Time for me to Acknowledge the Golden Knights
By Patrick Hoffman
I have been waiting a long time to write about the Vegas Golden Knights.
When they got off to their incredible start through October and November, I was very weary. I honestly did not think it would last and that eventually, they would come back down to earth and play like the expansion team that they are.
With the team having won 8 straight games (As of January 3, 2018) and having collected at least a point in each of their last 13 games (As of January 3, 2018), I think the time has come for me to give the Golden Knights some credit. Okay, may be a lot of credit.
As of this writing (January 3, 2018) the Golden Knights are second (yes, you read that right) in the entire National Hockey League with 56 points. If you are keeping track at home, they are just four points behind the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning while also leading the Pacific Division by three points over the Los Angeles Kings.
When you think about it, this is truly remarkable. While everyone was excited for this team to join the league, many figured that they would be competitive, but that ultimately, they would have no chance in making the playoffs.
In looking at the standings and the general makeup of this team, there is a good chance come April that not only will they be in the postseason, but they might be considered a contender in the Western Conference. Again, you read that right.
There are several reasons why this team has been successful. For starters, they outwork and outskate their opponents on a nightly basis.
This team forechecks, creates turnovers, and makes the most of their opportunities when the other team makes a mistake. They simply know how to be in the right place at the right time by competing for every puck and by knowing how to win the one-on-one battles whether it be along the boards or in front of the net.
Secondly, this team actually has some scoring depth. Leading the team in scoring is Jonathan Marchessault with 37 points (15 goals and 22 assists) and he is followed by the goal-producing machine William Karlsson (20 goals and 13 assists for 33 points), Reilly Smith (10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points), David Perron (9 goals and 22 assists for 31 points), and James Neal (17 goals and 10 assists for 27 points).
The Golden Knights have also gotten great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury when he's been healthy and since returning from injury. In 10 games with his new team, Fleury is 8-1-0-1 with a 1.77 goals against average, a .943 save percentage, and two shutouts, showing that he is the perfect player to be the face of this franchise.
Back-up masked man Karl Subban has also been excellent for this team. In 13 games, Subban is 10-2 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
Lastly, head coach Gerard Gallant has proven to be the right man behind the bench for this hockey club. The team has clearly bought in to what he's been preaching and because of that, the club is playing like a unit, which is why they have had so much success thus far.
There is a lot of hockey to be played from now through the beginning of April, but believe it or not, this team is legit and hopefully, they will stay that way and get into the dance come springtime.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.