Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant showed why he is considered to be a players’ coach when he was asked Sunday about the performance of 22-year-old Shea Theodore, according to the Associated Press’ Stephen Whyno. The young blueliner has struggled mightily in the Stanley Cup Finals, having been on the ice for four of the team’s past six goals. In Game 3 alone, he made a questionable decision that created an odd-man rush on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal and then followed that up with a bad turnover that allowed Devante Smith-Pelly to score the goal that sealed the win.
Regardless, despite forcing the youngster to skip one shift, the veteran coach defended his player.
“Did Shea do something real bad? He plays the game like everybody else,” Gallant said Sunday in a passionate defense of Theodore. “He made a couple mistakes, they ended up in the back of our net. A lot of guys make mistakes in hockey games and they don’t end up in the back of the net. Shea’s a 22-year-old kid who I love. He’s a great player. He’s going to be a star in this league.”
- Gallant also said the team might make some lineup changes for Game 4 on Monday. There is lots of speculation the team may bring back wingers William Carrier and Tomas Tatar, who both have played sporadically throughout the playoffs for Vegas. There is also talk the team might shuffle some of their middle lines. The team’s second line of Erik Haula, James Neal and David Perron has struggled in the Stanley Cup Finals. In three games, they have gone for a combined one goal, two assists, 10 shots on goal, 14 shots missed or blocked and a minus-9 rating. NHL Network’s Brian Lawton reports that the team could promote Alex Tuch to the second line in order to change things up.
- Despite rumors that he suffered a concussion on a reverse hit from Neal, Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik had the wind knocked out of him, according to Whyno. The veteran defenseman said a concussion was never the issue as he couldn’t breathe initially after the hit. He is expected to be ready for Monday’s Game 4. Orpik was never checked for a concussion and the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore writes that the NHL failed once again to show the world that they are on top of handling concussions as Orpik was allowed to return immediately on the next shift.
- Two key contributors for the Capitals in Game 3 were Smith-Pelly, who scored the insurance goal, and Jay Beagle who assisted on two goals as well as had a 61 percent face-off success rate was another key factor for the Capitals. Both will be unrestricted free agents and with the Capitals spending much of their time focused on John Carlson’s upcoming free agency and their lack of salary cap space, one has to wonder whether both Smith-Pelly and Beagle’s strong play might force the team to allow them to leave this offseason.