Entering the night the newest expansion-team in the NHL, the Vegas Golden Knights, were unbeaten in the history of their regular season (given they’ve only played three games). We give credit where credit is due and the Golden Knights deserve tons of it for what they’ve dealt with on and off the ice.
After beating the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes on the road to start the season, VGK claimed victory at home with a high energy crowd in Sin City in their most meaningful game ever following the tragedy. The atmosphere was unexplainable as tons of emotions were flowing through that building. But Vegas withstood. Not just the hockey team, the entire community, should be commended.
Now back to hockey. Veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, 3-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was hunched over walking today after carrying the team on his back through the first three games. Fleury had an astounding 1.32 GAA and .963 Sv%. This guy has been a brick-wall. An impenetrable fortress that’s harder to get into than the Kremlin. Unless you’re Tom Cruise and that really funny guy from Paul and Shaun of the Dead…
…Or you play for the Detroit Red Wings, who demolished VGK on the scoreboard, 6-3, while little-guy Tomas Tatar, not known for his physicality, threw hands with Erik Haula. And kind of embarrassed him if we’re being honest.
After Tatar laid a big, clean hit on Haula as Haula was breaking out of his defensive zone with his head down like it’s his first day of peewees, Haula challenged the Slovakian Slayer to a fight to the death, or until they slip and fall to the ice, whichever comes first. Standard hockey stuff. What did Haula think was going to happen? Tatar was just going to let him skate right by untouched? Well, most nights yes. But not on this night. Tatar woke up this morning, ate his Koko Crunch and put his big boy pants on before stepping to the ice last night.
But Tatar wasn’t the story in this game. That spot goes to captain Henrik Zetterberg who has seemingly reversed Father Time’s powers. Zetterberg scored once and assisted on three more on his way to a four-point night. And can you say clutch?
After Zetterberg’s nifty move on a breakaway to put the Wings up 2-1 five minutes into the second period, they would enter the 3rd period trailing 3-2. Just five minutes after puck drop in the final period, Hank assisted on an Anthony Mantha goal before setting up Frans Nielsen to put his team up by one. And they would never look back.
Detroit brought out the grave-diggers and buried the Golden Knights after Gus Nyquist added his second goal of the night before Luke Glendening…
…shot a puck from nearly 40-feet out that somehow snuck by Fleury. At that point, the Vegas crowd was out of it, the Wings were in firm control, and the Detroit players’ crews undoubtedly began the tedious task of finding the party favors for the night and celebrating the HUGE victory. Even though it’s just the fifth game of the season. But — When in
Rome Vegas, everybody knows what to do. And you never speak of it again.
Wings fans didn’t have much to cheer about last year but this year is already a different story. Now (4-1-0), the Red Army is quite optimistic that the return to NHL prominence and the old, yet so familiar, championship ways are imminent. The young core (Mantha, Larkin, Frk) look hungry to compete every night, the old youngsters (Tatar, Nyquist) will hopefully take the next step, the veterans (Zetterberg, Nielsen, Abdelkader, Kronwall) are always dependable and look to remain that way, and the goalies (Howard, Mrazek) hope to benefit from friendly competition.
All in all, things are looking good for Red Wings and the diehards, who continue to throw octopi on the ice much to the dismay of PETA. But that tradition is one that will never die. Detroiters won’t let it. It just won’t happen. Simple as that.
Is there a GoFundMe page yet for people who get ticketed for throwing an octopus onto an open field of play? Dangerous or not, ethical or unethical, right or wrong, there might not be a greater tradition in all of sports. Electric. Absolutely electric. Every single time.