Last week before the playoffs started, I had a lot to say about the Vegas Golden Knights. I said they would be swept by the LA Kings. After the Knights swept the Kings last night, here is why I’m still right about this Vegas team being overhyped and overrated. This is by no means a hit piece. I love Vegas, I love the season they had. I think what they do off the ice for the community and fans is awesome…..maybe the pre-game show they put on before the playoffs was a little much, but hey, sports is entertainment. Check it out below if you want to kill 7 minutes of your Wednesday.
Here are my thoughts though. The Knights didn’t impress me as much as the Kings disappointed me. I thought the Knights played a very good playoff series, but didn’t elevate their game to scrape by LA. I say scrape because every game was a toss up. They certainly have speed and were deeper upfront compared to the Kings, but they didn’t overwhelm me with their playoff style. I think what you’re seeing is the very best the Knights can play and they don’t overwhelm me. Neal, Haula, Karl, and Marchessault are all playing great and I love the depth of their roster. But do these guys have an extra gear? They almost remind me of the Rangers. All fast, quick players, solid goal tending and defense, but might be lacking that big punch upfront that you will eventually need. Which is why the Rangers never won a cup. Look at the scores….1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 1-0. 7 goals in 4 games against a wild card team is not going to get the job done. Trust me. I’ve been through this. The low scoring games where you win 2-1 won’t last in the later rounds. Teams are just too good.
Also the Kings seemed slow. They didn’t create any second or third scoring chances, which is how you score in the NHL playoffs. The first shot rarely goes in and the Kings just didn’t have any jump in their play. I guess that’s why they were a wild card coming into the playoffs. I admit to also have a bias for teams like the Kings, Blackhawks, and Penguins. You can’t blame me since they are the only teams that win. But the Kings really need to find some speed, size, and depth upfront if they don’t want to truly turn into the 2017-18 Blackhawks…..Hawks got swept last year, kind of eerie of the similarities if you look at these two teams, but that’s for another blog.
Lastly, this is related to my previous statement that the sweep was more about the Kings being a disappointment and not so much the Knights being great. Watching these four games told me that the Knights don’t have a chance against the Jets, Predators, or Sharks if they can’t elevate their game to match the physicality and speed of the three other western teams. Those teams can skate and play a physical style at the same time. The Sharks have impressed me so much that I can’t exclude them from the talk. Going into the playoffs I didn’t think they were capable of doing a whole lot, but I was right about Kane being a huge factor. He brings a swagger to the Sharks and jolt in the offensive zone. If the Knights want a chance to win the next two rounds, they need to get more physical. Speed is important but you can be worn down and matched with a team like the Jets, my pick to come out of the west. Fear the Beard.
My full first round breakdown and second round preview will come out later obviously, but I needed to address the Vegas sweep. Again, this was never meant to be a hit piece. Just an opinion because everyone seems to love the Knights and I am just not sold. I think they have depth and are team full of gamers. But they don’t have a knockout punch and don’t fit my style that I think is needed to be a Stanley Cup Champion. Time will tell.