If you still don't believe in the Vegas Golden Knights, you should. Though the Golden Knights selected three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and forward Jonathan Marchessault (coming off his first 30-goal season in the NHL with the Florida Panthers) at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, expectations were meager for Las Vegas' first major professional sports franchise. Vegas wasn't expected to sniff a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, playing in the same division as the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers and sharing the same conference with the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. There were signs things could be different when the Golden Knights and coach Gerard Gallant raced to an 8-1-0 start. Reality nearly bit them when they went 2-5-1 in their next eight, but they responded with winning streaks of five, four and eight in a row, the latter an NHL record for a first-year team. For these reasons, it's not surprising a panel of 18 NHL.com writers named Gallant the favorite to win the Jack Adams Award as the League's best coach, at midseason. Gallant, fired by the Panthers on Nov. 27, 2016 after he was a Jack Adams finalist the season before, coaches a remarkable group that lacks a superstar but is proving they're greater than the sum of their parts. "I think [Gallant has] been good for our team, the way him and his staff teach the system and help the young guys," Fleury said Wednesday. "We have a very young team and the way they can help them feel comfortable and give them some confidence. I think they're very player supportive. He asks for hard work. If we give it to him, then he'll be good for us." The Golden Knights went 11-1-1 in December and lead the Western Conference with 58 points (28-10-2). Their eight-game winning streak tied the Los Angeles Kings for the longest in the NHL this season and the NBA's Denver Nuggets in 1976-77 for the most consecutive victories by an expansion team in any major North American team sport, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Don't call them a fluke, either. Their eight-game winning streak included victories against the Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, all projected Stanley Cup contenders. Perhaps most amazing is how Vegas continued to win with goalies Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk all injured at one point, and fourth-string goalie Maxime Lagace thrust into the starter's role.
Gallant clear favorite in Adams race for work with Golden Knights
NHL.com | Jan 7