With a single point tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights could clinch a post-season berth and a chance to lift the Stanley Cup should they survive the grueling 16-team gauntlet.
Judging by the reaction of Golden Knights players, it’s not all that important.
“I actually didn’t notice until you just told me,” said Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez when asked about the significance of clinching a berth. “While, yeah, it’s a great accomplishment, there’s still a lot of hockey left.”
Forward Tomas Nosek was a little more understated, but seemed to convey the same message.
“It doesn’t matter if we get there tonight or (another) night. The most important thing is to get there and have a run.”
Clearly, this team is more focused on the end game than on something as trivial as clinching a playoff berth.
I kid, but only somewhat. Yes, clinching a post-season berth this early is an accomplishment. It means you’ve had a very good regular season to this point and are looking to continue that mojo. Odds are you have a deep and talented team as the VGK does. And it displays not only confidence in your abilities but also a sense of purpose that making the playoffs is not good enough. The Golden Knights have been there and done that. Now they want to win it all.
“We’re not going to pat ourselves on the back for making the playoffs,” said head coach Pete DeBoer. “That’s not the end goal here.”
DeBoer did laud his team for making the playoffs and the hard work it takes to do so, but the focus from the coaching staff on down is on is winning a championship. Tonight could be the first step towards that goal.