Well we all know that Vegas is in their very first season as a franchise, but do they really mean business. As of right now the Vegas Golden Knights are sitting in 2nd place in the Pacific division, and 10 in the entire league. Despite a four game losing streak the Knights are 16-9-1 on the young season, with 33 points in the standings, and only 4 behind the L.A. Kings for tops in the division. With Fleury getting ready to come back, now is the time for the Golden Knights to make a serious push. But can they do that? They are 6-4 their last 10 games.
With a roster with second tier class players, David Perron, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Nate Schmidt, and Marc- Andre Fleury, no one really stands out except Fleury who has 3 Cups to his name. They’re not playing like a second tier class team, ten players registered over 10 points and three players are over 20 points for the season thus far.
Their power play is converting at 18.7%, which is 17th in the league, and their penalty kill is killing off at the rate of 76.8% which stands 25th in the league. Special teams have been the back breaker for the Knights in my mind, due to the goalie injury situation at the beginning of the season. 5 on 5 play has been the strongest factor of the game for Vegas. Marchessault and Neal are both extremely dangerous when shooting the puck and creating chances in front of the net.
Only 2 players are averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game, Nate Schmidt, 22:24 and Luca Sbisa, 20:24. 8 of the top 10 ice time leaders are defense men. Only William Karlsson and Reily Smith average just over 18 minutes per game, 7th and 8th on the team. Karlsson (14 goals), Neal (12 goals), and Marchessault (10 goals) are the top goal scorers for Vegas. Marchessault leads the team with 15 assists on the year with Smith who has 14 and Perron who has 13, they are 1,2,and 3 on the team. Faceoff percentages are good too, Cody Eakin, Pierre- Edouard Bellemare, and Eric Haula are all over 51% on the faceoffs taken, which is kind of important no matter what zone your in.
See the season is just over the quarter mark and Vegas is in a playoff spot now, if it ended today. There is still alot of season to go yet plus any kind of trades with the deadline started to get closer. Who knows what will go down, will Fleury be able to stay healthy?, can the team continue the strong 5 on 5 play?. Just a few things I’ll be watching as we get ready to break into a new year. I think there’s a good chance that they can make the playoffs in the Pacific, it’s not a strong division.
Vegas, like Houston, has it’s own emotional fuel, with the tragedy before the season started. Is there enough to carry this team into March and April? Granted Harvey hit towards the end of the season for the Astros, but they won it all. Who’s to say that can’t happen for Vegas…… either way Gallant has the team in a spot where confidence is good and the play is solid and getting wins in bunches and not a win here or there.