It has been a big week for angry coach press conferences around the NHL.
The latest installment comes to us from Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant following their big 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
The source of his anger: A question about the Golden Knights’ struggles against teams above them in the standings and their overall record against playoff teams.
Here is video of the exchange, via @VGKladies.
Gallant's reaction to this question is absolutely correct. pic.twitter.com/JkWIj33cjY
— VGK Ladies (@VGKLadies) January 3, 2020
The breakdown of the exchange:
Gallant was asked if it was important to make a statement against a good team given the Golden Knights’ struggles against teams above them in the standings and current playoff teams. It was a notion he quickly dismissed.
“We’re negative tonight, aren’t we? We’re in first place, we’ve had a good run the last 20-some games,” starts Gallant.
“So the whole league isn’t a good league anymore? Like — come on. We just won a big game, what are we? 10-3-2, whatever in the last — did we not play good enough tonight to win? Were we not the better team tonight?”
At this point the reporter tries to clarify his question about Vegas’ record against good teams, to which Gallant immediately snaps: “Yeah, that’s it. The only teams we can beat are the bad teams — supposedly.”
Then he walks out.
So that happened.
A few things…
- The Golden Knights are actually on a 12-4-2 run over their past 18 games, which is, in Gallant’s words, “a good run.”
- It is also true that they have struggled to win games against teams currently in a playoff spot this season, owning a 7-9-4 against teams currently in a playoff spot and a 4-7-2 record against teams that currently have a better points percentage than them.
- The records are what they are, so I get the point of the question. But it’s also tough to take much meaning from that at the halfway point of the season. Four overtime/shootout losses against playoff teams (to only two overtime/shootout wins against current playoff) points to a little bad luck in those games. There is also still half a season to play, and the Golden Knights are playing better now than they did earlier in the season. Maybe those records improve as they start to get on a roll and find their game.
- I also understand where Gallant is coming from. His team just picked up two huge points and is playing well. The last thing on his mind is who they’ve beaten and how they have beaten them.
- It is also a window as to how coaches and players treat every game. It’s easy for us as fans and media to look at the standings and say “this team should beat this team because they are better.” But it doesn’t work that way in the big leagues, and it’s not the way coaches and players are wired. Every game is a challenge, every point is earned, and there are no off nights. There is a ton of preparation and work that goes into all 82 games, and if you don’t show up for it you’re going to lose no matter who you play. Every year even the “bad” teams and the “worst” teams in the league are going to win more than 30 games. They are going to beat somebody. Sometimes we all lose sight of that fact.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.