It is Memorial Day and we wanted to share some thoughts we have on the Vegas Golden Knights.
Before we delve into the latest matters concerning the Vegas Golden Knights, though, we want to remember and recognize those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives to protect the freedom we enjoy.
And, on a Memorial Day that is different to any other because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also want to pay tribute to those currently working on the frontline and risking their health to protect others.
Now, more than ever, it is important we remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
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There is no seamless transition but let’s discuss some Golden Knights nuggets.
There’s plenty going on right now with hockey seemingly on the cusp of a return this year, so let’s delve into our thoughts on the Vegas Golden Knights…
1. The big news over the last few days has been the fact that the NHLPA voted yes to the 24-team Playoff format with the NHL expected to do the same in the coming days. Yes, there are a lot of issues still to be thrashed out but it does seem that we are inching closer to hockey coming back this year. That is incredibly good news for the Golden Knights who will get the chance to finish what they started in 2019-20.
2. We’ve done a deep dive or two on the intricacies of the 24-team Playoff format already, including mapping out the pros and cons for the Golden Knights. But, in a nutshell, it works out pretty well for Vegas who will be a top seed, they will get a bye and they will be crowned Champions of the Pacific Division for the second time in three years.
3. One of the most pleasing factors of the 24-team format for the Golden Knights is the in-conference three-game tournament that will take place between the top seeds while the 16 other teams contest the Play-In games. This idea solves the biggest problem for the Knights in that they will get an opportunity to knock off any rust before the official postseason begins. Given that they will be pitting their wits against the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues, those games should have a real edge to them and that should help Vegas get back into their groove.
4. The one real question mark over the 24-team format for the Golden Knights revolves around the opening round. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic has already made it clear that the Play-In games won’t be counted as the official postseason, although there is some conversation as to whether the First Round should be a best-of-five like the Play-In games. Another caveat is the fact that the NHL needs to decide whether to reseed the 16-team Playoffs or keep it bracketed, with the latter option meaning either a Nashville Predators or Arizona Coyotes matchup in the First Round for the Golden Knights.
5. A more traditional reseeding could mean the Minnesota Wild in the First Round, which is an easier matchup than the Predators or the Coyotes. Arizona, despite their struggles, still boast elite talent in Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel, while the Predators are stacked with firepower and star defenseman Roman Josi is having a monster, Norris Trophy-Caliber season.
6. Personally, I like the 24-team Playoff format and I do feel it will help to ignite interest in the NHL with sports-starved fans desperate for something to watch. We need to also accept that we live in strange times and there is no perfect solution that will please everyone, but I do strongly feel that the 24-team format is the best way forward.
7. Quickly, I think it would be foolish if the NHL makes the First Round of the Playoffs a best-of-five series. If the Play-In games aren’t being considered an official part of the postseason, then there is no need to tweak the format in the opening round. And, given that the NHL has already made it clear they are willing to push back the 2020-21 season, they can’t use trying to hurry things up as an excuse.
8. While a lot still needs to be ironed out, including Hub Cities, Testing and the finer details of the 24-team format and how long Training Camps will run for, I am confident that hockey will return this year. It seems that the NHL and the NHLPA are working in harmony together and that’s a major positive going forward.
9. Speaking of positives, the Golden Knights must be feeling pretty happy right now with hockey on the cusp of returning. After all, by the time games begin again they will be fully healthy with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch having all had ample time to recover. That makes Vegas a formidable force, and they should be an absolute juggernaut in the postseason.
10. Also, this current hiatus, coupled with the fact that the off-season will be pushed back if hockey does return, means that the front office led by General Manager Kelly McCrimmon will have more time to finalize some key decisions. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft, whenever that may take place, will be huge for Vegas in terms of replenishing the farm system, while the front office also need to make decisions on their seven pending free agents including UFA goalie Robin Lehner.
11. We did a piece on Cody Glass being hungry for more, which you can read here, and I’m confident the forward will bounce back in his sophomore year. The best learn from adversity and, now that he knows what the NHL is all about, Glass should be better equipped to really take the majors by storm in 2020-21.
12. Small group workouts are expected to take place at some point in June and, with a lot of the players currently in Vegas, I really don’t think it will take long for the Golden Knights to get back up to speed and to get back in a groove.
13. Haven’t checked out the Korea Baseball Organization yet? We recommended on Sunday for Golden Knights fans to root for the NC Dinos, and they are on an absolute tear right now. Plus, the KBO is a lot of fun to watch and, at the end of the day, it is live sports.
14. We need hockey back. And quick.
15. Final note before I leave you. Happy Memorial Day again, take some time today to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, while also thinking of those who are bravely working on the front line to help us stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay safe, stay healthy and we’ll continue to do what we can to get you through all of this.