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Golden Knights Still Lamenting Missed Opportunity

Vegas feels club could have won Cup again

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Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon thinks they had the team to again win the Stanley Cup.

The Vegas Golden Knights appear to be defying the long-held axiom about failed hockey teams. Tradition is that losing clubs hit the links once their season hits the skids.

In the case of the Golden Knights, their postseason laments make it sound more like they’ve gone fishing instead of golfing. They keep pining for the one that got away.

“I believe it’s the best team we’ve ever had in Vegas,” GM Kelly McCrimmon said of the 2023-24 edition of the Golden Knights. “I know when I talked to our players, to a man, (there was) really consistent messaging . . . a real feeling of missed opportunity, a lost opportunity, when you’ve got a team this good.”

McCrimmon is right in that regard. The players do feel as though they let a real opportunity slip through their grasp.

“Definitely felt like we had a team that could win a championship,” captain Mark Stone said.

Could’ve Been Special Campaign For Golden Knights

Forward Jonathan Marchessault, who’s been in Vegas from Day 1, was another who thought this group was ready to do something special. Since 1990, only one NHL franchise has proven capable of repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

That was the Pittsburgh Penguins, who actually did in twice – in 1990-91 and 1991-92 and again in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Marchessault felt that Vegas could have put this club among that select group.

“We’ve never had a stacked lineup like that,” Marchessault said of this season’s squad. “I really feel like we missed an opportunity here.”

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has won Cups with the Golden Knights last season and the St. Louis Blues in 2018-19. He knows what the makeup of a Cup winner looks like and he was certain he seeing that kind of team in the Vegas dressing room as they were entering postseason play.

That’s what makes their first-round exit against the Dallas Stars all the more distasteful.

“You only have so many opportunities with good teams,” Pietrangelo said. “I’ve been fortunate to be on a lot of good teams, so it’s frustrating when we don’t get an opportunity to capitalize.”

Not everyone is unanimous in this assessment, however. While goaltender Adin Hill does agree that the parts were in place to go on another Cup run, he also thinks the Golden Knights were guilty of not putting the pieces together to make it happen.

“I feel like we never got to where our game can be,” Hill said. “Last year, we saw what we can do in this locker room.

“I think you can argue we might have had a better team on paper this year. We didn’t play the same way on the ice, I don’t believe.”