Sin City Sin Bin
A look at Vegas’ failed playoff run and their three biggest sinners down the stretch
Viva Loss Vegas!
Sinners #1: Jack Eichel and Mark Stone
To be fair, the Golden Knights’ two biggest offensive threats were injured through much of the 2021-2022 season. For Eichel, he didn’t make his season debut until late February and for Stone, he was injured on and off throughout the season. However, both players were in the lineup down the stretch to help bolster their playoff chances.
Needless to say, neither player was particularly effective. For Eichel, in the most crucial 6-game stretch that ended up determining the playoff fate of the Golden Knights, he put up just one measly assist despite averaging over 20 minutes per game. For Stone, he didn’t fare much better at all and it was clear that he was still hurt. After making his return from injury right in the middle of the playoff drive, Stone only put up 1 assist in 8 games. Two points when your team needs you to drive the offense just wasn’t going to cut it and is a big reason why the Golden Knights failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Sinner #2: Robin Lehner
It’s hard to paint Lehner here as a problem, but his goaltending down the stretch definitely didn’t help the Golden Knights. On the whole, his season was far off his career numbers, but a lot of that underperformance likely had to do with the various injuries he was battling throughout the season.
Lehner finished the season with a 2.83 GAA and a .907 save percentage to go along with just 23 wins. Hardly sparkling numbers for a No. 1 goalie on a very good team. For a No. 1 goalie, Lehner just had to perform better down the stretch, plain and simple. If he believed he was hurting the team while playing injured, he should have notified management earlier and handed the reins over the Logan Thompson.
Instead, he was vilified by the Golden Knights fanbase and thrown under the bus numerous times by his own head coach, Peter DeBoer. All of these factors compounded and is likely why, it appears, that Lehner shut himself down for the remainder of the season. While it’s hard to know if Lehner did this himself or if the Knights’ medical staff shut him down, the mixed messaging between Lehner and DeBoer regarding this is likely evidence that Lehner made this decision on his own.
Sinner #3: Peter DeBoer
The biggest sinner in this Vegas playoff debacle has to be head coach, Peter DeBoer. DeBoer failed to get the best out of his players when it came down to crunch time and that will likely cost him his job at the end of the season. On top of that, DeBoer has had a history in Vegas of calling out his goaltenders, both when Marc-Andre Fleury was in town and now with Robin Lehner.
The communication gap between Lehner and DeBoer is the most glaring sign of a team in disarray. When Robin Lehner said he was shutting it down for the season, DeBoer said he had not heard that and expected Lehner to be at practice the next day. Lehner obviously was not at practice the next day and the Golden Knights were forced to put out a definitive statement a few days later that said Lehner would be out for the remainder of the season.
The fact that the head coach of an NHL hockey team is unable to get on the same page as his players and the organization tells you everything you need to know about how he runs his team and is likely a huge reason why the Golden Knights missed the playoffs this season.