This season the Golden Knights are allowing 3.04 goals per game. Which places them 15th in the NHL. On the flip side Vegas is 17th, scoring 3.04 per game. The exact amount of goals that they let in. That’s a problem.
Over an 82-game season, a team holding opponents to under 3 goals a game will have a good chance for future success. Likewise, teams scoring 3+ goals per game have a strong chance of clinching a playoff berth.
Top 10: Goals Scored Per Game
Florida 3.67- Playoff Position
Colorado 3.65- Playoff Position
Tampa 3.60- Playoff Position
Toronto 3.57- Playoff Position
Washington 3.55- Playoff Position
Boston 3.31- Playoff Position
Pittsburgh 3.30- Playoff Position
Nashville 3.30- Out of Playoffs
NY Rangers 3.29- Out of Playoffs
Vancouver 3.24- Out of Playoffs
***17th Vegas 3.04- Playoff Position***
Vegas is averaging just below the league average of 3.05 goals scored per game. Only three other Western conference teams projected to participate in the playoffs score less. However, all three have a better win% and give up less than Vegas.
The Vegas Golden Knights had 44 more days off this summer then they did after their 2018 Stanley Cup chase. After losing to the Washington Capitals on June 6, 2018, the team wasn’t scheduled to report to training camp until September 13, 2018. Which gave the group 97 offseason days. This time around, the players had 141 days to rest before camp began.
Of course, they would’ve rather been playing, but you have to ask if the team can use that unexpected, extra time off to their advantage? Reilly Smith thinks so.
I think that’s a huge advantage when you do have a longer summer. You get some time off mentally, and time to heal. For your body it’s great to have this extra couple of months and there’s no excuses right now.-Smith
To add to Smith’s point, about half of the players on the 2017-18 team played more games in that season then they did previously at any point in their careers. Some say it’s just an excuse, but I’ll continually point to the numbers. Since 2000, only three franchises have participated in back-to-back Stanley Cup finals; New Jersey (2000/2001), Detroit (2008/2009), Pittsburgh (2008/2009) & (2016/2017).
One Golden Knight that doesn’t believe in any hangover effect is William Karlsson. The top-line center casually disagreed with his linemate.
I don’t think there was a hangover last year. It was a short summer and we were just struggling in the beginning. It’s just hockey.-Karlsson
During the GMs’ smaller group sessions on the opening day of meetings, one of the assemblages did in fact discuss the playoff format during its open brainstorming session. The feeling in that smaller GM group, according to a source, was that it might be time for change. – Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com
The current playoff format system will end after the 2018-2019 season and the league will need to make a decision. The suggested format would mimic the nasty 1980’s true divisional playoffs. So the question is, which playoff system would be best for Vegas to qualify for the postseason?
The “old school” format LeBrun and the GMs he spoke with are proposing is a 16 team, divisional playoff. Their argument is for either a divisional or conference system, not both the way it currently stands. The divisional postseason proposal would look like this: #1 Pacific seed vs. #4 Pacific seed, #2 Pacific seed vs. #3 Pacific. After that bloody round, the winners would play each other. Four teams would qualify from each division. No wild cards.
If the Golden Knights only had to worry about 8 teams it brings up an interesting argument. Divisional games are supposed to mean more now but the twin wild cards water it down. The proposed divisional regular season becomes incredibly important which means fans will see entertaining hockey. When teams are familiar with each other it can benefit the underdog which Vegas will be on most nights.
If the league went back to a traditional conference playoff, Vegas would have a tough fight reaching the top eight. Lebrun noted the league isn’t in favor of a conference playoff. The travel always concerns league officials and NHLPA. Which brings us back to the current format. Not only are teams battling with divisional rivals but fighting out the entire conference for two wild cards. It will be tough for Vegas to sneak in over the next two seasons before the present postseason expires. If they’re just fighting against the Pacific, I think the Golden Knights have an outside shot.
If the league decides to go back to a true divisional postseason we could only hope they bring back the old classic names. Instead of Patrick, Smyth, Norris and Adams we could modernize the four divisions. Maybe Orr, Messier, Lemieux and Gretzky. Or Melrose, McGwire, McPhee and McKrimmon.
While Las Vegas gears up for the big announcement, other cities will be cheering on playoff teams, something Southern Nevada hopes to be a part of someday. However, that’s still a few seasons down the road and the Stanley Cup playoffs are starting now. Watching this new Showtime series will help Las Vegans prepare for local playoff dreams. By watching all-access NHL programs, you catch a glimpse of the pressure coaches and players face during the season. Las Vegas fans will get a chance to see inside locker rooms, where coaches and captains let teammates have it between periods. You may even start humming postgame ritual songs. Getting up close to NHL players is exciting already, adding the postseason will make it insane. This year’s NHL playoff teams are so deep and talented, any profiled squad would be entertaining to watch.