Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

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Golden Knights hoping early season success continues as they hit the road

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BROOKLYN — It’s almost November and the Vegas Golden Knights have one of the best records in the NHL. That’s definitely a sentence you didn’t expect to read after June’s expansion draft, but here we are. An 8-1-0 record and plus-15 goal differential has been powered by six wins in seven home games.

After taking care of business at T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights now face their first big test of the season. Eight of their next nine games will be on the road, starting with Monday night’s tilt against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center. Head coach Gerard Gallant is emphasizing the old cliche “one game at a time,” and his players are on the same wavelength.

“Make sure you focus on the game ahead of you and not the whole road trip,” said Vegas forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare after Monday’s morning skate. “There’s no point of thinking of a game you’re not going to play anyway. That’s the biggest chance you have to burn yourself on the game that you have in-hand. Just make sure that you focus. For us, it’s the Islanders tonight. Just focus on that and nothing else.”

The Golden Knights’ success has been one of the feel-good stories in the NHL this season. While their league-high PDO (106) and possession numbers (46 percent Corsi), via Corsica, say they’ll come back down to earth eventually, their start is still a remarkable feat.

Hitting the road for a few weeks now allows players for some bonding time. Dinner Sunday night in New York City was a good start as the “getting to know you” process continues. (Gallant joked that he knows all of his players’ names now.) The majority of players in that dressing room had their career paths unexpectedly altered over the summer and it was up to them to immediately develop chemistry.

“The fact that we all come from different organizations and different teams, all of us had to make an effort to get to know the guy that was next to you,” Bellemare said. “When you come to a team, you have to [make] the effort to introduce yourself to everybody. In this team we all had to do the same job. We all had to try to learn [about] the next guy and his family and everything. I think we can keep it that way and because of that there is less room for cheating or trying to do it your way. It has to be the team way because this is the only way we can survive.”

The Golden Knights players also shared another thing in common: the chips on their shoulders. A new franchise. A lot of preseason predictions placing them with high draft lottery chances. Add it to the pile of internal motivations.

“Not one of us were protected [in expansion draft] so it was kind of a feeling like ‘Alright, we’re in this together, let’s make sure we show everybody else that they made a mistake,’” Bellemare said.

No matter how the rest of their first NHL season goes, the Golden Knights’ opening month success has been vital on two fronts. First, they’re creating more hockey fans in Vegas and converting previous casuals to die-hard status now. Their winning ways has also provided reasons to smile after the mass shooting earlier this month. The aftermath of that tragic day showed just how much of an impact they’re already making in the community.

“It’s still early in the season, but with what happened on October 1, it helped us get an identity right from the start,” Bellemare said. “We’re doing this not for each other. We’re doing this for the town and that’s the most important part.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Flyers’ Lecavalier will not retire ‘under any circumstances,’ says agent

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It appears as though Vincent Lecavalier could spend a third season in Philadelphia.

Speaking to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, Lecavalier’s agent Kent Hughes said his client would not retire “under any circumstances”. The Flyers have not contacted Lecavalier about a possible buyout either.

According to Capfriendly.com, buying out Lecavalier would cost the Flyers $2.9 million against the cap in each of the next three seasons. He would then be on the books for an $888,889 cap hit from 2018-21.

Hughes’ latest comments come after he suggested in March that his client could retire before his five-year, $22.5 million contract expires.

The 35-year-old appeared in 57 games for the Flyers in 2014-15 scoring eight goals and 12 assists to go along with a minus-7 rating while averaging 12:39 in time on ice.

Lecavalier’s name surfaced in trade rumors last May, as he was unable to fit into Craig Berube’s system.

It was suggest then that a move to Nashville, where he could reunite with Peter Laviolette, would be a good fit. Laviolette reportedly lobbied for the Flyers to sign Lecavalier after the Tampa Bay Lightning bought him out.

During the 2014-15 season Lecavalier told The Canadian Press that he would likely benefit from a change of scenery.

“Maybe it’s just a better opportunity I need,” said Lecavalier. “It happens to a lot of guys. Sometimes you just have to get out of it, try to get out of it and work hard through it and maybe another opportunity will happen.”

His comments came just days after Berube said he felt more comfortable with Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare as his centers.

In 126 games over two seasons with the Flyers Lecavalier has 28 goals, 57 points and a minus-7 rating.

Video: Berube defends how he’s deployed Lecavalier

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Craig Berube doesn’t think “it’s an effort thing” with Vincent Lecavalier; the Flyers’ head coach just doesn’t believe the 34-year-old is well-suited to playing center in Philadelphia’s system.

Because playing that role requires a lot of effort, you see.

“In the middle of the ice in our system, it’s a lot of work,” Berube said. “You have to skate and get back and play both ends of the ice.”

Possible translation: Lecavalier’s trying. He just can’t do it like he used to. 

Saturday versus San Jose, Lecavalier will play the right side of a line centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, with Chris VandeVelde on the left side.

And after being a healthy scratch for three straight games, all it took for him to get back into the lineup was for Wayne Simmonds to break a leg.

Related:

Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly?

Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center

 

Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly?

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Very interesting comment from the agent of unhappy Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier.

“The situation hasn’t met either side’s expectations in Philadelphia,” Kent Hughes told NJ Advance Media. “If Vinny wants the opportunity to end a fantastic career on a good note, it’s not going to happen so long as Craig Berube is head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. I’m sure if Vinny found a good environment … an opportunity to go to a new team and end on a good note, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired before finishing the term of his deal.”

Lecavalier, 34, is signed for three more seasons at a cap hit of $4.5 million. If he were to retire early, his team would not be stuck with his cap hit.

Lecavalier has seven goals and 11 assists in 51 games this season, while averaging just 12:48 of ice time. He last played March 17 in Vancouver and has been a healthy scratch in the three games since.

A four-time All-Star, Lecavalier’s most common linemates in 2014-15 have been fourth-liners Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde.

Related: You should buy Vinny Lecavalier’s house

Video: Carcillo, Bellemare drop the gloves in a spirited scrap

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From almost out of nowhere, Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo and Philadelphia Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare dropped the gloves early in the third period of the Flyers’ 4-1 win on Wednesday.

For the 30-year-old Bellemare, of France, that appears to be his first fight in the NHL, according to his profile on the league’s website. The fight happened during a stoppage in play, while both teams were making line changes. It’s believed the Flyers were unhappy with Carcillo, believing he embellished a high stick called against Philadelphia’s Carlo Colaiacovo earlier in the period.