Heading into Friday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes the Vegas Golden Knights were on a bit of a slump, as they had dropped four of their last five contests. Uncharacteristic to say the least, the Golden Knights only scored six goals combined throughout those five contests and were looking to “get their mojo back” as they took on the fourth-place in the Honda West Division Coyotes on Friday. It’s safe to say they found just what they were looking for. Here are three takeaways from last night’s Golden Knights win.
First Period Outburst
The Golden Knights scored a whopping four goals in last night’s first period thanks to players such as Jonathan Marchessault, William Carrier, Keegan Kolesar and Reilly Smith. The goals came quick and easy in that first period, as the Golden Knights looked like the team that was trouncing opponents at the beginning of the season. Their play was characterized by efficient zone entries and smooth, quick passing that looked to dizzy their Coyote opponents. All in all, their movement of the puck in the opposition’s zone was sublime, and when Vegas is on their “A-Game” offensively, it’s hard to point out another NHL team that’s better than them at putting the puck in the net.
My favourite goal of that first period had to be Kolesar’s dandy steal from behind the net — he then stood idle in front of the net for about a second and then proceeded to rip it top-shelf on unsuspecting Arizona goalie Adin Hill. The reason I like this goal so much is that Kolesar never gave up, even when the Coyotes defenceman essentially muscled him off the puck behind the net and looked to be on his way out the zone. This is the type of gritty play every hockey team needs, especially in the playoffs, and the Golden Knights should count themselves lucky that they are getting it from a rookie.
Sloppy Second and Third Period
Although they had a great first period in last night’s game, that’s about all the Golden Knights had to cheer about, as they got heavily outplayed in the final two periods of the game. If it wasn’t for their first period “goal outburst,” I don’t know if they would have come away with the win.
During the second and third periods, it looked as if the Golden Knights essentially took their foot off the gas and we’re on “auto-pilot.” It heavily reminded me of my hockey playing days and how, on some of the teams I played on, we’d decide to sit back and “chill” after we developed some sort of lead. Let’s just say there was a season where the team I played on didn’t win a single game because of this habit. The Golden Knights had this exact same problem earlier in the season and it seems it’s slowly creeping back into their play.
If you want to compete for a Stanley Cup, you cannot play one great period then coast for the rest of the game. That’s not a recipe for winning hockey’s most coveted prize — that’s a recipe for getting bounced in the first round. Perhaps the Golden Knights need to read the story of the turtle and the hare to fix their game. Remember, the NHL season is a marathon not a sprint and as the turtle said in that children’s story “slow and steady wins the race.”
Some notable key performances on the night came courtesy of Smith and Kolesar. Smith chipped in two goals on the night, one of which was a shorthanded beauty. He now has nine goals on the season to go along with six assists for a combined 15 points. It was great to see him pot home a couple, as he has had an abundance of chances lately that haven’t gone his way. Hopefully he can keep this goal scoring up!
Kolesar also put up a goal, as well as playing hard and intense throughout the whole game. The reason I like him so much is that you always know what he is going to bring to the table for your team — a hard-nosed, gritty approach to the game. His development seems to be getting better as the games go by and Vegas fans should be excited to see him coming into his game.
Onto the Next
The Golden Knights take on the Coyotes once again on Sunday afternoon. Here, they will look to build some sort of winning streak and get back to first place in the Honda West Division. We know you can do it boys, now let’s go do it!
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.