It looks like the clock could very well strike midnight on what has been an incredible Cinderella Story. The Vegas Golden Knights came into the league with not much in the way of expectations, but as the season unfolded it became clear that their speed and energy were not to be taken lightly.
Now here they are in the Stanley Cup Final, the only difference? For the first time, the Golden Knights are on the brink of elimination.
While spiteful fans of other teams may smile at the idea of the Golden Knights faithful finally tasting what can be a very painful part of fandom, but it shouldn’t take away from the impressive showing they put out this year. In fact, the last three games against the Washington Capitals (which all in all hasn’t been horrendous) is likely the worst three game stretch the Golden Knights have experienced.
Exhibit A: It is only the fourth time all year that they have experienced a three-game losing streak, regular season and playoffs included.
The only other stretches that the Knights have lost three games consecutively were between October 30-November 2 (they lost to the Islanders, the Rangers, and the Bruins, all on the road, with the three games coming in the span of just four days), November 28-December 2 (they were shutout by Dallas at home before losing to Minnesota and Winnipeg on the road, also in the span of just four days), and February 27-March 2 (which also included a back-to-back set against LA and a loss to Ottawa).
Of those nine games included in Knights’ three-game losing streaks, six games were on the road, six games were part of back-to-back sets, and the goal differential was 2.1 goals.
Exhibit B: They have only had one three-game stretch that has been lower scoring than Games 2, 3, and 4 of the Final.
Over the past three games, the Knights have only managed to get a total of five goals past Braden Holtby. While this may seem like a fairly common amount of goals scored for a slumping team, there has actually only been one three-game stretch in which the Knights have scored less than five goals (wins and losses included).
The stretch came between January 7th and 16th when the Knights beat the New York Rangers 2-1, lost to the Oilers 3-2, and then were shutout by the Presidents Trophy winning Nashville Predators and their Vezina candidate goaltender Pekka Rinne. It’s hard to qualify this as a worse three-game stretch and it included a win, along with the fact they were only outscored 5-4 in total over those three games. They were outscored worse in Game 4 by the Caps (6-4).
Exhibit C: They’ve given up 12 goals over the past three games, which has only happened over a shifting period of five three-game stretches.
What we mean by a shifting period is that a couple of these occasions you could take a game off the front end and add the one off the back end and still have it be over 12 goals. Four of these occurances included the only four times that Vegas gave up seven goals or more in a game.
Overall, giving up goal totals of six, three, and three is not very uncommon, but the Knights are not used to needing so much in the way of goal support.
In the end, this is easily the worst three-game stretch so far for the Knights. Not only is it in the Stanley Cup finals, which just adds to the struggle, but it also has seen them outscored 12-5, which is unprecedented in three game stretches before now.
Vegas will try to right the ship Thursday as the hungry Capitals try to grasp their franchise first Stanley Cup.