NHL Slap Shots: Golden Knights continue hot start

By Joseph Fazio

Sports Blogger

@JosephDFazio

 

Golden Knights on a hot streak without Fleury

(Jon Bradley, Flickr)

Through three games this week without starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the Vegas Golden Knights picked up wins against the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabers and St. Louis Blues. Against the Blues, goaltender Malcolm Subban had undoubtedly the best game of his career with a 0.97 save percentage in an overtime win. James Neal added two assists during the week to bring his points total to eight through seven games. No NHL expansion team has ever had as great of a start to their inaugural season like the Golden Knights. With a record of 6-1-0, they sit in third place, one point away from the top spot, which is tied between the Los Angeles Kings and the St. Louis Blues.

The key factor came during their expansion draft in June. Not only did the team pick up reputable players like James Neal, David Perron and Trevor van Riemsdyk, but general manager George McPhee made trades with other teams. His trades became stipulations in the players the Golden Knights drafted. Teams who could not protect one of their players would throw in a draft pick to McPhee and the Golden Knights to pick another player. This gave the Golden Knights a load of draft picks insuring a future for the team.

What are the Olympics going to do without the NHL?

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will take a big hit from the NHL, as the league will not allow its players to represent their countries. For the United States and Canada, that will mean looking at the younger talent in their arsenals. It will be the first time since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, that NHL players will not represent their countries.

The United States will look at the premiere NCAA hockey players like Brady Tkachuk and Joel Farabee from Boston University and Quinn Hughes from Michigan. Canada will have many players to choose from the many Canadian junior hockey leagues.

Russia will come out as the clear favorite going into the Olympics. After the NHL broke the news to the International Hockey Federation, many Russian players left the NHL to join the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. Some big names who left include Roman Lyubimov from the Philadelphia Flyers, Mikhail Grigorenko from the Colorado Avalanche and Nikita Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk decided to stay in the KHL for another season to play for Russia in the Olympics. The loss of premier NHL players such as Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews will see a decrease of rating during the upcoming Olympics.

ozone@ocolly.com

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