Ever the prankster, Marc-Andre Fleury also apparently likes a little press room fireworks.
“I hope someone asks Turk again,” the Golden Knights goaltender said. “See what happens.”
It definitely could have been a query directed at Knights coach Gerard Gallant on Saturday, his team having just overcome a 3-0 deficit for the first time in franchise history to beat the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 5-4 in overtime before 18,334 at T-Mobile Arena.
But just as the response should have been following Gallant abruptly ending his news conference after a win against Philadelphia on Thursday, it would have proven much ado about nothing.
Hockey seasons are long. Eighty-two games, man.
A marathon more challenging than anything Boston stages.
So when a beat writer such as David Schoen of the Review-Journal (as professional and thorough and diligent as anyone sitting in the Knights’ press box) asks a question Gallant doesn’t like and responds by storming from the room, it’s hardly a rare occurrence in sports.
Stand in a news conference with Raiders coach Jon Gruden after some games.
These things aren’t all roses and sunshine.
The question was in regard to how the Knights have fared against playoff-caliber teams this season, of which they are now 8-9-4. They’re also 3-6-1 against those teams ahead of them in points.
It was a legitimate and timely inquiry by Schoen to offer after the team’s 5-4 victory against the Flyers.
Nothing wrong with asking it then. Zero.
I also don’t buy the idea that Knights coaches and players haven’t realized theirs has been a below-average showing against the NHL’s better teams.
You know who you’re preparing to play on a given night.
You know how good or bad someone is.
And while a win such as Saturday’s still means just two points, to rally from a 3-0 deficit for the first time and to do so against the defending Stanley Cup champion and Western Conference leaders this season means something.
It has to, no?
“You know, the difference between teams in the playoffs and being right there is very slim,” said Fleury, whose play in net in the second and third periods had as much to do with the comeback as anything else. “Obviously, it’s nice to beat these guys. They just won the Cup and are a solid team.
“It’s always more important to us how we play and not what teams we play. It’s always about us. There are a few teams at the bottom of the standings in the East and West, but other than that, it’s very close.”
It’s true what happens now doesn’t matter in April.
The Knights swept two games from Washington in 2017-18, then lost a best-of-seven Cup final to the Capitals in five games. Vegas was the better team during the regular season and completely overmatched when things really mattered.
But there’s no denying — something Gallant pointed out before and as he was getting steamed Thursday — that the Knights are playing their best hockey of the season right now.
They’re 15-6-3 since Nov. 17, having compiled an NHL-best 33 points over that span.
“I don’t look back (at records),” Gallant said. “We’re playing good hockey. The guys are confident, and this is a huge win for us. This was a big game. We’re playing the St. Louis Blues.
“For our team to come back and fight back and never quit and find a way in overtime and get those two points is big for us.”
They were dominated for 40 minutes or so and then remembered that when things are going well, they’re first to pucks and forechecking with abandon and getting traffic in front of the net.
And then one goal can lead to two and two to three and then history can be made.
Forty-eight hours after a question led to Gallant channeling his inner Detroit Red Wings persona, all was amiable. I’m also guessing the guy who asked it and the coach who responded were the first to put it aside, as pros are known to do.
Besides, the Blue Jackets are set to visit next Saturday, which means Columbus coach John Tortorella will be in town.
Can you imagine if headlines were made every time that nutjob disagreed with a question?
It’s a long season. A marathon.
And yet I have to believe Gallant felt good about his Knights finally beating a good team Saturday.
Come on, now.
I couldn’t resist.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.