It is do or die time for the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5.
It is now or never for the Vegas Golden Knights who must beat the Dallas Stars tonight or else face the bitter disappointment of being eliminated from the Western Conference Final in five games.
It is that simple.
There is nothing else to do for the Golden Knights than to win tonight and stay alive, otherwise they face a long off-season full of questions.
It all comes down to this.
A true win-or-go home game for the Golden Knights, who have a lot of flaws to try and iron out prior to Game 5.
Firstly, their offense stinks right now having scored six goals in four games against the Stars and just 10 goals in their last seven games.
None of the Golden Knights’ big hitters are delivering or playing up to their high standards, as we mapped out here, and it doesn’t help that they are coming up against a red hot goalie in Anton Khudobin who has been sensational for the Stars.
However, Vegas has also been their own worst enemy given that they aren’t getting traffic to the net, they aren’t setting up screens in-front of Khudobin and they aren’t getting to the dirty areas.
They also need to do a better job of locating their shots and forcing rebounds down low but, in truth, the Stars have figured out the Golden Knights and they are doing a great job of stifling them to this point.
The Stars are circling the wagons and are collapsing around their own goal, making life incredibly difficult for the Knights.
And, while Vegas Head Coach Pete DeBoer has stressed that his team won’t sway away from the game plan, they will need to come up with something different if they are to stay alive and avoid elimination tonight.
It also doesn’t help that the Stars came close to blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Colorado Avalanche in the Second Round, so they will be keen to put those lessons into practice and avoid a similar scare this time around.
All the pressure, however, will be on the Vegas Golden Knights and they must rediscover what made them an absolute force in the regular season if they are to live to fight another day inside The Bubble.
Vegas will be the home team in Game 5 so will get the last change.
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Vegas Golden Knights 1-3-0
Stone left Game 4 hurt and, even though the forward has gone scoreless in five of six games, he’s exactly the type of player you want on the ice in a win-or-go home situation.
If Stone isn’t available to play then it is likely Chandler Stephenson will be bumped up to a top-six role, or it could be worth a gamble inserting Peyton Krebs into the lineup, something we explored here.
Here’s the Vegas Golden Knights Projected Lineup for Game 5, per nhl.com…
Dallas Stars 3-1-0
Anton Khudobin, who has allowed just three goals on 73 shots (.959 SV%) in his last three games, will get the start in Game 5.
If Hintz can’t go tonight then either one of Justin Dowling or Ty Dellandrea to come into the lineup.
Here is the Dallas Stars Projected Lineup for Game 5, per nhl.com…
Stat of the Day
The 2000 New Jersey Devils are the only team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Conference Final. They went on to beat the Stars in the Stanley Cup Final, by the way.
And, teams are 34-1 when holding a 3-1 series lead since the Conference Final was introduced in 1982.
Vegas Golden Knights Postseason Leaders
Shea Theodore: 18 points (7 G, 11 A)
Mark Stone: 17 points (7G, 10 A)
Reilly Smith: 13 points (4 G, 9 A)
Alex Tuch: 11 points (8 G, 3 A)
William Karlsson: 10 points (4 G, 6 A)
Dallas Stars Postseason Leaders
Miro Heiskanen: 22 points (5 G, 17 A)
Jamie Benn: 17 points (7 G, 10 A)
Denis Gurianov: 15 points (8 G, 7 A)
John Klingberg: 14 points (3 G, 11 A)
Joe Pavelski: 14 points (9 G, 5 A)
Power Play: VGK: 19.1% (10th) – DAL: 25.8% (5th)
Penalty Kill: VGK: 87.9% (5th) – DAL: 82.7% (11th)
Faceoff: VGK: 45.0% (23rd) – DAL: 49.8% (13th)
GF/GP: VGK: 2.89 (8th) – DAL: 2.95 (7th)
GA/GP: VGK: 2.16 (2nd) – DAL: 3.10 (16th)
Let’s do it.
The Golden Knights will get more than one goal and then rely on Robin Lehner to stand on his head and shut the door in order to stay alive and live to fight for another day.
Let’s hope that’s the case.
Puck Drop: 5:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Rogers Place, Edmonton
Radio: FOX Sports 98.9/1340