LAS VEGAS (AP) — One other season that started with expectations of profitable a Stanley Cup concluded with a bitter style for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The shocking Montreal Canadiens, who completed the common season 18th within the NHL with 59 factors, gained the best-of-seven sequence 4-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Closing for an NHL-best thirty fifth time in franchise historical past.
The Golden Knights had been taking part in of their third semifinal in 4 seasons of existence however misplaced in the identical spherical for the second consecutive yr — and in practically the identical style.
“That is in all probability the very best group that we’re ever gonna play on,” Vegas ahead Reilly Smith stated. “Our gamers simply need to be higher and I feel we anticipate that from each one in all us.”
Vegas’ stagnant offense scored simply 9 objectives after profitable the series-opener towards Montreal 4-1. Very like the Dallas Stars did in 2020 within the Edmonton bubble, the Canadiens’ protection smothered a Golden Knights offense that ranked third in the course of the common season with 3.39 objectives per recreation, averaged 3.07 within the first two rounds, then sputtered with 2.16 per contest towards Montreal.
“I can reward all of them I need, however finally it falls down on myself, and the highest gamers on this group,” stated Vegas captain Mark Stone, who completed with no factors and simply seven pictures within the sequence. “We had some guys produce night-in, night-out. However so far as myself, and numerous different guys, I imply I received skunked this sequence, that may’t occur.
“I’m the captain of this group, the chief of this group. Take a whole lot of duty for what simply occurred.”
Stone completed the postseason with simply eight factors (5 objectives, three assists) and went with no level over the ultimate seven video games of the playoffs.
However as coach Peter DeBoer inferred shortly after Thursday’s recreation, Stone isn’t the one one accountable.
Vegas’ forwards accounted for less than 4 of the 13 objectives scored in six video games towards Montreal.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s mishandling of the puck with lower than two minutes left in Recreation 3 with the Golden Knights main 2-1 led to a game-tying aim and the Canadiens finally profitable in extra time.
The facility play, or lack thereof, went 0 for 17 within the sequence, and completed 4 for 43 within the postseason.
“I feel everyone’s received to look within the mirror, clearly coaches included,” DeBoer stated. “I feel every part is on the desk. We gotta take a look at every part. We’ve gotta take a look at what we are able to do completely different from a training perspective, we’ve gotta take a look at our personnel. I feel every part is on the desk.”
Vegas’ offensive drought was not indicative of a roster that was constructed to attain objectives by dominating within the offensive zone. DeBoer could discover himself taking part in with a brand new deck dealt by group President George McPhee and normal supervisor Kelly McCrimmon in the event that they determine to buy any of their prime 9 forwards and presumably enter the Jack Eichel sweepstakes.
Vegas’ energy play was dangerous in the course of the common season, rating twenty second with a 17.8% conversion price. It was abysmal within the postseason, rating final at 9.3%. It needs to be one of many first issues DeBoer addresses within the offseason.
Final summer time’s failed try to maneuver Fleury and his $7 million-per-year contract turned out to be a very good factor, because the 36-year-old turned in a Vezina Trophy-worthy season. However transferring ahead, with a youthful and succesful Robin Lehner seemingly in place to take over, Fleury’s wage may assist strengthen the Golden Knights’ middle depth, one thing they confirmed a necessity for down the stretch.
Cody Glass, the first-ever draft choice in Golden Knights franchise historical past, performed in a single recreation in the course of the postseason after showing in 27 in the course of the common season. Glass was taken sixth general within the 2017 draft, seven choices larger than Nick Suzuki, whom Vegas took thirteenth and who was a part of the deal that introduced Max Pacioretty in and who shined for the Canadiens within the semifinals. However Glass didn’t look like a part of DeBoer’s system and is also packaged right into a deal to land a extra established middle.
Defenseman Alec Martinez and forwards Tomas Nosek and Mattias Janmark are unrestricted free brokers. The Golden Knights acquired Janmark in a commerce this yr. Martinez would be the difficult possibility, contemplating different groups will doubtless goal him with engaging affords, whereas Nosek and Janmark may very well be skating elsewhere subsequent season.