Well, the news that’s seemed inevitable is finally here. Most news outlets will present it a different way, but what I hear is, the Golden Knights’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup have increased.
That’s right, with NHL players bowing out of the Olympics, the odds of a parade on Las Vegas Boulevard got a little bit better.
There are multiple reasons for this with the chief among them being getting a rest for some of Vegas’ most important players. Had NHLers gone to the Olympics under normal circumstances, it’s probable that seven prominent players would have represented their countries for the month-long tournament, and that doesn’t include Jack Eichel.
Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, and Mark Stone were all locks for Team Canada. Max Pacioretty was certainly going to be on the American team. Robin Lehner and William Karlsson were both likely starters for Team Sweden and Evgenii Dadonov had a good shot at being a member of the Russian squad.
That’s VGK’s starting goalie, 1RW, 1LW, 2C, 3RW, 1RD, and 2RD who all would have been competing for a prize just as important as the Stanley Cup for all of these players. Instead of resting for a month like the rest of the team would be doing, the most important Vegas players would have been playing games more strenuous than what they would have in a normal NHL season. Not to mention, five of those seven players have dealt with injuries this season and both Stone and Lehner are battling through them as we speak.
And, remember, the NHL was just planning on going on a break, they did not shorten either the 82-game season or the four-round playoffs.
Sure, it’s a massive disappointment that we don’t get to see the amazing display that would have been a best-on-best tournament for Olympic gold, but there’s no doubt this is excellent news for the Vegas Golden Knights.
On top of not putting extra games on important players’ legs, the Golden Knights were the only team in the NHL prior to the holiday pause to not have a single game postponed. They’ve played 32 of their 82 games and sit in 1st place in the division despite a rash of injuries.
Now, during the month of February that was previously set aside for the Olympics, the league will be making up missed games from earlier in the season. Under the current plans, the only game the Golden Knights will need to make up is tomorrow’s home game against the Kings.
Many other teams around the league have four or five games they must make up. They’ll be forced to play those games over a two-week period while the Golden Knights will essentially be afforded a mini training camp as they’ll be allowed to practice while other teams play.
Of course, it seems probable that many more games will get postponed over the coming weeks, but either way, the Golden Knights are set to get a break now, in February, or some combination of the two.
We were all looking forward to seeing our home country take home the gold, but at least there’s a massive silver lining for the team that always dons gold.