There may be no “I” in team, but with most professional sports teams, they go as their best player goes. If Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid have an off day, it’s going to be a rough night for the team.
For the Golden Knights, we expected that player to be Marc-Andre Fleury. Then after three games, it seemed as if James Neal was becoming to lynchpin to the Vegas offense. But over the past few games, and now the season as a whole, there really isn’t one player that needs to be relied upon for this team to have success.
Tuesday night David Perron scored twice, Reilly Smith had a big game, and William Carrier put forth his best effort. Two nights before it was the play of Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov that got the Golden Knights on the board, and the defensive play of Brad Hunt, Jon Merrill, Nate Schmidt, and Luca Sbisa that earned Vegas the victory.
It sounds like a cliche, but with the Golden Knights, someone new truly does step forward every night, and the variety of players doing it is almost astounding.
I guess that’s the nice thing about having an expansion team is you get to pick one player from every team and it seems like a lot of different guys have been stepping up. -Reilly Smith
People really underestimate us as a team. I think we’ve got unbelievable depth and we’ve got a lot of hard-working guys in here that want to win every night. You see it every day in practice and in games. -Alex Tuch
Like I talk about every time we win a game, we’re not going to be able to win if we rely on one line. The guys are working hard and chipping in and we’ve got some good hockey players scoring goals. Tonight, we needed every one of them. -Gerard Gallant
Through six games, 20 of the 22 skaters who have appeared for the Golden Knights have registered at least one point. 11 different Golden Knights have found the back of the net on a total of 20 goals, and 10 different guys have been featured in the three stars of the night.
It really can come from anyone, and that’s a dangerous thing to prepare for as an opponent. You can’t scout a single player or even a single line with the Golden Knights. If a team has a shut down defensive pairing, do you put them out there against Neal/Eakin/Perron or do you use it against Smith/Lindberg/Karlsson or even Tuch/Shipachyov/Leipsic?
Going beyond being tough to figure out who is going to be good, it’s even more difficult to find the weak spot on the Golden Knights. The “fourth” line has drawn rave reviews from just about everyone. Eight defensemen have gotten in games with just one has a +/- rating in the negative (Garrison -2), and even when players have been injured, their replacements have always shined.
If you have the situation to really step up, when it’s your time you have to take ownership and find the way. -David Perron
There were a lot of potential challenges that were expected to rear their ugly head for the Golden Knights as an expansion team, but through two weeks, the word expansion is looking more than an advantage than a disadvantage.