To clarify a line from three paragraphs ago, the Golden Knights are not winning because Fleury is standing on his head. He is playing great and they are playing great, independently of each other (insomuch as teammates don’t feed off each other, which they do). On Sunday, the Vegas forecheck was utterly dominant, as usual, while the Golden Knights had just a single giveaway all game.


“I thought we were the hardest working team in the league before this series,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said, and depending on how you want to read that, DeBoer is either implying that something about the Knights’ play neutralized San Jose’s effort, or he’s conceding that Vegas works harder.

They’re going to need to keep it up and for everything to keep going right in the conference final, against either Winnipeg or Nashville, the survivor of which will be the clear best team left alive. But what do you know? Vegas won the season series against both teams. Nothing about this postseason has been a fluke, at least no more than an entire season can be a fluke.


But it all comes back to Fleury, whose Penguins won it all only when he was either great, or they had a better option. I do not know why or how Fleury is peaking now, at this age, on this team, and he doesn’t seem to either. He’s sure enjoying it, though.

“He played unbelievable,” said Knights forward James Neal of his once teammate in Pittsburgh and now Vegas. “His smile describes him best. You look in his mask and see all his teeth, that ear-to-ear smile.

“He’s a great guy. You talk more about the person than the goalie, and he’s an unbelievable goalie. So athletic, battles for every puck. He deserves everything he gets. I’m proud of him. He’s awesome.”