It was a tale of two different games for the Vegas Golden Knights as they entered Tuesday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks fresh off of a 5-0 game 1 victory. While it looked like the Knights were the all around better team in game 1, the script was flipped in game 2 and it was in fact the Canucks that looked to be the better all around team as they would cruise to a 5-2 game 2 victory.
As expected, Robin Lehner received the start in net for the Knights in game 2 and it was a performance I’m sure he’d like to forget along with the rest of his team as he allowed 4 goals on 26 shots he faced. Now while we can all sit here and place the blame on the lackluster defense and Lehner not getting enough help and support from his team, the fact of the matter is that Robin Lehner looked to be out of gas. Surprising for a backup goaltender? No not really given that his role is to play in games where the primary goaltender needs a game off to rest. You have to start wondering about a goaltender change going into game 3 Thursday night after a brutal performance in game 2.
Let’s also not discredit the performance put on by the Vancouver Canucks either. Jacob Markstrom was outstanding in the net for the Canucks saving 38 of the 40 shots he faced. The three players that seemingly stole the show for Vancouver were Tyler Toffoli, Bo Horvat, and Elias Petterson. Toffoli had 1 goal and 2 assists, Horvat had 2 goals, and Petterson also had 1 goal and 2 assists.
Now a lot of people will look at the statsheet and say that Vegas did outshoot and outhit Vancouver significantly and wonder how in the world they lost by 3 goals. The answer to that question? Lack of energy by the Knights from the puck drop. It was clear and almost painfully obvious at times that the Golden Knights looked to be a step slower, a step behind, and not engaged into the game. You can track a lot of different types of stats on a statsheet but one thing that will never show up on one of those is the amount of energy a team plays with. The only glaring advantage the Canucks had over the Knights in game 2 if you were only looking at the statsheet and not any of the actual game is that Vancouver dominated the faceoff circle winning 43 faceoffs to Vegas’s 22.
What needs to improve for the Vegas Golden Knights in game 3? I would look for Marc-Andre Fleury to be back in net as it was very clear in game 2 that Robin Lehner is running on fumes. The other thing that I believe needs to improve for Vegas in game 3 is that they need to come out with a sense of urgency and a much more improved effort all around on defense, offense, and goaltending. There needs to be an increased level of energy from the Knights in game 3 or they could very well be looking at being down 1-2 instead of leading the series 2-1.
You can catch all the action from Game 3 of the Golden Knights vs Canucks on Thursday, August 27 at 6:45PM PST on NBCSN.
By: Matt Raftery