Golden Knights at Avalanche Preview: Vegas returns to Colorado in search of victory

Tonight’s game, the first regular season meeting between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche since they faced each other in a six-game playoff series, was a clash worthy of being circled on the calendars ahead of the season.

This is no longer really the case.

The Knights are fourth from the bottom of the NHL standings after a 1-4-0 record early in the season.

This is not exactly what was planned for the 2021-22 campaign.

But “you know what” is happening, and the Knights struggle to overcome the adversity at the start.

As a reminder, the Golden Knights are deprived of Mark Stone (IR), Max Pacioretty (LTIR), Alex Tuch (LTIR), Alec Martinez, Zach Whitecloud (IR) and Nolan Patrick, who was eliminated late Sunday and remains on the day the day. -day with an injury to the upper body.

William Carrier, Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden also missed time with injuries, and Mattias Janmark missed three games in the COVID protocol.

In five games, it’s 24 lost men’s games. With several key players in the long term, that number will continue to increase.

That’s certainly a concern for the Knights, who have lost four straight games after beating the Seattle Kraken at the start of the season.

The most recent was a 2-0 loss Sunday night to the Islanders, concluding a winless home game in which Vegas scored four combined goals and was outdone 10-4.

It is difficult to win games without an offense.

The Knights put on a better performance on Sunday, but came up against a fiery goalie in Ilya Sorokin, who made 42 saves, including a few critical saves on Keegan Kolesar.

But while the Knights may have their chances, they are also overworked. In the last two games, the Knights have been beaten by skating teams in the second half of a straight game (and the third game in four nights). Given Vegas’ hand shortage, there can be no decline in the effort department.

The Knights have turned to other players in the wake of the injury debacle, but no one has really stepped up and taken the reins. The Misfits Line have scored one goal in three games since Stone and Pacioretty got injured. Evgenii Dadonov has yet to score a goal as Golden Knight. Alex Pietrangelo has zero points this season.

Coaches also don’t make the necessary adjustments.

This is the first time since Pete DeBoer’s tenure in Vegas that the team has lost four games in a row. The last time this happened (despite different circumstances) the coach paid the price. This time, the fault is on the injuries.

While this is valid, it is not just about injuries.

The games were close and the Knights had a chance to win in the third period, but Vegas has several glaring flaws in its game, and the same issues resurface night after night.

Robin Lehner had a solid game against the Islanders, but his rebound control led to a winning streak just over two minutes into the first period. Vegas wouldn’t have stayed in the game without Lehner, and he made many fantastic saves to keep a goal deficit for much of the game.

The last time he played in Colorado, however, he was rocked. He allowed seven goals in Game 1 in a disastrous overall effort for the Knights.

He and the team will have to play a very disciplined game tonight.

He can’t leave juicy bounces. This Avalanche team is far too talented to have a second chance.

Likewise, the Knights must stop returning the puck. Colorado has a lot of talent and arguably the best line in hockey; neutral zone reversals against escape speed could have devastating results.

Each player must be part of the solution. This can include a new face, as the Knights recalled Kaedan Korczak of the Henderson Silver Knights; if he makes his NHL debut tonight, he will be the ninth defenseman Vegas has used in six games.

Daniil Miromanov made his NHL debut the other night against the Islanders, recording two shots and one block in 13:55; he also helped prevent a goal with a key lift.

Although the Knights lag the Oilers by eight points in the Pacific Division standings, it’s only been five games. That being said, if the Knights don’t change things, that number will only increase.

The keys to the game

Weather the storm

Colorado is 2-3-0 in five games. After beating Chicago in Game 1 of the season, the Avalanche lost three straight games to the Blues, Capitals and Panthers before returning to the winning column with a shootout victory over Tampa Bay this weekend.

Colorado are eager to start their season and have a little extra to play tonight after losing four straight games to Vegas in the playoffs. The Avs have underperformed so far but will be motivated tonight.

Knights must resist the initial push. If the Knights let their guard down, Colorado could get away sooner.

Stick to the structure

Given the rampant injuries in the Vegas roster, the Knights won’t be able to get away with a run-and-gun battle against the quick and skilled Avalanche. The chances of trading at high speed can be problematic for most teams facing the Avalanche, but it could be especially costly for an exhausted Knights roster.

The Knights should be looking to play a more structured game to try and contain Colorado’s top-flight offense and keep the game at a manageable pace.

This will be especially important given that Vegas is bleeding high danger chances. In fact, the Knights allowed 11 high-risk chances in the first period alone on Sunday, and that continues to be a problem game after game.

Vegas improved things against Edmonton (5v5), but it was a throwback to old ways against the Isles. The Knights gave up the most dangerous odds against at 5-5 (14.51 for 60) and are second in high risk goals against (2.38 for 60).

Cleaning things up in the defensive zone has to be a top priority in Vegas’ game plan tonight, especially since there has been no goal support to lean on.

Power through

The situation of the special teams is a fiasco.

The Knights are 0 for 11 on the power play to start the season. Vegas are the only scoreless team on the power play; every other team has at least two.

The Knights are 0 for 28 since last season.

It is inexcusable. This has been a problem – with and without Stone and Pacioretty – for far too long. Having a full training camp and adding players like Dadonov and Patrick in the offseason was supposed to fix that; He does not have.

Vegas’ penalty has also fallen short this season. He’s running at 76.9%, good for the 23rd in the league. The sample size is small (Vegas was shorthanded 13 times), but the penalty kill was a source of momentum for the Golden Knights. The dominance of last season did not continue. Not yet, at least.

At this point, the battle of the special teams has been a lost cause every night. This must change. This should be one area of ​​the game that helps Vegas make up for the holes up front; after all, having an extra person on the ice is supposed to be beneficial. But Vegas makes the concept of human advantage ambiguous at best, and it’s not a winning formula.


How to watch

Time: 5 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM

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