JACKPOT: Eichel paying dividends for Golden Knights

Jack Eichel hasn’t taken a moment to reflect on what the past year and a half has been. Instead the Vegas Golden Knight center is basking in the moment of his first NHL Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

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“It’s been a whirlwind since I got traded here a year and a half ago. It feels like it was yesterday. It’s went by so fast,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay as present as possible and making sure I don’t look too far ahead and don’t dwell on the past as well. It’s important this time of the year to stay in the moment and I think our whole entire group has done a good job at that.”

Eichel is one of the key reasons why the Golden Knights are four wins away from raising the Stanley Cup.

He leads the team with 18 points (six goals and 12 assists), the second most by an American-born player in his first postseason.

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Eichel didn’t score a goal in the last series against Dallas, but his impact has been felt throughout. He’s been a steady force on the defensive end. His vision allows him to make passes that lead to other players scoring. His play on both ends of the ice have placed him firmly in the discussion of a potential Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

“Jack can drive the game in a lot of different ways. There are little things he does every night,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s attacking the net, driving the D back. Jack doesn’t have to score for us to get going. If you look at our regular season point totals and individual scoring, there are different guys in the lineup we found ways to win. We need him to play well and help us win. There are different ways to account for that than getting on the scoresheet.”

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Eichel credits Cassidy and the coaching staff for helping him evolve as a player. He’s become a better on the defensive side, better in the face-off circle, and better at learning the finer details of the game.

“I’m just trying to become a more complete player,” Eichel said. “[That goes] a long way in terms of winning. It’s been great. I think there has been areas in my game that I wanted to get better. I’ve gotten better. Credit to the entire coaching staff and the guys in the room for pushing me to do that. There’s still a lot I’m going to continue to get better at. You’re always trying to evolve.”

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