The Vegas Golden Knights have been one of the NHL’s best teams all season but have recently slipped up in the standings as the Seattle Kraken now controls the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights’ recent rough patch of late has led to a three-game losing streak that can be blamed for losing the top spot.
It hasn’t just been lousy play and unfortunate losses that are to blame, as injuries have been a factor, as Vegas is missing several regulars from its lineup, with captain Mark Stone being the most important. Stone sits second on the team with 38 points (17G and 21A) this season. When a team is dealing with so many injuries, one would expect others to step up, especially your elite stars.
All eyes are on Jack Eichel, who hasn’t been able to pick up the slack after starting the season off on a hot streak. Ever since returning from an 11-game absence of his own on Jan. 6, he just hasn’t been the same effectiveness. Since being activated from the injured reserve after recovering from a lower-body injury, the 26-year-old has just two goals. During the Knights’ three-game skid, he hasn’t found the back of the net and has posted a minus-4 rating.
The subpar performance had left head coach Bruce Cassidy looking for more from his star center.
“Jack just hasn’t been the same driving force for us as he was at the start of the year on both ends of the ice,” Cassidy told reporters after Thursday’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings. “The expectations are not being met by Jack. He needs to be better for us, especially as we’re down a few guys that create offense for us. He needs to be one of the drivers.”
Eichel is in his second season with the Golden Knights after coming over in a blockbuster deal from the Buffalo Sabers in 2021. On the season, the three-time All-Star has 15 goals and 19 assists in 33 games after averaging less than a point per game last season once he returned from a major neck injury.
Vegas returns to the ice on Saturday night as they take on the Washington Capitals and wrap up what’s been a disappointing seven-game homestand. Eichel will have the chance to prove his head coach wrong as they look to get back in the win column.