Golden Knights embrace expectations as Stanley Cup favorites

When William Karlsson met with the media in September after the Golden Knights were eliminated from the playoffs, the center was asked what was different from the first season when they reached the Stanley Cup Final.

“The first year we didn’t have expectations,” Karlsson said, “and now we do.”

The Knights are no longer the lovable misfits who played with a chip on their shoulder after being plucked from other teams in the expansion draft. They are a collection of high-priced talent built to compete for a championship.

With that comes the weight of expectations, which felled the Knights in each of the past two postseasons. But they enter Year Four ready to embrace the challenge of being the favorite.

“I think at the end of the day you want this pressure. That means you’re a good team,” Karlsson said during training camp. “We just have to focus on, like we said the first year, too, game by game. I know that’s a boring answer, but that’s really how you have to see it. We want to win every game, and I think it’s fair that we have that pressure.”

In truth, most of the expectations heaped on the Knights are of their own doing.

After their magical inaugural season, they traded for left wing Max Pacioretty in 2018 and signed him to a contract that made him the co-highest-paid player on the team at the time.

They acquired right…

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