Why the Vegas Golden Knights Need Alex Pietrangelo Back

Missing one of the best defensemen in the NHL has hurt the Vegas Golden Knights. Why do they need Alex Pietrangelo back?
Vegas Golden Knights v Minnesota Wild
Vegas Golden Knights v Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages

A week ago, life was great for Vegas Golden Knights fans. They passed the Los Angeles Kings for the third spot in the Pacific Division and were shooting up the Western Conference. In fact, they had a 4-1 lead against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. Life was good until...

...Six unanswered goals happened. The Golden Knights missed an opportunity at two easy points, losing the game, 7-4. On Monday, it was the same thing, with the Vegas Golden Knights leading in the first period, 2-0. The Vancouver Canucks scored four of the next five goals, winning the game, 4-3.

What Do Both of These Games Have in Common?

For one, the competition outshot the Vegas Golden Knights in both games. In the Arizona game, the Coyotes outshot the Golden Knights, 14-3, in the first period alone. On Monday, the Vancouver Canucks outshot the Golden Knights, 30-23.

Both games also saw Alex Pietrangelo not in the lineup for the Vegas Golden Knights. The defenseman has held the blue line together for most of the season, also utilizing himself as an offensive weapon. 29 assists this season proves this point.

Why Do the Vegas Golden Knights Need Alex Pietrangelo Back?

One reason why the Vegas Golden Knights need Alex Pietrangelo back is obvious: he's their best defenseman. Not having your star defenseman who plays a 200-foot game will hurt a hockey team. The Golden Knights are no different, with Pietrangelo's presence greatly missed.

One example of this was on Monday night, when the Vancouver Canucks continuously crashed the net in the offensive zone. With the Golden Knights in disarray up front, it gave the Canucks more scoring opportunities.

With Pietrangelo, he knows how to play back and take the puck away. From blocking shots (160 this season) to timely poke checks, he's an excellent defenseman who can change the game.

Who Gets Kicked Out Once Pietrangelo Returns?

When Alex Pietrangelo returns to the Golden Knights lineup, there will be an interesting decision to make. Who gets left out to make way for the Canadian defenseman?

The answer is probably going to be Zach Whitecloud. The native of Brandon, Manitoba, has been absent for most of the NHL season. In fact, his lack of production has led people to believe he'll become a trade target. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen.

However, the Vegas Golden Knights desperately need Alex Pietrangelo back. Yes, an illness isn't too severe, which kept Pietrangelo out recently. However, his absence in the lineup has led to opponents putting offensive fronts on the Golden Knights. If that continues, the Golden Knights will suddenly find themselves on the outside looking in.