Golden Knights Cup Hopes Ride on Capturing Top Division Spot

The Vegas Golden Knights have been on a roll as they enter the final stretch of the regular season. They have just set a franchise record for winning their ninth straight game. During this impressive win streak, they have outscored their opponents 40-15. This winning streak has come at the right time as the Golden Knights currently sit four points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche and five points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the top spot in the Honda West Division.

Momentum Heading Into Playoffs

With the Golden Knights only having nine games remaining in the 2020-21 regular season, keeping this momentum is essential towards having a successful playoff run. This is especially important, considering the Golden Knights only possess a slight lead for top honors in the division. As far as seeding goes, nothing is certain, and if Vegas wants to capture their third division title they will need to continue this high level of play.

This will be easier said than done, however, as the remainder of their season is arguably one of the toughest in the league. Each of the games will feature against a team vying for the playoffs. Two of the most important games come in the form of home games against the Avalanche where the Golden Knights have the chance to expand their lead over them.

lake tahoe outdoor rink
STATELINE, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 20: The Vegas Golden Knights skate in warm-ups prior to the game against the Colorado Avalanche during the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort on February 20, 2021 in Stateline, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

However, Vegas has seemed to figure out how to play well on both ends of the ice during this winning streak. They have received quality play from all lines. During this stretch, the Golden Knights’ depth players have been important. For example, Tomas Nosek has been playing some of the best hockey of his career. In his last seven full games (left due to injury after 1:39 time on ice in a win against Anaheim on April 24), he has recorded two goals and five points while having a plus-5 rating. This has come while playing alongside Alex Tuch and Mattias Janmark on the revamped third line.

Why the Top Seed is Important

Every team wants to be the number one seed heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but this year it seems like it will be more important than before. The Golden Knights currently possess the best record in the NHL and have the chance to clinch home ice during the 2021 playoffs. This would be extremely favorable as they have an 18-4-2 record at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights also have the ability to have fans in their arena, which can be seen as another asset depending on who they may face in the postseason.

Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights have one of the best home records during their existence (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Another reason why the Golden Knights would favor the number one seed would be the potential matchups. As it stands,  if the Golden Knights were to claim the division title, they would go on to face either the St. Louis Blues or Arizona Coyotes. In the 2020-21 season, the Golden Knights have a 4-0-1 record against the Blues and a 6-1-0 record against the Coyotes. These teams are currently separated by one point for the fourth seed in the division. 

Vegas would certainly prefer to face one of these two teams in the first round rather than the Avalanche or the Wild. This is especially true against Minnesota as the Golden Knights only have one win all-time in the State of Hockey. If Vegas were to fall to second or third place, this could bode unwell for their cup chances as there is a possibility of having to face the Wild on the road. In addition to this, the Avalanche are one of the few teams that have a winning record against the Golden Knights, so delaying this possible matchup would favor Vegas.

Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild have been a tough opponent for the Golden Knights in 2021 (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the 2021 playoffs rapidly approaching, it will be a final sprint for all of the contending teams in the Honda West division. If the Golden Knights wish to earn the top seed, they will need to continue their current momentum. Setting a new franchise record-winning streak came at the perfect time, and Vegas should be looking to expand on it. Every game matters more now as four of their last nine games are against the current two and three seeds.

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