On the ice last night, the Avalanche and Golden Knights put on one of the better games of the season as it actually had something riding on it. The Avs came from a goal down to win 2-1, and put themselves in position to usurp the Knights for the Presidents’ Trophy and home ice all the way through the playoffs if they can win their last two games. It would also put Vegas in the slightly uncomfortable position of hoping that Kirill Kaprizov doesn’t freak off in a short series,
It was a game played at a pace only these two teams can, which also led to Vegas’s capitulation and also highlighted how silly the league can be. The Knights only had 15 skaters thanks to cap problems, and it showed in the 3rd period when they were run over after dominating the first two. They didn’t have anything left.
Look, the Knights did this to themselves with their own cap management, but they’re hardly the first team to go short on the roster because of it over the years. You never hear of this in any other sport, even the ones with salary caps. It’s a problem with the NHL having a flat cap for the next couple of years, and yet teams are having to pull out all the stops to deal with it. Clearly the urge to spend more is there for some teams, and having a full roster should be the absolute minimum requirement for everyone. Whether the NHL wants to go lenient and figure out some sort of buffer zone, or go hard and say if you can’t ice 18 guys you can’t play, either solution is better than this. Or if icing 18 guys, which is mandatory, puts you over the cap, you just deal with the penalties such as draft pick loss or lowering of your cap next year or something. But showing up shorthanded on purpose can’t really be an option.
In one of the more important games of the year in the league, we had this silliness. There’s got to be a better way.