Golden Knights say it’s a ‘pretty empty feeling’ as season comes to an end

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) plays against the Montreal Canadiens during...
Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) plays against the Montreal Canadiens during Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Las Vegas.((AP Photo/John Locher) | AP)
Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 12:27 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Golden Knights offseason is officially underway after the Montreal Canadiens won the fourth game of the series in overtime of Game 6 3-2 Thursday night. The Habs now punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993.

“When you get to this point, the teams that win get to another level, they don’t sag. We didn’t find another level and they did,” said Golden Knights Head Coach Pete DeBoer. “I thought they were opportunistic, they owned the key moments of the series, when they got a chance they stuck it in the net, when they needed a big save, they got a big save. They won the overtime battles; they won the special teams battles. If you’re losing those areas of the game you’re putting yourself in a tough spot.”

The Golden Knights ended the series losing four of their last five, scoring two goals or less in each game. Special teams were an issue for Vegas who finished the series 0-15 on the powerplay.

“Didn’t play with any confidence, you saw the same thing we did,” said DeBoer. “If we knew what was wrong, we would have fixed it, that’s obviously something that has to get fixed, you need your powerplay this time of year and your penalty kill. special teams are huge, so it was obviously disappointing. We shuffled the deck with people and units. Nothing seemed to take, I don’t have an answer for you, it was a frustrating piece of our game in the playoffs and in a season where big pieces of our game was really good.”

“It just came down to, they did a better job at scoring goals than we did in this series,” said Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith. “The chances were there, but it seemed like every time they got an opportunity or breakaway they put it in the back of the net, and we weren’t able to do the same on our end. No need to point fingers, like Marty said, this is probably the best team that we’re ever going to play on, so as players we just have to be better, and we expect that from each and every one of us.”

The Golden Knights, who scored 20 goals in each of the first two rounds, managed just 13 in their series with Montreal. Only five of the goals were scored by forwards, with just two coming from Vegas’ top-six.

“I can praise them all I want, but ultimately it falls down on myself, the top players on this team,” said Golden Knights Captain Mark Stone. “We had some guys produce night in and night out, but as far as myself and some of our other guys, I got skunked this series. That can’t happen. I’m the captain of this team, the leader on this team. I take a lot of responsibility for what just occurred, but if I can take anything, I’ll have to see what went wrong over the summer. This team has been through a lot of adversity in four seasons, in the Cup Final, been to two conference finals, we’ve had a lot of different heartbreaks. I’m excited to learn from mistakes and try and build this team to a Stanley Cup winner, not just a contender.”

“Pretty empty feeling right now,” said Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner. “Obviously any time you lose in the playoffs, season is over, it’s hard to take in, but I thought we battled hard. I’m really proud of our guy’s season, they all worked really hard and it’s not easy to get to the Stanley Cup Final. We were right there; we have some things that all of us have to be a little better. We were right on the door. Hell of a group, every single one in there. Just have to find a way to stick with it a little bit more.”

“I think this is one of the, if not the best, team I’ve played on and to come up short is obviously really disappointing,” said Golden Knights defenseman, Alec Martinez. “Proud of the way guys battled. This was a great group, obviously came up short, but really proud to be part of this group and play night in and night out with these guys, but obviously very disappointed.”

In four seasons the Golden Knights have reached the final four stage three times, winning the division twice, and played in a Stanley Cup Final. The achievements and resume of the franchise in such a short time has been impressive, but the sting of a second straight Conference Final exit is still tough to swallow.

“I thought we took a step from a year ago when we got to this point,” said DeBoer. “We were better, better during the regular season, better during the playoffs against two really tough teams in Minnesota and Colorado. We just fell off at the wrong time, there is still a door we got to find a way to barge through this time of year and I think everyone has to look in the mirror. Coaches included.”

“I think it’s just getting over that hump; teams go through this, we have to continue to learn and grow this organization,” said Stone. “Four years in, we’ve had success, but going into year five, it’s again, the expectation is to win the Stanley Cup. There is going to be things we have to learn, things we have to adjust to, and we have to grow as a group.”

The NHL Draft and start of free agency is less than a month away. The Golden Knights know changes are coming, but right now there are more questions than answers when figuring out how to take the next step.

“I don’t know, I think everything is on the table, we have to look at everything, what we can do different from a coaching perspective, we have to look at our personnel, I think everything is on the table,” said DeBoer.