Time for some good news. The Vegas Golden Knights can play better. A lot better.
Want some more silver lining? A split is always the goal for a team when they open a best-of-seven series on the road and Vegas is still positioned to accomplish this feat.
Certainly, there were depressing elements from Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks from a VGK fan perspective. Vegas was undisciplined and gave the Sharks five power-play opportunities. The Golden Knights only had 10 shots through two periods and lost the possession battle en route to giving up five goals. The Golden Knights had 12 giveaways and just three takeaways as well as producing only 57 shot attempts.
At the end of the day, the woes of the Golden Knights were self-inflicted. This was more about what Vegas failed to do as a team rather than what the Sharks did to the Golden Knights.
Not to be misconstrued, San Jose was good. Excellent, in fact. But Vegas produced far too little push back. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said after the game, "No one said this was going to be easy."But Vegas did make it easy for the Sharks. They allowed San Jose to set up camp in the offensive zone. They failed to put any pressure on San Jose goalie Martin Jones until late in the game.
So what's the road map for Vegas to win Game 2?
"There's nothing wrong with our game when we compete and work hard," said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant. "They worked harder than us. That can be corrected real quick. They were a hungrier hockey team. That's what really bothered me and our players."
Seems like an over-simplification but it's not. The Sharks had more urgency in their game Wednesday and it make them look fantastic against a Vegas team which was a step behind until the third period. When one team is winning all the races and all the puck battles - the outcome is not only lopsided - it's also predestined.
"The first 40 minutes, they were a lot better than us. They out-competed us," said Gallant. "We have to be more competitive. And play our game. We're not going to change a lot."
Vegas players talked a lot Thursday about placing the puck in better areas on the forecheck and paying attention to the details of the game. But the under-current of everything they said had a foundation in effort.
Play faster? Skate.
Get the forecheck going? Work.
Win puck battles? Compete.
Vegas has faced a number of key junctures this season. Choosing the right path, which will result in the team returning to the style which makes them successful, is easy. Executing, however, is more difficult.
"It's easy as a coach to stand up here and say work, work, work. But there's nothing wrong with our game," said Gallant. "If we have the right work ethic and we support one another - we're a good hockey team."