Gallant says he absolutely considered using Gusev in the series but basically said in the end it came down to the fact that he didn't fully know the systems and it wasn't worth the risk. Opted for Pirri and he thought he played great in Game 7.
A major part of this season for the Golden Knights has been battling through injuries and the suspension of Nate Schmidt. With just one game left on the schedule, Vegas has played just 26 of the 81 games (32%) with their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen intact.
12 of those games have come since the trade deadline when Mark Stone was acquired and the Golden Knights have won 10 of those 12 games. Prior to the deadline, Vegas was healthy for just 14 of the first 63 games (22%).
By healthy, I mean not missing any of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch (or Erik Haula), Nate Schmidt, Brayden McMabb, Deryk Engelland, and Shea Theodore.
In those 14 games, the Golden Knights won just five. They’ve played 48 of the 81 games without a top-six foward, and have won 26 of them. They’ve been without at least one of their four primary centers 38 times and won 19 of them. And they’ve been missing a top-four defenseman nine times and won four.
Going into this exercise (because of these two tweets), I was expecting to see a team that thrived when healthy and floundered when not. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, the Golden Knights have been basically the same under any circumstance. Except for one… since the beginning of “The Stone Age.”
They have a winning record when missing at least one top-six forward and are above a point per game when missing either a center or a top-four defenseman.
Looking at the roster, the Golden Knights appear to be fairly deep. Lose a top-six forward, you can plug in Brandon Pirri, Tomas Nosek, or hopefully Erik Haula. Lose a top-four D and Nick Holden, Colin Miller, or Jon Merrill can take the place. Go without a center and Tomas Nosek or Ryan Carpenter can fill the void.
This is all good news heading into the postseason, where injuries will inevitably happen. As of right now, with just one game left to play, the Golden Knights are about as healthy as a hockey team can be. Since getting Stone, that’s meant nothing but winning, hopefully, it continues starting next week.
**These are NOT real 3rd jerseys for the Golden Knights.**
Around the league many teams have unveiled “3rd Jerseys” this season. There are throwbacks like the Ducks and Coyotes, brand new designs like the Avalanche and Jets, and some slightly off the wall ones like the Hurricanes and Devils. You can see all 15 of them here.
The Golden Knights will NOT be getting a 3rd jersey this season and odds are it’s not even in the cards for next year either. However, eventually Adidas, the NHL, and The Creator will want to pick up a couple extra bucks and a 3rd jersey will be unveiled. With a little inspiration from the Drumbots and the Season Ticket Holder Box, we decided to take a stab at a concept.
These concepts were designed by Drew Goldfarb, former pre/postgame host for the Florida Panthers who has adopted the Golden Knights as his new team of choice.
So, without further ado, here is the “Vegas Born Golden Knights 3rd Jersey Concept.”
This guy is going to have to be much better if the Golden Knights are going to beat the Wild for the first time ever. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
When the schedule was first released it didn’t take most long to realize the quirk in the Golden Knights first 11 games of play. One at home, then five away, then five at home. Both the longest road trip and longest homestand, back-to-back to start out the season.
This odd schedule arrangement put the Golden Knights in a bit of a weird spot with seemingly more importance on the first game than normal. With a win, Vegas would head on the road already with two points in hand and really would only need a few points to stay afloat through the rigorous start to the year. However, they dropped Thursday night’s game and now stare at a five-game trip in which they really need to return with at least five points.
We knew we were a good team (last year), we know we’re a pretty good team again this year, but you got to get back to work. We have to work hard and play the game that we played last year. Tonight wasn’t a good start. -Gerard Gallant
Just look at the numbers. If the Golden Knights get anything less than five points, they’ll return home with just four or fewer in their first six games. Then, even if they sweep the five-game homestand, that’s still only 14 in 11, and that’s unlikely. It’s more likely they drop at least one of the five at home which would mean at best barely a point per game through an eighth of the season. Not a single time last season did the Golden Knights fail to put up at least 10 points in any 11 game stretch. A less than five point road trip would almost assure that to be the case in the first 11 this year.
I’m aware, I’m jumping ahead drastically after one game, but in the NHL, the standings are fickle. If you fall in a hole early, it’s incredibly tough to get out of it. It takes months to make up lost points, especially lost home points.
Road trips are always important to bring home as many points as you can, but we really can’t focus on anything but the next one. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
A win tonight in Minnesota basically erases the loss to Philly, but a loss, even in OT, would instantly put the Golden Knights behind the 8-ball staring at four more consecutive road games including a back-to-back in Washington and Pittsburgh.
Last year, when this team was faced with important games, they always found a way to get them (until the last four, but we’ll skip that for now). This isn’t exactly that scenario, but it’s surprisingly close due to the weird schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if the Must-Win-Golden-Knights still exist or if they were left behind in Year One.
This is the raw audio from every end of season interview we were a part of in the Golden Knights locker room. The voices heard in order are, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, David Perron, Reilly Smith, William Carrier, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, Nate Schmidt, William Karlsson, Nate Schmidt (again), Brayden McNabb, and Luca Sbisa.
Tonight is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Winnipeg Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights. It will be the first home game of the series for the Golden Knights and the first home game since they won Game 5 of the 2nd round against the Sharks on May 4th. The series is 1-1 and in tied series the winner of Game 3 going on to win about 70% of best of seven series.
Add it all up and you have no choice but to come to the conclusion that this is the biggest game in the history of the franchise and the biggest game for just about every single player on the roster. Yet, morning skate and the locker room after looked as if it was just another day at the office.
That’s the coolest thing about our group. Our guys just feel like it’s another game. We’re just having fun. We’re the same way at the rink, same way in the locker room, meetings are the same. (We) keep the pressure on the outside of the room, that’s kind of the way we’ve been handling things all year. Guys are still giving each other crap before games, it’s the same banter as usual, and it’s helping our guys calm down before games. -Nate Schmidt
If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if this was Game 47 against Columbus or a pivotal Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
This isn’t normal.
We had a lot more pressure on our team (in Washington) to win, so yeah it’s a different feeling for sure. -Schmidt
I feel differently about this group. We’re such a tight-knit group. It’s just fun to come to the rink and battle with these guys. -Shea Theodore
It’s important to stay the course no matter what, that’s how we got here. -David Perron
Smile, laugh, joke, who cares? It’s not like Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is in your home building tonight. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Those are three players who were in the 2nd Round or further last season and they all agree this team is different.
They are different because everything remains the same. The same guys stepped on the ice first to start morning skate. They maintained the same tradition of putting the players with the closest connection to the night’s opponent in the center of the stretching circle (Reaves and Eakin got the nod tonight both being from Winnipeg). They ran the same drills. They stayed on the ice for the same amount of time as they always do, and then they went to the locker room and it had the exact same feel it’s had every single game throughout this inaugural season.
This is probably the 10th time we’ve used this picture. Don’t care, it’s awesome. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
At the midway point of the year, the Golden Knights have played 2,460 minutes of hockey. Over the course of the first 41 games, Vegas has outscored their opponents 141-111. The team has been tied or in the lead for the majority of the first half. Here is a breakdown of minutes spent in the lead for the Golden Knights.
VGK spent 919:29 in the lead VGK averages 22:41 in the lead per game VGK spent 321:22 out of 780 minutes in the lead against top NHL Teams (13 games; DAL, NAS, STL, TB, TOR, WAS, WPG) VGK averages 24:44 minutes in the lead per game against top NHL teams VGK spent 275:21 out of 720 minutes in the lead vs the Pacific VGK averages 22:58 minutes in the lead per game vs the Pacific
Game by game time spent in the lead
Game 1 @ Dallas: 2:44 Win Game 2 @ Arizona: 0:00 Win (OT) Game 3 vs Arizona: 57:29 Win Game 4 vs Detroit: 7:57 Loss Game 5 vs Boston: 25:22 Win Game 6 vs Buffalo: 33:11 Win (OT) Game 7 vs St. Louis: 17:25 Win (OT) Game 8 vs Chicago: 54:14 Win Game 9 vs Colorado: 31:10 Win Game 10 @ NYI: 21:05 Loss Game 11 @ NYR: 20:33 Loss Game 12 @ Boston: 0:00 Loss Game 13 @ Ottawa: 46:21 Win Game 14 @ Toronto: 0:00 Loss (SO) Game 15 @ Montreal: 0:00 Loss Game 16 vs Winnipeg: 53:19 Win
Raphael Rivera named it “Vegas” or meadow. Was everybody pissed at him for dropped the “Las” too? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Las Vegas translates from Spanish to mean “The Meadows.” The origin of the name comes from a Mexican explorer who was traveling from New Mexico to Los Angeles. As you expect of a man traveling through the desert, Raphael Rivera had grown thirsty. In a valley surrounded by mountains, Rivera found water, he also found vast green patches of land in an otherwise sand and dirt covered desert. Rivera drank and drank and drank and then decided his new favorite place was to be called Vegas, or meadow. 196 years later, the name remains and Rivera’s oasis is now known as Springs Preserve.
Rivera had characterized Las Vegas as simply, a place to get water. He was thirsty, so he stopped. Today, Las Vegas is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World. Characterized quite simply as, a place to go to have fun. But like our parched explorer friend found out, when time is spent actually getting to know Las Vegas, there’s much more than meets the eye.
It’s not just a place to go throw all your money away pulling a lever, tossing some dice, or spinning a wheel. Instead, it’s a real city, a real community, and like most who plant roots in Vegas quickly realize, a great place to live.
In the locker room, after the game, I realized how much we embodied Vegas — how similar our team is to the city. We’re a bunch of people, from all over North America and the world, who were castaways from their teams. And nobody really took us seriously. –David Perron in The Players Tribune
The community of Las Vegas sees itself as a castaway. People from Vegas constantly have to explain details those from other cities don’t. Thus, Las Vegans feel they are put in a box they don’t belong in so they are loud, they are proud, and they will go to great lengths to prove that yes, they do live in Las Vegas, and yes it is a real city.
The Golden Knights have given the city an identity, but equally true is the city has given the team an identity.
And we’re a real hockey team. With some real good players. -Perron
Las Vegas doesn’t actually offer anything different than anywhere else, they just seem to do it better, and the people of Las Vegas believe it. The Golden Knights don’t do anything different than any other team, they just seem to do it better, and they definitely believe it.
Probably about a month ago I was (reflecting on how we were winning) but now I believe in our team every night. I think we’re a good hockey team. We’re working hard and we’re competing hard. Can we maintain this? I think we can and the guys feel confident about that. -Gerard Gallant
Just like this team, you know damn well Perron isn’t going to fall down here. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
People’s opinions change sometimes. Raphael Rivera was looking for water, he found a vast meadow in the middle of the desert. Locals came to get away from wherever they were before, they found a great place to live and an amazing community to be a part of. The NHL came for an expansion team that was supposed to stink, it found a winner, and maybe just a Cup contender.