As we head down the stretch, the Golden Knights still clearly control their own destiny. If they win all 15 of the remaining games they’ll finish the season with 104 points and will be in the playoffs with ease.
However, that’s about as realistic as the entire roster being healthy tomorrow, which it obviously won’t be. So, Vegas may need some help from others to punch their ticket to the postseason.
The Golden Knights currently boast a .552 points percentage. If they were to play that out to the end, they would end up with either 90 or 91 points. Simply put, that will not be enough to reach the postseason. However, if they were to play a bit better, and wind up with somewhere between 93 and 97 points, they still have a realistic shot to be there.
For Vegas to reach 93 points, they would need to play .663 hockey the rest of the way. They could do it a variety of ways, but it requires at least eight wins in the last 15 games. That would mean there were at least three overtime losses involved, which considering Vegas has just four this season, seems unrealistic. So, it’s more likely that Vegas needs a minimum of nine wins to reach 93 points.
Normally, 93 points would be enough for a team to reach the playoffs. But this year, it may not. Here are the points percentages each team must reach to attain 93, 95, or 97 points.
|To Reach 93||To Reach 95||To Reach 97||Current Pts%|
As you can see, if every team plays at or slightly below their current points percentage, it will take at least 97 points to reach the playoffs. That would mean the Golden Knights would have to win at least 1o games and more likely 11 or 12.
However, there is something significant the Golden Knights have working for them despite head coach Pete DeBoer downplaying it today.
I don’t think there are any easy games down the stretch regardless of what people say about the strength of schedule. Particularly where we are at and with what we are dealing with. We can’t overlook anybody. -DeBoer
He’s not wrong about there being no easy games on the schedule, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t levels of ease to a schedule. Would you rather play Seattle, Chicago, and Arizona or Colorado, Florida, and Carolina? Luckily for Vegas, they do have the easiest schedule of any team in the Western Conference playoff chase.
|Opponent Pts%||# vs Playoff Teams||# vs Bottom 5 Teams|
Finally, let’s try to project how many points teams will end up with based on their schedule. To simplify this, we will give each team 90% of the points against teams in the bottom 12 in the NHL, 60% of the points against teams in the middle 10, and 30% of points against teams in the top 10. Here’s what we come up with.
DAL – 102
LAK – 100
NSH – 98
EDM – 97
(Playoff Cut Line)
VGK – 96
VAN – 91
WPG – 90
Unfortunately for Vegas, that would put them just one point out of the postseason despite earning 22 points in their final 15 games.
Adding it all up, it’s pretty clear that the Golden Knights are going to need some help from others to reach the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. Vegas will have to play close to .700 points percentage hockey while rooting for teams like Edmonton, Nashville, and Los Angeles to drop points every time possible.
No one is saying it’s impossible, because it’s not. But a lot has to go right for this version of the Golden Knights to be in the tournament in May.