VGK eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoffs as Fleury sits
Three-time cup winner Marc Andre-Fleury watched from the sidelines as his team was eliminated in game six of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens.
Yet in what was possibly his final game in a Vegas Golden Knights uniform, Fleury did not start in net and the Knights lost 3-2 in overtime on a Artturi Lehkonen game-winner to propel the Canadiens to its first Stanley Cup final since the 1990’s.
It was an abrupt ending for Vegas, who had a dominating regular season and clawed its way out of two grueling playoff series against the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knight forwards struggled all series long against the Canadiens.
Captain Mark Stone inexplicably failed to record a single point.
“Pretty terrible feeling,” Stone told ESPN. “I’m the captain of this team, the leader of this team and take a lot of responsibility for what just occurred.”
Winger Reilly Smith and defenseman Alec Martinez scored goals for the Knights, only for it to be reported later that Martinez played on a broken foot against Montreal.
The other Vegas goaltender, Robin Lehner, started the elimination game and stopped 29-of-32 shots in his second consecutive start against the Canadiens.
“It (stinks) we couldn’t get over the hump,” Lehner told ESPN. “We’re a hard-working group. I’m proud of everyone in there. We’re right there knocking on the door.”
Lehner has been quiet on Twitter following the loss.
However, despite an abrupt and mildly disappointing finish to what many thought was a championship campaign, there is stability in the core of Stone, wingers Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, as the Knights are expected to have the group locked in for the next handful of seasons.
That leaves Fleury, who has one year left on his contract and was arguably benched in an elimination game after dragging the Knights with him upwards for a majority of the season.
What does his future hold?
Vegas is pretty strapped with cash moving forward, and Lehner, despite his shortcomings, can man the goaltender position.
As for the head coach, it was a much better season for Pete Deboer after his first year with the team.
Vegas finished 40-12-2 and was just shy of taking home the President’s Trophy from Colorado.
The Knights showed resilience in the playoffs and dug in when things got rough after nearly choking a 3-1 lead against the WIld and facing a 2-0 deficit against the Avalanche.
Changes will be minimal, but evident as the Knights head into the offseason.