The Golden Knights have completed exactly half of their title-defending season. They started as hot as hot can be setting the new record for most wins in a row to begin a season for a reigning champion. Then, as injuries started to pile up, they hit the skids a little bit and have fallen to 10th in the league in points percentage.
It hasn’t been pretty for the last month or so, but Vegas still finds themselves in a solid position. At the midway post, the Golden Knights are still clearly in the playoff picture, sitting eight points north of the cut line.
After 41 games, the Golden Knights have a points percentage of .622. It’s the 4th best mark in their seven seasons, slightly below their franchise average of .659 at this point in the year. .622 equates to 102 points at the end of the season, which would be good enough to make the playoffs every single year since the current format has been adopted. And, .622 is the exact average points percentage at the halfway point of the season for the last six Stanley Cup runners-up.
VGK’s current points percentage has them behind all but one of the last six eventual champions at this point in the season. They are also now well behind where they sat a year ago. In 2022-23 the Golden Knights amassed 57 points through 41 games, six points better than they are right now.
The Golden Knights are however playing much better than last year’s defending champion, the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado posted a points percentage of just .549, 45 points in 41 games. They were out of the playoff picture both by points and points percentage as the second half of the year began. The only other team similar was the 2017-18 Penguins who were defending back-to-back titles. They were even worse than Colorado, amassing just 43 points through 41 games. Pittsburgh was also on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
The Avalanche and the Penguins both went on a tear in the second half of the season to make the playoffs easily. Colorado rattled off 64 points in the final 41 games to win the division. Pittsburgh accumulated 57 points in the last 41 to finish in 2nd in the division. The Avs went on to lose in the first round to the Seattle Kraken while the Pens beat the Flyers in round one but fell to the eventual champion Capitals in six games in the second round.
However, Vegas is a bit short of the normal pace for an eventual champion. Aside from the St. Louis Blues, who had the 6th worst record in the entire league at the halfway point, all other eventual champions had better points percentages than Vegas. It’s not like the Golden Knights are far off though. The 2017-18 Capitals sat at 53 points after 41 games and the 2019-20 Lightning had just 52. Vegas’ 51 is certainly not an outlier by any sense of the word.
Adding it all up, despite the 3-8-0 run since mid-December and the 12-13-4 mark since November 5th, the Golden Knights are still in perfectly fine shape to not only make the playoffs but make a run once they get there.
That is, of course, assuming they snap out of this at some point soon.