Bruce Cassidy has some experience with young 1A-1B goaltending tandems. Last season with the Boston Bruins, he coached the B’s first team in over a decade that didn’t have Tukka Rask as a starter to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He did so with the at-the-time unproven Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.
His defensive systems have now been injected into the Vegas Golden Knights, and it is helping both Logan Thompson and Adin Hill thrive. In four games this season, Thompson has is 2-2 with a 2.29 GAA and .926 save percentage. Hill is also 2-0 with a 9.34 save percentage and 2.00 GAA.
“They’re always fun, right? That’s part of my game; I’ll never give up, so even though I’m down, I always think I’ll be able to make that save. They’re definitely feel-good and confident,” said Thompson.
Combined, the Golden Knights are sixth in the NHL in goalie save percentages with a .929%. After the team’s third game of the season against the Kraken, Cassidy went as far as to say that both goalies haven’t let in a “bad goal” so far this season.
But a tough night against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday may have changed this narrative.
Thompson Talks Timing
The Avalanche controlled the puck for the majority of their win over the Golden Knights Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. Cassidy’s systems were still in place, with the VGK forcing shots from the outside. The Avalanche had to work for their goals, but they still managed to get them.
They scored twice in the game on the powerplay, and Valeri Nichushkin scored a beauty in the third.
Hard on himself after the loss, Thompson said he needed to stop the Nichushkin goal and that the loss to Colorado was a step in the wrong direction for him.
“You just gotta make some timely saves. The one in the third it’s a 2-1 game; that’s a save I can make; I have done it before. If I make that save, it’s a 2-1 game; we come back and tie it and force overtime. I think I definitely need to be better when it is coming down late in the third,” said Thompson.
Like most good goalies, Thompson is criticizing his own play before anyone else can, which leads us to the fans.
The Golden Knights fanbase has had an interesting relationship with goaltenders. Marc-Andre Fleury was the prodigal son who would make the team fun to watch out of the gate and give them a chance to win. The team also had to use five goaltenders in their first season due to some bad injury luck.
Acquired in February 2020, Robin Lehner emerged as the team’s starter in the bubble playoffs. But a lot of controversy on Peter DeBoer’s coaching decisions surrounded, and still surrounds him. He is currently out for the season with a hip injury. Hopefully, he will be able to return to form in 2023-24.
And now there’s Thompson. A kid who was never expected to play in the NHL but is turning heads with a feel-good story of perseverance. He says the fan support has helped him in his NHL journey, but that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows with fanbases.
“It’s not always gonna be pretty with fans, right? They either love you, or they hate you. I feel like I have really good fan support here in Vegas, and I really appreciate it, and I definitely build off it.”
“They’ve had my back since day one in Henderson. Everyone just thought I was a depth guy. It’s meant a lot to me on how the city has taken me in,” said Thompson in regard to the Golden Knights fanbase.
Goaltending is perhaps the position in which mental health can affect your play the most. Having the fans on your side, no matter how you are playing, will be a plus. But after bad games, Thompson says the best method is just to block out the noise.
“This sport is definitely mental, right? When things are great, it’s like you’re on top of the world, and when everything’s bad, you want to stay off Twitter,” said Thompson.
Overall, LT says the Golden Knights fanbase treats their goalies with care.
“I think that most goalies that have ever played here get a lot of love from the fanbase.”
One More Thing- Reverse Retro Preview
The Golden Knights revealed their reverse retro jerseys on Monday with a black design featuring a ‘Vegas’ wordmark and homages to hotels and casinos from the 1990s.
Thompson had been known to be a flashy goaltender in terms of equipment. He says he is excited about the new jerseys and will likely have a black pad setup for when the VGK wear these jerseys eight times.
“I’m excited. They’re a cool color and still very Vegas-style. So I’m excited to wear them,” said Thompson.