Last year when the Golden Knights needed to win a game, they got it pretty much every single time. Whether it was off a bad road trip, following a tough few losses at home, or even through the playoffs when they were in danger of falling well behind in a series, they always rose to the occasion and got the job done.
With the exception of one time.
Vegas fell behind 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, couldn’t get a puck to go early in Game 4 and faded away to the darkness in Game 5. That team was used to it all going right, and then it didn’t, and they crumbled.
This year, it hasn’t gone quite that way. Big periods, big games, big moments, the Golden Knights haven’t come out successfully every time.
You reset your team. It happens all the time, during a game, between games, you just get ready for the next one. Last night was a heartbreaker, but you get home last night and everything’s fine, you just get ready for the next one. -Gerard Gallant
The 2018-19 Golden Knights have faced real adversity. They started out poorly at just 8-11-1. They were out of the playoff picture as late as the middle of December. Things looked like they were headed down the drain prior to the deadline. But every time, they responded. It wasn’t always pretty, but they always fought through it and that’s exactly what they trying to do heading into Game 7 after failing on two previous tries to end the series.
Heck, just inside of this series it’s already happened. The Golden Knights needed Game 2 after dropping the opener. They came out on fire scoring three times in the first seven minutes. But then, disaster struck as they gave up three before the period was out. What did they do? They went to the locker room, regrouped, and came out and played 40 minutes of solid road hockey to win a game. Again, it wasn’t pretty, but they eventually found a way.
We’ve had ups and downs all season, it’s like a regular normal season. To come up short in this one was tough, but that’s a good team over there. We’ve got to come out with an effort that’s a little better. -Deryk Engelland
This team isn’t perfect like the 2017-18 Golden Knights seemed to be. They didn’t always have the answer, at least not right away. The hope now is that it’s all been a warmup for the most important moment of the year tonight at the SAP Center.
They are battle tested and have the scars to remember that this has been far from the fairy tale of a year ago. That fairy tale ended abruptly, and horrendously because that team wasn’t ready to deal with the peril that came with the final boss.
This team should be looking at the fact that 3-1 has turned into 3-3 and saying, “no big deal.” This team should be able to overcome what looks like a daunting task of winning a Game 7. This team is built for this moment.
60 minutes (or maybe more) will say a lot about the second year Golden Knights. Did they harness the adversity, learn from it, and use it to avoid a monumental collapse. Or was it all just a glimpse of the future. That this has been, still is, and will forever be remembered as, flawed.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or at least that’s what my favorite Kelly Clarkson song says (well, really it’s like my 8th favorite, but we’ll save my love for Kelly Clarkson for another day).
So far, nothing’s killed the Golden Knights. The question is, are they actually stronger. We’ll know in a few long hours, and it’s either going to be agony or bliss.
Welcome to Game 7. It’s the worst best thing in sports, and there’s no stopping it now.