What can you say about the Las Vegas Golden Knights?
No seriously? What can you say about a team that finished first in their division with one of the best goalie combos in league history but still fell short of a Stanley Cup final? Keep in mind that this is the same team that made the playoffs and even to the Finals in their inaugural season, and you can start to see why a loss in the semifinals would hurt.
This team has been on the cusp of history in the first four years of their existence, and they seem to be closing in on something special. The only problem, however, is that they seem to choke under pressure. In fact, between losing to the Capitals in the Stanley Cup final and never making it past the semifinals since then, the team seems to implode under pressure.
For example, the Las Vegas Golden Knights finished with a record of 39-24 in 2020 and made the playoffs. The team proceeded to go undefeated in the round-robin to determine seeding and then knocked off the Blackhawks 4-1. As if that wasn’t insane enough, they then got in a 4-3 slug-out with the Canucks in a matchup that should probably go down in history.
Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, they would then be creamed by the Dallas Stars in the semifinals. Not only was the combo of Marc- Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner neutralized by the Stars' aggressive scoring tactics, but the Knights offense also couldn’t pick up the slack. Add to that a few difficult calls late in games, and you can see how things went wrong.
While defeat might taste utterly disgusting, especially after coming close so close to a title, the team honestly has a lot to build on. Furthermore, with the Knights' decision to keep their goalie combo, many of their key players still in place, and a draft to help them build their offense or defense, the team could finally make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021.
Again, this is a team that has proved that they are for real in their first three years of existence, and that they just need that last piece to go all the way. It’s just a matter of finally finding what those key pieces are and learning to coach them. Of course, the coaching staff then need to get the team on the same page and playing at their best, but that shouldn’t be too hard with what they already have going for them.
This team is just too good not to go to the finals again, and 2021 will hopefully help prove that.