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DeBoer Thinks Easy Playoff Path May Have Hindered Golden Knights Chances Last Year

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are going to get real familiar with a group of seven other teams this season. The new West Division which sees St. Louis, Colorado, and Minnesota replace Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver from the Pacific will be the only teams the Golden Knights face this year unless they are fortunate enough to reach the semifinal.

The additions of the Avalanche and the Blues certainly makes the division a bit trickier than it has been each of the past three seasons. Plus, expectations for a bounceback season are certainly there for San Jose and Arizona remains a bit of a wild card which could tighten things up even more. With four spots available in the playoffs, the division sets up well for the Golden Knights to reach the playoffs, but it’s not without its potential hazards.

Speaking on the VGK Insider Show on FOX Sports Radio, head coach Pete DeBoer chose to take a positive approach to taking on the new challenging division. He even harkened back to a storyline he denied in the moment but now sees it may have had some validity.

You don’t have any choice but to look at (the tough division) as a positive, and I actually do. When I look at the bubble and I look at the road Dallas had to the Final they didn’t have an easy series anywhere through. They didn’t win, but it didn’t hurt them that they had to go through some really good teams to keep advancing. And you could argue that we maybe had a little bit of an easier path and it might have hurt us a little bit when we got to a really hardened team. –Pete DeBoer on VGK Insider Show

Playing the 15th and 23rd ranked teams in points percentage certainly aided the Golden Knights in reaching the conference final, but DeBoer may have a point in how it affected his team’s performance against the 10th ranked team in the Stars.

There’s no question in my mind it hurt them in Game 1 against Dallas. The Golden Knights were physically overmatched in that game and it seemed to send them even further into the scoring drought that started against Vancouver. It’s certainly not the main reason Vegas flopped in the Western Conference Final, but it’s fair to say the easy path did them no favors once they got there.

This season is due for quite a bit of unpredictability but no matter how it shakes out, it’s unlikely the Golden Knights (or any team) see an easier path to the semis as last year’s team did. In fact, there’s a real chance this season could set up as one of the toughest paths to the final any team has ever had to endure, and DeBoer knows it.

If I’m putting the top teams in the NHL down on a piece of paper prior to the season Colorado is probably in the top two or three for me and St. Louis is in the top five. That makes it an ultra-competitive division and whoever gets out of there will have to earn it. –DeBoer on VGK Insider Show

I’d assume Vegas is in the Top 5 on his list as well which means in the eyes of the Golden Knights’ head coach, the winner of the West Division might end up playing four of the top five teams in the NHL to win the Stanley Cup.

You know what they say. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. If that’s what the Golden Knights want to be, that’s exactly what they may have to do.


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  1. Reading your post and comments from The Coach PDB sounds to me he is padding his possibly of failure so when it takes place he can say ” well I told you so”. While l hope that is not the case it would not be surprising if they didn’t get to the final this year

    • There definitely felt like there was a hint of that as well as a hint of an excuse from last year. I just hope they learned something from that series because right after it was over they seemed like they were confused at how it even happened.

      • Ken – I wasn’t going to even comment on the past as that is history. That said however PDB was not the solution the Knights needed as coaching wasn’t the problem when Gallant was axed and PDB hired. PDB’s approach – being too stubborn to adjust when what was going on wasn’t working bordered on stupidity as doing the same thing and expecting different results under those conditions is the definition of insanity. He wasn’t able to right the ship which was sinking – in all reality they were lucky to even get to face Dallas. You referred to it as confused they simply lost their drive and desire to win because of all the chaos his style and actions resulted in.

        • I’m not making a full judgment on him and his style until we see a full season (at the very least), but for me, he’s not off to a great start. Which is kinda weird because the won 9 playoff games.

          • Daryl

            You have to take into consideration who those 9 wins were against…. Hawks were not a very good team and was an easy series. We shouldn’t have lost a game to them but I also know how hard it is to beat a team 4 straight times. Van wasn’t any harder than the Hawks and they took us to 7 games. Those games were either won big or lost big. That series also should never have gone past 5 games. As for Dallas, I’m ok with the loss and just not the number of games it took us to lose out. It was as if they were so much better than VGK similar to how much VGK was “actually” better than the Hawks.

          • jason mason

            If DoBoer thinks an “easy” path was the problem for not getting to the finals I’d hate to see how he feels about losing to a tougher schedule. Simply implying they had an easy schedule and couldn’t overcome it would mean the team just doesn’t know how to take care of its business.

            I’ll give him the “full” upcoming season just as you suggest. Everybody has an excuse when they lose, but I don’t hear anyone hoisting the cup and saying thank god they had an easy trip to the finals.

  2. Vic

    Coach should have said *HE* was the problem (rather than the schedule) as he didn’t adjust to what Dallas threw at him game after game. Chicago was a necessary tune up, and then seven games against Vancouver? He talks about an easy path, and Demko almost stole it. Come on coach….get the team mentally and physically ready whether they are playing the Swiss or Austrian kids or the Dallas Stars. Think like a coach who wants to win the cup.

    • I agree. DeBoer doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for his failure last season. And he just tried to blame this year’s potential failure on something other than himself. I hope the 2020 curse reverses itself and the Knights do well, but not with that coaching approach.

  3. Vegas players kept shooting countless shots on goal directly into the chest of every goalie they faced. There’s your answer.

  4. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    A NEW season starting in just two weeks. Are there ANY positive thoughts out there? Last year is gone and over. Why rehash everything and promote negativity AGAIN! Come ON! Lets see what actually happens!


    • knights fan in minny

      your spot on doc its a new year fire up knights fans

    • Daryl

      If you don’t learn from the past you are deemed to repeat it…. which is why we (or the coach) needs to rehash the past

  5. Tim

    There’s two saying in sports ( if it’s not broke don’t fix it ) and ( if it’s broke fix it ) Last year in the playoffs DeBoer had no answer how to fix it. That’s not being negative just a fact. This is a new year he had some games and the bubble to analyze the team this year no excuses he either has learned his lesson or will be looking at Vegas in the rear view mirror. I don’t expect him to win the Stanley Cup but I do hope he can adjust his game when needed.

    • jason mason

      Pretty sure Foley is expecting him, and the team, to win the cup. That’s why they signed him, and that’s what the money is for. May not happen, but any team in the league that doesn’t expect to win the cup shouldn’t be playing at all.

  6. Daryl

    Can you believe this clown??? First we played CHI and all but the first game were very close. I didn’t expect to not lose a game (even though we shouldn’t have) but I did expect to win a couple games a little easier. Then we played VAN and it took them 7 games to finish them off!!! That was embarrassing, especially in the games we lost b/c they weren’t even close. At least the games against the Stars were close but considering we did the same thing every game even though it wasn’t working since the Hawks game what did we expect.

    Now I don’t put all the blame on the coach as he isn’t the one out there on the ice but what I do blame the coach for is being out coached, and he was in every way possible. He made no adjustments. It was as if he was determined to run specific plays until they worked whether it killed the team or not, which it did. Those losses were mostly on PDB. Even his personnel decisions could have been better.

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