Since January 27th, the Golden Knights have had 16 days off and suited up for only six periods of game action. It may not seem like much, but it allows for the reigning champions to heal, prepare, and most importantly rest up for their final 30 regular season games and their perennial deep postseason run.
The Golden Knights have played 156 games since October 11th, 2022, so any extra days off should be taken advantage of.
We haven’t (rested players) other than maybe late in the year. Would I do it in the middle of January? Probably not. First of all, players don’t want to come out of the lineup even when they’re hurt, so there’s dealing with that part of it. -Bruce Cassidy, September 2023
It goes without saying, playing an extended amount of hockey is what every fan and player dreams of when a new season begins. However, a deep run can interrupt a reigning champion’s repeat attempt.
When the Avalanche were eliminated in seven games to the Seattle Kraken last year, it was their 191st game played since October of 2021. Their short summer full of celebrating in ’22 was anything but that ten months later. With the spacing out of VGK’s final 30 contests, it’s possible rest can keep them off the golf course until mid-June.
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.
Recap: The Golden Knights traveled to Colorado for a matchup with the 2022 Stanley Cup champions. Both teams swapped power plays in the opening period with the home team taking advantage with 0:14 left in the frame. Colorado took a 1-0 edge into the 1st intermission.
Colorado outshot Vegas early in the middle frame and eventually doubled their lead with another power play goal. The Golden Knights had several chances to score towards the back end of the period, but nothing would fall for the reigning champions.
Midway through the final frame Colorado extended the lead with their first five-on-five goal of the game.
The Golden Knights record drops to 23-13-5 losing to the Avalanche 3-0 in Colorado. Vegas will head back home for a Thursday night battle with the Boston Bruins. Puck drop against the Bruins is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: The shorthanded Golden Knights looked every bit of it in this game. They hung in there for the first portion of the game but special teams let them down. In the 2nd period and into the 3rd it was an onslaught of chances. Patera stopped a lot of them, but there’s no question VGK were not close to as good as Colorado tonight. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena.
Tonight and tomorrow may be the biggest two-game challenge the Golden Knights will face this entire regular season. Mired by injuries to multiple key starters, Vegas travels to Colorado tonight before heading home to face a Boston team already waiting for them at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights fared well in their first matchup with the Avalanche, torching Colorado 7-0 back in early November. However, the two teams come into this game in much different forms.
Colorado ripped off six straight wins to start the season, but then went back-to-back games without scoring a goal losing 4-0 to both Pittsburgh and Buffalo. They beat St. Louis right before playing the Golden Knights, but the loss in Vegas marked their third time being shutout in four games. Their offense is in a much different place right now.
The Avs have won seven of their last nine games amassing 37 goals, or more than four per game. They’ve scored at least four goals in 10 of their last 14 and have posted at least five in six of them. Their power play is clicking at 36% since mid-December and they are outshooting teams by a wide margin nightly.
Colorado’s last win was a shootout victory against VGK’s next opponent, the Bruins. Boston is currently on a two-game losing streak but they’ve recorded points in seven of their last eight and rattled off a four-game winning streak as the calendar turned to 2024.
They too have been scoring goals at a rapid pace. Boston has tallied 36 times in their last eight games, 4.5 per game. They’ve scored at least three in every game they’ve played since Christmas, and have posted five or more in four of the last eight.
Vegas enters tonight’s contest in Colorado as +122 underdogs at William Hill. This will be the 9th time the Golden Knights will play a game as underdogs. They are 3-5 in the first eight but have lost each of the last four by a combined score of 21-11. VGK have allowed at least four goals in all four of those games and were only within one goal once.
This is 10th consecutive time the Golden Knights are underdogs when visiting Colorado. Vegas has fared fairly well in the last nine though, winning five. Things have not gone as well against Boston, especially at home. The Golden Knights have lost four straight home games against the Bruins including a 3-1 loss as underdogs in December of last season.
Adin Hill appears to be making his return tonight, but if the Golden Knights want to start stacking some wins together, they’ll have to slow down some red-hot offenses as underdogs in a back-to-back with travel. No one is saying Vegas can’t do it, but unlike most situations this season, they aren’t expected to.
Recap: The Stanley Cup champions hosted the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday looking to stay undefeated in regulation. Vegas was awarded two early power plays but couldn’t find the net on eight shots on net. Later in the frame Mark Stone took the lead 1-0 scoring Vegas’ first shorthanded goal on 2023-24. After the opening 20 minutes the 2023 Stanley Cup champions lead the 2022 Stanley Cup champions 1-0.
Vegas continued to pressure Colorado in the 2nd period. Jack Eichel scored his first of the game 9:35 into the frame, followed by William Carrier’s tap in from Stone. Fifty-two seconds later Eichel made it 4-0 Golden Knights with his second of the contest.
The Stanley Cup champions didn’t slow down in the final frame. Stone added his second of the night and William Karlsson joined the scoring party minutes later to stretch VGK’s lead to 6-0. Karlsson wasn’t finished and scored another for the Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights record improves to 11-0-1 defeating the Avalanche 7-0. Vegas’ torrid winning streak continues into Sunday’s game against Anaheim. Puck drop vs the Ducks is scheduled for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: The game was fairly close for a little while… then it wasn’t. VGK absolutely destroyed the Avs from the middle of the game on and would not let up. A fanny wacking of the highest degree against a darn good team. (Analysis by Ken)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights remain atop the standings in the NHL with a .955 points percentage through their first 11 games. 10-0-1 is impressive no matter who you play, but there’s no question Vegas has been blessed with a fairly fortunate schedule so far.
They currently have the 29th-ranked strength of schedule, have played seven of the 11 games at home, and have won three games in the shootout.
Prior to Thursday’s game against Winnipeg, the team was outwardly being pretty hard on themselves. They knew they could be better and despite the nearly immaculate record, they hit the ice for a pair of practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
We were winning some games but we weren’t playing our best game. So it was good to get out there and practice and we got rewarded with a great game. -Marchessault
Head coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to jump-start the process of getting his team back on track. He also knew the next stretch of games was going to be far and away the toughest the Golden Knights have faced all season.
Tonight with a familiar opponent that we’ve built a little animosity with I think is food for us and I think Colorado will be the same. We know how good they are and I think they respect how we play the game. We can carry that over into Saturday and to be quite honest Sunday for that matter. Anaheim is playing really well, they’re feeling really good about their game and they are sitting there waiting for us. -Cassidy
The Avalanche visit T-Mobile Arena tonight in a battle of two of the best teams in the Western Conference. For the first time all season, the Golden Knights are underdogs. Then, directly after the game, VGK hop on the plane to Anaheim where the Ducks are riding a five-game win streak and haven’t played since Wednesday.
It’s going to be a difficult weekend of hard hockey so it’s good for us to get into that mentality. -Cassidy
Clearly, the Golden Knights have nothing to prove at this point in the season. They’re the reigning Stanley Cup champions and they’ve rattled off an 11-game point streak including 10 wins to open the season. That being said, these games will have a bit of a bigger game feel, especially tonight’s against the Avs.
Win them both, and people will start looking at Boston’s record season last year and asking if the Golden Knights can top it. Lose them both, and the schedule is going to start looking like it did Vegas some favors to get off to a hot start.
There aren’t many truly exciting games in a regular season. Tonight and tomorrow, the Golden Knights have them.
Recap: The 2023 Stanley Cup champion hosted the 2022 Stanley Cup champion for an exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena. The Avalanche quickly jumped on the board with a goal 1:57 into the game. Ten minutes later Colorado doubled their lead. Vegas trailed 2-0 after the opening twenty minutes.
Nathan MacKinnon added to the Avalanche’s lead in the second period but Nic Roy got one back minutes later. The Avalanche held a 3-1 advantage heading into the second intermission.
Pavel Dorofeyev snapped a quick shot off a faceoff to cut the deficit to one. Midway through the period Jonathan Marchessault tipped home a Shea Theodore shot to tie it. And then, Paul Cotter slammed the door shut to help VGK overcome a three-goal deficit and beat the Avalanche.
The Golden Knights wrap up their preseason on Saturday with an afternoon matchup against the LA Kings. Puck drop for the final exhibition game is scheduled for 1 PM. (Recap by Jason)
Analysis: VGK looked very sleepy for a good portion of the beginning of the game. They did start to get it going as the game went on, and then really turned it up in the 3rd and came back to win, which was nice. (Recap by Ken)