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In The Biggest Moments, You Can Always Count On The Golden Knights To Show Up

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing should be taken for granted. In a year that has rocked the Earth more than any other in our lifetimes, it feels like there’s not much left we can truly count on.

That is, unless you are a Golden Knights fan.

Through the short three-season history of hockey’s now second newest franchise, the Golden Knights have experienced a lot. The list out of whacky things this team has gone through over the past 1,084 days since they stepped on the ice for their first preseason game is astounding. Through it all, no matter the storyline, be it on-the-ice, off-the-ice or sometimes a little of both, when the puck drops on the biggest games, they may not always win, but the Golden Knights always show up.

This story goes all the way back to the first game in franchise history. A few days prior, the city in which they now called home had experienced one of the worst tragedies in American history. They were being looked at as an escape from reality and they needed to show up for Vegas. They did in Dallas, they did the next night in Arizona, and boy did they ever in the most emotional home-opener in sports history.

As that season went on, time and time again the Golden Knights were presented with massive emotional tests, and every single time, they were up for the test. Fleury’s return from concussion followed by his first game against Pittsburgh. The game against 1st place Tampa Bay. The chance to clinch a playoff berth, then another one to win the division. The first playoff game. The first closeout game. Game 5 against the Sharks. Game 2 vs Winnipeg. Even Games 3, 4, and 5 against Washington. Not a single time can anyone point to a Golden Knights game and say, they were a no-show that night.

The following year it continued with one the most important games of all, Game 7 in San Jose. Like a few others, the outcome of that one got away, but the Golden Knights entered that game plenty of reasons to lay an egg and they didn’t.

There have been games following injuries, following trades, following coach firings, following agents tweeting out controversial pictures, following a global pandemic, following the league being paused in support of a protest against racial injustice, and every single time, without fail, when the Golden Knights hit the ice for the biggest games, they’ve always shown up.

Last night, the emotional deck was stacked in favor of a Golden Knights flop in Game 7. They’d blown a 3-1 lead, their new coach had to make a tough decision which once again cemented the long-time leader of the franchise as a bench-warmer, they switched up the forward lines, they were playing against one of the hottest goalies the NHL Playoffs had ever seen, they were playing a back-to-back, and the list goes on and on.

Then, the game started, and the going got even tougher. But no matter what happened, the Golden Knights never folded. In fact, as they had in so many of the biggest games of their past, they rose to the occasion. They continued to play at their absolute best and basically forced the hockey gods to finally allow a puck off the post to deflect into the net as opposed to out.

Like always, they showed up.

Because of it, the Golden Knights journey continues. It continues into the Western Conference Final where at some point they’ll come across another moment in which they’ll be presented with a chance to crumble.

What it will look like or how they get there is yet to be determined, but at some point, it will happen. When that moment comes, no matter how dire it looks, there is something in 2020 we can take for granted, the best of the Golden Knights will show up when it gets here.

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23 Comments

  1. Stan Kovaleski

    Outstanding article! All true and if you’ve been around hockey a long time you know how lucky we are to have a team like this. A team with so many classy gentlemen who put the jersey on and inspire each other to be the best they can be. They have enabled us to forget about all of the craziness around us and my how we need that. To coin an old Detroit Tiger baseball phrase; “Bless you Boyz”!!

  2. Joshua

    …except the 5min major vs San Jose. Then they crumble. But other than that, “no matter how dire it looks.”
    I enjoy most of your articles, but this is a bit simple because you are talking about a team that has only had success in its history…except that blown game 7 call last year…and losing four straight SCF games after the Imagine Dragons Curse.

    • Game 7 vs. San Jose – VGK were the better team for 50 minutes. A bad call happened, and yes they had a rough 5-minute stretch. They then turned it around by scoring the game-typing goal in the dying seconds to send the game to OT. Maybe it’s just me, but that is FAR from laying an egg in a situation that is very challenging.

      Against Washington, they simply were not the better of the two teams. But every game they came out ready to play and showed up. Not a single one of those games did they completely lay an egg even though it would have been very easy to do so.

      Look around these playoffs, teams have completely fallen flat on their faces all over the place. A lot of teams have basically flat out quit. There are times in all sports where teams have a chance to mail it in and a lot of teams do, this team does not and I don’t expect they will the remainder of this season.

  3. John Doe

    Glad they won, but it felt like it was going to be a coin toss.

    6/11 Playoff starts Lehner has been below .900

    8/14 Lehner starts w/ VGK hes given up 3 or more goals

    Then if course we have his B2B record.

    If he didn’t make that one crazy glove save when he did, which was more something you’d expect Fleury to make than him, they could’ve been sent packing and we can only imagine what the outcry could have been.

    • Tim

      John Doe do you have any idea how hard it is to have 3 shutouts in a 7 game playoff series? Lehner is the #1 goalie get over it.

      • Jacob

        Lol at how defensive people get over Panda.

        All I read from the above statement was his actual numbers,where then in a game 7 against a hot goalie where a single mistake wouldve cost them the game. In the numbers listed above it certainly looks like a coin flip of either a great performance or a complete disaster because more than half of the time its pedestrian.

        Oh and 2 of the 3 shutouts were dominated by the skaters so badly Dansk could’ve shut them out.

        • MikeMess

          It’s almost like it’s a team game… It’s also weird how people thought playing Fleury would increase goals.

          It’s a message board though, I don’t expect meaningful analysis from everyone.

    • EK

      Kind of sounds like you AREN’T glad they won. IF ahead didn’t make that save blah blah blah. He made the save! Wow, there are so many negative people out there. More than I ever imagined. Sad.

    • Julie

      John, I agree with you. I also think the issue with Lehner is he is inconsistent. Vancouver didn’t change much in the last 3 games, for example. They didn’t test Lehner like Vegas tested Demko, yet Lehner lost 2 out of 3. Yeah, he got 3 shutouts and they count, but when you consider Vancouver’s offense…. Also, we don’t know if PDB’s plan is to keep Lehner going or switch to Fleury. Many experts say he will keep Lehner, but no doubt the management understands the fan base and team love for Fleury. But the argument now that Lehner is a better goalie falls short as Lehner’s stats took a big hit in this series. He no longer has that undefeated record with Vancouver, his save % is lower than or almost tied to Fleury’s, (he started the game with .889 vs .904 for Fleury) last night. Many thought Fleury would play last night due to B2B, but he didn’t. There may be another reason for that.

      • VGKAllDay

        All the goals that got through were because of the defensemen in front of him. Don’t let your fandom for Fleury cloud your judgement.

        • Julie

          Oh, stop being ridiculous, geez. Fleury makes mistakes, too. If you can’t be objective, you can never improve. A little accountability goes a long way and there is nothing wrong with loyalty when it’s earned.

          • VGKAllDay

            I agree with you, Lehner could’ve stopped them for sure, but like you said, accountability does go a long way. There were many times our D-Men were turning the puck over in their own zone and as great Shea has been in the playoffs, he’s guilty of doing it too. That’s the reason why in my opinion Flower has been under a lot of pressure making saves because of that very reason.

        • VGKALLDAY that is a three year old’s answer blame someone else. Give credit where credit is due Julie’s remarks have way more merit than your childish reply

    • MikeMess

      You guys are high.

      Lehner “giving up” goals where he’s constantly being let down by defenders not clearing the space in front of the crease and cannot see the puck due to the screen. 2 of the goals in game 6 were like that. The other was a wrap-around.

      His GAA was low because there weren’t many shots coming his way.

      He objectively is playing better than MAF. I love Fleury, but Lehner is doing that hockey in a big way.

  4. DOC aPositiveFan

    It’s just amazing . STILL have MAF whiners going at it. We just won a huge game, Lehner played great, and yet this BS continues. It’s just a sad thing to see. GO KNIGHTS GO !!!

  5. Julie

    It’s STILL amazing how when Lehner loses any game, it’s crickets with his supporters, or if someone chirps up, it’s always someone else’s fault. How insightful.

    • Julie love your responses you have more insight on things than most of these “experts ” or at least think they are can even imagine.

      • Julie

        HD, thanks for the support. Do think with Reaves being suspended for the game tonight that will take too much of an edge off of the aggressiveness or no issue? I don’t know why, but I’m nervous about the game. It’s a great team. We beat Dallas before, but it’s more intense now for the conference. Maybe reading too many posts, ha ha. 🙂

  6. CHRIS L

    Does anyone think their maybe some locker room issues that seem to be effecting the team? I know they are winning and things are moving forward. Seems some of the cohesiveness of the team has slipped. And haven’t really been tested by a quality opponent in 7 game series yet. I am just speculating and hard to question things when winning and getting to conference finals, it just looks a little like deboer isn’t a great fit for the club over the long haul and that their talent is getting them by some pretty weak competition. Anyone else noticing anything or I am way off base. I know winning should me all good, just curious what others think.

    • Julie

      Chris, I lean toward your thought that PDB isn’t a great fit. But, I thought San Jose was a bit dirty of a team and I attribute that to PDB because he is ok with it. I think VGK is classier for lack of a better term. It’s not just the way PDB has managed the goalie situation, but in his interviews, and the way he instigated the “clown” situation with Gallant – in short, no sense of responsibility. He has a record of getting a team to the Stanley Cup in the first year he is with them. But Gallant did that too, so I don’t see an advantage there. It could just be he has a very different personality and coming into a team that has great chemistry, he just disrupted that and the team is still adjusting.

  7. Julie – it may be women’s intuition and you maybe right concerning issues in the locker room which was also brought up by others but these guys are well paid professional which I would hope are above that particularly at this time. If they have anything other than winning on their mind they should excuse themselves, pack their bag and head home. There has been more than enough drama of one kind or another up to this point so if any existed I would think they all should have put that behind them and be concentrating on the goal (CUP) at hand. One thing is certain if they only show up like they did last night tomorrow they will all be packing their bags and heading home. Loosing with 100% effort is bad enough loosing without that effort is shameful.

    • Julie

      HD, for sure they are paid professionals. Even at a scrub job like mine making a good few million less than a hockey player, I have to show up and kick in everyday. So I expect these guys to do the same. I’m watching the Tampa Bay/NY Islanders game and it’s a different kind of pain for NY right now. Clocks are being cleaned. Someone has the right attitude there (TB) and as you say, any drama VGK had needs to be put aside. I have no idea what spokes fell out of the wheel yesterday, and I want to be hopeful for tomorrow.

  8. Julie

    HD, I saw you asked Ken about Lehner, not sure if he answered as I can’t find the thread anymore). I did some research. Mar/2010: Lehner signed with Ottawa, started Jan/2011, got a 3 yr extension July/2014, but was traded to Buffalo June/2015. According to Rotowire, he didn’t perform well and did not get a contact, became free agent June/2018. July/2018: got a 1 yr contract with New York Islanders and got a 4-0 shutout over San Jose, and another shutout over the Capitals which helped him get William M. Jennings Trophy. No extension, but then signed with Chicago July/2019 for a year. He had been negotiating with NY, but they walked away from him. It was the 2018 off season where he got sober from alcohol and drug addiction. He is diagnosed as bipolar, ADHD and PTSD. His father helped coach Henrik Lundquist.

    Side note, Vegas was in this position before, losing Game 1 to Winnipeg and then won 4 in a row to win the conference. Also, from what I am finding, Dallas doesn’t sustain their energy for too long, but Vegas has a habit of building it up. Today’s game will be a battle, but I am feeling good that they can win it tonight.

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