As of today, the Golden Knights stand one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for the last wildcard spot. Since LA lost last night, Vegas is within striking distance of a top-three Pacific Division postseason slot as well. There are many moving parts but the local club muddied the waters and made up ground during their latest five-game winning streak.
Who are they when they get in there? The Vegas standard has risen so much. They’ve had so much success and they’ve had so many expectations. –David Backes on Jeff Marek Show
While coach Pete DeBoer and his players are taking care of their end, pundits across the league are still having trouble believing in Vegas’ postseason success. Former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes joined Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek to express his concerns about the Golden Knights’ identity after a season marred with injuries.
It’s a team that’s got a lot of great pieces but whether it’s due to injury, and when you’re losing your captain for long stretches, or if you’ve lost character guys in the room. I feel like they missing some direction and identity. I think you’d rather be a team that was undermanned and under skilled with identity than a team that’s got skill and all of the pieced without identity. –Backes on Jeff Marek Show
It’s possible by Game 1 of the postseason the Golden Knights are close(r) to being a healthier team. Captain Mark Stone and sniper Max Pacioretty would add significant boosts to Vegas’ offense and esteem. Both have the ability to take over a game with Stone’s two-way play and Pacioretty’s nasty wrist shot. However, how healthy will they be? And will their lack of action hurt team chemistry? Keep in mind, Stone has never shared the ice with Jack Eichel. Sure, both are incredibly rare talents but all professional athletes need familiarity to maximize success.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek presumes Vegas may not rebound this season. Not only due to several devastating injuries but also because of the organization’s intense culture.
It’s tough when faces of the franchise leave. We’ve talked a lot about how Vegas has a ruthless pursuit of the Cup. It’s at all costs. If we can improve the team it doesn’t matter what this guy or that guy has done for the squad. You’re gone. Whether it’s Ryan Reaves, Marc-Andre Fleury is perhaps the best example. Maybe Gerard Gallant, who had the nerve to take the team to the Stanley Cup Final. Nate Schmidt is another great example. All jettisoned. You understand it, this is the business the hockey. –Jeff Marek on Sportsnet 590
At this point into the 2021-22 season, Ryan Reaves and even Marc-Andre Fleury are old news. The results of the current roster have nothing to do with the loss of former faces of the franchise. However, in tense moments, like right now, Fleury’s presence may have eased some pressure. Especially, right now with a playoff qualification on the line. When you ignore how certain players are out of the lineup or gone from the organization, Marek’s argument has some credence.
Let’s put it this way, the Golden Knights are desperately trying to make the postseason without Stone, Pacioretty, and Fleury. Three cornerstones of last season’s semi-final run.
All under the umbrella of we will do anything to with the Stanley Cup. We will do anything to bring in better players to bring us closer to the Stanley Cup. Sometimes we see teams that can withstand key injuries and still succeed and still thrive. Others, if you don’t have that character baked into the pie because players have been jettisoned to serve very specific needs. It’s tough to overcome. Maybe we’re seeing Vegas go through this right now. The Vegas watch continues. –Marek on Sportsnet 590
It’s possible that national pundits are right and the Golden Knights are without an identity but don’t expect the players to comply. Does anyone honestly think Jonathan Marchessault is concerned with his team’s or organization’s image? Is Eichel really worried about finding chemistry with All-Star wingers? And lastly, does Alex Pietrangelo care who’s in net behind him? The answers are all no.
X’s and O’s get you so far but if you don’t know who you are, or love the guy sitting next to you, or your committed to accomplishing a goal together, you really don’t have anything. -David Backes, Sportsnet
Making the playoffs could soften Vegas’ cold image, winning a couple of rounds might answer questions regarding chemistry and team building, but hoisting a Stanley Cup would be like yelling a loud f*@% off to the rest of hockey.
Okay, back to reality, the Golden Knights are still in search of 16 or more points with 11 games to go.