When Kelly McCrimmon called Pete DeBoer to talk about becoming the next head coach of the Golden Knights, DeBoer’s reason why he was the right man for the job rested on one thing.
I’ve taken two teams to Stanley Cup Finals. I went to a Western Conference Final last year. We’ve played 60 playoff games in the last four years in San Jose so I think probably my biggest pitch would be I feel like I know what buttons to push to have success at that time of year. -DeBoer at VGK intro proess conference on 1/16/20 in Ottawa
It’s that time of year and there plenty of different buttons for him to press.
Whether we’re talking about tangible or intangible decisions, DeBoer has to make the right ones in Game 7 tomorrow night, or the castle the Golden Knights have built for themselves will instantly look much more like a house of cards.
If the Golden Knights lose this game, everything will be questioned. From the decisions made in Game 7 itself to those made across the series back to the ones made in the regular season and as far back as the offseasons before it that have brought us here. How good is this team actually? Is the whole thing a mirage? Have they gone completely in the wrong direction from where they were when they lifted the Campbell Bowl in Winnipeg in 2018?
It’ll all be on trial… if they lose.
But, if they win, the blown 3-1 series lead vanishes, and everything looks just like it did less than a week ago with the focus on upending a great Colorado team and continuing on towards the ultimate prize.
So, quite simply, the man who sold himself on knowing how to win these games has to do it.
His resume speaks for itself in this situation. DeBoer boasts a perfect 5-0 record in Game 7’s, he’s never been on the losing side of a series in which his team has led by two games, and he’s won 11 of the 17 series in which he’s coached. Plus, his team in Vegas, in this very same situation, blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in Game 7 last year and played an excellent game in doing so.
The past is the past though, the only thing that matters now is this very next game, and he must be perfect in every choice he makes.
Which goalie does he pick? Keep the lines the same or mix them up? Force the injured guys back in? Look for different in-game matchups? Balance the time on ice or keep leaning on the stars?
Every single one has to be right, and the only way to make them right is for the Golden Knights to score at least one more goal than the Wild at T-Mobile Arena on Friday night.
This situation is exactly why he’s here. This is the moment Pete DeBoer sold the Golden Knights on and now he must once again deliver. He must deliver off the ice in preparing his team to be at their best, and he must deliver on the ice with the right answer to every question posed above.
It is unacceptable for this team to lose in the 1st Round, as it was in 2019 when they were robbed against the San Jose Sharks. A lot has happened since then, a lot that was supposed to make the Golden Knights better. The time has come to prove they are better. Win and move on. Lose and the house of cards collapses.
Welcome to Game 7. They hired the savior, now he must save them.