Neal, Knights showing they are more than outcasts

Much like the majority of his Vegas Golden Knights teammates, James Neal knows what it’s like to be counted out.

Despite being a perennial 20-plus goal threat, Neal has been pegged as an expendable, one-dimensional player by the three previous NHL clubs he’s suited up for in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and most recently, Nashville.

While Neal, like a lot of other Knights, was deemed dispensable by the Predators after a season in which he registered only 41 points in 70 regular season contests, the Whitby, Ontario native as been a revelation in two games so far in Vegas.

Three goals, two wins, and a change of scenery have a resurgent Neal and the Knights turning heads around the league.

Of course, two road victories is hardly enough to start planning the parade route – unless you are a Maple Leafs fan – but, on the back of Neal’s clutch scoring and veteran leadership, the Knights are one of the feel-good stories of the first week of the 2017-18 campaign.

A tight one-goal victory over the Dallas Stars followed by another close one-goal affair against the Arizona Coyotes were both topped off with game-winners from Neal.

Sure, maintaining this winning pace would be a foolhardy prediction, but, with veterans like Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury leading the charge, these Knights might be more that just a flash in the pan.

Fleury has been dynamite across his two starts for Vegas, racking up two wins to go along with a minuscule 0.98 goals-against average and a sparkling .973 save percentage.

Again, foolish to expect Flower to keep putting up those kind of numbers, but, with Neal leading the way up front and Fleury holding down the back end, the Knights could make some noise in the Western Conference wild-card spots come April.

Neal may have been written off in the past, but, if he continues his resurrection, expect the Knights to rise along with him.

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

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October 9, 2017

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