It doesn’t matter which team sport you are talking about, every coach, player, and analyst will tell you the easiest route to the playoffs is by winning division games. While the Golden Knights have had a rocky start to 2019-20, the franchise history of dominating the Pacific has continued.
Vegas currently sits in 2nd place in the division with an 18-13-5 record good for 41 points in 35 games. Against the Pacific Division, they are 8-3-1 or 17 points in 12 games. The Golden Knights started the season winning five of six against the division and have rebounded to win two straight after a 1-2-1 skid.
8-3-1 is a .708 points percentage which translates to 116 points over an 82 game season. Vegas is 10-10-4 against everyone else for a .500 points percentage or an 82 point pace. These numbers are even more drastic over the course of the franchise’s history.
|vs. Everyone Else||31-18-4||25-24-4||10-10-4||66-52-12|
|vs. NHL Pts%||.665||.567||.569||.608|
|vs. Pacific Pts%||.741||.672||.708||.707|
|vs. Everyone Else Pts%||.623||.509||.500||.554|
|vs. NHL Pace||109||93||93||100|
|vs. Pacific Pace||122||110||116||116|
|vs. Everyone Else Pace||102||84||82||91|
Maybe the biggest reason for this is the play of the Golden Knights 1st line.
Including tonight, in 59 games against the Pacific Division the VGK 1st line of Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith have 70 goals, 108 assists, and 178 points.
Karlsson: 33G, 32A, 65P
Marchessault: 22G, 37A, 59P
Smith: 15G, 40A, 55P
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) December 16, 2019
This year alone the 1st line has produced 10 goals, 17 assists, and 27 points against the Pacific.
Gamblers? If you are a$100 bettor on every Golden Knights game, you’d be down $615 in the team’s 200 regular season games. Bet on just the Pacific Division games and you’re up $1,095.
But the question is, why? Why are the Golden Knights so much better than the rest of the division?
Maybe it’s just that we are aware that they are important games and we’ve got to step up in those important games. It’s a huge advantage if you finish atop your division and for us it’s something we want to achieve as a team. -Jonathan Marchessault
For the two and half years we’ve played well against our division and they’re big games. The guys look at the standings all the time and tonight was a big game. It was a huge game against a team that’s right behind us and we played really well tonight. Like I said we seem to play well against our division. Hopefully it continues. -Gerard Gallant
I don’t know (chuckles). I really can’t tell you a reason why. (pause) Hmm, I don’t know. It’s been working good for us though. -Marc-Andre Fleury
Even though the players and coach can’t say it, the main reason is probably that the Pacific Division hasn’t been very good. Currently, the Coyotes who lead the division, sit in 9th place overall in the NHL. Last year, the division champion Flames were 2nd in the league but the Sharks were the only other team in the top half of the NHL.
In both 2017-18 and 18-19, the Pacific had four teams in the bottom 10 of the league. Yet, never since Vegas has been in existence has the Pacific had more than two teams in the NHL’s top 10 (and Vegas was one of them once).
There are still 17 games left against the Pacific on the schedule. Whatever the reason for the dominance is, if it continues, the Golden Knights will remain a stalwart in the playoff picture.