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Author: Steve Carp Page 1 of 8

Carp: Out Of Sight, Not Out Of Mind

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

The Golden Knights were last seen together last Tuesday in Boston. We’re not going to see them again until Friday in Raleigh.

For some of you, this has been tough, not being able to watch your favorite team, or even attend a practice.

It’s been tougher on coach Peter DeBoer, who had all this time at his disposal but was unable to get his team on the ice for what would’ve been a mini-training camp. The NHL’s CBA doesn’t permit teams to practice during the All-Star Break or during a team’s mandatory mid-season hiatus.

Instead, DeBoer likely spent the time away from the team getting familiar with the way the team operates. He probably has huddled with his staff to go over some of the things he tried to institute in his first three games on the bench after taking over for Gerard Gallant in Ottawa. He got his personal affairs in order and perhaps started looking for a place in Summerlin for he and his family to live.

But it’s going to be a while until things get a sense of normalcy to them or the Knights become whole again. In fact, there’s a good chance we don’t see this team the way it was initially constructed much, if at all, the rest of the season.

Let’s start with this Friday against the Hurricanes. Marc-Andre Fleury will not be in net as he opted to take that game rather than sit out the contest vs. the Bruins for his one-game suspension after opting out of the All-Star Game Saturday. So you’ll see Malcom Subban on the ice at the PNC Arena with either Garret Sparks or Oscar Dansk backing him up.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Then there’s William Karlsson. Will he be ready to go against Carolina Friday? Or is he going to need more time? While Wild Bill tends to his injury, DeBoer has to continue to shuffle things around. He’s had Chandler Stephenson centering for Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault the first three games of Karlsson’s absence from the lineup. Will that continue? Probably, given Paul Stastny’s game has perked up since being reunited with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.

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Carp: Despite His Struggles, Golden Knights Missing Wild Bill

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Seeing Peter DeBoer behind the Golden Knights’ bench Thursday in Ottawa wasn’t the only shock to the system. Not seeing William Karlsson on the ice may have been a bigger shock.

After all, Karlsson had never missed a game in his NHL career. He was the one reliable factor the Knights had, whether it was Gerard Gallant or DeBoer coaching him. We’ve been so accustomed to seeing No. 71 on the top line for the most part that we probably have never given it a second thought.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But Karlsson’s out with an upper-body injury. He’s listed as week-to-week, which in Knight-speak means we might not see Wild Bill for quite a while. And that’s not a good thing in terms of the team’s short-term success.

We all know Karlsson’s been struggling offensively. You need only look at his game log to know he has had a tough season when it comes to putting the puck in the net. He has just 10 goals and last lit the lamp back on Dec. 13 against Dallas. Yet despite his lack of alacrity for scoring goals, his 34 points ranks him fourth overall, behind Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Reilly Smith. He has managed to still contribute offensively despite his goal-scoring struggles.

Chandler Stephenson is doing a serviceable job as Karlsson’s replacement. He’s been a great acquisition for the Knights as he has shown tremendous versatility and an ability to fit in wherever whichever coach, first Gallant, now DeBoer plays him. But Karlsson is an important part of this system and to be without him for any significant length of time is not to Vegas’ advantage.

Let’s start with the fact he is responsible in the defensive end of the ice. He is +4 overall and averages just over 19 minutes of ice time per appearance. He wins battles at both ends of the rink and he’ll block a shot or use his stick to break up a pass.

He has developed into a very good penalty killer. And while the Knights’ overall PK hasn’t been great (they’re tied for 21st in the NHL at 78.9 percent), Karlsson has teamed with Smith to do a nice job.

He’s also been good in the face-off circle this year. In the 49 games he has played to date, Karlsson is winning 51.2 percent of his draws. He has never been above 50 percent in his career. In his first year with the Knights, he was 48 percent. Last year, it dropped to 47 percent. So that’s a marked improvement.

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Carp: Carrier Delivering The Goods

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Right now, there’s not a whole lot of positive things happening with the Golden Knights. A three-game losing streak and a sudden lack of offensive productivity will do that to a team.

But I would like to point out one good thing that may be flying under the radar, that being the play of William Carrier.

When Chandler Stephenson was acquired by the Golden Knights last month, he was referred to as a “Swiss Army Knife” due to his versatility. Carrier may not have as many tools as Stephenson, but he has proven to be a versatile cog in the Knights’ machine.

The 25-year-old left wing has displayed some offensive prowess over the first half of the season and is projecting to having a record year scoring-wise. Carrier has five goals and eight assists so far.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But the number I’m most impressed with? His games played. The Knights have played 48 games to this point. Carrier has been in the lineup for every single one of them. That’s a far cry from his first two seasons in Vegas where injuries forced him to miss significant amounts of time.

His ability to stay in the lineup has been huge. Coach Gerard Gallant is playing him up and down the lineup and wherever Carrier lands, that line seems to perk up, save for Saturday when virtually everyone was a no-show in the 3-0 shutout loss to Columbus.

Every line we put him on seems to be the best line on the team. -Gallant on Jan. 4

Carrier’s still playing his usual physical game, even though his total number of hits are down from a year ago. He’s currently third to Ryan Reaves and Brayden McNabb. He’s still one of, if not the, fastest player on the ice for the Knights. He’s still winning footraces and battles for 50-50 pucks. But he’s being more offensive-minded and his underrated passing skills are starting to gain notice. He had a beautiful backhand pass to Paul Stastny that led to a goal in the 5-4 overtime win over the Blues. His forechecking has helped keep plays alive in the other team’s end and while he may not be garnering assists, Carrier’s value for making plays in the offensive zone should not be overlooked.

That what I used to think of him, seriously. We’ve been with Will for two and a half years but this year he looks more confident. He’s going to the net, he’s carrying the puck and he’s making plays. He’s 25, coming into his own and playing great hockey. … We like what he’s doing, he’s working hard, and he’s got a lot of speed. I don’t think he’s hitting as much as he did in the past but he’s playing great hockey. –Gallant 

The fact he’s involved in fewer collisions no doubt has helped his durability and allowed him to remain in the lineup. Consider his first year with the Knights he was injured twice — in Nashville and at Washington and he appeared in just 37 games. Last year, he got hurt at Anaheim and again against Winnipeg and was limited to 54 games.

Assuming all remains well, he will set a personal high for games played next month when the Knights are in Florida to play the Lightning and the Panthers.

Where does Carrier best fit in? I still like him on the fourth line playing with Reaves and Tomas Nosek. They make things happen and they put pressure on opposing defenses. But from an offensive skillset standpoint, I also like having Carrier play with Stastny, a veteran playmaker who knows how to set up his linemates and provide them with quality scoring chances. They seem to work well together when Gallant pairs them up.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Carrier is still going to take the body, regardless of who he skates with. He’s still going to try and blow by defenders using his speed. It’s a question of how much do his offensive numbers rise playing with more skilled offensive players? And is that the right thing for the team?

Saturday, he played with Keegan Kolesar, who was making his NHL debut, and Stastny. Predictably, they didn’t do much.

No one is saying that Carrier is going to make a run at the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. But with 13 points, he’s even with Tuch and ahead of Cody Eakin, Cody Glass, Nosek and Reaves. Yes, the two Codys missed significant amounts of time. But the fact is Carrier is having a very good season and the fact he hasn’t missed a game all year is a victory, both for him and the Knights.

**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**

Carp: Dugan Will Be Worth Waiting For

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Well, that was a crazy 72 hours of hockey, wasn’t it?

Between the Golden Knights win over the Flyers Thursday, the come-from-behind overtime victory over the Blues Saturday, and the Fortress Invitational Friday and Saturday, there was no shortage of memorable moments.

Today, I’m going to focus on the college hockey component.

When the Golden Knights drafted some prep school kid from upstate New York in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, I admit I was mildly intrigued.

The buzz was still palpable from the day before when the Knights took Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom in the first round. So as the next wave ensued, which included Lucas Elvenes, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg and Maxim Zhukov, hearing Jack Dugan’s name called wasn’t setting off any Mark Stone-like celebrations in my mind.

Dugan was already committed to play college hockey at Providence. But he thought it was cool to be drafted by an expansion team, even though he wasn’t quite sure what that meant to his fledgling hockey career.

Would he be an afterthought? Would he be traded? Would he get a legitimate shot to play in the NHL with Vegas?

Friday, there was Dugan, skating in T-Mobile Arena, not with the Knights, but with the Friars, who were facing Army in the Fortress Invitational. He received a warm reception from those who were in the building, perhaps a sneak preview of what could come in March.

He didn’t disappoint, scoring against the Black Knights in a 3-1 win.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Saturday, in storybook fashion, Dugan scored the game-winner in a 3-2 shootout victory for the 16th-ranked Friars over No. 2 Cornell. He also had a beautiful assist earlier in the game.

Now a sophomore, Dugan leads the NCAA in scoring with 37 points (7 goals and 30 assists). The right wing has filled out physically, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 194 pounds. He is well-spoken, confident, and focused on winning games for his school. Yes, he has an eye toward the future. Yes, he’d find it cool to be the recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, which is given each spring to college hockey’s best play, something no one at Providence has ever accomplished. But he’s really looking forward to making Las Vegas his home and having a stall in the Knights’ locker room at the T.

That’s my goal, to play in the NHL. That’s what I’ve been working toward my whole life. -Dugan

Dugan’s got great hands. He’s got a very got shot. He skates well and he’s strong. All of that was on display Friday in Providence’s win over Army. Fittingly, Dugan scored the first goal of the tournament, a power play goal that saw him slot the puck through the goalie’s five-hole.

He was shaken up after taking a hit in the second period but he was back on the ice for his next shift, displaying some of that toughness he prides himself on.

The Knights had several people, led by owner Bill Foley, watch Dugan play. Wil Nichol, the team’s director of player development, keeps the closest tabs on Dugan. And Nichol has been impressed with the way Dugan is coming along.

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Carp: Bill Foley – Las Vegas’ Sports Figure Of The Decade

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

As the decade comes to an end, it got me thinking recently about who was the person who had the biggest impact on sports in Las Vegas in the 20-teens.

I thought about Don Logan, the president of the Aviators who kept baseball going and was able to preside over the construction and opening of the beautiful Las Vegas Ballpark in Downtown Summerlin.

I thought about Mark Davis, who decided to bring his Raiders here from Oakland rather than return to Southern California.

There was Jim Murren of the MGM who built T-Mobile Arena and brought the WNBA to town. There was Brent Lashbrook, who brought professional soccer back to Las Vegas.

I couldn’t ignore Pat Christenson, the president of Las Vegas Events who was able to keep the National Finals Rodeo here and has positioned the city to host NCAA championships in the next decade.

But of the short list of candidates, there really was only one person who belongs at the top:

Bill Foley.

The man responsible for bringing major league professional sports to town and who has made the Golden Knights a worldwide brand in three years is my Las Vegas Sports Figure of the Decade.

When Foley first thought about buying a hockey team in 2014, few, if any of you knew of him. He was living in Florida as chairman of Fidelity National Financial. He had numerous businesses in Montana, California and abroad.

Nobody knew much about Foley. He had been paired with the Maloof brothers by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to investigate the possibility of the league expanding to Las Vegas.

You know the rest of the story.

But Foley is significant for more than just bringing hockey to Southern Nevada. He is responsible for the vision that is the Golden Knights, from the culture to the distinctive logo, to the marketing and the colors and the blueprint for success that he devised and stuck with.

He has hired the right people on both the hockey side and the business side and allowed them to do their jobs. Yes, he is involved but he’s not your typical meddlesome owner. He trusts George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon. He trusts Kerry Bubolz and Brian Killingsworth. He trusts Gerard Gallant.

He has given his players everything they need to succeed and then some. A lot of it never makes it to the public’s eye but ask anyone who has played here and you won’t hear a negative word about Bill Foley.

He also justified Bettman’s faith in him. Remember, the NHL was considering Quebec City along with Las Vegas in 2016. You may also remember Foley asked you to put down deposits for season tickets on a team that didn’t even exist the February before. So there were no guarantees that this would happen.

But Bettman’s instincts proved right. Foley was the person to lead expansion into Las Vegas. And he has delivered virtually every time.

He is a personable chap. He’s friendly. He appreciates and loves the fan base and they love him back. He’s accessible to the media. In short, he’s not your typical billionaire owner.

He’s also a man who gets it. When the horrible events of Oct. 1, 2017 unfolded down the street from T-Mobile Arena, Foley mobilized his organization, pivoted 180 degrees and put on the appropriate pregame ceremony to honor the 58 victims nine days later. That West Point education served him well in that moment. He was a true leader.

He’s also proven to be a decent actor. The team has featured him in a couple of videos and I’m not sure how many NHL owners would be willing to do that. Or any professional sports owner for that matter.

But that’s Foley. He never takes himself too seriously.

What he does take seriously is winning. Any time this team loses, it doesn’t sit well with him. He’s proud of the inaugural season and the run to the Stanley Cup Final. But it still pains him to have seen Alex Ovechkin skate around the T with the Cup.

He’ll always be bitter about the way the team’s season ended in Year Two. No amount of apologies from the league will ever change that.

He will spend money to improve his roster. He will reward his players by paying them well. He gives McPhee and McCrimmon what they need to be successful in terms of hiring staff. That’s what a good owner is supposed to do.

And spend he did. He put his money where his mouth was: a then-record $500 million to join the NHL. And he didn’t even blink in doing so. He had faith in the Las Vegas market and he was rewarded.

And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, look what Seattle is doing as it prepares to join the league as its 32nd team in 2021. It’s as though it used the Foley-VGK playbook in structuring its operations.

So as we head to the Twenties, will the “Cup in Six” prediction made by Foley three years ago come to fruition? Will it take longer? Will it ever happen?

The hockey gods will likely determine that. But one thing I know — with Bill Foley owning this team, I like the Golden Knights’ chances of winning the Cup more than I think they won’t.

With that said, Foley does have some explaining to do on one matter — when’s Ken going to be able to purchase his VGK third jersey? But don’t let that preclude the man we call “The Creator” here in SinBin Land from getting the accolades he so richly deserves. He’s Vegas’ Sports Figure of the Decade, third jersey or not.

**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**

Carp: Well, Well, Look Who’s In First Place

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

As is my morning habit, I check the NHL standings online at NHL.com to see who’s doing what.

Saturday, I clicked on to the “standings” tab, then clicked on to the “division” tab and lo and behold, the Golden Knights were tied for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Knights, Edmonton and Arizona all have 44 points. The Coyotes have a game in hand on the Knights and two on the Oilers and the Knights and Arizona meet at T-Mobile Arena next Saturday. Both teams will be in action on the road Sunday, the Knights at San Jose, the ‘Yotes in Detroit. The likelihood is nothing will change other than both teams will have picked up two points and remain tied at the top.

So how did Vegas get to this lofty spot?

There are several factors involved. Let’s look at them:

The defensive system change

Make no mistake about it. The move a few weeks ago to go from playing man-to-man to zone coverage by the team’s blue line corps has resulted in much better play, both individually and as a group.

Where before the Knights’ D would find themselves chasing opponents all over the ice in their own end and leaving the front of the net exposed, now they let the play come to them. They’re doing a much better job of keeping the front of the net clear to allow the goaltender to see the puck and that’s huge.

They’re also not backing up in their own end and allowing opponents to get Grade-A scoring chances. They’re winning more one-on-one battles and with the forwards doing a better job of coming back and supporting them, the Knights are transitioning out of their own end much better.

Individually, the change has had a profound impact. Deryk Engelland was struggling earlier in the year and even I thought it would be smart to sit him to save him for later in the season. But he has adjusted nicely and now, you can’t get him out of the lineup.

Engelland is skating much better, probably because he’s exerting less energy chasing opponents all over the ice. He’s being more assertive offensively. He has been getting pucks to the net with his wrist shot, something in his repertoire which is underrated, and that’s creating rebound chances for the forwards.

And he’s back to having a little bite to his game. He has been more physical and more ornery, kind of like the Engelland I remember back in his ECHL days with the Wranglers.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Brayden McNabb was also struggling early on, probably in part to not having his regular partner on the ice with him as Nate Schmidt was out with a knee injury. But Schmidt has been back for a while and the duo are in sync once again. Like Engelland, McNabb has benefitted from the system and he has been back to his steady and reliable self.

Nic Hague is starting to figure things out at the NHL level and I like the way he uses his long reach effectively and handles the puck in his own end. He’s making better decisions with the puck and while he still gets caught out of position occasionally, he seems to be working well with Shea Theodore.

The other Nick — Holden — had sat for a while. But since Gerard Gallant recently put him back in the lineup, he has done a solid job. Overall, the D corps has had a renaissance the last several weeks as they’ve figured out how to perform within the tweaks to the system.

Yes, they’ll turn the puck over from time to time, make a bad pinch or simply get beat by a good play by the other side. Overall, though, the defense has played markedly better of late.

The Stephenson trade

As I wrote last week, the acquisition of Chandler Stephenson is looking like a winner for George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon.

Not only is Stephenson fitting in, he’s contributing offensively with three goals and five points since he joined the team on Dec. 2. He’s already exceeded his offensive output with Washington this season prior to the trade (three points).

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Carp: Chandler Stephenson Is Ryan Carpenter 2.0

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

When the Golden Knights traded for Chandler Stephenson earlier this month, my initial reaction was: “O.K.”

I wasn’t overwhelmed by the move nor was I disappointed, given what the Knights gave up to the Washington Capitals to get the fleet forward — a fifth-round draft pick in 2021. What I knew was the team was lacking depth in its bottom-six forwards and Brandon Pirri and Nicolas Roy didn’t seem to be figuring in the team’s plans in the immediate future.

Valentin Zykov? I also didn’t think he was part of the Golden Knights’ future. So snagging Stephenson seemed like a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” kind of move. If it worked out, great. If it didn’t, at some point Cody Eakin would be back and he would reclaim his spot.

But then Cody Glass got hurt against the Rangers on Dec. 8, courtesy of a Brendan Lemieux elbow to the head. He likely has a concussion or symptoms of one and who knows when he’ll be back on the ice? There was no update on Glass’ status or Eakin’s prior to Sunday’s game against Vancouver at T-Mobile Arena.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Suddenly, Stephenson has become a more valuable commodity. The Knights recalled Zykov from the Chicago Wolves and put him on the third line. Stephenson, who has played with virtually everyone so far in his brief stint in Vegas, is centering for Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone on the Knights’ second line and the trio appear to be clicking. Both Stone and Pacioretty have registered points in three straight games while working with Stephenson.

Part of it is when you’re playing with two talented wingers, it forces you to elevate your game. Part of it is Stephenson has his own solid skills — he’s an excellent skater, has a good hockey I.Q. and he has quickly picked up Vegas’ system.

The other part of the equation is he’s an NHL veteran. This is his fifth season in the league and he’s just 25 years old. He understands how to play at this level. He has kept things simple and not tried to overthink the situation, regardless of who he has been paired with by Gerard Gallant.

It’s been good. Obviously when I first came here, meeting a whole new team, that’s something I’d never experienced before. But knowing Schmitty (Nate Schmidt) and Nabber (Brayden McNabb) here obviously helped. With the group that’s here, it’s a very welcoming group. Everybody made me feel at home right away and made me feel like I was part of the team. It was an easy transition. -Stephenson

With his skills and his versatility, Stephenson reminds me of another Golden Knight who was obtained in December and turned out to be an important cog in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final their inaugural season.

Remember when George McPhee plucked Ryan Carpenter off waivers from San Jose? No one thought much of the move at the time. He was a decent player who wasn’t getting much ice time with the Sharks.

Carpenter turned out to be a reliable, versatile player, someone who could play anywhere, kill penalties, be on the ice late in games to help protect a one-goal lead and was good in the locker room and was liked by his teammates.

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Carp: Malcolm Subban Has Won Me Over

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

I’m not going to lie. I didn’t think Malcolm Subban was the Golden Knights’ answer as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup.

I had concerns about his durability. I wasn’t sure if he had the technical side of things down. And I wasn’t convinced he was reliable.

And for the first two years, I think I was right. Subban had shown a propensity for getting hurt. He let in a lot of soft goals. And his record wasn’t the greatest.

But I had to remind myself he’s still only 25. Goalies take longer to develop. And I have never questioned his work ethic or his commitment to his craft.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Still, this is a results-driven business. He knows that. So when Fleury left the team for 10 days to deal with the death of his father in Montreal, here was Subban’s chance to prove to doubters like myself he does indeed deserve to be part of the Golden Knights’ present, and, perhaps more importantly, their future.

Watching him perform the last two weeks, I came away with the vision that Subban is making progress. He is showing a good compete level between the pipes. He is coming up big when he needs to and the soft goals he had been allowing in the past were less frequent.

I also think he was aided by the fact that the guys in front of him are playing better, particularly his defensemen. Nic Hague is developing well and I like the pairing of Hague with Shea Theodore. Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt seem to have recaptured their chemistry playing alongside each other and Deryk Engelland’s game has picked up noticeably the last three weeks.

Perhaps it’s due in part to the changes in philosophy when it comes to defending as the Knights have used more of a zone than a man-to-man coverage in their end. Maybe it’s a confidence thing. But the Knights have allowed just 16 goals in their last six games and Subban has had a hand in that.

He also appeared to be gaining the trust of his coach and his teammates.

Subby’s been terrific. He’s given us a chance every night. -Gerard Gallant

You can see his confidence growing every game. You see the way he moves the puck, the way he’s talking to guys back there. He’s starting to settle in and he’s more comfortable. When you’re playing with confidence, you feel like you can take on the world and he’s been awesome for us. It was an awful circumstance that happened (to Fleury) but he stepped in, took advantage of it and he made some big saves for us. -Nate Schmidt

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Carp: Knights Will Be Tested On Big Apple Road Trip

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

NEW YORK — When the NHL schedule came out last July and the Golden Knights were on the docket for three games in the New York metropolitan area, two things jumped out at me:

One, the Knights were going to have to go to Long Island for the first time when they played the Islanders on Dec. 5 after playing in Brooklyn the first two seasons.

Two, this was a trip I wanted to try and make.

Second things first. I’m here amid the cold, the rain and the snow for the entire week. And yes, the game at Nassau Coliseum Thursday became the toughest of the three, which you couldn’t say was the case back in July.

My initial thought was the Devils game Tuesday in Newark would be the toughest for Vegas. New Jersey had significantly upgraded its roster. It had the No. 1 overall draft pick in Jack Hughes. Hell, the Devs even snagged Nikita Gusev from the Knights and there was a lot of hand-wringing among the SinBinners that Gusev was going to emerge as a superstar in Jersey and replace Filip Forsberg as George McPhee’s biggest gaffe as a hockey executive.

The Rangers? They’re on a youth kick, though veteran center Mika Zibanejad has had some nice games against the Knights. Still, the Knights had won in Madison Square Garden before and they figured to put enough offensive pressure against the Blueshirts’ defense corps and get a couple pucks past Henrik Lundqvist (if he plays), or more likely Alexandar Georgiev. Plus a matchup between the pipes of The King vs. Marc-Andre Fleury, both of who are headed to the Hall of Fame, would be worth the flight to the Big Apple.

As for the Islanders, I thought they would regress after last year’s amazing turnaround, especially losing goalie Robin Lehner, who was nothing short of outstanding. Of the three games, I thought this would be the best chance for the Knights to pick up two points on the trip.

That was my thought process back in July. Obviously, things have unfolded quite a bit differently since to change my mind.

The Devils may be the NHL’s biggest disappointment. The Rangers are inconsistent and despite having a winning record, struggle to finish games.

The Islanders? They figure to be the toughest opponent on the Knights’ three-game roadie which begins Monday at Madison Square Garden with the Rangers and continues Tuesday in Newark against the Devils. And not just because they’re currently the best of the three teams the Knights will face, their building is a bitch to play in.

Mat Barzal, the Isles’ all-star center, said while the team has had success both in Brooklyn and at the Coliseum, he admits the vibe is a little different at the place Islander fans call “Fort Neverlose.”

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Carp: Time To Shake Things Up Again?

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

When Gerard Gallant decided recently that he needed to shake up his lines in order to snap the Golden Knights out of their collective funk during a five-game losing streak, I understood where he was coming from.

Sometimes a change of playing partners gets a player going. Your game becomes more focused out of necessity because your comfort level with your linemates hasn’t been established.

Moving Cody Eakin up to the second line to play with Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone, dropping Paul Stastny down to the third line, playing Max Pacioretty with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith and having Shea Theodore share the blue line with rookie Nic Hague seemed extreme on the surface and you may have thought it smacked of desperation on Gallant’s part.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But the moves did reap some dividends. Eakin woke up from his season-long funk with a couple of goals. Stone also regained his scoring touch briefly. Pacioretty continued his high-level play and seemed to work well with Karlsson.

The Knights opened a four-game homestand with a pair of wins over Calgary and Toronto, though Marc-Andre Fleury needed to bail them out in both wins with spectacular third-period saves to snap the five-game losing streak. They played well enough to beat San Jose but once again came up short in the 3-on-3 overtime, an issue that needs to be addressed sooner than later.

However, there was a common thread to those three games: the Knights played with purpose and with effort and they came away with points on each occasion.

Such was not the case Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

In a game where Vegas needed to bring it, the Knights allowed the Edmonton Oilers to dictate the terms on the ice and it resulted in a 4-2 loss built around a lackluster effort throughout the lineup.

Gallant was none too happy about it afterward and you shouldn’t be happy either. This was a four-point game against the division leader. You were at home. Your crowd was engaged, as always, and this is what happens?

Well it starts with effort. The biggest thing is effort, then the execution works. So, the execution wasn’t there tonight, I agree 100 percent, but it’s got to start with competing and battling and winning those battles and playing to get your nose dirty a little bit. And it’s not all the guys, it’s some guys. We’ve got to get more of a team game. -Gallant

There’s no excuse for being outworked and the players own this L. Even Fleury, as brilliant as he has been of late, let in a soft goal in the first period as he allowed Ethan Bear’s shot from inside the right circle elude him, a shot he saw all the way but simply whiffed on.

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