It was a night to forget in the Twin Cities as the Vegas Golden Knights put up an absolute stinker in a 4-0 blowout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Ugly, lack of hustle, no fight and just not good enough are all words and phrases you can chuck out at the Vegas Golden Knights in the wake of their no-show at the Excel Energy Center on Tuesday.
With the Edmonton Oilers having lost Connor McDavid for a few weeks and the Vancouver Canucks without stud forward Brock Boeser for a handful of games, there was a real opportunity for the Knights to start making up some serious ground in the Pacific Division.
Instead, they put on an absolute choke show and this loss perhaps epitomized Vegas’ season best, blowing hot and cold and lurching from one end of the spectrum to another.
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The woes started early in the first period when Minnesota, playing without Jason Zucker for the first time after trading the forward to the Pittsburgh Penguins, lit the lamp.
Joel Eriksson EK stayed with the play after seeing his initial shot blocked, putting the rebound past Marc-Andre Fleury on the power play.
And the Wild converted on the man advantage again midway through the opening period thanks to Jared Spurgeon, who swept home the puck on the rebound.
Minnesota continued to pile on the misery for the Golden Knights in the middle frame as Kevin Fiala stuffed the puck into the net with the Vegas defense again letting down their netminder.
It was an ugly effort from the Vegas Golden Knights who continue to tread water rather than head in the right direction, and we broke down the game in our own unique way…
William Karlsson – Spoiler alert; this is the only entry in the good segment today.
On what was just a horrible night for the Vegas Golden Knights, they could at least take solace in the fact that they had their franchise center back.
And, not only was he back but William Karlsson was easily the best player on the ice for the Golden Knights.
Having not played since the 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 14 due to a broken finger, Karlsson certainly didn’t suffer from any rust on Tuesday.
He was at the heart of everything good the Knights attempted in the offensive zone, producing a plethora of highlight-reel passes for his teammates.
Just a shame no one could take advantage of that vision.
Karlsson finished with 16:15 minutes of total ice time and his return is a timely one for the Golden Knights.
Effort – One of the first things that should be executed in any of the major sports is effort.
There is no excuse for not working hard but, unfortunately, there was a lack of hustle from the Golden Knights on Tuesday.
They were outfought and out-willed by a Minnesota team who had just traded away one of their better players in forward Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins, seemingly signalling the start of a long rebuild.
However, the Knights couldn’t pounce on their opponents and it was the Wild who looked the more determined and energized of the two teams.
This was a bad one for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Defense – Man, this was a horrible effort from the Vegas blueline.
They left Marc-Andre Fleury out to hang who, despite allowing four goals on 20 shots before being pulled for Malcolm Subban, actually played well.
But Fleury was given no protection with two of the Wild’s goals coming off rebounds, with Minnesota doing a stellar job of crashing hard to the front of the net.
Look at the first goal, too. Joel Eriksson EK had a shot blocked but was allowed to pick up the play without any resistance, firing the puck past a stranded Fleury.
The Minnesota offense was crashing to the net, battling for loose pucks while the Knights were just standing around, content to let their opponent have their own way.
The Penalty Kill – After showing some signs of improvement under Head Coach Peter DeBoer, the PK units came back to earth with an almighty crash on Tuesday.
The Golden Knights allowed three power play goals from five attempts, including two in the first period, and they will all be ugly to watch back on tape.
Joel Eriksson EK was allowed to do whatever he wanted on the first goal, while both Jared Spurgeon and Zach Parise made the Vegas defense look silly by crashing hard to the net with little resistance.
The Golden Knights are currently ranked 22nd on the penalty kill in the NHL (78.0), and they will have to drastically improve on special teams if they are to go on a run down the stretch.