You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll likely hear it again, “teams that are in the playoffs on American Thanksgiving usually stay in the playoffs when the season is over.”
Give it a try for yourself. Do a Google search for the terms “NHL,” “Thanksgiving,” and “Playoffs.” You’ll inevitably find article after article describing this phenomenon, just 20 or so games into the season.
In reality, the numbers say of the 16 teams that make the playoffs, 12 or 13 of them are in playoff position on Thanksgiving, three or four are not.
Only 3 teams not in NHL playoff picture last Thanksgiving made playoffs. Other recent years:
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) November 20, 2017
“Of course, this data is compiled from a time when the league had 30 teams, it now has 31. However, that 31st is now sitting in first place all alone in the Pacific Division with two games in hand.
So the Thanksgiving date says the Golden Knights have a 75% chance of making the playoffs. The playoff probability chart on Hockey Reference has that number even higher, at 84%. SportsClubStats projects it the highest at 89%. While The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn’s computer has Vegas closer to 49%.
You’ve got to like those odds, even the most cynical of projections has the Golden Knights playing postseason hockey at T-Mobile Arena half of the time.
The stated goal was playoffs by three, Cup by six. Yet here were are, on one of the most talked about dates in the first half of the season, and playoffs in one is not only a legitimate conversation, it almost seems likely.
That, is something to be thankful for.
The fly in the ointment is what is GM George McPhee going to do about the unrestricted free agents? Contracts for Neal, Sbisa, Perron and Marchrssault all expire at the end of the year.
All key contributors to this run. But they will
1) walk away for nothing after the last game
2) be traded for prospects and draft choices before the trade deadline
3) sign contract extensions if club, player and agents can get together.
I have a hard time believing McPhee will allow #1 to happen… sooooo………. it will be telling if any of this group signs extensions in the coming weeks… or not.
I think if they trade Peron and Neal at the deadline they would still be able to make the playoffs. If they put Hyka, Lindberg and Huala on a line then sign Wong as the 13th forward, they would still have a pretty good team. The great thing about this team is that they don’t depend on any 1 line or player to win. At the end of the year they will have a lot of cap space to resign them and take care of all the RFA’s. There would even be room to sign a guy like Hornqvist.
Definitely thankful to be cheering a team that has defied every expectation and leads the Pacific Division. In a bizarre way, if the Golden Knights fail to make the playoffs it would actually feel like a stomach punch. Two months ago, I would have said anything but last in the NHL would feel like a playoff berth.
Happy Thanksgiving, Ken, we are very thankful to have such a great site for this team. Appreciate all the work you have done to make this site a great as our team! Hope you are still writing game recaps well into the Spring.