It’s rare for expansion teams to have success in their inaugural season, but the Las Vegas Golden Knights are doing just that. They are 7-1 through eight games and have been one of the best teams in hockey.
“No one could have predicted this,” Las Vegas Journal-Review Golden Knights writer Steve Carp said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Everyone loves a winner, and this team is hot, man. They’ve just got the whole town fired up, and obviously given what happened on Oct. 1, it takes on even more meaning.”
Carp, of course, is referring to the mass shooting that claimed 59 lives and injured hundreds of others. Carp said the city is doing “much better” since the massacre, in part because of the hockey team.
“It’s given people something to take the minds off of the bad events of Oct. 1 – and the players were just super,” he said. “Two days after the shooting, they were out in the community, they were visiting with the first-responders, they were with the victims at the hospitals, they were at the blood banks with people waiting six hours in the heat to give blood – they quickly became a part of the fabric of this community. I think their play has really helped galvanize the city.”
James Neal has been a force for the Knights. He leads the team in goals (six) and points (eight).
“He was so hot the first three games, everything he touched was going in,” Carp said. “Now teams are keeping a closer eye on him and he’s not getting as open as he was, so what he’s doing is setting up Cody Eakin and David Perron – and those guys are starting to come alive, especially Perron. That’s a really good line they’ve got there. Those guys, they work really well together and they’re really diverse players. Neal is a big, strong winger, Perron is a shifty kind of stick-handler and Eakin is a scrappy little guy. They just work really, really well together.”
Carp said there were rumors that Neal, 30, would be traded, but it’s safe to say that won’t be happening.
“They’re not trading this guy, especially with this start,” Carp said. “He’s one of the mainstays of this franchise along with (Marc-Andre) Fluery and Reilly Smith. They’re not trading James Neal.”