**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.**
It’s rare I get to write live after a Golden Knights game. But when there’s a Sunday late afternoon affair, I try to take advantage of it.
Obviously, the Knights needed to make a 180-degree turnaround from Friday’s God-awful performance against Colorado. I wouldn’t even call it a sub-par effort because to do that, you’d have to have shown some effort, which Vegas did not do.
You knew changes were coming from Gerard Gallant. Nicolas Roy made his VGK debut centering the fourth line with Tomas Nosek moving up to the third line and Brandon Pirri being scratched.
It’s more about Gallant sending a message rather than the actual moves themselves, though the moves definitely paid dividends as Roy scored his first NHL goal, was a forechecking fool playing with William Carrier and Ryan Reaves and was hitting everything in sight in the Knights’ 5-2 win at T-Mobile Arena.
Pirri was goal-less in nine games so there was no harm in dropping him from the lineup. But it’s more Gallant expressing his displeasure about the inconsistent play from his team, and, more concerning, the lack of effort over 60 minutes.
When the Knights are good and winning games, it’s because they’re outworking their opponents, they’re playing fast and they’re forechecking the hell out of the other team’s defense, forcing turnovers and setting up scoring chances.
We haven’t seen that on a consistent basis this year. So that has nothing to do with Nate Schmidt and Alex Tuch being out. This is about busting your ass during your shift. Gallant should never, ever, have to coach effort.
The effort was much better Sunday. And Gallant had little, if anything to complain about. Especially after his team tightened up defensively all over the ice. The Knights allowed just 15 Anaheim shots, the fewest in the franchise’s brief history.
We were pissed off the other night. We were ready to play tonight. It was a total team effort. We played fast. We did everything we wanted to do. -Gallant
What was impressive was the Knights actually trailed in this game, 1-0, and came right back as Mark Stone got credit for a goal that went off Cam Fowler 34 seconds after Anaheim had taken the lead.
The goal appeared to give the Knights the momentum they were needing. Five unanswered goals, including Roy’s first as an NHLer, made for a happy locker room and a happy coach.
My mindset wasn’t to score a goal, it was to check, win faceoffs, play good defense and help my linemates. It’s a good matchup with those two guys (Carrier and Reaves). They play a heavy game which is the way I like to play. -Roy
A lot of people have wanted to see Roy in the lineup. On this night, he looked like he belonged on the ice in an NHL game. The moment wasn’t too big for him and the hit he made to force a turnover that led to Reaves’ goal was a huge play and no doubt earned the respect of all his teammates, not just his linemates.
Yet as good as it was Sunday, it wasn’t perfect. A mishandled puck by Marc-Andre Fleury led to the Ducks’ first goal and Jon Merrill’s neutral zone turnover eventually led to the second Anaheim goal. Deryk Engelland went out in the third period with a lower-body injury and it forced Gallant to play five defensemen. But on this evening, the good far outweighed the bad, especially when you consider what transpired 48 hours prior.
We moved on. We played our game. I was happy for the kid (Roy). He played real well. He created a spark for us tonight. -Gallant
The best thing about Sunday? Gallant didn’t have to coach effort. You shouldn’t have to motivate guys to work hard. That’s a pride thing, both individually and collectively.
Sunday, that pride showed. All four lines contributed, and as Max Pacioretty said, that’s the right way to play.
To roll out four lines and play in their end, it’s a lot easier to play that way. -Pacioretty
Indeed. On a late afternoon where amnesia was the watchword in forgetting what happened Friday, the Knights remembered what made them one of the most feared teams in the NHL. They skated. They forechecked. They were physical. They were responsible defensively for the most part. As a result, they dominated and won.
Yes, Anaheim was a tired team on the second of back-to-backs on the road. But it was the Knights who caused them to be tired.
Let’s see if the Knights can remember to play this way Thursday against Montreal. Or will they develop another case of amnesia and forget to do things the right way?
Bragging rights on The Creator
A quick note about my weekend trip to New York to watch San Jose State, my alma mater, play Army in football.
If you ever get a chance to visit West Point, I strongly urge you to do so. It’s an amazing place, and yes, it’s a working military installation. I found that out the hard way when I couldn’t find the lot for my parking pass and an MP in no uncertain terms told me to about face and head back down the hill.
Tradition oozes from every crevice of the U.S. Military Academy and the pride in Army athletics is impressive. Michie Stadium is an iconic place to watch football and while it doesn’t have the modern amenities of some stadiums (maybe that’s why Gary Bettman keeps making excuses about not having an outdoor game there), it makes up for it in charm and atmosphere.
I’ve said it many times that if the Golden Knights play outdoors, it should be at Michie. Adjacent to the stadium is the Foley Athletic Center, named after Bill Foley. It’s an indoor practice facility for Army’s football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball teams. It’s a key component for Army sports and seeing it in person made me respect The Creator even more for his largesse to his alma mater.
We did not make a wager on Saturday’s football game. But suffice to say, I’ve got bragging rights on Bill after my Spartans, who were 10-point underdogs, beat his Black Knights, 34-29.
As Foley’s favorite general, Douglas MacArthur, once said, in part, there’s no substitute for victory. Amen to that.
**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.**