There are no guarantees in professional sports. In all leagues, there are highly-regarded teams each year that miss the postseason. Some by a large margin and other times by a few percentage points. Sadly, the badly wounded Golden Knights are one of those teams at risk of missing their mark.
I never anticipated that the injuries would last so long and just compound, one after the other. Sunday, we had eight guys out. In Seattle, we had nine guys out. Take that many guys out of your lineup and you lose your depth. –Kelly McCrimmon to Sportsnet
Injuries as we know are impacting results but last night’s effort wasn’t only about injuries. It was a lousy performance by 19 relatively healthy players, and it could cost them their season. Coach Pete DeBoer never mentioned missing players or a banged-up lineup in his postgame press conference. He only wanted to move on.
We were awful. We were awful in front of the net, we were awful in breakouts, we were awful everywhere. We were no good. So we’re going to flush it, move on, and get ready for Saturday. -Pete DeBoer
Golden Knights fans have seen it countless times, some nights certain teams just don’t have it. Normally, it happens in November, or off a back-to-back or when families visit for a mild-weathered Christmas. Unfortunately, injuries make it difficult to predict when a dud of a game will occur.
If we can get in, I think we know what to expect at playoff time. We will be a tough out. –McCrimmon to Sportsnet
Last night was not the best example of Golden Knights hockey and they didn’t look like a desperate club trying to make the playoffs. It’s concerning DeBoer couldn’t get his team to play up to their abilities in such an important game. His superiors reminded Sportsnet it’s difficult to coach on any given night without their top performers.
At this point, we are living in the moment. Our challenge is to be above the cut line when playoff time comes. You just want your personnel to be as healthy as it can be, so your coach has the best chance to coach, and the team has the best chance to win. We’re doing what we can.-McCrimmon to Sportsnet
Of course, injuries will have played an enormous role if the Golden Knights end up missing the postseason but there would be other factors as well. While it may be difficult to admit, there were flaws with the front office’s vision of the 2021-22 roster.
When we (finished) the offseason, we really felt that the makeup of our roster was very close to exactly what we wanted. We liked our forward group, our D is rock solid. Brossoit coming in under Lehner, we thought was a real important add for us. In terms of the makeup of our roster, we were really satisfied. And then we added Eichel, which certainly made us a better team again.-McCrimmon to Sportsnet
There’s plenty of time to get into some of the offseason missteps but it’s important to note that it isn’t just injuries that have hampered Vegas this year. Certain decisions created a domino effect that left holes on the ice.
We’re not ashamed that we’re trying to win. I’ve said many times, it’s easy to do nothing, right? It’s easy to do nothing and just hope things go your way. Good is the enemy of great. I’m not going to say it’s easy to have a good team. But when you have a good team, it’s easy to be satisfied with it… And if we didn’t feel or we hadn’t proven that we were close, well, maybe there’s no reason to go out and get Jack Eichel. But that’s not how I want to run a team. We’re trying to win.-McCrimmon to Sportsnet
At this point, the numbers are against them. Most models show that Vegas has anywhere from 30-35% chance to qualify for the postseason. There’s a small margin of error but there is still a chance. Starting on Saturday the Golden Knights have 20 points available and they need close to all of them. Or else they’ll miss the playoffs for the first time in team history. No one likes the sound of that.