If there’s one thing the Golden Knights were not short on as they headed into their fourth Stanley Cup playoff journey, it was experience. Before the 19 games they each played on their path to the Semifinals, the Golden Knights entered the playoffs with 1,086 games of postseason experience on the roster.
On top of that, they also boasted four prominent players that have won Stanley Cups. Between Marc-Andre Fleury, Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and Chandler Stephenson, this version of the Golden Knights had players who had won seven of the last 13 Stanley Cups.
When you hear people talk about players like Fleury, Pietrangelo, Martinez, and Stephenson you’ll often hear them mention that accolade. In Martinez’s case, when he was acquired it was literally the only thing anyone wanted to reference when describing him as a player. And, after this season concluded, Martinez himself went right to it when talking about Pietrangelo.
He’s got that championship pedigree. He’s been through a lot of playoff runs. We actually went head-to-head quite a few times. -Alec Martinez on Pietrangelo
Personally, I’m usually a little skeptical when it comes to pedigree making a difference, but this year has made me re-think it a bit seeing the performances of the Cup-winners on the Golden Knights’ roster.
Think about it. Who were Vegas’ best three players on this postseason run?
Fleury clearly jumps to the forefront as one of them. Pietrangelo has to be right behind him. And honestly, I don’t think anyone was as consistently impactful as Martinez. As far as Stephenson, he was contributing points in the Minnesota series, and filled the shutdown role stopping Nathan MacKinnon and Co. in the second round. Injury forced him out against Montreal and he didn’t look himself when he returned.
It’s not a stretch to say the best players in this postseason for the Golden Knights were ALL former Stanley Cup winners.
It’s obvious he’s an incredible talent and I think we complemented each other well. I think that we both have a similar outlook and understanding of the game and how we want to play. He’s an easy guy to play with, he makes a lot of plays. He’s a horse, he does everything. You see in the playoffs, he was incredible. -Martinez on Pietrangelo
I suspect that outlook has a lot to do with pressure, or maybe lack of pressure.
For a lot of Golden Knights who have never won the Cup, you could see the pressure they were putting on themselves. Every player knows they only get a finite number of chances, and even fewer with a team as good as the one they were on. So we saw some tightly gripped sticks, we saw some uncharacteristic mistakes and quite frankly, we saw some versions of VGK’s best players that we are far from used to.
But that’s not at all what we witnessed from Fleury, Pietrangelo, Martinez, and Stephenson.
I’m not entirely sure what to gather from it, but it’s an observation that has to hold some merit. Maybe it means they should add more guys who have their names engraved in the Cup, or maybe they can tap into the mentality of these four to figure out what helped them through the grind better than others.
Whatever it is, there’s something there, because while those four players are all excellent and expected to play well, their level of play clearly rose above the rest, and the reason why is something the Golden Knights should absolutely be exploring this offseason.