EDMONTON – Given that they’re one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, the Vegas Golden Knights are surrounded by a lot of noise these days – some of it actually comes out of their mouths.
Before Vegas opened its quarter-finals playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, Knights goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury had to explain that Agent Allan Walsh was acting out of love and support when he posted a graphic, photo-graphic image of his client, who was impaled bloody through the back of trainer Peter DeBoer’s sword. Of course, Fleury allowed the Vegas franchise’s face, the image, to smear social media for 24 hours before asking his loyal friend to remove it.
And before the Knights began their video press conference on Wednesday, veteran striker Jonathan Marchessault apologized for the amazingly rough and grumpy messages he posted on Instagram on Tuesday in response to some fans accusing him of embellishing a sentence, which he had drawn during the 5-2 victory in Vancouver the series at 1-1.
“I think it was childish,” said Marchessault. “It was immature, not professional. I want to say that I am sorry and it won’t happen again. “
He was talking about Instagram, not diving.
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And then there were the liaison boys on the Vegas bench, who could be heard in the fanless Rogers Place, making fun of several Canucks, particularly rising stars Elias “Little Squirt” Pettersson and Quinn “Waterboy” Hughes, during 5th : 0 victory of the Knights Sunday.
There was chirping in hockey as long as there was ice, but most of the time no one except the players is aware of it. Thank goodness there have been fans in the arenas up until now who drowned out the worst things that have been said in “Game Art” over the years. The NHL would have asked Ryan Kesler to leave the bubble had playoff games been played in a vacuum a decade ago.
The insults are rarely even funny or imaginative. Small splash? Are you kidding me? Was The Polar Express’ annoying kid in the Vegas cast on Sunday? It’s a wonder no one said, “Hey, stop that.”
But boys are boys, and great players are great players. Pettersson of course responded with a titanic performance in Game 2, scoring one goal and setting up two more when the Canucks jumped the Knights into the best-of-seven series at the start.
“We knew what it felt like when they won, laughed and had a good time on the bench,” said Canucks captain Bo Horvat after the game. “We’ll definitely keep that in mind. We wanted to come out strong tonight and make a statement and I thought we did. Obviously it was much quieter there. We’ll try to keep it that way. “
Well, we’ll see.
Twitter is encouraged by dislike and inequality, which means that Pettersson has more power than most to dictate the volume on the Vegas bank.
His three points gave him 16 in 12 playoff games, second in the league behind only Colorado Avalanche Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon, who had 18 points.
No other Canuck has scored as many points in their first 12 postseason games in 50 years. Pettersson is 21 years old, is learning playoff hockey and is expected to lead the Canucks – a burden that former Vancouver stars like Pavel Bure, Daniel and Henrik Sedin were not burdened with in their first Stanley Cup tournaments.
Anyone who thinks a simple insult wouldn’t spark Pettersson has ignored his first two years in the NHL. He’s melted reporters with his gaze far less.
“You’d have to ask him, but I can imagine it will,” said defender Troy Stecher on Wednesday’s media call. “Petey is a really competitive person. He wants to win. . . and he works to improve his game during practice. He wants to be the superstar he already is. I’m sure that fueled him a bit. I think his play spoke last night. “
Pettersson still wore his game face after the game and said little when asked about the twitter two nights earlier.
“It’s emotions,” he said. “I don’t focus too much on that. I just want to be out there, do my best and win a hockey game for the team. “
The Canucks won more of it after Pettersson arrived from Sweden.
“I think if you went back and talked about a young player who is now a top player in the league, you probably surprised people along the way,” Canucks manager Travis Green said on Wednesday. “Yes, I think he surprises us sometimes, but we also have a lot of trust in him and a lot of trust in him that he wants to do well.
“He’s taking it easy, but he’s a tough competitor. He wants to win badly. It’s not just for personal reasons; He understands that it’s more than just that. . . a single player on a team. He’s doing his part. I thought he reacted well after Game 1. I thought our entire team did, but he especially did. “
Stecher said: “He comes to the rink every day with a specific goal. These superstars, guys of his caliber, simply keep an eye on the fact that they want to be the best and will do anything to be the best. I don’t think Petey is any different. “
Pettersson had this look in mind on Tuesday. With luck, someone from the Knights would call him thin.