The Golden Knights’ next two games are a home and home with the Oilers. Edmonton is an important team on the schedule not just for where Vegas finishes in the standings, but also for establishing some dominance over a potential playoff opponent.
Like any team, the first focus on Vegas’ mind this weekend will be stopping, or at least slowing down, the league’s two leading scorers, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
In 17 games played against the Oilers, the pair had been responsible for 16 goals and 24 assists against the Golden Knights. That’s 2.35 points per game and it’s a big reason why VGK have a franchise tally of 7-8-2 against Edmonton, their worst record against any Pacific Division team.
Amazingly, the Golden Knights have held both McDavid and Draisaitl pointless in four of the last seven meetings between the two teams. Connor missed one of those games, but for three straight both guys played and came up blank on the scoresheet. Oddly, the Golden Knights went just 2-2-0 in those four games, needing overtime to win the one McDavid was out.
Overall though, holding down the Big Two has been crucial in VGK’s success. In the seven wins, the Golden Knights have allowed McDavid and Draisaitl five goals and four assists. In the ten losses, those numbers balloon to 11 goals and 21 assists. Thus, in Golden Knights wins, 97 and 29 average .71 goals per game and 1.3 points per game, while the losses see those numbers at 1.1 goals per game and a whopping 3.2 points per game.
One part of the game where Vegas has had above average success against the Oilers is on the penalty kill. Edmonton has just scored seven power play goals in 17 games with McDavid and Draisaitl on the ice together, but they’ve also allowed VGK to score twice shorthanded. Vegas won both games in which they tallied a shorty.
Finally, outscoring the Oilers at even strength with these two on the ice is critical for the Golden Knights to come out on top. When they do, the Golden Knights are 4-0-0. When they are outscored in the time when McDavid and Draisaitl are on the ice, Vegas is 0-5-2.
It’s not surprising, but it absolutely is true, if the Golden Knights want to beat the Oilers, it starts and ends with limiting the damage done by their two superstars.