Golden Knights push blade down on neck of struggling Canadiens

Updated February 17, 2018 - 9:36 pm

Here’s the thing about sports: Sometimes, it doesn’t matter the level or circumstance or skill of those athletes involved.

Some forms of strategy never change: When you have a bad, struggling team down, you step on its throat — in this case, with the blade of your skate — and never allow it a flicker of hope.

It’s a few weeks into February and the Golden Knights are back sitting atop the NHL, a feat reached Saturday when Tampa Bay lost and Vegas beat a Montreal Canadiens side in the process of shaming the league’s most successful and historic sweater.

For the love of Rocket Richard and 24 Stanley Cups, the Canadiens are awful.

Vegas beat Montreal 6-3 before 18,122 at T-Mobile Arena, and if you thought that poor Ryan Zapolski was an Olympic sieve for the U.S. against the Russians earlier in the day in South Korea — our guy Vadim “Shippy” Shipachyov didn’t play, by the way — Montreal goalies Antti Niemi and Carey Price more than matched his shoddy play.

I have no idea why the Canadiens chose to start the backup Niemi after an off day, but his 9:51 of ice time and three goals allowed in six shots more than defined a team that has lost a league-high 19 road games in regulation and has been outscored 41-16 in the last 12 of those.

“It was the same against Chicago (on Tuesday), in that they had lost some games and in the locker room, the thinking is, ‘Hey, if we can get a couple goals, it’s going to be a here-we-go-again mindset for them,’ ” said Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt, who had a goal and assist in almost 21 minutes. “It’s hard getting out of a funk. So you just try and be methodical with your game against them. Everyone has been through the lulls. It’s tough to get out of.”

It’s the third win in four tries on a seven-game homestand for the Knights, and maybe the reason they have 82 points and are 12 clear of second-place San Jose in the Pacific Division is because of the philosophy constantly spread from the highest levels of the organization.

“I’m only worried about Anaheim on Monday,” owner Bill Foley said.

He has the hottest team in hockey and the most incredible story in sports going, and you would think someone just called from his Chalk Hill Winery near Napa to report frost, flooding and hail all descended upon the vines at the same time.

Maybe that’s the answer, after all.

Maybe beyond all the balanced scoring and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury playing like it’s 2009 all over again, these guys really never do think ahead.

“I did see that Tampa lost, but I was mostly watching our game and score,” Foley said. “Fragile. It’s still very, very fragile. Belly (Pierre-Edouard Bellemare) got hurt today, and (Shea) Theodore has a terrible throat infection.

“I’m concerned. Happy but never satisfied.”

Mercy, someone tell Foley the sauvignon blanc is going to be fine.

It’s true, though, that things can turn bad fast.

Look at Montreal, just a year removed from 103 points and an Atlantic Division title.

You lose a few guys and add some new faces and one of the world’s best goalies (Price) gets hurt early and then doesn’t play close to form, and suddenly you’re tied for sixth place with 51 points and all the talk is about trade deadlines and whether to take on bad contracts and add draft choices.

It becomes about the future and not the present.

So when you have a team like that down, you press the blade a little harder.

“I think it’s in the back of your mind,” said Knights defenseman Brad Hunt, who scored a goal. “It’s all part of the game within the game. You get a feel for it, and when you can put the pedal on the gas, you go for it and go all out. We don’t want to let off the gas. We want to play the same way that has made us successful.

“We want to remain the same and stay with it. It’s cool to have the (most points in the NHL), but we just take it day by day and get ready for Anaheim on Monday.”

The Ducks, trying like mad to keep hold of a playoff spot, should present a much tougher challenge.

They won’t, after all, have a Ryan Zapolski lookalike in goal.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Knights Win Third Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen go over the Knights 7-2 win over the L.A. Kings.
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Golden Edge: Vegas Fans Show their Love at Fan Fest
Bryan Salmond is on the red carpet at the downtown Las Vegas Events Center as the 2018-2019 Golden Knights show up for Fan Fest.
Golden Edge: Knights Back From Colorado
Golden Knights reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz talk about Knights preseason training camp and how Max Pacioretty is fitting in with the Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 17, 2018
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Win First Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, David Schoen, Ben Gotz and Adam hill recap the Golden Knights first preseason game win against the Arizona Coyotes.
Golden Edge: First Practice
Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss the first day of practice for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Presser Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty speaks about his first impressions coming to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights' fans about recent roster changes.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rookies Faceoff Against The Sharks Good
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond breaks down the 5-4 loss the Golden Knights rookies had against the San Jose Sharks.
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Golden Edge: Deryk Engelland Rides With Kurt Busch
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond heads to city national arena and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see Kurt Busch attempt to learn how to play hockey, and Deryk Engelland hop in a race car.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
Golden Edge: Floor Hockey Clinic
Bryan Salmond travels to the Paradise Recreational Center for the Las Vegas Golden Knights floor hockey clinic with special guest Golden Knights defenseman and Mark Messier Leadership Award winner Deryk Engelland.
Golden Edge: Off Season Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights free angency and signing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
Golden Edge 2018 NHL Draft Recap
Bryan Salmond Recaps The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Draft picks Rounds 2-7.
Golden Edge : NHL Draft Round 1
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the first round of the NHL Draft picks and the rumors surrounding the Knights recruiting Ilya Kovalchuk.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like