LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The discussion centered on work ethic. Coach Bruce Cassidy said he didn’t see enough of it. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo didn’t necessarily see effort applied efficiently.
No matter how you cut it, Thursday night’s 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings continued the Golden Knights’ miserable stretch in home games. The Knights are 13-13 at T-Mobile Arena, including 2-4 on a homestand that ends Saturday against Washington.
Detroit snapped a 1-1 tie on second-period goals from Dominik Kubalik and Joe Veleno and then held on, ending a three-game skid. Lucas Raymond had a first-period goal for the Wings, the game’s first goal, and Ville Husso was solid, making 33 saves.
The Knights got a goal by William Karlsson with 43 seconds left when they launched a frenzied attack with their netminder on the bench. But no fantastic finish for the announced crowd of 17,911.
“I wouldn’t put it on one thing,” Cassidy said of the loss, the third in a row at home. “Our effort needs to be better in certain areas of the ice. Eventually, we got to it tonight, but I think we’ve had passengers lately. Guys that we rely on need to be better.”
Pietrangelo, who scored at the end of the first period, said his team’s final charge, which included Karlsson’s goal, is the kind of effort that seems to be missing. “I think that’s the desperation we need to have at the start of the game,” the defenseman said. “Down a couple of goals, you’re pressing. But that’s what we need to see from opening puck drop.”
As Pietrangelo sees it, the Knights are working hard but “you got to work the right way … the smart way.” He then mentioned support by players, positioning and working as a unit of five.
“We need to be aggressive … working as a unit of five is what we got to do,” he said.
Wings coach Derek Lalonde, on the other hand, couldn’t have been happier with his team’s play. “Great disciplined game from our guys,” Lalonde said. “Literally, over 60 minutes, we gave them nothing to get going.”
Cassidy noted his team has some key injuries, including captain Mark Stone, the Knights’ heart and soul, and adept puck-moving defenseman Shea Theodore, who has been out with a leg issue since early December.
“We went though injuries a little while ago and we came through it OK. Our effort was good. We had no passengers,” Cassidy said. “… We should be much more competitive. Little disappointed in the guys who aren’t bringing it.”
Which players specifically? Cassidy said reporters know who’s getting the most minutes, who’s getting power-play time. Including center Jack Eichel, who “hasn’t been the same driving force for us that he was at the start of the year,” the coach said. “Expectations aren’t being met from Jack. He needs to be better for us.”
Cassidy also appeared to agree with Pietrangelo on working the right way. He said the appropriate physical element — including winning battles on the wall, holding onto the puck, getting to the front of the net to screen the opposing goalie or getting inside — is missing.
“That’s where the physicality comes into it,” he said.
Cassidy said he accepts some responsibility for not having his group ready to play a complete game. But he also pointed to the players. “Be ready to play, have some awareness and second effort … that’s a bit of a problem there with our start. It’s my job to prepare the team, but at some point it’s on the individual to get their asses ready to play, especially at home here, right? Enough’s enough.”