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05.12.2018 07:50
The key cog in Vegas Antworten

LAS VEGAS (AP) While the Washington Capitals celebrated their first Stanley Cup title amid strewn sticks and gloves Thursday night Derek Ryan Jersey Womens , the T-Mobile Arena fans rose and gave one more stirring ovation to the bowed, kneeling figures in grey sweaters on the other end of the ice.The Vegas Golden Knights didn’t win the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Just being there was a stupendous feat – and their fans quickly reminded them that it will feel even sweeter when the immediate sting of losing subsides.”You come to Las Vegas thinking you’re going to play hockey,” Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. ”Instead, you find a home.”After playing a significant role in healing a city scarred by a mass shooting shortly before their regular-season opener, the Knights went farther and accomplished more than any expansion team in modern sports history. Vegas blew past the NHL expansion records for victories (51) and points (109) while winning the Pacific Division, and the upstarts then cut a swath through the Western Conference playoffs with 12 wins in 15 games.About six months later than even their most optimistic new fans could have reasonably expected, the Golden Knights finally ran into an obstacle they couldn’t surmount.”When you’re that close, it hurts. It hurts a lot,” defenseman Luca Sbisa said Friday, emotion evident in his voice. ”Right now, I’m speechless. But we can be proud of what we did.”When owner Bill Foley proposed a six-year timetable for the Knights’ first Stanley Cup title, he was gently laughed off in the hockey world. Now that his team almost beat his projection by five years, general manager George McPhee is in charge of figuring out another daunting task.What in the world will Vegas do for an encore?Keeping the core of the NHL’s 31st franchise intact will be challenging, but definitely possible. The Knights also must figure out what pieces to add to a franchise that’s already looking like a desirable destination for veteran players who like warm weather and lots of winning.The Knights’ most prominent unrestricted free agents are Sbisa and forwards James Neal and David Perron. They have several key restricted free agents, including goal-scoring star William Karlsson and defenseman Shea Theodore.Although they don’t get another expansion draft, they’ve also got leftover assets from last summer to make moves for veteran players John Carlson Jersey , both in free agency and in trades. McPhee has already begun work, but he said it’s likely the Knights won’t make major changes.After all, they’ve got a pretty good thing going.”Sometimes a great story, book or movie doesn’t have a perfect ending,” McPhee said. ”But it’s still a great story.”Here are more things to know about the Knights and their upcoming offseason:LONG TERM: Although McPhee took his job with a stated goal to build a foundation, the Golden Knights’ immediate success demonstrated that the future could be now. McPhee might not need to choose between the two courses of action, as he reiterated during his immediate comments Friday while the players packed up their lockers for the summer. McPhee should have the salary cap room and financial resources to make almost any personnel decision, and he also has a stockpile of two first-round picks and six second-round picks in the next three drafts.FREE-AGENT FORWARDS: Neal has been a dependable NHL goal-scorer for a decade, and he scored 25 goals for the Knights while serving as a valuable veteran leader. McPhee seems eager to sign Neal, and Neal repeatedly said Friday that he wants to be back. A deal seems probable. The Knights face a tougher decision on Perron, who set a career high with 66 points in the regular season. He didn’t score a goal between March 4 and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, getting relegated to a depth line. Perron revealed Friday that in-season talks with the Knights didn’t result in a new contract. ”I had a good year,” Perron said. ”I deserve what I deserve, but I’m willing to work with them to make sure I stay here.”PRECIOUS FLOWER: Despite a middling Final, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was the backbone of Vegas’ success with 29 wins and a .927 save percentage in the regular season before three solid postseason rounds. He’s still a year away from unrestricted free agency, and if the three-time NHL champ gets his way Lars Eller Jersey , he’ll finish his career in Nevada. ”A couple of years ago, I was told I was getting too old to play,” Fleury said. ”I still love it. Vegas gave me an opportunity to continue doing what I love and I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”KARLSSON’S WORTH: Karlsson is one of McPhee’s biggest assets going into the offseason, and also one of the GM’s biggest challenges. The former Ducks and Blue Jackets prospect had never scored 10 goals in an NHL season before Columbus asked the Knights to pick him in the expansion draft. The Swede promptly scored 43 goals in Vegas and established himself as an elite talent. He made $1 million in the just-completed season, and he clearly deserves a fat raise. Given his unusual accomplishments and unclear market value, Karlsson also seems a possible candidate for another team to sign to an offer sheet, although that strategy is rarely used in the modern NHL.NO PARADE: Despite their record-setting season, the Golden Knights say they won’t participate in any postseason parade or celebration after falling short of the Cup. Clark County and the Las Vegas city government had discussed throwing a parade even if the Knights didn’t win, but it would have been a potential source of embarrassment in traditional hockey circles.—AP freelance writer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.— LAS VEGAS (AP) Welcome to Impossible.Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.The stunningly successful expansion squad is headed to the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to win the Western Conference final series in five games.”I remember eight months ago, when we won against Dallas (in the season opener), we had that unbelievable feeling,” Vegas center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. ”Doesn’t feel like we’re satisfied. It’s a good feeling when you know the guys are excited for the next one.”The Golden Knights are the third franchise in NHL history to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas in 1918 in the league’s early days, and St. Louis Blues in 1968 Madison Bowey Jersey , when all six expansion teams were in the same division and one of them had to make the final round.Vegas will play either Tampa Bay or Washington on hockey’s biggest stage. The Lightning lead the Eastern Conference final 3-2, but the Capitals host Game 6 on Monday night.”Either way, we’re not going to be favorites,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who leads Vegas with 18 points in the postseason. ”That’s been the case all year. Tampa has been the best team all year. Washington, (they’re) playing great hockey right now. Either way, we’re not going to be favorites, and that’s fine with us. We went all year like that and we’re going to keep going.”Hence, ”The Golden Misfits” tag.Nobody could have scripted Vegas, a 500-1 long shot at the start of the season, making the playoffs – let alone earning a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.But the Golden Knights, who finished fifth in the league during the regular season, just knocked off the No. 2 team in the regular season in Winnipeg, which in the conference semifinals knocked off the No. 1 team in the regular season, Nashville.Vegas clinched all three of its Western Conference series on the road, becoming the seventh team in NHL history to accomplish such a feat.”Everybody on this team has something to prove Nicklas Backstrom Jersey ,” said Winnipeg native Ryan Reaves, who scored the winning goal Sunday in his hometown. ”We call ourselves `The Golden Misfits’ for a reason. We’re doing a good job of proving everybody wrong.”Just as they have all season, they are living in the moment.Vegas, which had just two players under contract at this time last year, heads into the final round with a 12-3 playoff record after outscoring its Western Conference opponents 42-27.It’s a credit to coach Gerard Gallant’s philosophy of having a well-conditioned, confident group of forwards who work well together, focus on short effective shifts, and exude confidence on the ice – all while, as he reiterates it daily, playing 200 feet of hockey.And while the Golden Knights haven’t necessarily been a high-scoring threat, scoring just three or fewer goals in 12 of their 15 playoff games, their defensemen have played exceptional to this point. Vegas has allowed the least amount of goals in the playoffs, among teams that have played 10 games. It was a stifling and disruptive defense that helped propel the Golden Knights past the Jets on Sunday, with their sixth win in eight road games during the postseason.”Everybody’s stepping up at different times during the season,” said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has 12 wins James Neal Jersey Womens , four shutouts, a .947 save percentage and 1.68 goals against average. ”That’s a big reason why we’ve been playing consistently.”The key cog in Vegas’ engine has been Fleury, whose remarkable play has translated into a career-best postseason. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of 15 playoff games, and is heading to the Stanley Cup final for a third consecutive year. And whether he admits it or not, the 14-year veteran still bears the scars of being left exposed by Pittsburgh last summer after spending the first 13 years of his career with the Penguins.Gallant, who remained coy about his team’s aspirations during the regular season, made it clear the Golden Knights haven’t reached their goal.”It’s been an awesome ride so far,” said Gallant, who some might also consider a ”misfit” after Florida fired him following a road game at Carolina last season, then left him and his luggage on the curb outside PNC Arena. ”We’re going to the Stanley Cup Final, but again, this isn’t what we want. We want to win.”It’s great to win tonight and it’s great to be the (conference) champions,” Gallant added, ”but that’s not what we’re here for.”Even as impossible as that all seemed just a few months ago.—

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