So what’s the secret to Vegas’ record-setting start to its inaugural season?
“By the time this gets published, things might change, so I don’t think we’ve lost perspective on anything,” Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon said before a 6-3 loss to the Islanders on Monday night dropped Vegas to 8-2. “We had a good start thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury and the emotional opening night we had at home [shortly after the concert shooting in Las Vegas], then we had a favorable schedule. Now we’re out on the road for six and we’ll see how we respond to a different challenge.”
The makeup of the team that GM George McPhee and McCrimmon assembled for coach Gerard Gallant certainly has helped. The way the expansion draft was structured by the NHL meant Vegas had a chance to select a good young player or two or an established veteran from almost every team — or at least put the Knights in position to extract draft picks and players from teams wishing to keep them from taking anyone useful, as the Islanders did in trading away their first-rounder in June.
“We certainly didn’t want to let any good young players go by in the draft, but there were some situations where we felt a veteran might be a better fit, and that’s benefited us at the start,” McCrimmon said. “So we’ve got players like James Neal, Deryk Engelland, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and David Perron who are experienced players.”
They also have some younger players who may not have been real prospects elsewhere who have gotten a chance. After Fleury was sidelined with a concussion, the Knights earned five straight wins with rookies Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk in goal. “Sometimes a player just needs an opportunity,” McCrimmon said. “It’s certainly been an exciting time for our fan base to start off this well.”
Tavares earns first star
John Tavares’ two hat tricks last week garnered him the NHL’s No. 1 star for the week, the fourth time he’s earned that honor . . . Former Islanders captain Mark Streit decided to retire rather than continue to play in his native Switzerland. He had 434 points in 786 NHL games.