The Golden Knights are just absolutely overwhelming the Avalanche, with Game 4 maybe being their masterpiece. The Golden Knights won Game 4 by a score of 5-1, tying their series vs. the Avalanche at 2-2.
Vegas is on fire, and the Avs have a fire to put out. Let’s dive into a stunning Game 4 in a captivating Second Round series.
Golden Knights dominate Avalanche in Game 4
After the Golden Knights broke through to beat the Avs in Game 3, Jared Bednar fumed about his team’s efforts. That included top players.
“The easy answer is for five periods straight they’ve been far more competitive than we have,” Bednar said after a 3-2 Game 3 loss via Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “To dissect the game any more than that is a waste of time.”
Considering how the Golden Knights ran rampant against the Avalanche in Game 4, should we amend that to seven periods in a row? Eight?
The #Avs top line (Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen) hasn't had a 5-on-5 goal in eight periods of hockey.
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) June 7, 2021
Earlier in this series, the efforts were there for Vegas’ top two lines, but the production was not.
Things might be even more concerning for the Avs, including Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen. (And, by extension, explosive defensemen such as Cale Makar.)
After all, Colorado did get an early lead in this one … from one of the few forwards who are still pretty hot, Brandon Saad.
Marchessault, Vegas take over
Things have definitely been looking up for the Golden Knights’ top two lines.
Most obviously, Jonathan Marchessault is surging from ice-cold (one goal on 33 SOG through Game 2) to red-hot. Marchessault scored a big goal in Game 3, but was just on fire in Game 4, collecting his first career playoff hat trick.
It must be refreshing for Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith to make such a difference vs. such a dangerous opponent. They’re not alone in those efforts, either.
The “other” Vegas top line is looking strong, too. Philipp Grubauer‘s been tough to beat, but Max Pacioretty is the type of sniper who can occasionally make you look more human. The Golden Knights continue to look like a different team with “Patches” back in the lineup.
Beyond those top players delivering, the Golden Knights were just relentless, controlling play for most of Game 4, and generally befuddled the typically-unflappable Avalanche.
Time for some adjustments?
Remember when it didn’t seem like it even mattered if Nazem Kadri will successfully appeal his eight-game suspension? Mysteriously, that topic bubbled back up on Sunday.
Truly, it’s jarring to see Colorado play like this. In general and in Game 4 most of all, the Golden Knights have been making the Avalanche look like … well, a lot like many overmatched opponents vs. the Avs.
It inspires plenty of questions, and presents challenges for Nathan MacKinnon, other top stars, and also Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar.
As Jack Han discussed in an interesting thread, maybe there needs to be structural tweaks to limit rush chances, where Vegas has made a killing?
This is what COL typically uses. Very aggressive, very similar to what VGK is doing with success.
Worked well in the regular season and works well vs. most teams. pic.twitter.com/UAvJqHfJu8
— Jack Han (@JhanHky) June 7, 2021
Hockey fans and media have been buzzing about Golden Knights – Avalanche as a series for quite some time for good reason.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Truly, it’s the sort of battle of heavyweights we don’t always get to enjoy in the upset-laden Stanley Cup Playoffs. What happens if you’re vintage Mike Tyson, but now you face someone who can change your plans by hitting you in the mouth?
Maybe the Avalanche can just shake off Game 4 by getting a clean slate, and a change of scenery, vs. the Golden Knights in Game 5 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN)?
As this series began, it seemed like Colorado might steamroll everyone, Vegas included. Now the tide has turned, as the Avs were outclassed — even before Game 4. Can they adjust and respond? Whatever the answer may be, it sure seems like this series will keep treating hockey fans to great drama and excitement.
AVALANCHE VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (Series tied 2-2) – series livestream link
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Golden Knights 1
Game 2: Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 3: Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2
Game 4: Golden Knights 5, Avalanche 1
Game 5: Tues. June 8: Golden Knights at Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 6: Thurs. June 10: Avalanche at Golden Knights TBD
*Game 7: Sat. June 12: Golden Knights at Avalanche TBD
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.