Veteran Head Coach and the novice franchise of the Golden Knights face unfamiliar territory heading into Monday Nights Game 5, with a 3-1 deficit and facing elimination.
The Vegas Golden Knights have had an impressive short-stint in the NHL. Not only have they had success since the inception of the franchise in 2017, but they have faced few playoff holes.
In his first year at the helm for the Vegas Golden Knights, Pete DeBoer is getting in that hole with his team, and we will see the fight they put up to clime out of it.
The Golden Knights through their three years of playoff experience have shown impressive control of most series.
- First Round: 4-0 Sweep of the Los Angeles Kings.
- Conference Semi-Finals: 4-2 Series over the San Jose Sharks, never trailing.
- Conference Finals: 4-1 Gentleman’s Sweep of the Winnipeg Jets.
- Stanley Cup Finals: 4-1 Series loss to the Washington Capitals (we’ll get to that).
- First Round: Lost in 7 game series to San Jose Sharks (still hurts) after leading 3-1.
- First Round: 4-1 Gentleman’s Sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks
- Conference Semi-Finals: 7 game series win over the Vancouver Canucks after being up 3-1.
- Conference Finals: Currently trailing the Dallas Stars 3-1.
In the first three years, the Golden Knights have never had to show the resilience of coming from behind outside of the Stanley Cup Finals with the Washington Capitals where they lost 4 straight games. Why do I leave that series out of the equation? Because that series wasn’t about an inability to comeback, Washington won that series 4-1 because they were the better and more experience team.
In the only other playoff loss to the San Jose Sharks, they were never put in a comeback position. They were in the position to hold on up 3-1. And even within game 7 they also held a commanding lead, and were never playing from behind.
The only evidence of a Pete DeBoer coached team “coming back” was in 2012 when his New Jersey Devils trailed the Florida Panthers 3 games to 2 in the first round. He also as a Head Coach has not made a series comeback in the playoffs. His teams have either had a commanding lead, or lost.
So where does that leave DeBoer and the Knights tonight trailing 3 games to 1. It puts them in a position to show resilience. Of the team comes out flat, and gives up the early goal like they have so many times this playoff run, if they refuse to forecheck, if they do not challenge Dallas in the neutral zone, it shows the team could not overcome the mental aspects of being in a hole.
However, despite a win or loss, you want to see the team fight. They have proven they can skate, check, and score as well as Dallas. This Knights team deserves to be on the ice and in the conference finals as they have show. On the flip-side, sometimes we get a different team, one that seems to be absent from the start, or has absent periods of just going through the motions.
The Golden Knights have a chance to show resilience and mental toughness tonight, which could make or break extending this series.