further, the Paul Stastny injury could last a month or more.

 

5 Reasons NOT to Panic!

 

1: William Karlsson took a while to heat up last year, too.

In fact, he didn’t score his first goal until the seventh game of the year. Here’s looking at you, Buffalo.

2: The Golden Knights aren’t the only team with a 0% PP at this point in the season.

Sure, they’re tied with Nashville for the worst in the league at 0-15, but five other teams have started the season with a goose egg — and while that’s not exactly the most comforting statistic, it should serve as notice that the lineup changes and injuries have prevented the Golden Knights from cementing their special teams units. However, the talent level is still such that the 0-15 start is unacceptable. The team’s confidence has remained though, as many solid chances just plain haven’t gone in. Speaking of which …

3: Puck Luck

It sure seems like the Hockey Gods are coming down on Vegas for last year’s fortuitous season, as the Golden Knights haven’t been able to translate their hard-working style into goals like they did last year. Multiple posts have been hit every night, and bounces just haven’t gone their way. While it’s not something to rely on exactly, it’s comforting to know that the sort of luck the team has seen thus far surely won’t continue.

4: The D isn’t the only problem.

Whether it’s easier to stomach than the alternative or not, the short-handed defense isn’t all to blame for the slow start. Yes, there have been times where Jon Merrill relies on blindly poke-checking when caught flat-footed (which also seems to happen at a remarkable rate,) but the unit isn’t all to blame. The team needs to play better as a unit in order to support the defensive side of things.

 5: The teams beating Vegas are good, AND have been well-rested. 

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have been near or at the top of the league for the better part of the last decade. While that isn’t exactly a newsflash, it certainly bears a reminder. The other thing that should absolutely be noted? These were highly talented teams coming into their respective games against Vegas very well-rested. In fact, Washington had five days of rest entering their nationally-televised Stanley Cup Finals rematch with the Golden Knights. The next night, when Vegas faced the Penguins? Pittsburgh also had five days off entering the game. While the performances certainly can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored, it’s definitely worth noting the difference here, in what was right in the middle of the longest road trip of the entire season for the Golden Knights.

So, What Does It All Mean?

Obviously, all is not lost. Marc-Andre Fleury had a spectacular matinee against Philadelphia, in what was easily his best game of the year — no doubt supplying plenty of footage for many a fan’s weekly highlight videos. Yes, the Pacific Division is top-heavy, and losing so much ground this early can spell a premature doom for many teams. However, the team is in excellent hands with Gerard Gallant. While many of the lineup changes can seem random to casual fans, small moves such as substituting Tomas Hyka for Oscar Lindberg have paid off on the ice, if not the stat sheet just yet. The longest road trip of the year is already complete, and the team came out of it 2-3, which is hardly an outright terrible trip.

Unfortunately, much of the team’s shortcomings are magnified, due in part to the franchise’s early success, and because of the notable injuries and suspensions. Surely, the rest of the league was impatiently waiting for the Golden Knights’ luck to run out — and while it may appear to have happened on paper, the actual games have often told a different story. The team now heads into a five-game homestand, where they will head into many of the games with multiple rest days, along with a great chance to make up some ground within the division, with two games coming against Pacific foes. A few days of well-earned rest and some home cooking may be exactly what the Golden Knights need to find their footing in what has been a shaky but well-fought start.

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