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Will The Pacific Division Be More Challenging For Vegas in 2021-22?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After four NHL seasons the Golden Knights have benefited by playing in the Pacific Division. Since 2017, Vegas has played 113 games against their divisional “rivals” and tallied a total of 168 out of a possible 226 points. That’s an astonishing .743 Points % against the Pacific Division in four seasons.

Hockey’s been a little bit tough with our team not being very good the last few years and not getting back to the playoffs… Things are looking up for us now. We got some new players and some young guys coming up. I’m excited for this season to start.- Drew Doughty, LAK defenseman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Let’s be honest, it’s been easy street for the Golden Knights since they entered the league.

VGK All-Time Record vs. Pacific Division

vs. Anaheim: 20 Games (17-3-0) 34 Pts, .850 Pts %, 74 Goals For, 37 Goals Allowed, +37 Goal Differential

vs. Arizona: 20 Games (14-6-0) 28 Pts, .700 Pts %, 57 Goals For, 46 Goals Allowed, + 11 Goal Differential

vs. Calgary: 11 Games (8-3-0) 16 Pts, .727 Pts %, 42 Goals For, 31 Goals Allowed, + 11 Goal Differential

vs. Edmonton: 11 Games (6-4-1) 13 Pts, .591 Pts %, 35 Goals For, 31 Goals Allowed, +4 Goal Differential

vs. LA: 21 Games (11-8-2) 24 Pts, .571 Pts %, 63 Goals For, 60 Goals Allowed, +3 Goal Differential

vs. San Jose: 20 Games (16-1-3) 35 Pts, .875 Pts %, 78 Goals For, 40 Goals Allowed, +38 Goal Differential

vs. Vancouver: 10 Games (8-0-2) 18 Pts, .900 Pts %, 45 Goals For, 26 Goals Allowed, +19 Goal Differential

Since their existence the Golden Knights have proven to be the team to beat in the Pacific. Vegas has a positive goal differential against every team in the division and holds an overall goal differential of +123, talk about dominance. All indications show it should be the same in 2021-22.

Only a few west coast teams have kept their games with Vegas competitive but still not enough to threaten their path to the playoffs. Sure, San Jose won their seven game series in 2019 but in the regular season it’s been embarrassingly lopsided. Since that series three postseasons ago, the Sharks have been a non-factor in the Pacific, same goes for Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver. However, two clubs that will make things more difficult for Vegas this season are the Kings and Oilers. Each team has challenged Vegas in the regular season being edged out by one game in their series history with the 31st franchise.

While it’s hard to make judgements based off two exhibition games but it’s safe to say that Los Angeles is an improved club. Even with a lack of talent in their lineup the King’s have competed in most matchups. Coming into 2021-22, LA and Knight killer Philip Danault will continue to frustrate VGK’s offensive threats. Coveted prospects are performing at a high level and LA’s star veterans could create further problems for Vegas and the rest of the Pacific Division.

There’s not much to say about Edmonton. As long as they dress Connor McDavid every game is up in the air. Same can be said for the newest team in hockey. Seattle is the biggest wildcard in the division. Based on what the Golden Knights did in their inaugural season you’d be a fool to count out the Kraken. Calgary, San Jose and Vancouver are expected to finish below Vegas but one of those three teams could make a surprising push for the postseason.

All in all, the Pacific Division is still considered relatively weak but has improved. Vegas is the only team that isn’t being doubted by analysts across the league. The other seven teams have questions to answer and it should be a tight battle for two of three divisional playoff spots. Although the Pacific may have gotten better and could make it more difficult for Vegas to run away with the division but it’s still the Golden Knights to lose.

Offseason Additions And Subtractions In The Pacific Division

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are back at home in the Pacific Division where they have dominated the competition over the past four seasons. A lot has changed since 2019 though. The NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, are now in the Pacific, Arizona has left for the Central, the Canadian teams all look much different now, and the trio of California teams each ready to see if their rebuilds can start taking shape.

Everyone here already knows all about the Golden Knights and the Kraken are a complete wild card heading into this year, so let’s take a look at the key additions and subtractions from each of the other six teams in the Pacific.

Anaheim Ducks

Add: Greg Pateryn, Danny O’Regan
Subtract: Haydn Fleury, Danton Heinen, Andy Welinski

For a team that is supposed to be in the middle of a rebuild, this was a shockingly boring offseason for the Ducks. They still have a bevy of prospects that could break through at any moment, but looking at what we saw last year coupled with the mild offseason, Anaheim is probably the worst team not only in the Pacific but in the entire NHL.

Calgary Flames

Add: Blake Coleman, Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Pitlick, Trevor Lewis, Andy Welinski
Subtract: Mark Giordano, Josh Leivo, Derek Ryan, Dominik Simon

Losing Giordano hurts, a lot, but they did well to bring in usable players to replace what went out this offseason. Coleman will likely be an excellent option to play somewhere in their strong top-six and it will allow for a bit more depth through what has been a fairly weak 12-man forward group the last few years. One of these times Zadorov is going to find the right fit and become the player most believe he can become, and this certainly might be it. The rest of it is somewhat of a depth reshuffle which is always good for a team that struggled the year before. Calgary likely won’t challenge Vegas atop the division, but they could be a sneaky tough team and they are always a pain in the butt to play against.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 ANAHEIM DUCKS 1 (34-11-2 70 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: It took :28 seconds for the Golden Knights to take control of the game in Anaheim. Chandler Stephenson scored on Vegas’ first shot and added another later in the period. The Golden Knights took a comfortable 2-0 lead into the first intermission. 

William Carrier stretched Vegas’ lead to 3-0 early in the middle period. Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner kept the Ducks scoreless through 40 minutes. 

Anaheim would eventually score to get within two but Vegas swiftly responded. William Karlsson regained the three-goal advantage with his 12th and Shea Theodore scored his 7th of the season. 

Vegas’ record improves to 34-11-2 after their 5-1 victory in Anaheim. The Golden Knights get a few days off and prepare for the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. The game against Colorado is scheduled for 6:30 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights didn’t play well, and they still were not even on the same planet as the Ducks. Anaheim is horrible, Vegas is very good. Now, the real game, Wednesday against Colorado. (Analysis by Ken)


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Vegas Reveals Successful Template In Anaheim

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As we watched over the weekend, the Golden Knights easily dominated the basement-dwelling Anaheim Ducks in two straight games. It’s clear Vegas is the much, much better team. This season the Golden Knights are 6-1-0 against the Ducks and have dictated the season series except for an earlier 1-0 defeat.

They’ve done the same against pretty much every other inferior team in the division as well. It’s been that type of campaign for the Golden Knights. They mop up on inferior opponents, winning games by an average of 1.5 goals per game.

VGK vs. ANA, ARI, LA, SJ, STL (Combined record: 87-104-28)
119 Goals Scored
69 Goals Allowed
3.71 Goals For Per 60
2.15 Goals Allowed Per 60
48 Goal Differential
53 out of 64 Points (26-5-1, .828)

It’s no secret the Golden Knights have had an easy path to a postseason berth. Same goes for the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. All three have built strong records by defeating the teams they should. So, it’s unfair to solely mock the Golden Knights for their weak schedule.

Points Percentage vs West Division Teams
Colorado .744 PTS%
Vegas .727 PTS%
Minnesota .663 PTS%

Realistically, that’s what contending teams need to do. Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota were all handed a light schedule before the season began and have done their job gathering as many points as possible. It shouldn’t matter what level of competition they face. There’s no secret formula for beating and taking advantage of lesser opponents. However, that’ll end in early May when the regular season concludes and they have to exclusively play each other.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 ANAHEIM DUCKS 2 (31-11-2 64 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: The Golden Knights took control of the game early on when Max Pacioretty deflected in his 22nd goal of the season. Anaheim tied the game 1-1 but Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo regained the lead for Vegas later in the period.

Nic Roy stretched Vegas’ lead to 3-1 with his seventh goal of the year. The Ducks added a second goal to get within one but captain Mark Stone scored a power play goal taking a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.

Alex Tuch sealed the game late with an empty-net goal. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury held the two-goal edge winning his 486th career win.

Vegas’ record improves to 31-11-2 after their 5-2 victory in Anaheim. The Golden Knights head home for the next two games hosting the San Jose Sharks. Tomorrow’s game against San Jose is scheduled for 7 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights are still a lot better than the Ducks. (Analysis by Ken)


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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 ANAHEIM DUCKS 0 (30-11-2 62 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: The Golden Knights came out firing the puck in the 1st period. Vegas outshot Anaheim 15-4 in the opening frame but neither team could break through and take the first lead. After the opening twenty minutes the game was locked in a scoreless tie. 

William Karlsson scored off the opening shift of the 2nd period to take the first lead of the game. Chandler Stephenson doubled the lead with his 10th goal of the season. With time winding down in the period Nic Roy flipped in Vegas’ third goal of the game. Robin Lehner held the 3-0 lead, facing only two shots in the period.

Brayden McNabb stretched the lead to 4-0 scoring his second goal of the season. Lehner continued to frustrate the Ducks and finished the game with his first shutout of the year. 

Vegas’ record improves to 30-11-2 after their 4-0 victory in Anaheim. The two teams will face off again on Sunday afternoon. The game is scheduled for 1 PM PT (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights are good. The Ducks are very bad. That is really all you need to know about this game. (Analysis by Ken)


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Vegas Taking Advantage Of Early Schedule

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Give the Ducks credit because last night’s 1-0 victory over the Golden Knights was a rare occurrence. Through 11 games it’s clear, the NHL (and a COVID pause) presented Vegas with a golden opportunity to start off strong.

The Golden Knights have largely preyed on weaker opponents. Their overall opponents’ combined record is 23-21-9. If you subtract the single game with St. Louis, the record drops to a sluggish 16-17-7.

The 5-4 win over Anaheim on Tuesday earned Vegas their 17th point of the season. Ten of those points, or 70% were earned by beating the same two bad teams.

vs. Anaheim & LA
VGK (5-1-0) 10 Points
VGK Goal Differential 21-13
VGK 3.5 Goals Scored Per
VGK 2.1 Goals Allowed Per

There’s also the home-ice factor. Of course, without fans, that is surely muted at least a little bit, but the rigors of traveling in the COVID landscape offer some challenges to the road teams.

The Golden Knights have traveled just one time the entire season and they suffered one of their two losses on that trip. In the two road games, they scored just three total goals.

At 8-2-1, Vegas has succeeded by dominating periods, getting hot goaltending and playing a lighter schedule. It’s not a knock on the Golden Knights, take em where you can get em. They play in a below-average division and as long as they clinch a playoff berth, it doesn’t matter who they beat or where they beat them. It was important for Vegas to jump out and build a cushion in the standings against easier competition and they’ve done just that.

Despite last night’s 1-0 loss to Anaheim, history tends to repeats itself when a Southern Californian team faces Vegas. Going back to the inaugural 2017-18, the Golden Knights have a combined total of 42 points in 31 games against the Ducks and Kings. Vegas has earned points in 22 of 31 games. It’s been a lopsided affair to say the least.

Vegas vs. Anaheim & LA History

vs. Ducks
16 Games Played
13-3 Record
26 Of A Possible 32 Points
55-29 Goal Differential
.843 Win%

vs. Kings
15 Games Played
7-6-2 Record (4-0 in Postseason)
16 Of A Possible 30 Points
42-46 Goal Differential
.533 Win%

Vegas will play Anaheim and LA 10 more times this season. Historical data projects the Golden Knights will earn around 13 points in their remaining games against the Ducks and Kings. If the forecast is accurate, Vegas will collect a whopping 23 of 32 points against the SoCal duo.

It’s possible the Golden Knights can build their path to the postseason from these two opponents alone. That success sets Vegas up nicely even if they happen to fall to better competition.

ANAHEIM DUCKS 1 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 0 (8-2-1 17 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Ducks for the second straight game, trying to remain undefeated vs. Anaheim. Marc-Andre Fleury got his second straight start in net also trying to stay undefeated on the season.

The 1st period was quiet with both goaltenders stopping all shots they faced. Anaheim outshot Vegas 13-4 but Fleury was able to save them all securing a scoreless tie after the opening twenty minutes.

Like the opening period, the 2nd frame was tight. Each team had power play opportunities but couldn’t convert. Fleury was outstanding again, making some big saves on several Anaheim rushes.

Scoreless after 40 minutes, the game got moving in the 3rd. The Golden Knights had several chances early stopped by Ducks goaltender John Gibson. Anaheim finally opened the scoring midway through the period making it the only goal of the game.

With their 1-0 loss the Golden Knights record drops to 8-2-1. Vegas hits the road to face San Jose for the first time this season. Game is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1P PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights just never got anything going offensively. They struggled to enter in the 3rd and really never had much more than a single chance at a time during the whole game. Marc-Andre Fleury was tremendous but had no chance on the game-winner.  (Analysis by Ken)


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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 ANAHEIM DUCKS 4 (8-1-1 17 PTS)

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: It was the third time since opening night that Vegas and Anaheim faced off at T-Mobile Arena. Marc-Andre Fleury got the start in net trying to keep his undefeated streak alive.

Chandler Stephenson touched off the scoring giving Vegas a 1-0 lead with his 4th of the year. After a mid-ice collision Shea Theodore left the ice with an apparent injury. Ryan Reaves took offense and challenged Ducks forward Nick Deslauriers. Both earned five minutes for fighting. Late in the period Jonathan Marchessault doubled Vegas’ lead 2-0.

Alex Tuch scored a nifty backhand early in the period to stretch the Golden Knights lead 3-0. Anaheim would get one back a minute later cutting the lead 3-1. Tuch’s linemate Nic Roy scored later in the period to regain Vegas’ three goal edge. Fleury was solid, stopping 8 of 9 Anaheim shots to hold a 4-1 lead.

Anaheim scored two quick goals in the third to get within one. The Ducks would eventually tie the game 4-4 on a power play goal by Ryan Getzlaf. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud came up with a big goal late in the period giving Vegas a one score score advantage.

With their 5-4 win the Golden Knights improve their record to 8-1-1. Vegas will face Anaheim again on Thursday night. Game is schedule for 7P PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It’s been a bit of a running theme for the Golden Knights that they play far from their best but still find a way to come out on top. They were far too loose in their own end and even with Fleury bailing them out early they still blew a three goal lead. Luckily (or maybe because they are really awesome) they’ve been able to outscore the issues. That was the case tonight, and now they are an inpressive 8-1-1. (Analysis by Ken)


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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 ANAHEIM DUCKS 1 (2-0-0 4 PTS) – OT

Game recaps and Periscopes are brought to you by Kondler and Associates CPAs. Free tax consultation for SinBin fans!

Recap: It was take two for the Golden Knights and Ducks at an empty T-Mobile Arena. Marc-Andre Fleury got his first start in net and stopped all six shots from Anaheim. Both teams had several quality chances but each goaltender were flawless. After the opening twenty minutes the game was locked in a scoreless tied.

Anaheim took the first lead of the game 7:45 into the second period. The Golden Knights defense broke down allowing for an easy 3-on-1 goal for the Ducks. Vegas couldn’t generate much offensively but took 11 shots on Anaheim goalie John Gibson. The home team trailed 1-0 heading into the second intermission.

Fleury kept Vegas in the game with a couple of strong saves in the third period. The Golden Knights were awarded their first power play of the game but didn’t get a shot on net. William Karlsson finally got his team on the board, tying the game 1-1 with 1:22 left in the game. The Swede’s goal forced an overtime period.

With their 2-1 overtime victory the Golden Knights improve their record to (2-0-0) and pick up four points in their first two games. Vegas next hits the ice Monday night against the Arizona Coyotes. Game is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights really didn’t seem to have it in this game, but in the dying embers of the game, with the goalie out of the net, a perfect tic-tac-toe play finished by William Karlsson tied the game. In OT, Mark Stone did what Mark Stone does. Thievery off the draw then a beautiful 2-on-1 pass and the rest is history. How in the world did Vegas win that game? Who cares? They did. Oh, and Fleury is awesome still. (Analysis by Ken)


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