Golden Knights’ Offense Comes Out Flat in Barbashev’s Debut

The Vegas Golden Knights were unable to find their offensive game on Monday night and were shut out by Alexander Georgiev and the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-0 loss. This was the Golden Knights’ second consecutive loss, bringing their record to 35-19-6.

The Golden Knights are now 6-1-2 this month, which is the best record they’ve had in the month of February in franchise history. However, they’ve historically struggled against the Colorado Avalanche, putting together a 9-12-1 all-time record against them since joining the NHL in 2017.

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After starting the last three games for the Golden Knights, Laurent Brossoit is now out of the lineup with a lower-body injury, leaving Adin Hill to jump back into action against an Avalanche team that has really started to pick up steam over the past few weeks.

Adin Hill Vegas Golden Knights
Adin Hill, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Avalanche are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are now riding a six-game winning streak while putting up an average of 4.4 goals per game. Exactly one month ago they were 10 points behind the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division, and are now just one point behind them after beating the Golden Knights.

The biggest factor in their offensive production has been Mikko Rantanen, who scored two goals in this game. This made it five straight games with a goal for the Finnish winger, and tied him for third in the NHL with Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres with 40 goals. He now has a goal in five straight games and has surpassed his previous career-high of 36 which he had last season.

Barbashev Makes Debut for Golden Knights

After being acquired by the Golden Knights in exchange for prospect Zach Dean on Sunday afternoon, Ivan Barbashev joined the team on the road and was immediately slotted into the top forward unit alongside Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault for this game.

Related: Grading the Golden Knights’ Trade for Ivan Barbashev

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In what was a relatively low-event game, there wasn’t a lot to take away from Barbashev’s performance, especially considering the quick transition from being traded to getting into game action. He had 16:40 of ice time at even strength, which was the second-most for Golden Knights forwards behind only Marchessault, and only managed to record one shot on goal.

Ivan Barbashev Vegas Golden Knights
Ivan Barbashev, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Golden Knights’ offense looked out of sync for most of the game despite having a good response to the opening goal they gave up just 14 seconds into the first period. For the short period of time that they dominated the game, they controlled the play behind the Avalanche’s net and outplayed them physically, but still never managed to generate any real dangerous chances.

There was a moment in the second period where Eichel was breaking into the offensive zone and collided with Barbashev hard while crossing the blue line, resulting in a turnover. This was likely a result of some growing pains as Barbashev familiarizes himself with the team’s offensive scheme.

Barbashev was a player I had on my list of trade targets for the Golden Knights earlier this month, and he at least showed that he is capable of playing in the top six without looking entirely out of place. While I don’t think he’ll stay there for the majority of the season, I would imagine that Bruce Cassidy will give him some more opportunities to adjust to the new environment and try and develop some chemistry before making any further decisions.

Final Thoughts

This was a really weird performance from the Golden Knights. Despite not scoring, they still managed to put up 31 shots compared to Colorado’s 34, had eight high-danger chances to Colorado’s seven, and actually had a higher expected goals for (xGF) total than the Avalanche (2.07 to 1.71).

With that being said, not being able to back up the strong performance that Hill had is unacceptable at this point in the season. The Avalanche are undoubtedly a strong team and had the momentum advantage heading into this game, but these are the very games that can prepare them for the playoff environment that they will inevitably have to deal with, and inconsistent scoring cannot be an issue.

The Golden Knights have a tough schedule ahead of them as they will take on some of the toughest teams in the league leading up to the trade deadline in the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils. As they hold on to the top spot in the Pacific Division by just a two-point lead, these games could prove to be pivotal for their seeding in the playoffs, while also being a test to see how well they perform against the league’s best.

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