Last night was the final game on the regular-season schedule for the Vegas Golden Knights, wrapping up their fourth regular season in franchise history. As all NHL teams want to do, Vegas wanted to go into the playoffs with the right momentum. They certainly did so in yesterday’s game. They laid an absolute thrashing on the San Jose Sharks, defeating them by a score of 6-0.
The Sharks looked dejected and out-of-sorts all games long. They really didn’t look like a team that wanted to be there. The Golden Knights just kept giving it to them all game long, and the end result was a 6-0 shutout for Marc-André Fleury and the boys. So, without further ado, let’s analyze three takeaways from this big win last night.
Of the 11 forwards who dressed for Wednesday nights game against the Sharks, only two were left off the scoresheet ( Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone, surprisingly). The performances that stood out the most to me were from bottom-line forwards Nic Roy, Keegan Kolesar, and William Carrier.
Roy enjoyed another solid performance last night, as he garnered an assist and a plus-3 plus/minus rating during his 17:22 time-on-ice. As I said in my previous article, Roy looks dialed in these past couple of games and has been really stepping up for the Golden Knights. He is beginning to showcase that he is not just a defensive talent but an offensive one as well.
Similarly, Kolesar has been having his intense playing style paid off these past couple of months. By no means whatsoever is he considered a scorer, Kolesar, scores his goals by being at the right place at the right time, usually to scoop a puck into the back of the net. That is exactly how he scored his goal yesterday. The young Canadian is the type of player every team needs, especially heading into the playoffs. With Vegas getting that type of play from a rookie, they should consider themselves very lucky.
Finally, the biggest performer on the entire team last night, in my opinion, was Carrier. The Quebec native registered a goal and two assists, good for three points while logging only 13:47 of time-on-ice. We rarely hear about Carrier, so it was nice to see him get the credit he deserved for his performance last night. Even though it’s rare he registers nights like that, let’s hope he translates this play into the playoffs.
On one hand, I have to commend the Golden Knights for being able to garner 44 shots-on-goal last night, which really caused havoc on the Sharks, as for the majority of the game, they were left scrambling. On the other, I have to reprimand Vegas for once again going 0/4 on the power play last night. This means that they are now 1/14 on the power play in their last four contests.
With the amount of offensive weapons on the Golden Knights, they should not be struggling on the man advantage. What seems to be the culprit is a lack of confidence. They have no problem playing 5-on-5, but when it comes to the power play, it looks to me as if they “freeze up” and aren’t sure what the best course of action is. There is a lot of errant passing and trying to make the “perfect play.” As one of my former minor league hockey coaches once told me about being successful on the power play; “Shoot the f***in puck.” If the Golden Knights want to register more power-play goals, get back to the basics, stop trying to make the perfect play, and shoot the puck.
President Trophy Race
With their 6-0 thrashing last night, the Golden Knights put themselves in a good position to win the West and the President’s Trophy. Although, so did their division counterparts, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche registered an identical 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings last night, meaning if they win on Thursday, they take the West and the President’s trophy.
I’ve never said this in my life, but I’m really hoping the Kings win tonight so that Vegas fans can enjoy another chapter of success in their franchise’s short but prolific history. Go Kings Go!
As of right now, we are uncertain of who Vegas will face in the first round of the playoffs. What we do know is it will either be the St. Louis Blues or the Minnesota Wild. Against the Blues, they are 6-1-1 and pretty much dominated most of those contests. When it comes to the Minnesota Wild, the Golden Knights are 3-4-1.
Both teams are solid opponents, with the Wild having given them more trouble out of the two, but I don’t see any reason as to why the Golden Knights wouldn’t come out on top, victorious. Whatever happens, I’m just happy playoff hockey is back.
How do you think the Golden Knights will fare in the NHL playoffs? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael Vidakis is a Montreal native who writes for the Vegas Golden Knights team here at The Hockey Writers. In his spare time, he enjoys the finer things in life such as Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, staring aimlessly outside windows and tangerines.