If there’s anything we should’ve learned about the Vegas Golden Knights by now, it’s to expect the unexpected. Finishing the season with 51 wins and 109 points in their inaugural campaign, on the backs of some incredible individual seasons from the likes of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron. But what sticks out most about the Knights system and the key to their success is their defencemen and their puck movement. I’ve never seen a team use so much speed up the middle of the ice all while working the puck around so well, with the defencemen being the anchor to Gerard Gallant’s playbook. It’s something other NHL teams still haven’t caught onto after a full 82 game season, and something the LA Kings will have to adjust to if they want to take down Vegas in the first round.
And that’s the thing, most people do have Vegas going on past the Kings in the first round, but bowing out in the second round. But why? Sure, you look at their roster, the inexperience of their top players, the fact they were basically jumbled together from teams who didn’t consider them vital to their old organizations, but that just fuels the fire that much more. The Knights know people still don’t believe in them. Nobody thinks they can get by Nashville or Winnipeg. But everything dictates that they can, given their unique style of play, a few veteran playoff guys like James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury, and a terrific home record, where opposing teams never seem to string success together at T-Mobile Arena.
After going to a Vegas game back in February, I can’t imagine what the local rallying cry is like on the Vegas strip right about now. It was crazy when the playoffs were still a couple months away, and it must be a full on party down there now. And after all that’s happened with this team and this town over the last 12 months, how could you not pick the Knights to win? It would be a storybook tale for the ages. From the successful ticket drive, to the expansion draft, to the tragic events prior to the first game, to the unbelievable streak at the start of the year, to the goaltending dilemma midway through the year. But Vegas didn’t let any of that get in their way. They stuck to their guns and wound up with 51 wins and a Pacific Division title.
As the Stanley Cup Playoffs finally begin tonight, the two month journey will see tonnes of twists and turns, but I have Vegas hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup when it’s all said and done, because they’ve given me every reason to believe that this is simply their year, and no matter who’s in their way, the Knights will somehow, someway find a solution and cap off a historic season with the most coveted trophy in hockey.