How the Vegas Golden Knights have stormed the NHL with five different goalies
The historic start for the NHL's newest team has come largely from unprecedented balance in the net
There isn't one thing that's solely NHL expansion team that's actually, you know, competitive.as an
(No, not even the crazy-good ticket sales that.)
The team's offense, a makeshift band of poached veterans headlined by ex-Nashville Predators winger James Neal, is about as balanced as they come. Former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant has managed the intricacies of starting fresh in all phases to the tune of a second-place standing in the Pacific Division and just one loss at T-Mobile Arena.
But nothing stands out on ice on the Strip as much as the conundrum -- er, the command -- of the Golden Knights' goalies.
Vegas figured to draw inaugural crowds in large part due to the appeal of expansion pick and former Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury, but an injury to the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin actually paved the way for a bigger story. , the Golden Knights are on an unprecedentedly stable run on goalies in a Western Conference loaded with elite scorers.
Tuesday's 8-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, of course, made it clear that Vegas isn't immune to problems in the net. An 8-3 defeat at the hands of Connor McDavid, in fact, probably would have been a consensus prediction before the 2017-18 campaign opened, but McDavid's Oilers floundered out of the gate. If there's been one constant in Vegas' early push to contend in the Pacific, it's been an ability to withstand beating after beating at the goalie spot.
Here's a look at how Vegas has stormed the NHL with the best-ever expansion-team start in league history -- and now sits comfortably at 10-6-1 behind only the Los Angeles Kings in its division -- despite an endless rotation of starters at the back end of the defense:
Marc-Andre Fleury: The face of the franchise upon his long-awaited expansion draft selection, Fleury opened his career in new threads in brilliant fashion, halting all but one of the Dallas Stars' 46 shots on goal Oct. 6 and setting the tone for a goalie group that kept All-Star talent like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jonathan Toews and Auston Matthews scoreless through the Golden Knights' first 16 games. Little more than a week later, however, a knee to the head sent Fleury (3-1, .925 save percentage) to Injured Reserve, ushering in ...
Malcolm Subban: Claimed off waivers from the Boston Bruins to replace Calvin Pickard, an expansion draft pickup from the Colorado Avalanche and the younger brother of P.K. Subban stepped into relief of Fleury despite having only started one other NHL game. Seamlessly, the former first-round draft pick made his presence felt, going 2-0 with a .936 save percentage before exiting during his third start with an injury. Joining Fleury on Injured Reserve shortly afterward, he opened the door for ...
Oscar Dansk: Originally a first-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012, he opened the season with Vegas' American Hockey League affiliate but ascended to the NHL when Subban went down, proceeding to thrive for the Golden Knights. A 14-minute appearance in Subban's third and final start earned him a victory, but his best stuff came in his next two appearances -- a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and a 32-save shutout, the first in team history, of the Colorado Avalanche. The injury bug got him as well, though, forcing Vegas to call upon ...
Maxime Lagace: In and out of the AHL and the Dallas Stars' minor-league system, the former undrafted Canadian wasn't quite as sturdy in his debut, dropping his first three contests. He did, however, help the Golden Knights earn victories over two formidable contenders in the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets, stopping 27 of 29 Jets shots on Nov. 10. Despite those outings, aided in part by the rise of defenseman Lucas Sbida and others, he fell back to Earth on Tuesday when the Oilers dropped seven on him and prompted the debut of ...
Dylan Ferguson: A 19-year-old rookie who went 194th overall to the Dallas Stars in the 2017 draft before being dealt to Vegas, he represents the next hope for the Golden Knights in the net, at least temporarily with this week. A 4-9 record in the minors wasn't too inspiring, and it's hard to make any immediate judgments on him after a two-save, one-goal outing against the Oilers on a moment's notice. In any sense, though, he further exemplifies the rocky paths through which Vegas has found ways to stay afloat.
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