The Vegas Golden Knights have taken the NHL by storm so far this season, posting a 22-9-2 record, ranking second in the NHL, and 1st overall in the Western Conference. Before the season started this team was already ruled out and said to be a bottom of the pack team, many reporters and analysts said they would compete but not be this good, and do not even say you were one of those reporters that said differently. Unless you have proof.
I’ll admit I wrote this team off before they even played a game this year. I mean how could you not, who would have thought Malcolm Subban and Dylan Ferguson would step in and fill the void of Marc Andre Fleury and who knew Fleury would be posting a 5-1 record, with a 2.35 GAA and .932 save percentage. Who knew William Karlsson would have 15 goals, 12 assists, and 27 points in 33 games, who knew Erik Haula would have 24 points in 29 games, who knew Riley Smith would have 25 points in 33 games, who knew the Golden Knights would have 7 players with 19 plus points on their roster.
The Golden Knights have the best home record in the NHL(14-2-2), along with the third-best winning percentage(.697), fifth-most goals for(114), ranked 19th for goals against(98), third for goals for per game(3.45), 15th best power play percentage(20.2), and 12th for shots per game(32.39). The Golden Knights are accomplishing more than anyone ever imagined them to and the way things are going, we are nearly halfway done with the season and they sit comfortably in a playoff spot. With how they have been playing and the resilience this group has shown, I can honestly say I would not be surprised to see this team in the playoffs.
All this has to be credited to Gerard Gallant though, first off a lot of it has to go to George McPhee as well, and the hockey operations team for drafting these players. But all in all a lot of credit needs to go to Gallant for one, making this team buy into his system and creating a winning, hard working, never quit environment in the locker room. Secondly, for a team filled with third and four line players on their teams before this, Gallant has given these players the confidence and with that confidence as we can tell makes a world of a difference in a player. Not just because he has created this culture in Vegas, gave his players the confidence to trust their instincts, but his calmness, and demeanor behind the bench is amazing. Not many times you see the coach on the TV screen when watching a game but when the camera shines on Gallant, like when the Golden Knights scored that buzzer beater goal last night, he made it seem like it was just another goal, and that’s the kind of coach you want for a brand new team.
If I had to imagine he probably does not let the players get too high or too low and keeps a good middle balance between the two, but it also seems as if every player loves Gallant. From his work over in Florida, leading the Panthers to the playoffs, and posting a 96-64-26, collecting an Atlantic divisional win in 2015-16 and now what he is doing with Vegas, the guy is obviously one hell of a coach for player development and seems to be a great player-coach as well.