Golden Knights’ Gerard Gallant: Fleury ‘runs our group’

Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant tells HC at Noon that not once during the season did the coaching staff use the fact that all these players were looked over by their former teams, as motivation.

Even before he was officially plucked from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the expansion draft, it was pretty much assumed by most of the hockey world that Marc-Andre Fleury would be backstopping the Vegas Golden Knights through their inaugural season.

Few thought he’d also be controlling the crease in the playoffs, too—simply because no one anticipated they’d actually get there. Yet here he is, a big part of the heart and soul of an underdog Golden Knights team far more dynamic than anyone predicted, propelling a club of castoffs to Round 2 after sweeping the once-powerful Los Angeles Kings.

“Obviously I knew we had a good team, we competed hard and we had a great regular season,” head coach Gerard Gallant said during a Hockey Central at Noon appearance on Wednesday. “Did I expect to win in four games against Los Angeles? No, not at all. I knew it was going to be a good battle and good games, and that’s what it was.”

 
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While he admitted a little “puck luck” helped along the way, much of the credit goes to the goalies—at both ends of the rink.

“Marc-Andre Fleury was sensational and so was Jonathan Quick,” Gallant said. “I mean, goaltending was outstanding in the series.”

Overall, goals were kept to a minimum all series with just 10 total markers combined between the clubs. All four games were decided by a single goal, and the first round was bookended by 1-0 shutout wins for Fleury and the Golden Knights.

Fleury finished the series with a .977 save percentage and 0.65 goals against average, stopping 127 of 130 total shots.

“The goaltending was as good as I’ve seen,” said Gallant.

It wasn’t just Fleury’s in-game performance the bench boss was praising on Wednesday. He was also asked about Fleury’s leadership, and while goaltenders aren’t allowed to wear the ‘C’, Gallant said Fleury’s role in the locker room is very much like that of a team captain.

“There’s no doubt. I mean, he’s the guy that runs our group. He’s the guy that’s the prankster still at 33 years of age, he’s the guy that has fun everyday and smiles, he does everything. He’s the guy that sees the kid in the stands at the end of a game and goes over and gives them a stick or gives them a puck. He’s doesn’t miss anything. He’s such a professional and such a good person and everybody likes him. He’s definitely a captain type of guy.

“And that’s what we’ve got in our room: we’ve got guys like him, we’ve got Deryk Engelland, there’s so many of those guys in our room, veteran guys,” Gallant continued. “We talked about guys coming from other teams. Well, I know one thing, after probably a month into the season, I know everybody was very happy to be in Vegas and they got together as a group, a veteran group, and they’ve been leading us the whole time.”

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