Now to start, I am not an extremist over-thinker that will say one game shows you everything you need to know about a franchise. Thats a pure over-exaggeration. Especially when we are talking about an infant-franchise.
However, winning is a culture. From the out-skirts, the Golden Knights have seemed to have established that winning culture from right out of the gates. Rarely will you find a three-year old franchise in any sport that has made the playoffs three times, been to its league championship, and has continued to build and compete without being a one-hit-wonder.
I have subscribed the theory the Golden Knights being eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of 2019 was a fluke. Vegas had won three straight games and out-scored the Sharks 16-6 in those games, finding the back of the net at least 5 times a night. They would go on to lose three straight games and the series. This included two consecutive OT losses in games 6 and 7, along with a devastating blown lead in game 7. If it hadn’t been a first round quarter-final matchup, it may be considered the biggest meltdown in NHL history (this time I’m not over-exaggerating).
One year later, ignoring the odd year it’s been, the Vegas Golden Knights find themselves in control of the Western Conference, representing the top-seed. Vegas capturing the top-seed was the most important spot in all of the NHL playoffs. Having to go through Chicago and now Vancouver has been a blessing, at-least in regards to what type of road you can face in the NHL playoffs is like. Look at the Dallas Stars on the other-side of the bracket, who had a challenging first round matchup with the Flames, and are now going to game 7 with one of the top teams in the league in the Avalanche.
What I’m saying is, we caught a break. It doesn’t mean Vancouver is bad, they are a young up-and-coming franchise, but they’re not their yet. Vegas finds themselves with a 3-2 lead in the series after losing game 5. Personally I see them closing the series out tonight, because water always finds its level and better teams ‘usually win most of the time’.
Playing devils advocate, if the Knights were to lose tonight that means its back to an anything can happen game 7. They won’t be in front of their home crowd at the T-Mobile Arena, they will be on neutral ice. Last year, to me it was obvious the Knights were more talented, faster, and overall a better team than San Jose, just like they are with Vancouver. Another game 7 loss can say more about the franchises winning culture than anything else.
This isn’t to be negative, and this isn’t to say Vegas has a culture problem. But consistently falling short of what your team is capable of doing creates bad culture within a franchise. Ask the Buffalo Bills of the 1990’s, and the New England Patriots of the 2000’s. It’s time to solidify the VGK culture as a winning franchise, and it would best be done preventing a game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.