In early November the Golden Knights traveled to Toronto in the midst of their worst stretch in franchise history. It’s hard to believe Vegas lost five of of six games this season. In their first meeting on November 6th, the Maple Leafs survived in a shootout after giving up a 3-1 lead. Since then, the Golden Knights have won 17 of 22 games.
After the 6-3 Vegas victory, Leafs’ Superstar Auston Matthews went on to credit the Golden Knights consistency.
They’ve obviously been a good team all year. Maybe they surprised some people but I think they’ve got good players. Everybody works hard. They’re pretty well-coached. They’re a team that plays right. There’s a lot of depth all through their four lines and three pairs of defensemen. They’re a good team and I think they’ve played the same way when we played them earlier this year. They’ve got speed, they’ve got size, and they play a good team game. -Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs Forward
Pretty well coached?!? What the… nevermind, we’ll let him slide on that.
Teammate Morgan Reilly agreed with Matthews, nothing has changed since November. The Golden Knights were fast, smart and aggressive on November 6th and December 31st.
No. They are pretty consistent. When we played them in Toronto they play a lot like they did tonight. They’re deep, they have a lot of lines that roll over. I mean, they’re for real. -Morgan Reilly, Maple Leafs Defenseman
Jonathan Marchessault doesn’t agree.
We’re a lot better. We improve every game as a team. Every time we face a bigger challange, like a pair of road games in Anaheim and LA, we come out with points. We’re facing a lot of good teams right now an we are responding well. I think we are making it tough for our GM because we are showing we are ready to win now. -Jonathan Marchessault
One of the lighter moments from Toronto’s locker room was veteran Patrick Marleau agreeing that the Golden Knights as the most impressive story in his 20-year career. Patty Hockey has seen expansion teams launch, and expansion teams relocate since SJ drafted him #2 overall in 1997. An expansion team with 54 points in 37 games is something special Marleau recognized.
Yeah I think so, to come in their first year and do as well as they are, it’s a testament to management and coaching and the players. -Patrick Marleau, Maple Leafs Forward
Toronto Head Coach Mike Babcock suggested after the loss, the game was closer than the 6-3 final. And he also gave the Golden Knights one of the most generic, yet influential compliment.
The energy was good, the whole thing was good. I would have liked us to have been better initially, and put out a lot better game. But in the end it was a better game than it looked, you have to give them credit. I thought they skated well. -Mike Babcock, Maple Leafs Head Coach
As I say over and over again, I love coach speak. Happy New Year Vegas fans, your team is (26-9-2) on January 1st.