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Vegas In Strong Position In The Pacific Despite Model’s Third Place Finish

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Earlier this month LA King’s general manager Rob Blake addressed the media to assure head coach Todd McLellan’s job was safe after their stretch of awful results. First, the Edmonton Oilers struggled out of the gates, fired their coach, and almost ended their playoff future. Now, the Oilers are on a historic tear rattling off 14 victories in a row. It’s been a wild roller coaster ride for both contenders and the division. Despite being banged up, disrespecting the game, and playing like a beer league hockey club they haven’t dealt with as much adversity as their Pacific Division brethren.

I don’t think you ever have to be perfect, but you need to be good for longer stretches. We’ve missed some guys that are difference makers, and then you get teams now that I think are closer to how they think they’re playing their game for a full 60. It’s just that time of year where the better teams will start separating. So obviously we want to be one of those. We do have to be a better version of ourselves for longer if we expect to get points. – Bruce Cassidy

There’s no doubt that the Golden Knights have had their share of discouraging performances in 2023-24. At times there’s been a lack of finish, scoring droughts, and sloppy play but based on their last handful of outings (ignoring the Devils game) the reigning champions are sitting in a good position in their division. Even without some of their impact players on the ice, Vegas has averaged 4.0 goals per game and allowed 2.40 over a five-game span. Obviously, it is only 15 periods and one overtime, but the reigning champions have done enough to put themselves in position to compete for a top playoff spot.

Hockey Reference’s Pacific Division Playoff Probabilities

  1. Vancouver Canucks: 111.4 Points, 81.3% to win Pacific Division
  2. Edmonton Oilers: 101.8 Points, 7.7% to win Pacific Division
  3. Vegas Golden Knights: 101.6 Points 7.7% to win Pacific Division
  4. Los Angeles Kings: 98.1 Points, 3.2% to win Pacific Division
  5. Calgary Flames: 87.2 Points, 0% to win Pacific Division
  6. Seattle Kraken: 87.2 Points, 0.1% to win Pacific Division
  7. Anaheim Ducks: 68.4 Points, 0% to win Pacific Division
  8. San Jose Sharks: 60.2, 0% to win Pacific Division

According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Golden Knights are projected to finish the season second or third in the Pacific Division with 101 points. Vegas and Edmonton are neck and neck according to HR’s model with Vancouver expected to finish ten points ahead of both.

However, it’s too early to call. The reigning champions have 33 games remaining, including ten divisional games. Being in the position they are in; a healthy lineup should easily make it a race to the top.

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Vegas Wraps Up 2023 With Strong Outing Against Pacific Contender

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

With two minutes to go in last night’s 3-2 victory over the LA Kings, the Golden Knights were forced to fight off a lengthy 5-on-6. LA had their chances but the reigning champions battled in front of the net, forced ineffective shots, and swept pucks out of harm’s way.

The shot we gave up for the 5-on-6 goal we’re going to give up all day long. That’s the goalie’s shot. We wanted to protect the middle. They hit a few seams but again that’s outside the middle. Would we have rather give up nothing? Yes, but we wanted to give up stuff from the outside. I wasn’t worried because it wasn’t a mad scramble in front. If a puck did come in there and there were a lot of bodies we’d have more than them. -Bruce Cassidy

Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy was pleased after the divisional win and brushed off the late attack by the visitors. The Stanley Cup champions executed the model game plan by limiting LA’s opportunities and cashing in on their handful of chances.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 LOS ANGELES KINGS 2 (22-10-5, 49 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the LA Kings in an attempt to break their four game losing streak. Vegas took the opening lead 7:38 on Jack Eichel’s 16th goal of the season. Eichel snapped a beautiful shot under the bar for a 1-0 Golden Knights edge. 

Vegas doubled their lead after Michael Amadio flipped one on the fly 2:27 into the middle frame. Los Angeles cut the score in half but a minute later William Karlsson made it a 3-1 Vegas advantage. 

The Kings had a goal taken back in the final period keeping the game a two goal Golden Knights lead. With their goal empty, LA found their second goal of the night. The Kings tried tying the game as time wound down but the Golden Knights turned away any quality chances. 

The Golden Knights record improves to 22-10-5 defeating the Kings 3-2. Vegas will next focus on Monday’s Winter Classic in Seattle. Puck drop is scheduled to start 12 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: A lot of the issues that have plagued the Golden Knights during the losing streak was righted in this game. They were so much better breaking the puck out of their own zone and the stick battle level raised to the level it needs to be at to beat a good team. The 3rd period got a little dicey, but in the end they needed a win and they got it. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. T-Mobile Arena at T-Mobile Arena.

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Hockey Reference Model Places Vegas Behind Two Pacific Rivals

(Photo Credit: @keeperofthecup on Twitter)

Hockey-Reference.com is the essential database for diehard hockey fans. It’s considered the good book to puckheads across the globe. Some elements that make HR stand out is the deep database of players, statistics, and their Playoff Probability Report. Currently, the Golden Knights are third in the NHL for the highest chance to qualify for the postseason.

Top 5 Hockey Reference’s Playoff Probability

  1. Vancouver Canucks: 99.1%
  2. Los Angeles Kings: 98.7%
  3. Vegas Golden Knights: 98.6%
  4. Boston Bruins: 97.8%
  5. New York Rangers: 97.7%

Interestingly enough the two teams with a higher playoff probability rate are in the Pacific Division. According to HR’s model Vancouver has the best chance of getting into the 2024 postseason, with LA coming in one spot behind.

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Odds Have Changed Around The Pacific But Not For Vegas At Quarter Pole

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have their eyes set on being the third franchise to repeat as champions this decade. Through 20 games, Vegas looks fit for another deep playoff run. Overall, the title winners have recorded 30 out of a possible 40 points this season. Only the mighty Boston Bruins have more points (31) than the Golden Knights at this point in 2023-24.

As we know, analysts and oddsmakers tend to use Thanksgiving as an unofficial forecast for what’s to come in the playoffs. In the Golden Knights case, there wasn’t much of a need for adjustments. The reigning champions are still in the upper class of expected winners. At the sportsbooks and in certain insiders’ minds.

Many NHL fans use today’s standings at U.S. Thanksgiving as the barometer of who will make the playoffs and who won’t. I go by who stands where after games on Nov. 1, so it’s not as important to me. What I do check is my list of who I think can win the Stanley Cup.

At the start of the season, that was: Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Vegas.
Forty-five days into the season, four remain: Carolina, Colorado, Dallas and Vegas. The Hurricanes haven’t played great, but they’ll figure it out. Edmonton’s removal is self-explanatory. New Jersey and Toronto don’t defend yet as well as you need to, while Tampa’s going to need depth.

I’ve added four new teams: Boston, Florida, Los Angeles and the New York Rangers. –Elliotte Friedman in 32 Thoughts on Sportsnet.ca

In Friedman’s preseason group of four, the Golden Knights have handled Colorado and Dallas in the Western Conference. Vegas will get their chance against Carolina during their three-game Southeastern road trip in late December. By then Vegas will have faced most of the updated contenders as well and will likely measure up with no concerns. However, going forward the creepers in the Pacific could be the biggest thorns in VGK’s side. Nope, Edmonton is no longer a threat to steal the division, but LA and Vancouver are.

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Are The Kings An Actual Threat To The Golden Knights Repeat?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Sound the alarms the Golden Knights dropped another game. Even worse, they lost to a second Pacific Division team. So far this week the Stanley Cup champions dreadfully lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing Game’s 4 & 5 of the Western Conference finals. It’s time to sarcastically panic.

You work for your bounces. They did a good job getting to the net. We had our looks, we just didn’t capitalize on them. -Mark Stone

Last night’s 4-1 loss to the LA Kings was not exactly an upset. Of course, the Golden Knights were favored and held a better record but their counterparts from Los Angeles have been storming to keep it tight in the division. Entering the game, LA was riding a three-game win streak and points in six straight games. While the Golden Knights have stolen most of the headlines coming out of Pacific this season, the Kings have quietly made history of their own. After Wednesday’s game, LA became the eighth team to win their first seven road games. In reality, the two teams are closer than some expected.

So, should the Golden Knights consider the Kings a threat?

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LOS ANGELES KINGS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1 (11-2-1, 23 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted Pacific division rivals LA Kings for the first time in 2023-24. Both clubs had several chances in the opening period. Vegas outshot the Kings 11-9 in the opening period but neither team found the back of the net.

Midway through the middle frame the visiting team jumped on a loose rebound and batted the puck in past goaltender Adin Hill. Minutes later the Kings doubled their lead with a power play deflection. After 40 minutes the Golden Knights trailed 2-0.

The visitors stretched their lead early on in the final 20 minutes. Vegas came up short on their early power play and LA jumped on their opportunities. William Karlsson scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights record drops to 11-2-1 after falling 4-1 to the Kings. Vegas will host the hapless Sharks on Friday night. Puck drop against San Jose is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: VGK was able to get through the neutral zone early in the game but they weren’t able to generate enough zone time to get consistent chances. Then, once they fell behind, they began shooting from everywhere and didn’t get good enough looks to beat Talbot. Been a long time since VGK have been out of a game in the 3rd period, but they were tonight. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena.

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