Normally, after a team wins a championship the opposition tends to be heavily motivated the following season. Through three games, the Stanley Cups champions have been underwhelmed with their early season competition. That changed last night against the Dallas Stars.
That was an intense game, it was a fun game. It felt just like a playoff game again. You’re fighting for every inch. That’s why we play until the very last second. We know what to expect. We have a target on our back. -Keegan Kolesar
Opponents have struggled to get off quality shots and create scoring chances. Which has led to an abundance of offensive zone time for Jack Eichel and others. With the exception of Dallas, Vegas has been living in the opposition’s defensive zone.
The lineup is defending, scoring, and stopping like it’s the Stanley Cup Finals. So, of course they’re spending most of their time in the lead. Last night was the only outlier, but Vegas still managed to earn more points in the waning minutes.
2023-24 VGK vs Opponents
- VGK: 3.75 Goals Per Game
- Opponents: 1.50 GPG
- VGK: 33 Shots Per Game
- Opponents: 26.1 SPG
- VGK: 21.79 Hits Per Game
- Opponents: 16.71 Hits Per Game
- VGK: 15.67 Shots Blocked Per Game
- Opponents: 19.71 SB Per Game
- VGK: 13.3% Power Play Percentage
- Opponents: 0% PP Percentage vs. VGK
Expectedly, the physicality so far has had a sniff of playoff intensity. There have been several fights, including two last night, a two-game suspension, and dozens of post-whistle scrums. Unsurprisingly, the Golden Knights are in the top ten in hits per game, penalties drawn per game, and have been sent to the box for fighting 4 times in 4 games. Even the youngsters in Anaheim took shots Vegas’ veterans.
Brayden McNabb and Sam Carrick go at it. 🥊 pic.twitter.com/dv2hFR2uH3
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 15, 2023
After their shootout victory against Dallas, the Golden Knights will be facing another team with past emotions and motivation. Dallas pushed Vegas until the bitter end, Winnipeg on Thursday, and LA later this month should bring the same intensity. All three have reasons for revenge. Realistically, those are the toughest two matchups left in October. It won’t be until November that Vegas will get a chance to flash their championship jewelry to Calgary, Vancouver, and the embittered Edmonton Oilers.
They were locking up on defense pretty good in their own end. It was a great tip from Karlsson. Just a big play at big time. We know as a group we’re never out of a game. -Adin Hill
Unlike their other three opponents, the Stars came out hard, physical, and left T-Mobile Arena with a point. At this early stage in the NHL, only a handful of teams will travel to Las Vegas and perform that way. The way the Stanley Cup champions are built, there won’t be many times they’re out of a game.
Defending champs are 4-0 to start the season. Bruce Cassidy throws Karlsson on with Stephenson and Stone late in the 3rd and they score the tying goal before winning in shootout. Vegas can play any way you want and win – not sure any team plays faster. Impressive start to the…
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) October 18, 2023
The formula to the playoffs is already a pace ahead for the Golden Knights. They’ve collected their first eight points and it wasn’t all that hard. Vegas took care of their preliminary soft schedule and battled it out with Dallas in OT/SO. They’ll look to do it again to another playoff casualty on Thursday.