Some thoughts and jots while watching the Golden Knights go through their paces on a Sunday morning in Vegas.
Three in a row
What a difference a week makes. Vegas rolled in to Philadelphia last Saturday owning a 1-4 record and their was lots of carping on social media about a second season crash.
A hard-fought road win against the Flyers and two home wins this week against Buffalo and Anaheim has brought the club's record to 4-4 with three games remaining on this homestand.
Stop the puck, stop the skid
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been brilliant during this three-game streak allowing just two goals while stopping 69 of 71 shots for a .971 save. Fleury recorded his 408th win and is now 10th all time in career NHL wins.
Climbing the ladder
Fleury is now 76 wins back of Ed Belfour who sits third in all time wins with 484. Martin Brodeur is first with 691 wins and Patrick Roy is second with 551.
Fleury, 33, just signed a three-year extension which kicks in next season. Barring injury, catching Belfour is realistic. Henrik Lundqvist (433) and Roberto Luongo (471) are the only active goalies ahead of Fleury. So there's a bit of a race among the three active goalies. Fleury should settle somewhere between sixth and third in all-time wins by the time he retires. Factor in three Stanley Cup wins as well as an Olympic gold medal and he's beginning to look more and more like a future Hall of Famer.
Quick streak stats
Vegas has scored eight goals winning its last three games and only allowed two. The Golden Knights have generated 95 shots for while allowing 71 against for a plus 24 shot differential in that span. The power play has tallied in two of the three games and the penalty kill has been perfect.
Defensemen Nick Holden was signed in the off-season to bolster the third pairing on the Golden Knights blueline but has spent much of the season in the club's top four and ranks fourth amongst VGK defenders in icetime averaging 18:54 minutes per game. Holden played a lot of top-four minutes during his time with the New York Rangers including a 34 point season in 2016-17. Holden has averaged over 20 minutes per game in each of the last three Vegas wins. Holden is one of those players who responds well to responsibility. The more you give him, the better he plays.
"I think he gets better every game, he's been solid for us," said VGK head coach Gerard Gallant. "I didn't know too much about when we got him, I knew he was a solid player and every game he is getting better and he moves the puck well."
Late in Saturday's 3-1 win against Anaheim, winger Jonathan Marchessault had a clear shot at an empty net. Before firing the puck into the net, however, Marchessault paused and looked over at linemate Reilly Smith and was poised to dish the puck. Smith saw what Marchessault was up to and waved him toward the goal. Both players made an unselfish gesture on the same play before Marchessault whipped the puck in for his team leading fifth goal of the season.
"They are character guys, they like each other a lot, they have fun in practice every day and Marchessault likes to score goals and he would have given it to Smitty," said Gallant. "Smitty is the type of guy that would say put it in Marchessault. We've got a good team and a good group of guys. We talked about it on the day of the expansion draft. We wanted a good group of guys and that is what we got."