Go ahead and pinch yourselves now, the Vegas Golden Knights are atop the Pacific Division standings after the first quarter of the season. The team has crushed expectations and records alike. Sitting at 15 wins, the Knights are out for more records, hoping to close in on the Panthers’ 33-win inaugural season by the halfway point. Vegas is booming with pride for the Golden Knights and they have reasons to believe.
Scoring Leads to Wins
The team has been scoring like crazy. Boasting an average of 3.7 goals per game, the Knights are 2nd in the NHL. Additionally, all but five players, not including goalies, have scored at least one goal. With the distribution of goals, it is easy to see why the Golden Knights are seeing results.
The two prolific scorers on the team, William Karlsson and James Neal, both have double-digit goals already this season. Both players are in the top 20 among goal scorers. The only other teams that can boast the same are the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, and the St. Louis Blues.
The Golden Knights haven’t just scored this season. Some of their best goals have come at the most crucial moments. Neal’s game-winner in the opener is one example. Vegas has been as lucky as the city is known for and that luck has supported the team’s desire to win now.
Consistency to Come?
To be fair, the team has been fairly consistent. However, the one inconsistency has been in goal. Who knew that one team could go through five goalies in 22 games? Despite the carousel in nets, the Golden Knights have found ways to win games. Bringing in Marc-Andre Fleury solidified the position but it didn’t last long when he was injured after playing just four games.
The team’s most played goalie is Maxime Legace who’s played 12 games on the season, winning five. However, he’s also suffered five losses and one overtime loss. In addition, Legace has allowed an average of 3.66 goals against per game.
When Fleury returns, he may be able to shore up the net. In combination with the scoring fury of the Golden Knights, his net-minding prowess may make the team even more consistent.
Playoff Bound? Keep Your Fingers Crossed
Don’t look now, but the “new kids on the block” are heading for a record-breaking season. The playoffs had to be a dream heading into the season, a figment of Fleury’s veteran imagination. However, the Golden Knights have made it a probability, more than most gave them credit for. They have charged boldly onto the NHL scene, but they are in new territory now: maintaining their position.
Vegas has a 9-1-0 record at home. They have defended their own territory well while opponents have struggled. At some point, they are going to have to win against teams that have rid themselves of the “Vegas Flu”. Those teams will be looking to topple the newest NHL franchise.
Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have not managed the same success on the road where they have a 6-5-1 record. While it isn’t terrible, it also leads to questions about the team’s ability to succeed in the playoffs. Having to play multiple games on the road can swing momentum and success on the road is a must.
Ultimately, I anticipate the Golden Knights to be in the mix for a playoff run. They may not be one of the top teams by the end of the season, but they have the tools and the nwill to succeed. The only thing that can hold them back is inexperience, which luckily is not too rampant on the team.
Eric Hall has been an avid sports fan for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Ohio, he learned about hockey through heated college games between Ohio State and Michigan. His NHL love was universal, and to avoid becoming a bandwagon fan, his allegiance fell to the newest expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights.