**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**
We all knew the potential for disaster this six-game road trip presented when the Golden Knights embarked upon it 10 days ago. Little did we know the true adversity the team would have to endure.
There were 12 possible points attainable when the team left Las Vegas to start the longest trip of the season in San Jose. They got eight of those dozen points, going 4-2-0, which given the circumstances, was a remarkable job.
- The team lost one of its top defensemen to injury.
- They were booted from their San Jose hotel on game day, a potential huge distraction.
- Their best player tested positive for COVID-19 only for it to be a false positive.
- They had two back-to-backs to deal with.
- They had to face two of the better teams in their division.
That doesn’t include William Carrier’s injury, which forced him from the lineup and eventually resulted in coach Peter DeBoer making one of his best moves of the year in reconfiguring his bottom six.
Yet here the Knights are this morning, still in first place in the West Division. How did they manage to do that?
A few reasons:
One, they have great leadership. Putting that “C” on Mark Stone has turned out to be the right call and he, along with the other veterans, kept the room together. Don’t underestimate the importance of that, especially when you’ve lost two in a row and things were looking a bit bleak.
Obviously, we’re not in the room so we don’t hear or see what goes on. But trust me, the message was made clear after they dropped those two games to Minnesota.
Stone also led on the ice, scoring in Friday’s 5-4 overtime win at St. Louis, then potting a pair in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Blues to help right the ship following the two losses in St. Paul to the Wild.
Two, the coach knows what he’s doing. Say what you want about DeBoer, but virtually every move he has made this season has worked. His moving Tomas Nosek and Nic Roy up to play with Alex Tuch and dropping Cody Glass and Keegan Kolesar down to the fourth line to partner with Ryan Reaves worked Friday as the third line generated three points (Nosek’s goal and assist plus Roy’s assist), giving the team some desperately needed bottom-six scoring.
Saturday, Glass was not in the lineup, replaced by Patrick Brown who didn’t look out of place playing with Kolesar and Reaves. I’m glad to see Brown get a chance and I hope Saturday was not a one-off for him.