The improbable Golden Knights: One win from a Stanley Cup Final

I’m not a big fate guy when it comes to sports. Save the supernatural power nonsense for movies and books and television shows about vampires.

But the idea of controlling one’s destiny — you always have the opportunity to turn one way or the other — is at times a more reasonable basis for why the unthinkable occurs.

Hence, the Vegas Golden Knights.

The season no one predicted (at least sober), the NHL expansion team nobody thought would still be playing anywhere near this deep into May, or in May at all, the 500-1 longshot back in October, the story of a town and a franchise connected through the tragedy of a mass shooting and then blended into an alliance of loyalty and endearment, has come to this:

Vegas is one win from reaching a Stanley Cup Final.

Welcome to Impossible?

More like Meet Your Reality.

The Knights on Friday evening held off Winnipeg 3-2 in Game 4 of a best-of-seven Western Conference Final before an announced record gathering of 18,697 at T-Mobile Arena, earning Vegas a 3-1 lead in the series and this truth:

Should it win Game 5 on Sunday in Winnipeg, Vegas will advance to the final against the winner of Washington and Tampa out of the Eastern Conference.

That’s the second most amazing thing about this past month.

This is the first: Forget the Shroud of Turin and Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph of Cupertino and all others, because the idea that Vegas is this close to playing for the Cup produced perhaps a more astonishing miracle.

It rendered Nate Schmidt speechless.

The defenseman stared at those asking questions about being one win away, about how it felt to know such a truth exists, smiled and perhaps for the first time since arriving in Las Vegas as an expansion draft pick from the Capitals, paused before answering.

It was like Seinfeld stopping short of a punch line, LeBron James ceasing in mid-flight, the guy in a Knight suit forgetting to destroy a pregame opponent (or at least its Jet) down on the ice.

“We still have a game to play and it’s the hardest one to get,” Schmidt said. “l can’t imagine it being any easier or tougher than anything else in this series. It’s going to be a tough battle. We’re going to enjoy this win for five minutes and then get ready to go to Winnipeg.”

Believe me.

That’s him being speechless.

It make sense, and it’s the sort of approach his teammates would take over the next several minutes, talking about remaining in the moment and not looking past Sunday and that history insists the toughest game to win is that which would clinch any series.

More than anything, how Winnipeg responds mentally could dictate how long this goes — Game 6 would be in Las Vegas on Tuesday and Game 7 back in Winnipeg on Thursday.

How the Jets appear those first 10 minutes Sunday — fast as lightning and refusing to crumble or having already made summer plans in their minds — should as much as anything determine whether the Knights end this in five.

“I know we can win a game,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “We’re a good enough team. We’ve battled. We’ve gone into some pretty heavy environments and won a game that we needed to win. So it’s just one game.”

It was June of 2016 when the NHL granted Las Vegas its franchise, and Twitter immediately responded to the news.

Some of the first replies:

What a joke.

Nobody plays hockey in this city. They should continue to play volleyball.

I’ll give them 3 years tops, before they go and “re-locate.”

I’m calling a 14-63-5 inaugural season.

None of it aged well, and yet who really expected anything different from such sentiments?

“We’re one win away, of course, but we have to keep battling,” said forward James Neal, who can return to the final for a second straight year after advancing there with Nashville last season. “We can’t take our foot off the gas now. We have to continue to grow and get better, and we’ll do that.”

Fate is for movies and books and television shows.

Destiny is sometimes different. You can often control it.

Vegas owns that chance Sunday. It does three more times, really.

Welcome to the Doorstep of Incredible.

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

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 Knights release 2018 preseason schedule
The Golden Knights will be back on the ice at T-Mobile Arena Sept. 16. The team’s 2018 NHL preseason schedule was announced Monday. Scheduled is a matchup with the L.A. Kings — Sept. 20 at Staples Center and Sept. 28 at T-Mobile. Two games against the Colorado Avalanche — Sept. 18 in Denver and Sept. 24 at T-Mobile. Two games against the San Jose Sharks — Sept. 22 at San Jose and Sept. 30 in Las Vegas. The team also announced it will hold its training camp at City National Arena beginning Sept. 13.
Golden Edge Look Ahead: What The Knights Next Season Will Look Like
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journals sports columnist Ed Graney and Adam Hill go over what to expect from the Golden Knights next season.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 14
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Stick Salute To Fans
The Vegas Golden Knights host a fan fest on Fremont Street to celebrate the teams achievements throughout the 2017-2018 season. Fans were treated to live entertainment, free Golden Knights merchandise and the players came out to see fans.
David Perron talks about becoming a free agent
Vegas Golden Knights winger David Perron talked to the news media a day after their season ended in the Stanley Cup Final. Perron said he wants to stay in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights' season ends, but accomplishments stand
Take a video tour through the Golden Knights' accomplishments in their inaugural season.
Golden Edge: Knights Reflect On Stanley Cup Loss
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond recaps the Knights emptying their locker room and how the team feels about their season ending with a Stanley Cup loss.
Marc-Andre Fleury On Stanley Cup Loss
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury talks about the team losing in the Stanley Cup Final.
Golden Knights React To Stanley Cup Loss
The Golden Knights reflect on their Stanley Cup loss against the Washington Capitals in game five.
George McPhee Talks About The Future For The Golden Knights
Golden Knights general manager George McPhee goes over what the future holds for the team and the reality of certain players not being part of the team next season.
Gerard Gallant On Stanley Cup Loss And The Future
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant goes over the Knights Stanley Cup Final loss against the Washington Capitals and what the future holds for the team.
Golden Knights Empty Locker Room
The Golden Knights empty their locker room after losing the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals.
Review-Journal's Golden Knights covers
Golden Edge: Magical season comes to an end
Bryan Salmond, Ed Graney and Adam Hill talk about the end of the Golden Knights season, who fell 4-3 to the Capitals, losing the series in Game 5.
Golden Knights On Stanley Cup Final Loss
The Golden Knights react to their loss against the Washington Capitals in game five of the Stanley Cup Final.
Gerard Gallant On Losing The Stanley Cup Final
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant goes over the Golden Knights losing the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals.
Golden Knights fans give advice to their team
Golden Knights fans give advice to the team as they head into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final down 3-1 against the Washington Capitals. (Rochelle Richards/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights remain confident heading into Game 5
Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Nate Schmidt and Erik Haula talk about their mentality heading into Game 5 down 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final.
Golden Knights struggling with Capitals blocking shots
Gerard Gallant and Ryan Reaves discuss how the Knights are trying to get past the Capitals blocking a lot of their shots.
Gerard Gallant focused on Game 5 in T-Mobile Arena
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks to the media after practice ahead of Game 5.
Golden Knights reflect on going down 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, James Neal and Alex Tuch talk after losing Game 4 to the Washington Capitals and going down 3-1 in the series.
Marc-Andre Fleury on where the Knights must improve
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury talks about what he expects his team to improve on when the Knights return to Vegas for Game 5 after going down 3-1 in the series.
Gerard Gallant talks about a frustrating Game 4 loss
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks to the media after losing to the Washington Capitals, going down 3-1 in the series.
Golden Edge: Knights Lose Game Four 6-2 Against Capitals
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights loss against the Washington Capitals in game four of the Stanley Cup Final.
Knights Watch Party Game Four
Golden Knights fans gather at the T-Mobile Arena to watch game four of the Stanley Cup Final.
Knights Fans Excited For Watch Party At T-mobile
Golden Knights fans gather at the T-Mobile arena to cheer for the Knights in game four of the Stanley Cup Final.
Sen. Dean Heller cheering on the Golden Knights
Sen. Dean Heller talks to the Review-Journal about cheering on the Golden Knights and what the team has meant to the city.
Golden Edge: Knights need to find their magic in Game 4
Ed Graney and Adam Hill talk about what they think the Golden Knights need to do to rediscover a groove heading into Game 4.
Golden Edge: Knights not panicking after dropping two straight games
Zac Pacleb brings an update from the Golden Knights off day availability, including why the team isn't panicking just yet.
Gerard Gallant isn't worried after going down 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks to the media on the off day about what the Knights must do to get back on track.
Golden Knights players talk on their off day
Ryan Carpenter, David Perron and Deryk Engelland talk to the media on their off day before getting ready for Game 4.
Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final
Vegas Golden Knights fans party at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals on May 30, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Crowd goes crazy moments before puck drop
The crowd at T-Mobile Arena goes crazy moments before the puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves becomes Golden Knights' latest unlikely hero
Ryan Reaves has become the Golden Knights latest unlikely hero. Reaves scored the series-clinching goal in the Western Conference Finals. It was his first goal with the Golden Knights. It came after Reaves sat for Vegas' first nine playoff games. Now he's become a integral part of the team's forecheck. He gets his chance and he goes in there and he played great hockey. It’s not surprising.
Golden Knights’ Fleury tickles Wheeler’s ear during Game 3 scrum
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury tickled Jets' Blake Wheeler during a scrum in Game 3. The scrum occured behind Vegas’ net with 2:34 left in the second period of the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Wednesday night Wheeler, whose helmet was off and had his back to the goalie, somehow seemed unfazed. The Golden Knights lead the Western Conference final series 2-1, and host Game 4 on Friday night.
Voices of Golden Knights players welcome visitors at McCarran airport
Four Golden Knights players will start delivering recorded messages this week as part of the “Voices of Vegas” program at McCarran International Airport.
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.
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 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.
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
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?
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like