NHL playoffs a different game from regular season

It’s thrilling. It’s exhilarating. It’s frustrating.

It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Las Vegas will experience it for the first time thanks to the Golden Knights.

The Knights, who posted a 51-24-7 record, won the Pacific Division regular-season title and finished fifth overall in the NHL with 109 points, start their quest for the Cup on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings. To hoist the trophy, Vegas will have to win 16 games over the next two months.

“It’s the best postseason of any sport,” said general manager George McPhee, who went to the Stanley Cup Final as GM of the Washington Capitals in 1998. “But it’s hard to win it.”

Playoff hockey is different from the regular season. For starters, you’re playing the same team at least four times and as many as seven in a single series. The intensity level goes up dramatically. The officiating is different. Injuries happen, and roster depth becomes a factor. Luck plays a role. One weird bounce of the puck can mean the difference between moving on or being eliminated. A hot goaltender can steal a game or even a series.

Coach Gerard Gallant knows all this. He also knows the best way to be successful in the postseason is to not alter what got you there.

“We don’t want to change our style of play, and we’re not going to,” Gallant said. “We’ve been pretty successful doing what we’ve been doing. Sure, you’re going to have to make adjustments. But basically, we want to be who we are — a fast-skating team that works hard and competes every shift.”

Heightened intensity

Everything is magnified in the playoffs, and that puts pressure on the players not to make mistakes.

“But you also don’t want to be overly cautious,” said defenseman Nate Schmidt. “You still have to play your game. For us, that means moving quickly in transition and getting it out of our end.”

Center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said the successful teams simply don’t panic.

“Obviously, you don’t want to have a turnover and have the other team score on you,” he said. “But you have to realize as a team, if you fall behind early, there’s still plenty of time and you stick to your game plan.”

Defenseman Deryk Engelland said handling emotions is also a key to success.

“Everyone’s excited when the playoffs come around,” he said. “But you can hurt yourself if you get too excited. It’s important to stay on an even keel, play your game and focus on doing what you’re supposed to do.”

Familiarity breeds contempt

When you play the same team at least four times — and as many as seven — in a row, tempers will undoubtedly flare. But don’t expect the Knights to drop the gloves and duke it out.

“I’m sure guys will be chirping and you’ll see some hate,” Schmidt said. “Sometimes it takes time to develop, but eventually there are going to be guys who just don’t like each other, and there’ll be a lot of pushing and shoving. But you don’t see much fighting anymore.”

According to hockeyfights.com, the Knights, Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes drew the fewest fighting majors in the NHL this season, with eight each. But don’t construe that as being soft. In Engelland, Ryan Reaves, William Carrier and Brayden McNabb, the Knights have enough muscle to handle things on the ice if need be.

“We’re a tough team, but we’re not a fighting team,” Gallant said. “There’s a big difference. I’m not worried about us being able to handle ourselves. We can play against heavy teams. We’ve done it all year.”

Different game, different calls

During the regular season, the Golden Knights saw plenty of different officiating crews. But the playoffs will bring the NHL’s best referees and linesmen. It will also mean adjusting to the way the game is called.

“You have no control over it,” Engelland said of the officiating. “You can’t let it get in your head. You just let the coaches handle it.”

Gallant said the fact the Knights were one of the least penalized teams in the league — No. 29 with an average of 6.9 penalty minutes per game — should not make officiating a major factor.

“I don’t want our guys to worry about who’s calling the game,” he said. “Obviously, we know the referees and what they like to call and not call. We have stats from our analytics department that we’re made aware of.

“But I always tell our guys, ‘You play the game and let me worry about the refs.’ It’s worked pretty good for us so far.”

But there will be times Gallant may challenge a call, be it for goaltender interference or for offsides before a goal was scored.

Last change, matching lines

For the coaches, matching lines and getting the right combinations on the ice are important in the playoffs.

As in the regular season, the home team gets to put its players out last. So when the Knights are hosting, Gallant will likely wait and see who Kings coach John Stevens has out on the ice before deciding who to send over the boards. It can become a chess match at times, but Gallant isn’t likely to get too caught up in it.

“I’m not a big matching guy,” he said. “But obviously there are going to be times where we may want a certain matchup against a certain line.

“I don’t like to match up a lot because I want our guys to have confidence that they can play against anyone. We’ve got four lines that can all skate and check, and I’m not afraid to use any of them. We’ve played four lines all year, and it’s been very successful for us.”


If a game is tied during the regular season, play shifts to a 3-on-3 overtime for five minutes, followed by a shootout if a winner hasn’t been determined.

But playoff overtime is old school — sudden death. It’s 5-on-5, and somebody has to win.

And unlike regular-season overtime, playoff overtime requires the ice to be resurfaced. So while the Zamboni makes its rounds, the players hydrate and the coaches formulate strategies.

You can play all night to determine a winner. The longest game in NHL playoff history was in 1936, when Detroit’s Mud Bruneteau scored in the sixth overtime to give the Red Wings a 1-0 win over the Montreal Maroons.

Great goaltending

Marc-Andre Fleury has three Stanley Cup rings from his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has stolen games and even series in his career. The Columbus Blue Jackets found that out last year, when Fleury backstopped the Penguins to an opening-round 4-1 series win while posting a save percentage of .933 overall and .967 at home.

“I don’t think there’s any one thing or one play that makes that happen,” Fleury said of getting hot. “I think it happens over the course of the series. Your teammates have a lot to do with it. When they’re playing well in front of you, it makes your job easier.

“It’s about trying to stay consistent and do the same thing.”

The fine line

James Neal went to the Stanley Cup Final last year with Nashville, losing to Fleury’s Penguins. He has played in 80 playoff games, the most of any Knights skater (David Perron is next with 42). He has 44 postseason points, including 25 goals. He knows how to have success on the game’s biggest stage.

“The little things make a huge difference,” Neal said. “In a seven-game series, the hits you make and where you make them. The physicality of play. Trying to wear the other team down. Winning faceoffs. Keeping control of the puck in the other team’s end. All of those things are important.

“You’re playing with the mentality that every game is huge. So if you lose a game, you have to be able to let that go and move on. And when you win, you feel great. But you have to put that behind you and refocus in. But it’s the best time of the year. You work hard all season to give yourself a chance” to win the Cup.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge Facebook live at City National Arena
Ed Graney and John Katsilometes are live at Golden Knights practice at City National Arena to preview the team's upcoming Stanley Cup playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge: Knights eager to get back on the ice
Zac Pacleb gives a practice report, including how the Golden Knights feel about the long wait between sweeping the Los Angeles Kings and playing the San Jose Sharks.
Gallant gives an update on Reilly Smith and San Jose prep
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talked to the media after Monday's practice, including an update on Reilly Smith as well as how the long wait has impacted his team.
Players talk about the long wait before playing San Jose
Alex Tuch, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault discuss their thoughts about the upcoming series against the San Jose Sharks as well as how they feel about the long wait between games.
Golden Edge: Knights take a day off ahead of its series against San Jose
Zac Pacleb talks about the Golden Knights taking the day off, including what Gerard Gallant had to say about players who haven't seen any playing time in the playoffs.
Gerard Gallant talks on the Golden Knights' day off
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks on the Golden Knights' day off ahead of their series with the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Knights Talk About Practice And Prepping For Sharks
Golden Knights Defenseman Brayden McNabb and Nate Schimdt talk about the upcoming games against the Sharks. Head coach Gerard Gallant talks about Brayden McNabb's role on the ice.
Golden Edge: Knights Practice after sweeping the LA Kings
Elaine Wilson and David Schoen were live at City National Arena for the Golden Knights first practice since sweeping the LA Kings in round one.
Golden Knights fan Dee Dravnieks of Perth, Australia
Golden Knights hockey fan Dee Dravnieks of Perth, Australia, talks about traveling more than 9,500 miles to see her favorite hockey team play in Las Vegas and Canada. (Ron Kantowski/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tickets on sale Monday for Knights’ series vs. San Jose
Tickets for the second-round series between the Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks go on sale at noon Monday. Less than 1,000 tickets will be available per game. Prices range from $125 to $495, a 30 to 40 percent increase from the first round. There is a four-ticket maximum per game per purchase. Standing room for both the Tower Deck and upper balcony areas will also be on sale Monday.
Station Casinos offers free wagers on Golden Knights to win Cup
Station Casinos will offer free bets on the Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup. The locals casino company announced a promotion offering free wagers ranging from $5 to $250 on the team who wins hockey’s most coveted trophy. Thousands of invited holders of Station’s Boarding Pass loyalty card will receive an offer by mail to swipe their cards Monday at kiosks at seven properties. A winning ticket could cash for up to $1,000. The Golden Knights are now the 4-1 co-favorites with the Nashville Predators to claim the NHL championship.
Golden Edge: Knights Sweep Playoff Series Against Kings
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Golden Knights beat reporters Steve Carp and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights win against the Kings. The Golden Knights now have swept the series against the Kings in the first rounds of the playoffs.
Gerard Gallant talks about Game 4 and series win
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about his team getting a series sweep over the LA Kings.
Golden Knights players react to sweeping the Kings
James Neal, Reilly Smith and Brayden McNabb talk after the Golden Knights' 1-0 win to sweep the Los Angeles Kings.
Marc-Andre Fleury talks about the Game 4 win
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury talks about the Golden Knights 1-0 win in Game 4 to sweep the Los Angeles Kings.
Vanderburg Elementary cheers on the Golden Knights with mascot Chance, Golden Aces cheerleaders
Students at Vanderburg Elementary wrote an original song for a #KnightUp contest from the Vegas Golden Knights. They won the contest and hosted Knights mascot Chance and the Golden Aces cheerleaders for a pep rally. Over 300 students came together to cheer on the Knights as they head into their fourth playoff game.
Golden Edge: Knights have a chance to sweep the Kings
Bryan Salmond talks to David Schoen about the Golden Knights' playoff success as well as some of the best moments from our one-on-one interview with a few of the players.
Gerard Gallant talks about Game 3
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant reflects on Game 3 and the Golden Knights upcoming chance to sweep the Los Angeles Kings.
Neal, Fleury and Marchessault talk about the team's playoff performance
James Neal, Marc Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault discuss the team's performance so far in the playoffs and what it needs to do to close out the Los Angeles Kings.
Erik Haula talks about his interaction with Kopitar
Golden Knights forward Erik Haula discusses his controversial moment in Game 3 with Anže Kopitar.
Golden Edge: Knights take 3-0 lead against the Kings
Bryan Salmond recaps the Golden Knights 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3.
Golden Knights fans see the team off to Los Angeles
Golden Knights fans waited outside of City National Arena to send off the team as it head to Los Angeles for games three and four of its playoff series against the Kings.
Golden Knights use fitness to grab 2-0 series lead
A day after beating the Kings 2-0 in double overtime, Golden Knights players credited their conditioning. "Your body is tired, but your mind is still racing," said forward Reilly Smith. "The crowd was unbelievable." A season-high gathering of 18,588 at T-Mobile Arena helped inspire the Knights to victory. "This is why we put in so much extra work all summer long," said defenseman Jon Merrill. "For a game like that." The series continues with Game 3 at Staples Center on Sunday night.
Golden Knights React To Winning In Double Ot Against Kings
The Golden Knights react to their double overtime win against the Kings.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Kings In Double OT
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writers Steve Carp and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights double overtime win against the Kings.
Golden Edge: Knights Win In Double OT
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights win in double overtime.
Knights success far exceeds LVCVA's tourism goals
Several months ago, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority set out to market the city as the sports capital of the world. With the addition of the Golden Knights and the Raiders, LVCVA saw the perfect opportunity to do so. The Knights' success and current Stanley Cup playoff run has resulted in a marketing marriage with Las Vegas that has been far more successful than anyone could have imagined. This season, the Knights have managed to unite the community and made hockey fans around the country take notice. “The Knights, in my mind, really put the exclamation point that we’re the sports capital of the world, not only what they’ve done on the ice in this historic season but how they brought the community together." Lisa Motley, director of sports marketing and special events for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Professional sports have been a staple for Las Vegas for decades with championship boxing matches, PGA golf tour events and the National Finals Rodeo. But big-league teams kept their distance from Nevada, due to lingering fears of sports betting somehow influencing games. "Las Vegas stands for something much more extensive and expansive now than what it once did" David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute
Golden Edge: Jackie Redmond interview
Bryan Salmond interviews NHL Network host Jackie Redmond about the atmosphere and vibe around T-Mobile Arena and the Golden Knights.
Schmidt, Karlsson talk ahead of Game 2
Golden Knights players Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson discuss their team before squaring off against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2.
Gerard Gallant talks ahead of Game 2
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant gives an update on his team before Game 2, including status updates on David Perron and William Carrier.
Golden Edge: Knights give Vegas a night to remember
Bryan Salmond, Ed Graney and Steve Carp recap the Golden Knights playoff-opening win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Golden Knights players on their 1-0 win over the Kings
Vegas Golden Knights players speak on what went well for them to capture a 1-0 win over the LA Kings in the first game of the playoff series.
Gallant pleased with Golden Knights effort in 1-0 win over Kings
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about the team's effort on all fronts in their 1-0 victory in their first-ever playoff game against the L.A. Kings.
Golden Edge quick wrap
Bryan Salmond recaps the Vegas Golden Knights win over the LA Kings.
Smith Glad To Be Back In Lineup
The Golden Knights forward missed 15 games with an upper-body injury, (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hunt Said Buses Are Where Hockey Team Unity Gets Fostered
The Golden Knights defenseman was fortunate to have avoided any accidents while riding the bus in his hockey career. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Saskatchewan Native Brayden McNabb On The Humboldt Bus Tragedy
The Golden Knights defenseman knows the area well where the junior hockey team’s bus collided with a truck Friday and left 14 people dead. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights raise banner honoring Oct. 1 shooting victims
Golden Knights raise banner honoring Oct. 1 shooting victims. On a night when the Golden Knights were looking to lock up the Pacific Division title and secure a championship banner, the team unveiled a banner of its own Saturday. The banner honors the 58 victims of the Oct. 1 Strip shooting. Knights majority owner and chairman Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee also were on the ice, along with the family of shooting victim Neysa Tonks.
Golden Knights playoff tickets go on sale Monday
The Golden Knights clinched a playoff spot Monday night, and now officials are revealing how fans can get tickets. The hottest tickets in town are going on sale Monday morning on the Golden Knights website. There will be less than 1,000 tickets made available for public sale at 10 a.m. Monday. Tickets will only be sold on a single-game basis. Are you planning to go to any Golden Knights playoff games?
Fleury notches milestone as Golden Knights stun Flyers 3-2
Marc-Andre Fleury became just the 13th goalie to reach 400 wins in his NHL career. Fleury stopped 38 shots and led the Golden Knights to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night. Others in the 400-win club are Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and current contemporaries Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist. “It’s a nice number to reach and all the guys in front of me I have great respect for and it’s cool to be part of that list,” Fleury said. Fleury played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, before being picked by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft.
Rookie Whitecloud Anxious To Learn About Life In Nhl
The former Bemidji State defenseman was in Buffalo Saturday but did not play for the Knights vs. the Sabres. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Merrill glad to be back in Newark
The Golden Knights defenseman had played for the New Jersey Devils before joining the Knights. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal )
Vegas Golden Knights, US Army look to settle trademark dispute
The Golden Knights are looking to settle their trademark dispute with the U.S. Army. Both sides have been in a trademark dispute over the name “Golden Knights” and the primary colors of gray, gold and black. The Army says the hockey team’s use of Golden Knights as a trademark causes confusion with its parachute team. They are also known as the Golden Knights. The Army filed its complaint with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 10. The Golden Knights filed a settlement motion with the patent office’s trademark trial and appeal board on Jan. 25. The motion gives the team 90 days to resolve issues with the Army. “We’re trying to form a joint use agreement where both sides can continue to have their name."
Golden Knights forecheck
At first glance, the Knights’ 1-2-2 forecheck doesn't look unusual. But it’s the aggression the Knights use that makes their forecheck unique. “They’re a tenacious team." - Flyers coach Dave Hakstol The Knights are second in the NHL with 642 takeaways. “I think it’s a good indicator when we’re playing well is when our forecheck is going.” - center Erik Haula
Nolan Patrick Adjusting To NHL
The Philadelphia Flyers rookie Center talked about his game on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on the recent road trip
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on the team's recent road trip Saturday at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on his team's injury woes
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on his team's injury woes Saturday at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights logo proves popular at No. 4 in NHL merchandise
The Golden Knights’ name and sharp-looking logo may not be big with the United States Army these days. But fans seem to like it. A lot. According to Fanatics, which oversees the league’s online shop, the Knights rank No. 4 in the NHL when it comes to merchandise sales. The New York Rangers are the No. 1 team in sales, followed by the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fleury's impact on Pittsburgh lasting long after his time there
Marc-Andre Fleury has had a greater impact on Pittsburgh than just on the ice Fleury and his wife opened a playground at a Pennsylvania Boys and Girls Club The Sto-Ken-Rox Boys & Girls Club is located in McKees Rock, where more than 35 percent of residents live in poverty. The playground opened last year before Fleury started playing for the Golden Knights Fleury financed the construction of a state-of-the-art playground, as well as sports equipment to play hockey.
Ryan Carpenter Glad To Contribute To Golden Knights Win
The forward had a goal and an assist in the 4-3 victory over the Capitals Sunday , Feb. 4, 2018 in Washington D.C. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant Pleased With Knights Bounce-back Effort
The coach liked the way his team skated in the 4-3 win over Washington Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Alex Tuch On Golden Knights Resilient Win Over Capitals
The forward scored the game-winner Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nate Schmidt Returns To Washington
The Golden Knights defenseman talked about his time with the Capitals Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 in Washington D.C. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Zucker on his big season, fatherhood, Golden Knights’ success
Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker, who is from Las Vegas, says he is pleased with his play and the way the Knights have captured the hearts of his hometown speaking before the game Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 in St. Paul, Minn. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
James Neal On Representing The Golden Knights At The Nhl All-star Game
James Neal on representing the Golden Knights at the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Tampa, Florida. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Goaltender Marc-andre Fleury On The All-star Game
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury talks about the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Tampa, Florida. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury On All-star Weekend
Marc-Andre Fleury talks about representing the Golden Knights at the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Tampa, Florida. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like