Welcome to what may either be a one-off or something that we continue down the road.
But considering it’s 3 a.m., we’re already way behind on a recap and we need to talk about how the Vegas Golden Knights just dominated this homestand.
So welcome to Late Knight, where these turn into the early-in-the-morning musings that may or may not continue. It depends if you like it enough.
Let’s get to it.
- I think I speak for everyone who follows this team on a daily basis when I say ‘shocked’ isn’t even the word. The Golden Knights took five of six during a six-game homestand sans Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, at one point Mark Stone, at one Zach Whitecloud, Nolan Patrick, and there’s probably someone else that I’ve forgotten because the laundry list of Golden Knights players who are hurt or are in COVID protocol is miles long. Saturday’s game was the best example of that; minus all those players and down 2-0 after one, the Golden Knights rallied to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 and take 10 of a possible 12 points. That’s impressive. It’s almost impossible. It’s even Jack Adams-worthy for Pete DeBoer. And more help may be on the way; Max Pacioretty took part in morning skate Saturday and had us all fooled thinking he would go into the lineup, only to just fill the role for Mattias Janmark — who, of course, scored the winning goal. All signs are that the Golden Knights will have their leading goal scorer available for the upcoming road trip starting in St. Louis on Monday.
- I say this to point out that with Pacioretty returning, and Mark Stone looking more like himself since returning, the Edmonton Oilers await the Golden Knights once again Saturday in a post-Thanksgiving matchup. Vegas played Connor McDavid and co. hard to a 5-3 loss back on Oct. 22. Keep in mind: At the apex of all the injuries, it was a 3-3 game at 2:07 in the third period. This matchup can look 10 times different with the top line back intact. But if Pacioretty were to come back next week, how much does the lineup really change? Stone, Chandler Stephenson and Evgenii Dadonov have been great and the case can be made that you want Dadonov to remain at that high level to ensure that trade was actually worth it. Arguments can be made that Vegas just needs to get that line back and rolling as soon as possible.
- It’s still pretty crazy that we’re talking about this team being four points out of first place. Once upon a time, the Golden Knights were crashing toward the bottom of the standings. But friends, this is why they play 82 games in this economy. The young players — Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, Ben Jones, Paul Cotter — have all played admirably when called upon. They have as just as much of a hand in Vegas’ winning ways as anyone else. DeBoer is going to have some tough decisions to make between who stays and who goes back to Henderson (lord knows that group needs some healthy bodies, too).
- Goaltending is great, as expected. Robin Lehner continues to be terrific, and with his third win in four starts, Laurent Brossoit continues to look every bit like the worthwhile payment he was made out to be in Day 1 of free agency. I have no clue where Lehner is in the pantheon of top goalies in the league right now, but he has to be up there. Brossoit rebounded well after giving up those two goals in the first period, including a couple of big saves on the 6-on-5 late. There will be more instances that Brossoit plays over Lehner, and we continue to see that trust will be rewarded.
- Continued good wishes and positive vibes toward Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros as he continues his journey through cancer recovery. Have only talked with him a couple of times in person because COVID, but he’s a wonderful man who is well received in this organization.