| Wysłany: 2018-08-15, 04:25 are, they make your team go.
|Just saying the Vegas Golden Knights are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final has a magical ring to it.
But what’s even more mystical is thinking the Knights are a mere five wins from hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in its inaugural season.
Five more wins Joe Thomas Jersey Elite , over a potential 10 games.
And while this might be a first-year team writing a fantastical Hollywood screenplay nobody could’ve scripted last summer when the roster was constructed, the NHL playoffs are nothing new to a core of characters in this cast.
Everybody knows about three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury, a key figure during Pittsburgh’s reign the last two years, and 10-year veteran James Neal, who was with Nashville for last year’s run to the final against the Penguins.
But between guys such as David Perron, Luca Sbisa, Deryk Engelland, Ryan Reaves, Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin and Tomas Tatar, the Golden Knights aren’t as new to the playoffs as people may believe.
The players’ individual postseason pedigree could be part of the reason the team is one game from clinching the Western Conference. Another reason is the eagerness of Fleury and Neal’s co-stars in this feel-good story.
”We don’t see ourselves as an expansion team for a long time now,” said Perron, a 13-year veteran who is playing in his seventh postseason. ”But at the same time, it’s always nice to keep proving people wrong and we know that even at this point, I don’t feel like people believe we’ll close it out. So, we’ve got to find a way.”
Coach Gerard Gallant has shown he has confidence in all his players Josh Jackson Youth Jersey , as they’ve all experienced pressure situations and performed well in all three round of the playoffs, including seven one-goal games. Not including Fleury’s 129 career playoff games, or Neal’s 94, the players who skated in Friday night’s 3-2 Game 4 victory now have a combined 489 games of postseason experience to their credit.
”It’s not new for those guys, I don’t think you get here if you don’t use your hockey players,” Gallant said. ”We’ve done it from Day One and there’s no reason not to use them because everybody competes, everybody battles and everybody’s a part of our team. That’s what we do. Guys work hard and compete hard and do your job and you’ll play. I feel comfortable putting most of our guys on the ice. There’s no issues there.”
And that’s because the Golden Knights have always done a good job of living in the moment, and not looking past each game.
Erik Haula spent his first four seasons in Minnesota and went to the playoffs every year, but it didn’t take long for him to realize he was with a special group of players.
”We got off to a great start, won two on the road (to open the season),” said Haula, who has three goals and four assists in the postseason. ”Right after that first home game, that was special. It was a special night for the whole community. Right there, I think we came together as a community, as a team. We never looked back. We just kept going.
”We just have a close group. We respect every single person in here. We need every single person in here.”
Luca Sbisa has been in the league nine years and been to the postseason five times. His presence on defense has bolstered the crew on the blueline, helping to neutralize Winnipeg’s depth on offense.
”Coming in I just wanted to help this team and do what I could M.J. Stewart Jersey , especially on the ice,” said Sbisa, who went to the playoffs in four of the five seasons he was with Anaheim. ”I wanted to give our team a chance to win every night and here we are. We can’t look too far ahead, you gotta take it one game at a time. If you think about the next game you’re probably going to shoot yourself in the foot. We just have to find the balance of being aggressive and being smart. It’s been a long and fun ride so far.”
The fun continues Sunday, when the Jets host Game 5 and will look to stay alive against the fairy tale Knights from Vegas.
”I would say that winning and having fun go hand-in-hand,” said Eakin, now in his seventh year and playing in his third postseason. ”I’ve been on a few teams that have been pretty good, won a few times. We know we got to play our best hockey. Especially this time of year, there’s not a team that is going to roll over and die.”
Much like his team, William Karlsson has arrived in a big way this season.
The Golden Knights‘ young Swedish center scored his 40th goal of the season and added two assists in Monday’s playoff-clinching win over Colorado and once again displayed the type of play that has made him a pivotal part of Vegas’ impressive inaugural run.
Karlsson, who this season has more goals than in his previous stints with the Blue Jackets and Ducks combined, has helped form one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL playing alongside Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith.
”He shows up every night, he works hard, and he helps me be a better player and I help him to be a better player,” Marchessault said. ”I just love playing with a high-quality player like that. It doesn’t happen often in a career, to have a connection like that. Me Sean Lee Jersey Elite , Karly and Smitty, we have something special. We know that, and I think it makes it fun every night.”
The Golden Knights were the first team in the NHL with five different 20-goal scorers this season, and Karlsson leads the way with his 40, fourth-best in the league. Marchessault (24) and Smith (22) have also scored at least 20 goals this season. Meanwhile, Karlsson is tied for 27th in the league with 69 points. It’s a big reason the expansion Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division with six games remaining.
”That’s what happens when you play with good players. I’ve always wanted to be a top-six forward in the NHL,” said Karlsson, who’s affectionately known as Wild Bill. ”It’s good to know that I can do it, that I can be a top-six forward in this league. That feels really good to know after playing a defensive role the last couple of seasons. I got the chance here, playing with great players, and I’m happy that I took the chance. It’s been great so far, but we’re not nearly done.”
According to his teammates and coach Gerard Gallant, Karlsson’s diligence on the defensive end is what makes him such a special player. It’s not uncommon to see him start plays several passes before he’s on the receiving end of a would-be goal.
”I’m impressed by his goals, obviously, and his play offensively, but what people don’t realize is a lot of guys that have so many points are not especially great two-way players Leighton Vander Esch Jersey Elite , not complete players,” center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. ”When there is a goal, often … I mean, five plays before he finishes, he’s the one creating that play because he plays the right way or he’s saying the right stuff. For me, that’s the most impressive part.”
Gallant said he knew the type of player he was getting in Karlsson coming into the Knights’ inaugural season. And while Gallant would have never predicted the types of numbers Karlsson has, he’s putting forth the effort Gallant expected to blend well with the likes of Marchessault and Smith.
”You look at the line, they’re all high-plus players,” Gallant said. ”They’ve built chemistry all year long. It’s every night these guys are making good plays, and that’s important to our team. We talk about having 20 guys playing every night, and most nights we got it. But when these guys are hot like they are, they make your team go.
”Reilly Smith is one of the best two-way players in the league in my opinion. Marchy has had a great year both offensively and defensively. That’s what our team is, we work hard at both ends of the rink and that’s why we’re having success.”