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How 122 Minutes Changed The Direction Of The Golden Knights Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s amazing how quickly the tides can turn for a professional sports team. For example, the Atlanta Braves were floundering below .500 in late June, holding the tenth worst record in the National League. Now, Atlanta is three games away from winning the World Series. Okay, maybe the Golden Knights two game Central sweep isn’t of the same magnitude but the tone surrounding the team and the fanbase is a stark difference from what it was on Tuesday afternoon.

There’s no arguing who’s lineup was more talented over the past two games and especially on Tuesday night. Down to their bare bones the Golden Knights did something that not even the organization expected to happen, win back-to-back road games in Colorado and Dallas. It was a tall order but coach Pete DeBoer and his makeshift roster performed as if Mark Stone was leading the way. However, the absence of Stone and others were replaced with gutsy performances by the current, less-talented Golden Knights.

Clearly, DeBoer got through to his players before the road trip began on Tuesday. In case it wasn’t loud enough the de facto leaders (Pietrangelo, Marchessault, Smith, Karlsson, Martinez) made sure the message was heard. Based off their last six periods (and OT) the healthy players were highly motivated and reminded the league on back-to-back nights that their season wasn’t finished.

It was a gutsy road trip. It was a gutsy win again today, short bench, had more guys leave during the game, so we were basically playing three lines. Guys dug deep all week. Tough circumstances and guys found a way. It was a real character test and I thought we did a great job. -Pete DeBoer

One of the reasons Vegas was able to survive and collect four enormous road points was the brilliant play from their goaltenders. As expected, Robin Lehner was Colorado’s foil, and backup Laurent Brossoit put his team in a position to win the game down the stretch in Dallas. Without sharp goaltending this week would look a lot bleaker. Several times over the last two games Vegas could have lost confidence and let the game get away from them. Up 2-1 in Colorado, the Avalanche had more than a period to tie the game but Lehner and his teammates refused to let that happen.

Down late in the game on Wednesday, Vegas easily could have taken the loss and blamed it on rest, unfortunate travel delays, and a continuation of injuries but Jonathan Marchessault had different ideas.

We had a lot of adversity since last night, when you’re a professional hockey player there’s no excuse… You put on your work boots and that’s what we did tonight. We kept it a close game — we were able to get it to the last minute and it was a big game. -Marchessault

Another reason why the panic across Las Vegas has subsided for now, and hopefully for good, was the team’s attention to detail and the team’s inability to wilt. If Reilly Smith were a hip hop artist his top single would be called “Keeping It Simple” and after a loss it would be on repeat. The fifth-year alternate captain has always declared simplicity when Vegas is struggling. It might sound cliché but over the last two games the Golden Knights skated hard both ways, passed it cleanly, protected the puck, went hard to the net and didn’t pass up too many shots. Everything the local team did to win in back-to-back nights can be devoted to hard work and smart hockey. That’s keeping it simple.

What becomes of all this is in the long run is unknown but Vegas will have a chance to make it three wins in a row and climb back to .500 on Friday against the 2-4-1 Anaheim Ducks. With long term injuries lingering the future still looks murky but this week proved the 31st franchise can successfully keep their heads above water. If Vegas performs over the next couple of months like the way they did against Colorado and Dallas their Cup dreams will optimistically live on thanks to the past 122 minutes.

The chase continues tomorrow on Nevada Day.

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20 Comments

  1. THE hockey GOD

    it it it it it it it

    IT’s MIRACLE!!!!

    changed the direction of whole of franchise.

    GLORY BE to ALMIGHTY , and we are only a handful of games into the season !!

    wait for the pdv, fo, and life general haters on this forum see this article, more heads will be exploding !!!

    in real world, VGK make s a deal with injured player, and it’s a good deal, for VGK assuming player come back after broken hand. Evidently he likes this team, unlike the haters posting garbage here about lack of team , fill in the blank, whatever/

    THE CHIEF , good move !!

    Jesse Granger
    @JesseGranger_
    ·
    3m
    Zach Whitecloud has signed a 6-year extension with the Golden Knights worth $2.75 million per season.

    He was set to become an RFA this offseason.

    • Richard Santomauro

      I actually think this is a good move. Whitecloud has established himself as a good defenseman and he is only going to get better with time.

      The jury is still out as far as I am concerned with most of the off season moves, especially the goal tending situation, which I think will resolve itself by mid-January.

      Let’s not get all lathered up here. The offensive strategy and performance is still not up to par and unless corrected the VGK won’t be going deep into the playoffs, if they get there at all. Power play issues remain as well. BUT, there is hope. We’ve seen the bottom 6, as well as the top improving, which is a good sign.

      Unlike The Hockey God, I am not dancing in the streets over some “MIRACLE”. You can credit the defense and superb goal tending for the win the last night. Sure, the Walrus played above average against Colorado, but had he been in goal vs Dallas the VGK would have lost. I have no doubt about that.

  2. THE hockey GOD

    What is more interesting Jason, is that I watched the DALLAS broad cast for this game, 100% of the time. Those Dallas Stars TV people were chomping at the bit. They saw the VGK as an easy kill. And they brought up EVERYTHING, constantly, repeatedly, annoyingly, every single detail on the plate about VGK. The whole game, incessantly.

    In addition, they also focused on the back ground from their prospective was how poorly the DALLAS team played two nights before in Ohio. The coach lit into them, big time. They kept mentioning, even their cute red headed between the bench talking head, about how Rick Bowness had “motivated” their players, who had “lack of scoring” (sound familiar), defensive lapses, top players not performing, and most frequently lack of effort.

    Two coaches , two different approaches, two different results.

    At the end of the game, they went to the TV dais, with the typical talking head on left, and two ex players on right. The first first thing the talking head says, the very first thing out of her mouth is “THIS STINKS”. oh my

    PS
    I also though that the ice wasn’t that great last night, i’d give it a 3 out of 5. Lots of players were falling down, but it seemed to get better as the game went on.

  3. THE hockey GOD

    “Robin Lehner was Colorado’s foil, and backup Laurent Brossoit put his team in a position to win the game down the stretch in Dallas. Without sharp goaltending this week would look a lot bleaker.”

    i thought the nay sayers said goal tending was an issue on this team ??

    more heads exploding by wagonjumpers,wait for it.

    PS Doc is happy now.

    • Richard Santomauro

      Goal tending is an issue on this team. The Walrus did a good job against Colorado, and Brossoit was superb against Dallas. Goal tending wasn’t an issue, but the players in front played much better in these two road games.

      • THE hockey GOD

        that statement is oxymoronic

        • THE hockey GOD

          Oxymoron- definition
          An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes concepts with opposing meanings within a word or phrase that creates an ostensible self-contradiction.

          • THE hockey GOD

            ostensible

            stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.
            “the delay may have a deeper cause than the ostensible reason”

          • Richard Santomauro

            I am very consistent. I am not bouncing back and forth between the FO, Coach and RL (Walrus). The team is worse off over time and now finds itself trying to fix the offense, and experimenting with the goal tending. None of these things are fixed or are on the right track just because the team won a couple of tough road games.

            As I said. Had the Walrus been in goal for the Dallas game the VGK 100% lose that game on the late 3rd period shot. No way the Walrus stops that shot.

          • Richard Santomauro

            Let’s revisit in mid-January. In the meantime, I give credit where it’s due and discredit (criticism) where it’s due. If you care to look at the current edition of VGK through rose colored glasses, be my guest.

        • Richard Santomauro

          Not at all. It simply states that The Walrus had an above average game with the players elevating their performance on defense. There’s nothing oxy about it. I remain committed to my opinion that Lehner is not the long term answer in goal because (1) he is piss poor laterally, (2) challenged in terms of agility, (3) has a suspect glove, and (4) is terrible from tighter angles. Lastly, if he falls to the ice it takes an eternity for him to get off the floor.

          Not oxymoronic at all. It’s moronic, in my opinion, not to see just how flawed he is. Time will prove me right.

          • THE hockey GOD

            “Time will prove me right.” the last handful of games have proved you wrong, every single one after the LA game.

          • THE hockey GOD

            if it’s not RL, it’s FO, it if not FO it’s the coach, if it’s not the coach it’s PP, every day a new excuse. Now it’s back to RL.

            oxymoron

      • Jake

        Flower was in decline last season. You can be a great guy and a great leader and be loved by the fan base, but you can’t stop the decline of aging.

        Also, a couple of critical muffs in the playoffs and the back stabbing cartoonist agent ended Flower’s career in Vegas.

        Flower was done in Vegas long before anyone sniffed it. It was a great move moving out 7 million for a player on the other side of his career.

        He is a shell of himself. I like Vegas’ goalies and the Whitecloud signing.

        Hang on until help arrives then get 4-5 key players back, rested, healed and ready to put the foot on the gas.

        My two cents

        • Richard Santomauro

          Who is talking about Fleury? That ship sailed.

          The issue at hand is #90 The Walrus. He’s no Panda, they’re quick. I am not going to talk about Fleury any longer.

          My prediction is that Lehner will be replaced by mid-January by Brossoit and that eventually Logan Thompson will be the #1 goalie here in Vegas.

          Stop talking about Flower, the graphic, the way his was treated – all of it. It’s a dead issue and we are all in our own corners on it. Time to move on.

    • knights fan in minny

      doc who

    • Daryl

      I didn’t see Hague getting much credit as he bailed out RL twice… and while they were both great wins, it’s still only two games. Remember, the worst team in the league has beat the best team in the league…. it doesn’t mean much. I’m not excited about the wins like I wasn’t worried about the losses. Everyone knows RL can play really good, the problem is he isn’t consistent and he isn’t able to make that one save, while it might be a highlight save, to help his team.

      I think you have a man crush… or something more, for RL. You can Doc would make great friends

  4. The team needed to ” get outta town” to escape the pressure at home i would guess they were feeling. Good timing. They needed to get to work, away from the vegas lights and scrutiny. Needed to FIGHT HARD AND WIN A COUPLE. I think the team gave the fanbase some needed confidence that they could fight through the injuries and losses to gel together and play to win. I’ m impressed at our new goalie…he stayed calm and didn’t make costly moves. It makes losing Feury a little less painful. The team will be ok!

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