A number of things must go right for every Stanley Cup winner. The stars have to align from health to luck and everything between.
Let’s do this “Family Feud” style, the top five answers to “The Golden Knights don’t win the Stanley Cup if _____ doesn’t happen” are below.
The No. 1 answer on the board is … General Manager Kelly McCrimmon and his wizardry. Follow me here for a second. A buddy of mine had the first six strikes and was halfway to a 300 game on league bowling night. I see him getting ready to use a different bowling ball for his seventh shot, I ask him what the heck he is doing. He said he didn’t like how the ball had entered the pocket for the last few shots. The dude goes on to shoot a perfect, 300 game.
McCrimmon was able to identify that the 2017-18 Golden Knights team was having an unsustainable level of success. The re-tooling of the roster for the 2018-19 season set the wheels in motion for a Stanley Cup victory a few years later
Like my bowling friend who changed bowling balls mid-way through a perfect game, McCrimmon made an excellent pivot after season one.
The No. 2 answer on the board is… The hiring of Bruce Cassidy. Simply put, Cassidy was the right man for the job. Cassidy had the experience and knowledge to manage a team of superstars and high-priced talent. The right defensive system was utilized to limit odd-man rushes from the opposition which created a goalie-friendly situation.
Cassidy held all players to an equal standard and level of accountability. The players bought in, and the rest is history.
The No. 3 answer on the board is … Sean Burke’s effort in managing the Golden Knights goaltenders. Logan Thompson and Adin Hill were the opening-day goaltenders. Laurent Brossoit got an opportunity as injuries started to add up. Jonathan Quick was added later in the season as an insurance policy. Jiri Patera logged two starts as well.
This type of goaltender turnover is unprecedented and somehow the Golden Knights won the Pacific and led the Western Conference. The Golden Knights averaged over five goals per game in the Stanley Cup Final. Sergei Bobrovsky was having one of the best postseasons on record for an NHL goaltender, and the Golden Knights picked him apart.
Cassidy mentioned that Burke had put together a presentation for the players to watch on Bobrovsky prior to the Stanley Cup Final. That must have been an amazing presentation.
The No. 4 answer on the board is … Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud, and Nicolas Hague. You can’t have a goaltender-friendly system without those six defensemen. The Golden Knights might have the most physical blue line in the National Hockey League. It is the right blend of experience, size, speed, and skill. The defensemen all complement each other very well. The Golden Knights will remain a Stanley Cup contender as long as those six defensemen are on the roster.
The No. 5 answer on the board is … Luck was on the side of the Golden Knights. Five starting goaltenders throughout the regular season, using the second- and third-string goaltenders in the playoffs, almost perfect health among the 18 skaters in the playoffs, and so much more.
Every championship team has to have luck on their side. One could argue the Golden Knights suffered bad injury luck during the regular season and good luck during the playoffs. Maybe it all evened out in the end? The luck may be the fact that the luck evened out in the end. The luck did not even out in the 2021-22 season.