It has been quite some time since Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy had to answer questions about his team struggling on the ice.
The Knights finished last season with points in 28 of their last 32 games, lost just six times on their run to the Stanley Cup and opened this year on a blistering 11-0-1 tear.
So now what would ordinarily be a barely-noticeableblip on the radar, their current 2-4-1 mark, has raised some eyebrows.
The Knights are 1-2-1 on their current road trip, which started with a visit to the White House on Nov. 13 and wraps up in Dallas with a 6:30 p.m. Wednesday game against the Stars at American Airlines Center.
Cassidy isn’t too concerned.
“We’re generating a lot of offense the last six or seven games, we just haven’t finished,” he said.
The underlying numbers support that assertion.
The Knights are second in the NHL in shot attempts percentage at five-on-five since Nov. 5, according to the website Natural Stat Trick. They also top the league in high-danger chance rate and expected-goals share.
The problem is they aren’t converting enough. The Knights shot 13.5 percent their first 12 games. That success rate has plummeted to 6.7 percent their last seven.
“As a coach, in the big picture you want chances and high-danger chances,” Cassidy said. “They’re going to go in eventually. We have too much skill in the room and history dictates that for us.”
The Knights were able to get in a rare road trip practice in Dallas on Tuesday morning as they seek to end the trip on a high note.
Cassidy wasn’t harping on the struggles finishing around the net. Instead, he spent some time doing battle drills below the goal line after the Knights had some issues in their own end Sunday in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I thought in Pittsburgh, we didn’t close quick enough on plays down low so just a reminder on what our responsibilities are,” Cassidy said.
His nature is to solidify the defense and take better care of the puck first, then let the offense come as it does. The team put up enough goals that a few breakdowns didn’t matter early in the season. The Knights aren’t doing that now.
“Defensively, I think we’ve been in and out,” he said. “We’re still looking for that 60-minute effort. Some of that is directly correlated to our puck management. I like where our game is, but puck management has become an issue for us the last few games and we’ve paid the price for mistakes because we haven’t been able to outscore them.”
This will be the second chance for the Stars, and former Knights coach Pete DeBoer, to avenge last year’s Western Conference Finals loss.
The Knights defeated Dallas 3-2 in a shootout at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 17 after taking last year’s playoff series in six games.
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Who: Golden Knights at Stars
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: KMCC-34, KnightTime+
Radio: KKGK (1340 AM, 98.9 FM)
Line: Stars -130; total 6