Prior to the season we all expected by the time the bye week rolled around SinBin.vegas would be a giant cess pool of “focus on the future” articles. We were already prepared to be breaking down stats about where players fit with the team’s 3-year plan, but here we are, the day of the 41st game of the regular season, and I don’t care what coach says, I’m talking playoffs!
As the Golden Knights continue to win games, there’s a growing concern that winning in the regular season and winning when they really matter are two separate stories. It’s no secret to anyone who knows the game that playoff hockey and regular season hockey are different. The style of the game tightens up a bit, referees tend to swallow their whistles, and unfortunately for the Golden Knights, sometimes success doesn’t translate.
However, there is good news for the Golden Knights. Through 40 games played, Vegas leads the league with 112 even strength goals scored, and are second behind the Tampa Bay Lightning in even strength goal differential (VGK +30, TBL +42).
Against the Blackhawks the Golden Knights scored five even strength goals. They outshot Chicago 38-23 when the game was played 5-on-5, and the Golden Knights have outscored their opponent at even strength in 10 of the last 16 games, proving over the course of the season, this is an area in which they are improving.
5-on-5 goals is one of the most translatable stats from the regular season to the playoffs. Last year, the league leader was Pittsburgh. Over the course of the past five seasons, the league leader won the Cup twice and no league leader failed to win at least one playoff series.
Am I guaranteeing playoff success in Vegas? Absolutely not, I’ve learned my lesson far too many times on trying to predict what this team is going to do. What I am saying though is that when you hear people say things like “they won’t be able to win in the playoffs” or anything else of the sort, rest assured, the empirical evidence to prove them wrong is out there.
That being said, let them keep doubting the Golden Knights, it seems to be working so far.