(Photo by Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images North America)
Las Vegas–Earlier today we caught up with the Golden Knights 40 goal man and Swedish sensation William Karlsson after the team clinched their playoff berth.
Last night in the 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Karlsson became the first ever player in Golden Knights history to reach the 40 goal threshold when he scored the empty netter in front of 18,326 at T-Mobile Arena.
Back in February he became the first player to reach 30 goals when Vegas beat the Edmonton Oilers by a 4-1 final.
Earlier in the month he netted the first ever natural hat trick as the Golden Knights earned a 4-0 shutout win over Calgary and back on New Years Eve 2018 against the Toronto Maple Leafs where he not only cashed in his first career hat trick for himself, but for the franchise as well.
For Karlsson his performance on the ice has played a major role in the overall success that the Golden Knights have had in their inaugural campaign in the National Hockey League as this year has been a breakout season for him.
The former Anaheim Ducks product shared with us today his thoughts on how the journey has gone that led the team in clinching their first ever Stanley Cup Playoffs berth in history.
“It’s been an interesting ride that’s for sure, coming in here everyone in the same boat really, the misfits, it’s been a great ride (with a laugh), it’s cool to see that we made the playoffs, all the experts said the we would suck really, it’s pretty fun to prove people wrong and hopefully we can continue to do that.” Karlsson said.
At the beginning of the season, USA Today Sports released their early predictions of where they think all 31 teams would finish at the end of year and they had put the Golden Knights dead last in the Pacific Division at 67 points with a record of 28-43-11.
After last night’s win over the Avalanche they have 103 points in the bank and lead in the Pacific Division at 48-21-7 which has them ranked 5th overall league wide behind the Winnipeg Jets who have 104 points to their credit.
For Karlsson he was complimentary with us about his fellow teammates in taking advantage of the “land of opportunity” mindset that has enabled them to be where they are at today.
“I always thought that we’d have a pretty decent team, you see guys taking their chances to prove that they can be defensive guys and stuff like that. Everyone has really grown here and I think that’s why were in the playoffs.” Says Karlsson.
The character of the Golden Knights has had everyone’s attention around the hockey world this season as the team has incorporated the “next man up mentality”, a resilient bunch, as well as not allowing any panic to influence their game which is something that will come in handy in the postseason.
“We don’t seem to be bothered by a loss or two, it happens whenever there’s a bump in the road we seem to manage to get up again, just keep going and that’s a good strength to have not only in the regular but also in the playoffs.” Karlsson on the character of the Golden Knights.
With the success that Karlsson had this season with the Golden Knights, he’s had the luxury in playing on a line with Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault where the chemistry between the three forwards has been on display in spades over the course of the campaign.
“It kinda clicked right away, they’re real easy to play with, when you have a chemistry you have it I don’t know how to explain it, we like to play the same style of hockey, try to make plays, they’re obviously a huge part of my success.” Karlsson replied.
Karlsson, Smith, and Marchessault this season with the Golden Knights have a total of 87 goals, 114 assists for 201 points and are the only three players on the team with a plus/minus rating of at least a +30 or more.
Like his 40 goal campaign so far, Karlsson is the only player on the team at a +42.
The last line of defense for the Golden Knights has been the play of Marc-André Fleury who having a renaissance year with Vegas. He recently became the newest member of the NHL’s exclusive 400 and over club.
“He’s won a lot of games for us, games when we we’re not really there, he’s been stepping up and won games for us, obviously he’s a star, great guy and it’s great to have him on our team.” Karlsson on Fleury.
Fleury this year with the Golden Knights this season, has 28 wins, 11 losses, 4 overtime losses, has .931 save % and a 2.13 GAA which leads the team among goalies with 4 shutouts ahead of Oscar Dansk.