Skip to Content

Bruce Cassidy Is So Mad About The Golden Knights’ Effort, The Damn Coyotes Are Catching Strays

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 27: Adin Hill #33 of the Vegas Golden Knights watches Shea Theodore #27 of the Golden Knights knock the puck behind the net as he defends against Radek Faksa #12 and Fredrik Olofsson #42 of the Dallas Stars in the first period of Game Five of the Western Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 27, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Stars defeated the Golden Knights 4-2. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After going down 3-0 in the series and losing their captain for a couple of games for the dumbest play of the year, the Stars looked like toast, and not the properly toasted kind of toast but the toast where the spring wears out in your $10 toaster from and the toast isn't ejected and you forget about it until it's all black and carbonized. And then Dallas went and won a pair, if not handily than deservedly, and if the Stars' backs are still against the wall, the Golden Knights, after a 4-2 home loss in Game 5, are maybe starting to feel a little claustrophobic too.

Who's most responsible for this would-be sweep now looking like a real series? To hear each coach tell it, it was their guys. Dallas coach Pete DeBoer: "I know our group, and we weren't happy about being in the hole we were in, and they've decided to do something about it. Now, we're rolling." That's typical enough, confidence-inspiring coachspeak; what do you want him to do, say his team deserves to go home?

Vegas's Bruce Cassidy also said the expected, more or less, for a squad that's now 0-2 on chances to close out the conference. "It's a very good question" why the Golden Knights didn't play more desperately, Cassidy mused, before answering it by invoking hockey's poster child for ineptitude in a comparison that, frankly, is pretty rude to all three franchises involved. “We had 24 giveaways. I'm not sure you're beating the Arizona Coyotes in January with 24 giveaways. That's no disrespect to Arizona, but it's not the right way to play.”

Here's the thing, though; actually, several things. The Golden Knights have not looked bad, really, in these last two. They scored first in both, and were tied in both until, at the earliest, midway through the third. Blaming the losses on a lack of effort also fails to give credit to Jake Oettinger, especially, and the Stars more generally (who, don't look now, have solidly outplayed Vegas in three of five games this series). But that's coaching. You can't control the other guys. You can only try to induce shame in your guys to light a fire under their asses, even if the burner was already on. I don't blame Cassidy. It's much easier to believe you failed than to face the notion that Ty Dellandrea beat you fair and square.

Dellandrea was an unlikely hero, to put it mildly. The 22-year-old winger was Dallas's 2018 first-round pick, and he hasn't made much of an NHL impact yet, in limited time. He scored nine goals in this, his first full big-league regular season, and before Saturday had tallied one across 14 playoff games. He was a healthy scratch for the first two games of this series, but last night looked frisky as heck on a suddenly dangerous third line. The Knights had mostly been weathering the Stars' big guns, but the difference in this one was the scoring from the depths of the Dallas lines. Give up a pair to Dellandrea plus a goal for Luke Glendening, and it's no wonder if Cassidy feels like this was more a Knights loss than a Stars victory.

Hey, that's how a coach cobbles together a narrative. Cassidy has to believe, and has to make his charges believe, that if the Golden Knights play like they're capable, they'll stave off a looming collapse. DeBoer, on the other bench, has to make his guys internalize that no one can beat them but themselves, even after peering out of a 3-0 hole. The truth is infinitely more complex than either, and perhaps ultimately unknowable. But that's no fun. Game 6 is in Dallas Monday night, and Jamie Benn will be back (it is unclear who will benefit most from this), and if the Stars can take one more, the recriminations will really start flying.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter