The Vegas Golden Knights have had a strong start to the 2020-21 season, winning five out of their first six games. They had a good amount of momentum heading into their first contest with a new division foe, the St. Louis Blues, but the Golden Knights ultimately lost the game 5-4 in a shootout. However, there were some valuable takeaways from the loss.
A New Starting Strategy
The Golden Knights have been able to start games with consistent pressure from their fourth line. This strategy was used throughout the previous season and playoffs to the benefit of Vegas. However, in more recent games, this tactic has not been working. Instead of putting early pressure on the opposing defense, the Vegas fourth line has been getting trapped in their own zone.
It seems as if teams are prepared for the aggressive nature this trio brings and are creating game plans to counteract the likes of Ryan Reaves, William Carrier, and Tomas Nosek. The Golden Knights should try starting their second or third lines instead, as these players possess the same kind of pressure on the forecheck with some more skill to maintain and re-take the puck.
Alex Tuch Deserves More
Alex Tuch is a unique player in part to his size and skill. He is also one of the best and fastest skaters on the Golden Knights. Tuch showcased this ability multiple times throughout the game. For example, on his goal, he was able to pick up the puck in the defensive zone and charge down the right side before releasing a well-placed shot to beat Jordan Binnington. There was also a similar situation later in the game where Tuch was able to use his skating ability and stickhandling skills to give himself another scoring chance.
Tuch is currently fourth on the Vegas roster in scoring and tied for second in goals. However, he is only on the third line so his time on ice is limited. Tuch’s offensive explosion began in the 2020 playoffs where he led the Golden Knights in goals. It seems as if he has continued his momentum into this season. Unfortunately for Tuch, moving up in the lineup may be harder than it seems. The top two lines in Vegas contain elite players and hold their own against the other powerhouses in the league.
Tuch still does make the most out of his opportunities, Even though he is on the third line, he is still on the first power-play unit in a net-front roll. Tuch is still only 24 years old, and his development should be recognized by the Golden Knights. Despite his age and experience, Tuch should be at least in consideration to move up in the depth chart.
Never Out of the Game
The Golden Knights showed a tremendous amount of heart and grit in the abbreviated one-game series against the Blues. For most of the game, Vegas trailed St. Louis by two goals. However, they were able to come back and force overtime thanks to their offensive abilities. The Golden Knights were able to rally behind the play of Max Pacioretty who led the charge with a hat trick. Vegas also outshot their opponent 13-4 in the third period, thus highlighting their never give up attitude.
Overtime also proved to be an area where the Golden Knights dominated. They were able to maintain consistent pressure throughout the extra period and produced multiple high-grade scoring chances. However, the game was ultimately decided in a shootout. The key aspect to take away from this loss is that the Golden Knights are never truly out of a game. They have the ability to come back and, in this case, steal a point.
The Golden Knights were set to take on Blues again on Jan. 28, but a postponement due to COVID-19 has halted the series. Vegas will have to wait to get revenge on one of the new powerhouses in their division. For now, the Golden Knights will focus on getting and remaining healthy before their next scheduled game.
I am a former Jr. A hockey player that is currently attending school at San Diego State University. At SDSU, I study Journalism and Public Relations while also playing on the school’s rugby team. Hockey has been a big part of my life, as I have been playing since I was three years old. Other than hockey, I enjoy watching and playing all kinds of sports.