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Four Prerequisites For The Golden Knights to Miss the Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday we looked at the four prerequisites that had to happen for the Golden Knights to win the division. Today, we’re doing the opposite. Here’s what would have to happen for everything to go wrong for Vegas and see them miss the playoffs yet again.

Jack Eichel leads all centers in goals against per 60 at even-strength

Last year Eichel actually led the team with the fewest goals against per 60. Eichel finished slightly better than William Karlsson, and all of VGK’s other regular centers, while wearing a VGK uniform. However, the last seven games nearly saw Eichel blow the lead as he was on the ice for seven goals against down the stretch, mostly in games the Golden Knights lost.

If Eichel takes the step forward defensively that Bruce Cassidy and the entire VGK organization are hoping for, it’ll completely change the makeup of the way they can utilize their lines. Karlsson will no longer have to play the heaviest defensive minutes and Eichel could potentially pair up with Mark Stone on defensive zone draws against opposing top lines, something Cassidy will likely avoid early in the season.

This isn’t saying Eichel needs to turn into a Selke candidate, or anything close, but if he doesn’t become a reliable defensive option, the rest of the team will struggle to make up for the shortcoming.

Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Pietrangelo, and Shea Theodore combine for fewer than 150 goals

Simply put, the Golden Knights are not deep in the scoring department. They absolutely need their big guns to contribute a majority of the offense, both at even-strength and on the power play. 30 goals a piece for the big five forwards is a lot to ask, but when you add in the offense from Pietrangelo and Theodore there’s no reason a healthy group shouldn’t reach this number.

The key is going to be getting contributions from all of them, which is a fancy way of saying they all need to be healthy. If they are missing 20 goals from Marchessault, it’s going to take 40 goal seasons from both Stone and Eichel to get this team to where they want to go.

Last year, this group of seven scored 108 goals while missing 146 games between them. If healthy, they’ll get to 150. If not, look out.

No VGK goalie finishes in the top 15 in Save Percentage, Goals Against Average, or GSAA

Admittedly, this is a bit of a cop-out as it’s fairly clear if a team has a below-average goalie, it means they are allowing a lot of goals, which of course means they are not winning games. However, what I’m really trying to say here is that if the Golden Knights don’t find a decent NHL starter, they’ll struggle.

Think back to the history of the team. When they’ve had a goalie playing at an elite level, they are easily a 100+ point team (Year 1 when Fleury came back, Year 2 late season, Year 3 Bubble, all of Year 4, early Year 5), but when they get average or worse goaltending (Early Year 1, Most of Year 2 and 3, late Year 5), they struggle mightily to maintain a point per game pace. Again, not surprising in the NHL, but for VGK fans, good goaltending has almost been taken for granted during the Fleury and healthy Lehner eras.

If the Golden Knights are constantly cycling through their goalies trying to find one that can stem the tide, they’ll have a challenging time stringing wins together. If one figures it out, even for long enough to land in the middle of the league, they have plenty of firepower to win enough games to reach the playoffs.

Golden Knights finish below .650 points percentage against Pacific Division

One of the staples for Vegas hockey since entering the NHL has been their dominance over the Pacific Division. From sweeping the Sharks in eight games in 2020 to beating Anaheim 20 of the 24 times the two teams have met, the Golden Knights have always amassed points in intra-division games.

The division is a mixed bag this year with a number of teams expected to compete (CGY/EDM/LAK/VAN) but also a group of two (SEA/SJS) or three (ANA) that may still be focused on the future. There will be plenty of points for the taking in these games and the Golden Knights have to take them.

Despite missing the playoffs a year ago, VGK finished with a .673 points percentage against the Pacific. That left them operating at about a point per game against everyone else, which wasn’t quite enough. If they can pick up a few extra points against the top of the division, they’ll be able to scratch and claw their way against the Central and East enough to qualify for the tournament.


Four Prerequisites For VGK To Win The Pacific Division


McCrimmon Shares Details On Stone’s Health, Hague’s Contract, And Goalie Outlook


  1. the hockey God

    what a downer of an article

    Doc would be hating this

    • Jailbird

      There you go again, bringing up Doc? This guy lives in your head pal.

      • the hockey God

        i can bring up doc whenever i want too

        who are you thought control police ? spoken like a true anti free speech lib tard that you clearly are. Don’t give me this, oh i am not a lib tard. You know it.

        btw, doc would be hating this, doc was eternal, silly , optimist. I know doc better than anyone on this board. Except for Jason, who is Doc’s boy. and of course his buddy Tim

        now it’s time for you to have your morning cookie, have a cookie on me

    • faithful frank

      Let’s face it, making the playoffs will come down to Cassidy bringing out the best from this group, especially from the guys that arrived after the team’s prior success . I’m optimistic but wouldn’t wafer on it.

  2. Tim

    I’ve just got a gut feeling Mark Stone will never be Mark Stone again I hope I’m wrong.

    • I think we’re all hoping you’re wrong! =)

    • He’s VERY good defensively so if he scores 20G & 35A he still brings a lot of value, maybe not as much as his salary but you have to pay a premium for FA.

      • Emmanuel

        To clarify, yes VGK got MS in a trade, but a player of that age and skill is acquired in a trade for the right to extend him or assume a long contract.

    • the hockey God

      tim, mark stone never played like his true potential in VGK. He always looked like he played hurt to me.

      i hate to say it, but his high value days appear to be behind him. I never was 100% behind getting him, there were better options out there at the time.

      time will tell, hope for a miracle recovery , or as Doc would say ” He’s going to score 100 goals next year, I know it”

      • Tim

        THG, on tend to agree with you on your above post Mark Stone may not have been right for a couple of years.

  3. Randy

    Interesting that you left Kessel out of that group of 7 needed to score 150 goals this year, or were you only focusing on players we had last season?

  4. Jailbird

    Certainly going to need stone back to 100%. Let’s hope!

  5. the hockey God

    i agree with everything here, also i love football and foosball

  6. Ive noticed some websites are picking VGK to finish 2nd in the Pacific. We may not be seeing the forest for the trees.

    • Tim

      I would say they may not be seeing the forest for the trees. No doubt all teams start off 0-0 our first 15 games will give us an indication on who we are or who we aren’t. We must have a much better home record last years we were around 50/50 and that’s going to get it done.

    • the hockey God

      i would say that they would be motivated to do b etter than a lot of people think due to last seasons failures. But they are still must fight through injuries , lack of skill players, and really play as a team with ‘togetherness” all for one effort. Any which of hanging on a tenuous thread.

  7. Emmanuel

    Stone on track for Golden Knights season opener after back surgery.

    Mark’s in town, he’s skating.

  8. Jailbird

    I think Kessel is going to be a solid performer on the ice and in the room with the guys!

    • the hockey God

      Jbird, i hope you are right. Could be the steal of off season by the FO who isn’t given any credit at all by know nothing VGK fickle band wagon humpers, i mean jumper. “fans”.

  9. faithful frank

    Let’s face it, making the playoffs will come down to Cassidy bringing out the best from this group, especially from the guys that arrived after the team’s prior success . I’m optimistic but wouldn’t wafer on it.

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