The Golden Knights have been intrinsically linked the cultural zeitgeist of Las Vegas since their first home game against the Coyotes on October 11th, 2017. Through seemingly divine intervention, they came at a time when the city did not know where to look. After the events of Route 91 music festival shooting, the only glue that held the city together was the “Vegas Strong” campaign that quickly turned into companies making a profit off the unlicensed merchandise. I remember going to that first home game just looking to find an escape. I had no idea what this team would mean to Las Vegas until everyone sang the National Anthem with the victim’s names sprawled across the ice. That began the magical season that almost came to full fruition with a Stanley Cup appearance that fell just short. The next season basically blended together, and we saw perhaps an even better roster than the first season that tragically ended after one of the most egregious sports calls of all time. This season is different. Despite an average attendance of 18,257 people, the initial glamor of a new team has worn off. We are seeing a team that no longer dominates at home with a measly record of 8-6-3. The top paring of Karlsson and Marchessault is not revered as a terrifying duo anymore. Hosts Chris Wynn and JD Sharp took to the radio to discuss the Golden Knights on November 27th, 2019 who were 2-6-2 in their last 10 games at the time.
Chris Wynn noticed a trend when he said,
“When they [the Knights] lose hockey games they just don’t like the lamp, I mean, they don’t lose games you know 5-4 or 6-5. When they lose games they score maybe one or two goals”
This has been a major concern for the Golden Knights this season. Defensive blunders are certainly a real concern for this team, but the scoreless dry spouts take things to another level. Contextually speaking, the Knights have a 0-goal differential as of December 15th. This comes in the wake of a 17-13-5 team. That is a true testament to the amount of blowout losses this team has suffered. On an even more distrusting note, the Knights are first in the league in shots despite being 20th in the league in goals per game. This indicates that the Knights are not viewing time of a possession as a valuable resource. Lazy shot attempts are giving the opposing team odd man rushes that are putting goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban in impossible situations.
“The goalies haven’t done all that great, but they really have done well. They have been letting in a lot of odd man rushes. Guys are getting fine scoring chances at will for the most part.”
How bad have the Golden Knights goalies been this season? Currently, Fleury is 21st in the league with 2.54 goals against (21st in the league) and a 91.9% save percentage. Subban has 2.96 goals against average (40th in the league) and a 90.3% save percentage. Fleury has faced the 15th most shots in the league (663) and has the least amount of games played in comparison to everyone else in the top 15. Both goalies have given up plenty of goals they should not have but overall the blame can not be centered around them. At 20th in the league in save percentage, Fleury has been above average once again for this Golden Knights team. They will need to rely more on Subban, who has been much better as of recent, to get a healthy Fleury going into the playoffs. At the very least, I think Knights fans can put their pitch forks away in an attempt to run Subban out of town. To those who are still on edge over the backup goalie situation, just remember when Maxime Legace (3.92 Goals against and an 86.7 save percentage) was starting.
JD Sharp added,
“One of the guys they picked up last year, Max Pacioretty, he is having a horrendous year actually shooting the puck. He is scoring about 4% of the shots on goals that he takes.”
There were times where it looked liked the ship had sailed on Pacioretty. A 4% scoring percentage is an unacceptable number for someone who shoots at volume he does. Luckily for the Knights, he has picked up his play significantly in December recording at least a point in all but 3 games. Going into Vancouver on December 15th, he also is riding a 3-game scoring streak. His scoring percentage is still a low 9.2% to go along with 13 goals which is 25th in the league. It is a little concerning since he is 3rd in the league in shot attempts but consistent play should elevate him back to the mean.
The verdict is still out on the Golden Knights. A team that has caught its stride in December certainly looks like a playoff team, but should fans expect a run at the Stanley Cup? It is a little early to say but things do not look great as it stands. Want to listen to the full segment? You can find it on the vegastake.com or anywhere you listen to podcasts along with a lot more amazing content.