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Season Arc Following Familiar Pattern For Bruce Cassidy Teams

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

15 games into the season the Golden Knights were rolling. They’d won 13 of their first 15 games, became the first team in the Western Conference to 10 wins, and were as healthy as any team in the league. It was the perfect start to Bruce Cassidy’s reign in Vegas.

Then, the injuries started to pile up, the performances started to dip, and suddenly the coach has begun to come under some scrutiny for his brash honesty following games.

There’s a concern that after five years of almost no outright accountability in the media by the Golden Knights’ head coach, Cassidy’s style could have more of a negative effect on the players than the desired positive one.

However, the season has actually gone fairly similarly to many Cassidy has coached before. Before the year we pointed out how often Cassidy-led teams get out to hot starts. What we didn’t highlight was what tends to happen next to those teams.

Bear in mind, I’m doing a lot of cherry-picking to find the best and worst stretches in from the beginning, middle, and end of each season, but there’s no question Boston teams started well, faded, and then finished strong.

Here are the starts for each of the last four Bruins’ seasons.

21-22: 22-11-2 (.657)
20-21: 10-1-2 (.846)
19-20: 11-1-2 (.857)
18-19: 10-5-2 (.647)

Then, look at what happened through the middle of the year.

21-22: 5-6-2 (.461)
20-21: 11-11-4 (.500)
19-20: 10-6-7 (.587)
18-19: 10-9-2 (.524)

And here’s how each team finished.

21-22: 29-15-3 (.649)
20-21: 12-4-1 (.735)
19-20: 23-7-3 (.742)
18-19:29-10-5 (.716)

Cassidy even spoke about this in a recent press conference.

This time of the year there’s that mental push that you are out of the Christmas holiday, you’re starting to see what your team really is, but you’re still a ways away from the finish line. You’ll see a bit of that this time of year where the teams that take care of the details, take care of the puck, that play to their identity they win a lot of games that way. Then all of a sudden the trade deadline comes and guys get excited again because now they’ve got their team, and especially if you are a good team, now you are thinking let’s build our game for the playoffs. So, I do believe there’s a challenge at this time of the year. -Cassidy

The Golden Knights posted a .867 points percentage to start the season. Since November 11th, they’ve slipped to .515 through the last 33 games. With 34 games to go, they have to try and replicate what Cassidy’s teams have done in the past and try to avoid what happened to them last year.

In the final 33 games, Cassidy’s teams went 24-9-1, 20-10-4, 23-7-4, 22-8-4, and 21-9-4, all stellar records down the stretch. Last year’s Golden Knights went 15-14-5.

The Golden Knights don’t need to be perfect over the next two and a half months to make the playoffs. Even Cassidy’s worst final 33-game stretch of 20-10-4 would be plenty to push Vegas across the line and into the playoffs. But, 15-14-5 won’t do it as they’d wind up almost exactly where they were a year ago.

Cassidy’s been here before. So have the Golden Knights. Hopefully, they choose Bruce’s path rather than repeating their own.



Next Podcast #287: It’s Foley’s Turn To Decide


  1. Blitz

    I am all for a strong finish. There is no reason that this team can’t make the playoffs (ceiling), but they have to at least stay in the mix during this down turn or SEA, EDM, and LA will take them right out of it and maybe not look back. It’s a close heat at the mid point. For me it is all about Stone. This team doesn’t make a turn around, or strong finish, without Stone coming back or without trades.

    • knights fan in minny

      who do you think they can get hovart would be great everything i have read he wants to get paid

    • knights fan in minny

      domi would be okay how about brock Boeser 25 years old has had a couple good years a change of scenery might be good for him the nucks new coach is a defensive style guy and there’d sucks tochett is bringing in a special d coach.

      • Blitz

        I do like Hovart, but it’s such a tall order to get any one in here without ruining the future prospect pool or giving up picks. Maybe we can give up a Hague, or a Roy, or a Whitecloud, something like that. I don’t know. I think this team has to do some big move if they want to make it to the playoffs without Stone, but again, it is a tall order. Maybe Stone is done for good, I have no clue. In that case you probably sell at the deadline and build Cassidy’s team next year. It is a bad spot. I just hope Stone can come back soon after the all star break.

  2. Emmanuel

    Radical change coming? But can they move those contracts?

  3. Tim

    All over the NHL news Stone is the man who stirs the drink and without him our chances drop considerably. I think that’s a fair statement if he’s out which it looks like he will be then get ready to be in the ping pong ball draw. What money and draft picks will they waste on the next trade? It’s panic time for management and that’s never a good thing.

  4. Richie-Rich

    So, Stone’s bad back is definitely going to impact this season if not his career. That’s too bad. Out of all the trades made this one made the most sense.

    Should the VGK be shopping for a new toy? I say no, unless they can pick up someone with at least 5-7 years left in his career, the younger the better. The VGK shouldn’t continue to bring in players at or above 30 years of age.

    Even if they do, this team doesn’t have the chemistry (Cassidy’s first year) yet. The success from year 1 doesn’t come along very often and we shouldn’t expect that to be repeated this year or any year.

    The smart move is to continue to build for the future. If anything, the VGK could be sellers rather than buyers at the deadline? I know that sounds rather silly seeing where they are at in the Pacific standings. But, when you look at them as compared to the rest of the league it begins to look like it might be a smart idea. If this slide continues why not try to sell off some of the big pieces?

    What would a team like to give up for a playoff run for say Eichel, Martinez, or even Petro? If McCrimmon is smart, and he’s not, he should be considering a fire sale even if just to save his job because if he continues doing the same thing over and over again he’s going to be unemployed.

    This team roster isn’t at a Cup contending level. It’s not even built to go deep into the playoffs. Likely make the playoffs and lose in the first round, or at best the second round.

    You know it, I know it. The Hockey God does not.

    • Richie- Rich – your listing above suggests you might get takers for those guys but l seriously doubt anyone would take on those liabilities. Example – I know some think Eichel is the be all that ends all but for 10 mill a year there is far better players and less toxicity. Vegas management was under the mistaken idea you could buy the Cup which has been tried before with same failure results. Year one team had something to show and prove which money can’t buy so now mgt is stuck with some really bad contracts. Having experienced back issues the Stone situation doesn’t sound good. Hockey being the contact sport it is (well not handing it out in Vegas ‘ case) having any back issue is a huge problem. I hope Cassidy can put the rabbit out of the hat and duplicate previous success but it is going to take a great deal of luck. Often it is better to be lucky than good l am sorry to say this very well could be the case. There is no logical reason the team that won saturday didn’t show up Sunday in Arizona. That is what l am referring to above.

      • Richie-Rich

        The trade deadline is 3pm on March 3rd. Let’s hope that we don’t have a repeat of last years fiasco. Do your homework McCrimmon!

        My thought on Stone is that if he’s no longer physically able to play that he will go on LTIR and retire or rehab for a year. That’s frees up his cap.

        Petro is a very good defenseman, he anchors that top line. But he’s getting long in the tooth as well. He’s 33 and has another year or two of good hockey in him. His $8.8million hit per year goes through 2026. It’s a tough decision. I’m not saying that I would be selling right now given the current standings, but it’s certainly got to be something I would consider if I got a call from a Cup contender that could afford him. I wouldn’t eat any of his salary if I could avoid it.

        Martinez also may have some value to a playoff team. He’s UFA after this season with a $5.25million hit. Might Martinez bring a buyer? It’s quite possible. The guy blocks a ton of shots and still has some legs. He’s never been a top scoring defenseman.

        Eichel is a very interesting piece. McCrimmon would never move him and it is doubtful any team would take on that $10million per year anchor. But, who knows! We’ve seen some really crazy shit out of this front office. No one’s roster spot is safe.

        Also, let’s not forget we are carrying Shea Weber’s $7.8million cap hit. Time to unload that garbage.

        Mark Stone is a $9.5million cap hit. He’s not going anywhere unless it is to LTIR. Just how bad is his back? Does he retire? Does he do a full year of back rehab? If he can’t come back fully healthy this season then it is a no brainer. That cap hit runs through 2026.

        Another problemo is going to be Lehner’s $5.5million hit. This was a bad move, one of the worst this front office ever made. Does McCrimmon push him to the ice and dump Hill? At this point, I really don’t care.

        Other considerations:
        Marchy is 32
        Karlsson is 30
        Smith is 31
        Stephenson is only 28

        Selling off the Misfits would be totally unpopular, but for God’s sake maybe McCrimmon just rips the damn band aid off and gets it over with. Hell, why not trade Thompson and Hill and push Lehner and Brossoit into net? Never count out any crazy shit that McIdiot might do.

        BUYER? We’re spotty at scoring and adding another C seems like the way to go. Problem, the two I have in mind are in the Pacific.

        I like Timo Meier, Sharks (C), Bo Harvat, Canucks (C)

        • JV

          After this season, Weber’s LTIR cap hit only costs 1 million a year actual salary for the next 3 years. Probably why McC traded for it, as well as salary dumping Dadonov. Most of his money was paid out in bonuses the first half of his contract. I’d keep it until we know more about Stone and Lehner.

  5. THE hockey GOD

    same old bunch of losers posting same old garbage, last year they picked on one player. This year they pick on another.

    They completely ignore the FACE that whole team is in a slump, from no. 81, to no 19, to no. 20 (I know some posters have a hard time associating numbers to names), to no. 23 (only one goal this year), to entire “misfit” line, not to mention the horrid play of no.8 the whole season.

    Most unsophisticated fan base in sports. Ian’s words, not mine.

    Real THG, not some fake, poor imitation version.

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