3. Special Teams
What do we always say?
You can’t win in the NHL unless you execute to a high level on special teams.
The Golden Knights failed to do that in the Western Conference Final and, as a result, they are back home in Vegas as opposed to getting ready to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final.
So, what exactly went wrong?
Well, there is no doubt that the power play was a huge problem for the Golden Knights throughout the Stanley Cup Finals, and it emerged as a huge snafu during the Western Conference Final.
They went a lowly 5/23 in the Second Round against the Vancouver Canucks, and failed to make the necessary adjustments for the 9th ranked penalty kill in the NHL in the WCF.
And it came back to bite Vegas in the butt.
They were even worst on the PP in the Western Conference Final, going an atrocious 3/22 in the series against the Stars.
That included blowing a couple of 5-on-3 opportunities at critical points in games, while the Knights went 0/3 on the man advantage in Game 5 against Dallas, a game they couldn’t afford to lose.
But lose they did and a weak, stagnant power play that couldn’t generate much at all played a huge role in their exit from the postseason.
As did their penalty kill.
Although stellar for much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, ranked sixth in the NHL (85.5%), the penalty killing unit choked in two of the biggest moments in a series-clinching win for the Stars.
They gave up a power play goal in the final minutes of regulation in Game 5 with Joel Kiviranta taking the game to overtime, before allowing Denis Gurianov to score the series-clinching goal on the man advantage in OT after defenseman Zach Whitecloud was sent to the box for Delay of Game.
It was two huge examples of failing to execute at critical points in the game, and an inability to make special teams count really hurt the Golden Knights in this series.