Simply call it hockey’s Ultimate Hat Trick – the team version – for the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights.
By the luck of the NHL scheduling genie, the Knights needed to play each of the leaders from the National Hockey League’s other three divisions – all on the road – over the past few weeks.
And the Knights’ penny slot hit the jackpot.
Following a triumph at Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay on Jan. 18 on a past road swing, the current trip also featured an overtime win over Winnipeg (Central), then Sunday’s comeback triumph in Washington (Metro).
In other words, it’s not just southern Nevada locals who are jumping on the Knights on the Stanley Cup futures line; the so-called sharp money also elevated Vegas’ status to go all the way. The victory in Manitoba is especially interesting. The first meeting with the Jets saw Vegas listed as a massive +175 underdog. Last week, the Knights went off at Even money in a walk-off (skate-off?) win over Winnipeg in overtime.
|Youngest Franchises to win Major Sports Championships|
|Year, Team, League, Season|
|1* Cleveland Browns||NFL 1950|
|2 New York Rangers||NHL 1927-28|
|3 Milwaukee Bucks||NBA 70-71|
|4 Baltimore Ravens||NFL 2000-01|
|4 Arizona Diamondbacks||MLB 2001|
|5 Boston Bruins||NHL 1928-28|
|*CLEV was not a first-year franchise; played four previous seasons in the AAFC|
|The first seasons of any league not included|
Thanks to all of you who thought I was crazy to take Philadelphia on the night the Flyers retired the jersey of Eric Lindros. The club is now 5-0-0 is such a situation.
Well, the Win on Sweater Retirement Night scenario comes up twice in February.
This Saturday, Tampa Bay will send Vincent Lecavalier’s jersey, No. 44, to the rafters when they host “my” Los Angeles Kings. The franchise’s all-time leading goal-scorer played the first 14 of his 17 NHL seasons on the Florida Gulf Coast, capturing the Stanley Cup in 2004.
Meanwhile, current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had his No. 91 retired by the Sarnia Sting – his juniors club – on Jan. 12 during TBL’s five-day break.
Elsewhere, the New York Rangers will welcome Jean Ratelle to the rafters of Madison Square Garden. The ceremony is slated for Feb. 25 vs. Detroit.
The five-time all-star also owns four major NHL individual trophies of note (Masters, Lindsay and Lady Byng twice), finished with 491 goals and 1,276 points.
Ratelle will join eight others: Andy Bathgate, Harry Howell, Ed Giacomin, Mike Richter, Rod Gilbert, Adam Graves, Brian Leetch and Mark Messier.
During a ceremony at the 2017 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Ratelle was part of the second group of players to be named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.
Hey, Rangers, it took you long enough. After scoring 336 goals in 16 seasons with the Blue Shirts, Ratelle played six more years for Boston before retiring at age 40 – he’s now 77. Like, what took so long?
Ratelle was also member of the 1972 Team Canada squad that defeated the Soviet Union in the first-ever Summit Series.
Another strong, look-ahead betting situation for (probably) March will be on Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who recorded 20 saves in Sunday’s win in Washington.
The Flower surpassed Dominik Hasek for 13th on the NHL career wins list with his 390th win; milestone No. 400 is just weeks away.
Fleury could also achieve a Top 10 ranking this season should he pass Chris Osgood (401), Grant Fuhr (403) and Glenn Hall (407).
What happened to that red-hot Colorado Avalanche squad that was unstoppable last month?
Well, they went on the road and lost 4-of-6 – how predictable.
This week, the Avs (18-7-1 at home; just 10-12-3 road) return to Pepsi Center for just a single game, then it’s back to packing the suitcase. And what a strange travel itinerary.
Colorado goes to St. Louis, then oddly to Carolina, up north to Buffalo, back home to Denver for one game, then to Winnipeg. Enjoy those frequent flyer miles, while you rapel in standings with Chicago.