The big guns need to start firing for the Vegas Golden Knights.
It is a win-or-go home situation for the Vegas Golden Knights, who will leave The Bubble if they lose Game 5 of the Western Conference Final to the Dallas Stars tonight.
Seen as the favorites to get out of the West, and to win it all by some, the Golden Knights are now standing on the brink of disaster.
And, let’s get it right, if it all ends tonight then it will be a massive disappointment for this organization given the lofty expectations.
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This team is built to win now and the whole reason the front office went against their policy of acquiring rentals after pulling off a stunning deal for Robin Lehner at the Trade Deadline was to help them win this year.
If they lose in five to the Stars then a lot of questions will need to be answered during the off-season.
Including what the hell happened to this offense.
While there will be a few factors behind the downfall should it be completed tonight, Vegas’ inability to score will be the glaring headline.
Built to overpower teams and with enough firepower to sink a small fleet of battleships, this offense is one of the best in the entire National Hockey League.
Boasting a loaded top-six forward unit and with weapons that can contribute lower down the lineup, scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem for this team.
However, the unthinkable has happened and the goals have dried up spectacularly inside The Bubble.
And we can blame it on the disappearance of some of the Golden Knights’ big hitters.
While the Stars are starting to get huge contributions from their franchise players, including Captain Jamie Benn who has two goals and two assists in this series, the Knights aren’t getting anything from their studs.
Just let the below sink in:
- Max Pacioretty has no goals and one assist in his last seven games.
- Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault haven’t lit the lamp since Game 1 against Vancouver, while Smith has no points in this series and Marchessault has just one.
- William Karlsson is scoreless in four of six games and has just three points in his last 10.
- And, finally, Mark Stone has gone scoreless in five of six games and has just two points in his last six outings.
Plus, to add another wrinkle, Stone left Game 4 with an injury and his status is in question for a must-win Game 5 tonight.
But, going back to those above stats and you can understand why the Golden Knights are on the cusp of going home.
If you don’t get offense and if your top stars don’t show up, then you have no chance.
After all, that’s why you pay Mark Stone $9,500,000 a year and Max Pacioretty $7,000,000 a year.
You pay your big guns the big bucks because they are the heartbeat of this team, they are the players that lead the offense and can make something happen.
Instead, in a series where the margins are so razor thin and every goal is critical, Vegas’ top stars have gone into hiding while the big hitters of Dallas are coming out to play.
And that will be the big difference.
Six goals in four games against the Stars and 10 goals in their last seven tells its own sorry story for the Knights, who need to do a better job of generating quality scoring chances in Game 5 tonight.
They need to really test Anton Khudobin, they need to set screens, they need to get traffic to the net and they need to be prepared to score greasy goals.
But, more importantly, the Vegas Golden Knights need their big hitters to step up to the plate and deliver like the superstars they are and were during the regular season.
Otherwise, it will be a long flight back to Vegas on Tuesday.