weather icon Clear

5 issues facing the Golden Knights for NHL playoff run

Updated February 13, 2019 - 7:23 pm

Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant was clearly agitated with his team after it suffered a franchise record-tying fourth consecutive home loss on Tuesday night.

He appeared even more displeased when he was informed his players had acknowledged his postgame tirade to reporters.

“The players (told you that)?” Gallant asked. “Typical.”

He went on to tell the media the details of the message he delivered were “none of (their) business.”

Gallant’s angst is understandable. The Knights have dropped six out of their last eight games and have daunting matchups with Toronto and Nashville, starting with the Maple Leafs visiting T-Mobile Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday.

On the positive side, the Knights look poised to claim a playoff berth as they sit nine points ahead of fourth-place Vancouver for the last guaranteed spot in the Pacific Division entering play Wednesday night.

But they will have to start cleaning things up if they want to challenge for the Stanley Cup again.

As the Knights try to avoid a fifth straight home loss and mount a playoff run, here are five issues that need to be addressed:

1. Find some ‘jam’ to their game.

The Knights are at their best when they are aggressive on the forecheck and not allowing teams to get comfortable moving the puck back up the ice. Will Carrier and Ryan Reaves are first and second in the league in hits, but it takes a full team effort and several players mentioned after Tuesday’s game and Wednesday’s practice that there’s just not enough players fighting for every inch of the ice. Nate Schmidt called out the team for needing to find more ‘jam.’ Max Pacioretty feels that requires a group mindset and believes the message has been received.

2. Address the third period issues.

The Knights were outscored 13-3 in the third period over their last eight games, including 3-0 in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to Arizona. Despite the slide, the Knights are still outscoring opponents 56-51 in the third period. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury lamented after Tuesday’s loss that the team has struggled to retain that identity. “I feel like that third period used to be our strong one where we finish teams. It’s not happening now, and maybe we have to play well defensively — myself included — to give us a chance to stay in the game.” If Fleury (and other veteran members of the defensive core) are feeling fatigued, this may be the area it is showing up. The 34-year-old has played 50 games already this season, three more than any other goalie in the league.

3. Don’t get comfortable.

The Knights are in a fairly unique situation in terms of the standings right now. As most teams fight and scrap for playoff spots, they sit firmly in the third and final automatic spot in the Pacific Division. The Knights are eight points behind Calgary for second place in the division and nine points back of San Jose. They are also nine points clear of Vancouver, so there isn’t a whole lot of pressure being applied in either direction at the moment.

4. Create havoc

While the Knights have had some games with some impressive shot totals, including Tuesday night when they racked up 43, not all shots are created equal. Gallant reiterated Wednesday how little he cared about the stat. He wants dangerous opportunities, something forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare elaborated on. “I feel like at times we make it a little bit easy on (opposing goaltenders). We’re just going to have to be a little bit more desperate.”

The Knights started this eight-game stretch with back-to-back losses against Minnesota and Nashville in which they outshot their opponents by a combined 80-49 and were outscored 6-3.

5. Keep your hands to yourself

The Knights still have very good numbers on the penalty kill, ranking sixth in the league in that category at 83.1 percent. They have surrendered a power play goal in four straight games, however, while only scoring once on their own power plays in the last five contests. Perhaps even more troubling is the disparity in penalties. Vegas has allowed 14 power play opportunities in the last four games while getting the man-advantage just seven times.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Malcom Subban Day-To-Day, Gallant Talks Golden Knights' Goaltenders - VIDEO
After suffering an undisclosed lower body injury in a loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban was announced as having a day-to-day injury when head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his goaltenders after practice.
Golden Knights lose 4-1 to Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. VGK Goalie Malcolm Subban exited the game early with an injury and is Day-to-day.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant knows Coyotes are "very aggressive" - Video
The Golden Knights will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Thursday with hopes to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Bruins. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is fully aware that the Coyotes are a very aggressive team and knows his guys will have to match that speed.
Golden Knights Feast on Shark - Video
After swimming with (and defeating) the Sharks in their first two games of the season, the entire Vegas Golden Knights team feasted on their fair share of seafood at Zuma Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Golden Knights Greet Fans At Gold Carpet - Video
The Golden Knights walk the gold carpet before puck drop at their season opener against the San Jose Sharks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Hold Private Practice, Lunch for 1 October First Responders - Video
The Golden Knights held a private practice at City National Arena for first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and guests who were affected by the 1 October events. After practice, guests were able to meet the Golden Knights themselves to take pictures and get autographs.
Golden Knights Prepare to Honor Those Affected by 1 October - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams upcoming practice which will honor those affected by the events on October 1, 2017. The team has invited guests including first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and others who were impacted. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon Discusses Roster Updates - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams roster and key injuries ahead of Opening Day (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty on the Golden Edge Podcast - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty joins the Golden Edge podcast to talk about the upcoming season for the Knights, the rivalry with the Sharks and the Pacioretty 67 burger.
Golden Knights Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin Injured in Preseason Loss to Kings
The Golden Knights not only lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, the team also saw Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin head off the ice with injuries. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz give an update on the players injuries as well as discuss what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Preseason Loss to the Kings - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's second loss of the preseason, this time to the LA Kings 3-2. Head coach Gerard Gallant knows his team got off to a sloppy start but was impressed with the final effort.
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves wants to play in the pre-season - VIDEO
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves talks about coming back from an injury and a possible long term deal with the team. September 26, 2019.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gallant speaks on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant speaks after practice on September 26, 2019, on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games.
Golden Knights Suffer First Preseason Loss to Avalanche, 4-1 - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's first preseason loss, after falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz break down what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights React to First Preseason Loss - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant called the first loss of the preseason a "team loss" that was "tough to watch."
Paul Stastny On Playing More Games - Video
Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny talks about preparing for the regular season and playing more games before the season starts.
Golden Knights Nate Schmidt Talks About Seeking Change With PED Testing - Video
The Golden Knights wrap up their practice for the day and Nate Schmidt hoping to see changes to PED testing.
Nate Schmidt On Wanting Change With PED Testing - Video
Nate Schmidt speaks about wanting to see change with PED testing in the NHL.
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens Invade City National Arena for Competition
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant Praises Prospects - Video
A day after the Golden Knights 6-2 preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Gerard Gallant discussed how impressed he is with the prospects, including defensemen Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan.
Golden Knights On First Preseason Win - Video
The Golden Knights talk about their first preseason win including Max Pacioretty's hat trick and putting Malcolm Subban as the goaltender for tonight's game.
Golden Knights Zamboni Lessons 101 - Video
The Golden Knights preseason tips off on Sunday, Sept. 15 and you know what that mean, it's time to roll out the zamboni! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a zamboni operator for the Golden Knights? Golden Edge host Cassie Soto finds out!
Allegiant Unveils Golden Knights Plane - Video
Allegiant air officially unveils its new Golden Knights airbus that will take to the skies soon.
Golden Knights Rookie Camp: 3 Takeaways - Video
Vegas Golden Knights rookies took to the ice on Friday morning for practice at City National Arena. While the rookies mainly participated in drills, it was good to see the prospects get ice time. Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz discuss their three takeaways from the practice.
Golden Knights Host Charity Golf Classic - Video
The Golden Knights held its 2019 Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday at TPC Summerlin. Before teeing off, Golden Knights players Ryan Reaves, Jonathan Marchassault and Alex Tuch said who they thought were the worst and best golfers on their team.
Ryan Reaves performs wedding ceremony
Reverand Reavo makes his debut for one time only at the Chapel of Flowers for a get married by Ryan Reaves contest.
Vegas Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz on the Golden Edge Podcast
Review-Journal reporters Ben Gotz and David Schoen talk with Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz about his experiences with LeBron James, the team's new initiatives, a possible MLS expansion team and more.