It’s the end of Dia De Los Muertos, and it appears the Vegas Golden Knights have been replaced by the bones of their non-hockey playing ancestors.
The positives: Max Lagace finally showed up to a game, and kept the Golden Knights in this one. He made some saves, which should bring some collective team confidence. It also means, unfortunately, that now Lagace is on injury watch. It’s always when the goaltender is at his best that he is struck down on this team.
The second positive: this play by Nate Schmidt.
Credit to Nate Schmidt for creating the turnover. pic.twitter.com/yNoI4SaT56— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) November 3, 2017
Not only does he cause the crucial turnover, he turns it into an assist on the doorstep. He’s the number one star tonight, because of that play and the rest of his night he made defensive stops. He and his defensive partner Luca Sbisa were the only two to end on a positive goal differential of defensemen.
The power play
Brad Hunt and Colin Miller both played more than three-and-a-half minutes of power play time. That’s what you want to see, as they firmly belong on the top power play unit and continue to prove that. They launch shots that can get turned into goals. Which is why Hunt’s scratching against the Rangers made little sense.
But it’s the rest of the power play unit that didn’t show up tonight. Zero of three chances were converted, and the Knights couldn’t seem to keep it in their zone. It was just clear after clear, and if you’re chasing the puck you’re likely not scoring.
When the Golden Knights were set up on the power play, though, it wasn’t as good. Part of it was that it seems like Alex Tuch’s screen wasn’t working. It was hardly noticeable, which is not what you want against Tuukka Rask. The other part may have been a freshly returned Patrice Bergeron, who was not around when the Golden Knights beat the Bruins back in October.
I want to see Shea Theodore on that second unit with Schmidt. I think the two of them can do damage the way Miller and Hunt have, and the man advantage is where Theodore really excels.
Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now
The Golden Knights turned it over 16 times against the Bruins. That’s far too many. They need to relearn the possession game they had at home, because coughing up the puck has led to too many goals on this road trip, and too many crucial goals as well. The game-winning Sean Kuraly goal was a result of a turnover.
The biggest perpetrator was Jonathan Marchessault, who gave up the puck four times. His linemates — Erik Haula and Reilly Smith — had three and two respectively. The line needs less defensive zone shifts and more chances to create offense off the bat.
The Bruins gave up the puck 11 times, but the Golden Knights weren’t able to take advantage like the Bruins were. Yes, Schmidt had that forced turnover off of rookie Jake DeBrusk and yes, that did lead to the goal. But that was it, where there should have been more.
The “fourth line” exceeds
With Marchessault’s line under performing, there is an easy answer of how to fix that. Every time the line of William Carrier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Tomas Nosek was on the ice, they did something good. Whether it’s their consistent defensive play, getting close to scoring, or drawing penalties, each of them brings something special to the plate.
Which is why it makes no sense that they played the least amount of minutes. Yes, that is traditionally the role of the fourth line, but this is one of the most talented fourth lines in the league. Between them, they had just one giveaway and made up for it with two takeaways. Besides defensemen and Smith, Bellemare had the most shorthanded time. I’d like to see his linemates’ time go up.
Why in the hell was Shea Theodore a healthy scratch?
Theodore did amazing things in Chicago. He can do amazing things on the blue line in the future. I’ve said it multiple times for emphasis — he is the Golden Knights’ franchise defenseman.
And yet he was scratched in favor of Deryk Engelland. He of 35 years of age and likely one year before retirement. Yes, I get it, he’s Vegas’ native son, he’s one of the six alternate captains, and he’s a spokesperson for this team. But if you look at his play on the ice over this road trip, he doesn’t bring anything, at least consistently, of value. His turnover led to the game-winner against the New York Rangers. He gave the puck up again tonight.
Could Shea play better in his own zone? Absolutely, he contributed to a goal against the Rangers. But that’s what you get when you put him in the AHL for a month where he’s better than almost every single player and he doesn’t get to play within Gerard Gallant’s system. Why would you take him out of it when he finally does get his chance? And for a guy who’s mistake was way bigger than Theodore’s?
The Golden Knights have been losing anyway. Let Shea make his mistakes while figuring out the system, and you’ll be rewarded with more offense and later on great defense. The Golden Knights need to put him on the ice so he can show them too.