A major part of this season for the Golden Knights has been battling through injuries and the suspension of Nate Schmidt. With just one game left on the schedule, Vegas has played just 26 of the 81 games (32%) with their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen intact.
12 of those games have come since the trade deadline when Mark Stone was acquired and the Golden Knights have won 10 of those 12 games. Prior to the deadline, Vegas was healthy for just 14 of the first 63 games (22%).
By healthy, I mean not missing any of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch (or Erik Haula), Nate Schmidt, Brayden McMabb, Deryk Engelland, and Shea Theodore.
In those 14 games, the Golden Knights won just five. They’ve played 48 of the 81 games without a top-six foward, and have won 26 of them. They’ve been without at least one of their four primary centers 38 times and won 19 of them. And they’ve been missing a top-four defenseman nine times and won four.
Going into this exercise (because of these two tweets), I was expecting to see a team that thrived when healthy and floundered when not. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, the Golden Knights have been basically the same under any circumstance. Except for one… since the beginning of “The Stone Age.”
They have a winning record when missing at least one top-six forward and are above a point per game when missing either a center or a top-four defenseman.
Looking at the roster, the Golden Knights appear to be fairly deep. Lose a top-six forward, you can plug in Brandon Pirri, Tomas Nosek, or hopefully Erik Haula. Lose a top-four D and Nick Holden, Colin Miller, or Jon Merrill can take the place. Go without a center and Tomas Nosek or Ryan Carpenter can fill the void.
This is all good news heading into the postseason, where injuries will inevitably happen. As of right now, with just one game left to play, the Golden Knights are about as healthy as a hockey team can be. Since getting Stone, that’s meant nothing but winning, hopefully, it continues starting next week.