Golden knights vs avalanche
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FSM Presents: 2 Minutes with Gawlik – Weekly VGK Update – 2021 Season Preview

Franchise Sports Media

 

VGK fans, welcome back to Two Minutes with Gawlik! The Vegas Golden Knights are about to drop the puck on the 2021/22 season and have had a lot of changes transpire in the offseason. Let’s preview their upcoming season with a prediction at the end!

 

2 Minutes with Gawlik
Photo Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I remember September 26th, 2017, quite well. The afternoon started on the bottom floor of the parking structure at Tropicana. I dusted off a twenty in a random slot machine so I could declare myself a customer of the establishment and not get towed. It was a short walk from the Trop to T-Mobile Arena. There was zero stress about the upcoming season. The Vegas Golden Knights were picked to finish dead last by everybody in the hockey community. I had no concern over how many wins the team would get in their inaugural season, I was excited to have a hockey team in my hometown.

My father and I arrived inside T-Mobile Arena about an hour before puck drop. I explored the entire lower bowl before settling in just above where the players walk onto the ice. One by one the players emerged as p\ublic address announcer, Bruce Cusick, welcomed the Golden Knights to the ice. The players had unsure looks on their faces.  Nate Schmidt was the only one who had a smile on his face. Eric Haula nodded the same way one would at a funeral if one saw a close family member of the person that passed on. Collin Miller looked up to the rafters to soak it in for a moment.

No one knew what the next nine months would bring.

Season one was all about the impossible. How can an expansion team compete right out of the gate? It had to be a fluke, right? Remember all those goaltending injuries? VGK still found a way to run away with the Pacific Division. Come playoffs, things would be different, right? The Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets had much more playoff experience than the Golden KnightsVGK advanced in each of those rounds in four, six, and five games to become Western Conference Champions.

 

We were living the impossible. The Vegas Golden Knights were favored to win the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, the impossible ended with the Capitals being awarded the Stanley Cup in T-Mobile Arena.

 

Golden Knights vs Canadiens
Photo Credit: News Block

One would think the Vegas Golden Knights would have a permanent love affair with their fans after how season one wrapped up. What could the team possibly do to upset their fanbase? It is not like they would fire the head coach midway through season three, replace the said head coach with the former coach of the hated San Jose Sharks, trade away Nate Schmidt for peanuts, and trade away Marc Andre Fleury with him finding out through social media. They wouldn’t do that, would they?

Yes, they did. Let me get this straight. Winning the Jack Adams Award (awarded to the coach who contributed the most to his team’s success) or the Vezina Trophy (awarded to the goaltender who is adjudged to be the best at this position) buys you nothing in return? What team in the right mind would make these kinds of deals? How is it that we only have a few original “misfits” left?

The answer to question one above is, a team that wants to win a Stanley Cup and will not settle for winning a couple of rounds here and there in the playoffs. Answer to question two above, because all our beloved original “misfits” failed on the goal of winning a Stanley Cup.

How special would it have been to see Engelland pass the Stanley Cup off to Fleury who then passes it on to Nate Schmidt? It would have been amazing. It will be just as amazing to see Mark Stone hoist the cup and pass it to Robin Lehner who would pass it on to Alec Martinez. Folks, it is ok to connect with the players and how can you not love Fleury? We all do and wish him well in Chicago. We love Schmidt and hope he does well in Winnipeg this year. The common denominator for the Golden Knights is the logo on the front of the jersey. That is what we cheer for.

 

Here is my challenge to each and every one of you Golden Knights fans out there.

 

Golden Knights vs Wild
Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

Think back to your first experience with the Golden Knights. Could be going to a game, watching on TV, or the first time you read a VGK story on the internet. What did you feel? Try and put yourself in that place as season five begins. Replace the anger and hostility with anticipation and excitement. Enjoy the ride because this team is deeper and has another shot at the ultimate prize.

VGK has moved on from Cody Glass, Tomas Nosek, Ryan Reaves, Nick Holden, and Fleury. Newcomers include Evgenii Dadonov, Nolan Patrick, Brett Howden, and Laurent Brossoit. The most important free-agent acquisition is Brossoit. Lehner will be an elite-level goaltender, when healthy. Can Lehner remain healthy and log fifty-five or more starts? Brossoit has never started greater than twenty-one games at the NHL level. Golden Knights General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, claimed that Brossoit was the team’s first choice to back up Lehner.  Obviously, something has caught the team’s eye about him. Dadonov and Patrick offer forward depth and hopefully can contribute to the team’s struggling powerplay.

Those who know me know I can not go eight hundred – sixty words and not mention Peyton KrebsKrebs looks to check on line three opening night. You heard it here first, Krebs scores the first goal on opening night. My son, Christopher, says the goal comes with twenty seconds remaining in the first period. Christopher is now going on to say that Krebs is going to get a hat-trick! Book it!

Alex Tuch will miss the first few months of the season due to injury. His injury makes VGK cap compliant for the time being. What happens when Tuch comes back and his $4.75M counts against the team? Two possibilities, there could be an injury to another player on the team to open cap space or there will be a trade. We all know McCrimmon and George McPhee are not afraid to make a big move. What that move could be is anyone’s guess.

 

Alright VGK fans, it’s prediction time!

 

Golden Knights vs Kings          
Photo Credit: Harry How / Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights should have no problem winning their third Pacific Division Championship. I have been very supportive of the moves VGK made this offseason. Depth has been the biggest area of opportunity come playoffs. That has been addressed. VGK has a team built to win a Stanley Cup and I believe this is the year that goal is achieved. Although, how amazing would it be to see Marc Andre Fleury skate off the ice at T-Mobile holding the Clarence Campbell Bowl?

Tonight the Vegas Golden Knights welcome the Seattle Kraken to the NHL. This will be Seattle’s first-ever regular-season game. If you will be in attendance, make sure to show Seattle plenty of love. This is a very special night for Seattle, Vegas, and the National Hockey League!  There will be plenty of time for the rivalry to develop.

Go Knights Go!!!

 

I look forward to having you back in the box for another “2-Minutes with Gawlik” next week right here on Franchise Sports Media.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Chris on Twitter @TDChrisG

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