The Golden Knights are probably feeling a little deja vu about the start of their season. Last year they began Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas coaching tenure racing out to a 13-2-0 start, the best in franchise history. This year, they’ve nearly matched it with a record of 12-2-1.
Cassidy joked “we stink this year” at the most recent press conference as he reminisced about the similar starts.
Last year I thought we got to our game earlier better, our overall 60-minute effort. Our first seven or eight games (this year) were sporadic but we found ways to win. -Cassidy
The results-oriented stats look very similar between the two seasons, but the advanced metrics certainly lean toward Cassidy’s outlook.
|This Season||Last Season|
|Shots Per Game||30.5||33.4|
|Empty Net Goals||4||2|
|Expected Goals %||48.7||56.9|
|Scoring Chance %||49.1||57.9|
|High Danger %||48.4||57.2|
Beyond the record, the identical goal differential jumps off the page. After 15 games the Golden Knights are beating opponents by more than a goal and a half per game.
You never want to chase early in the year in the standings. It makes it too hard later. You can play good hockey, not get a bounce, get a few injuries and then it just becomes tough. I’ve always believed that in this league, get out ahead early. -Cassidy
One of the most surprising numbers has been the rise in penalties. Vegas has taken 16 more minor penalties in the first 15 games this season than last year. The good news on that front is that the penalty kill has massively outpaced last year’s start killing almost 12% more successfully in 23-24 than 22-23.
This year’s team has fought through the injury bug much worse than the previous year’s. The Golden Knights have experienced 42 man games lost through the first 15 games this season including 28 to expected starting defensemen. Last year’s team missed Keegan Kolesar for two games due to illness and William Carrier for the season opener, that’s it.
Through the first 15 games last season, the Golden Knights had used the same exact defense pairs in 14 of the 15 games. The lone change was that Ben Hutton started the season in place of Nic Hague on opening night. This year’s team has used nine different defensemen and 10 different defensive pairings.
There’s no question that has fed into some of the advanced metric dropoffs. That’s been offset though by tremendous goaltending to start the year. Both Adin Hill and Logan Thompson have save percentages north of .920 and goals against averages below 2.4.
No matter how you slice it though, the Golden Knights are yet again off to a nearly perfect start. They lead the division by four points and are a whopping 12 points clear of the playoff cut line just a month into the year.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Golden Knights are doing their best to imitate the most flattering team Vegas has ever seen.