With a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames, the Vegas Golden Knights continue to prove that they’re a statement team.
This past summer, I often joked that the newly established Vegas Golden Knights would serve as the NHL’s equivalent of the island of misfit toys.
On Sunday, they made me eat my words. For the 46th time this season.
In yet another chapter of a debut that has been nothing short of spellbinding, the Knights blanked the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-0.
For the latter, the ramifications of this loss are enormous. With just nine games to go, the Flames continue to strain the edges of falling out of playoff contention. And although Mike Smith’s sense of accountability is sharper than ever, Calgary’s window of opportunity closes by the day.
The real story, however, is not the fact that Vegas won, but the role of key players in ushering forward another victory.
Just over two minutes after the conclusion of the first intermission, former Pittsburgh Penguin Ryan Reaves sidelined defender T.J. Brodie with a momentous hit. This caught the eye of head coach Gerard Gallant, who would go on to render Reaves’ play the defining moment of the game.
Gallant’s comments are curious due to the circumstances in which they were uttered. William Karlsson had just brought his 2017-18 goal total to 39 with a natural hat trick in the second period. Marc-Andre Fleury had just made 42 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season, which in turn earned him career win No. 401. Colin Miller had just followed administrative advice and scored his tenth of the regular campaign.
So why focus on Reaves?
In the eyes of Gallant, it’s time for hockey fans to strongly consider an under-discussed truth. What differentiates the Knights from teams that simply dream of playoff contention is not their ability to score goals. Nor does it lie in their top goaltender’s capacity to shut the door when he’s needed. Rather, the hit from the NHL’s toughest player is a reminder of a reality that we’ve really only started to fathom.
Vegas — unexpectedly yet undoubtedly — has redefined what it means to be a statement team.
We can look for proof of this actuality just about anywhere in the Knights’ inaugural narrative. But as tonight shows, one need look no further than Vegas’ fourth line for unprecedented depth.
As the Knights seek playoff qualification, a new sense of promise emerges. With the possibility of postseason glory comes an opportunity to rewrite history.
These misfit toys are here to stay.