This past Tuesday would have been a perfect day off for the 8-0-1 (at the time) Vegas Golden Knights. They had their seven-game winning streak snapped in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The Golden Knights bounced back with a shootout victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. The Golden Knights edged out a shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
Tuesday would have been the perfect day for the team to spend anywhere but City National Arena.
Coach Bruce Cassidy had other plans. “Obviously Bruce is a big believer on getting out there and practicing stuff.” Jonathan Marchessault on the team’s work ethic. “We had a little bit of skill work two days ago. It was good, I liked it.”
At this point, one might read Marchessault’s comments as simply saying the right things. Did he really want to get out and practice after a 9-0-1 start? Was he happy with where the team was at? “We were winning some hockey games but we weren’t playing our best games. It was good to get out there. We got the work done and got rewarded tonight (Thursday).”
Marchessault is not the only member of the Golden Knights who felt the team was not at their best.
“I wouldn’t say we are playing very good hockey, we’re finding ways to win right now.” Keegan Kolesar after Thursday’s skate. “We can be a lot better after the last couple of games. I think when you have some time off and your game starts to slip, I think getting back to practice and touches helps. Repetition is key in any sport and we were able to get that in the last two days.”
Captain Mark Stone gave an impromptu “State of the Golden Knights,” after Monday’s victory against the Canadiens. “We’re a resilient group. We hang in games, right? At worst, we give ourselves a chance to win games.” Stone’s perspective was spot on. Saturday’s game against the Kings was a prime example. The Golden Knights trailed by two goals and did not panic. “Guys are trying to make the right plays, but execution is not at its finest right now. It’s just a little off, right? It’s a little off, that’s why we’re still winning games. If it was way off we’d be here shaking our heads really concerned because the record wouldn’t be what it is.”
Do Stone’s comments sound like a team that was 9-0-1 at the time? Not really.
Something you hear a lot from Cassidy is “staying in the moment.” The players have bought into staying in the moment. Cassidy and the players are very honest about how the team is performing during their media availabilities. While it may seem that the team has been grumpy despite their historic start, everyone is making sure they play to the standards of the team.
What is the golden standard?
The golden standard is a process before-results mentality. The results will come if everyone sticks to the process. Go back to Marchessault’s, Kolesar’s, and Stone’s comments. All of those comments came while the team is currently on a 10-0-1 run, leading the Pacific Division, and leading the NHL in points. Everyone believes the team is playing far from their best hockey despite being the best team in the NHL through 11 games.
Where does the golden standard come from?
This one is easy. Cassidy has created the golden standard.
The Golden Knights have had three coaches in their brief history and no one has done a better job at getting players to exceed their potential than Cassidy. Why is Cassidy so good at getting players to exceed their potential? For starters he does not give the team days off if he feels things are not going well. Every player is held to an equal level of accountability. Cassidy will hold Marchessault to the same accountability standards as Paul Cotter.
If the team is not performing to the golden standard during a game, Cassidy has no problem staying in the moment and making changes to the lines. Cassidy’s best move of the season may have been putting William Karlsson on the wing of the top line against Dallas three weeks back. Karlsson got a late game-tying goal which led to a Golden Knights victory. Karlsson has not played the wing much throughout his career but it was a chance Cassidy was willing to take.
Time will tell if the golden standard will lead to the silver and nickel alloy Stanley Cup next June.