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VGK’s Path To Winning The Pacific Division

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Right now the Golden Knights currently sit in 2nd place in the Pacific Division. Well, that is if you are going by the total number of points earned in all games played so far. If you go by points percentage, the more accurate representation of where each team stands, the Golden Knights drop down to 3rd behind tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers.

Both Vegas and Edmonton are looking up at the Vancouver Canucks who have posted an incredible 71 points in the first 49 games of the season. They are on pace to finish the year with a whopping 119 points, breaking the franchise record by 2 points (the 2010-11 that went to the Cup Final).

If they are to continue playing at that pace, it’s going to be nearly impossible for the Golden Knights, Oilers, or Kings to catch them. In fact, for it to happen, Vegas would have to earn 55 of the final 64 points available on their schedule.

However, that’s not what is expected of the Canucks. Also, the Oilers have won 16 games in a row and have ripped off a record of 26-6-0 since they fired their head coach on November 12th. That’s probably not continuing either.

So, let’s look at some more realistic milestones that these teams could potentially hit and compare what the Golden Knights, and others, would have to play to match or beat them. We’ll start with the Canucks.

If Vancouver…
Play .700 (117 points)

EDM must play .786
VGK must play .831
LAK must play .900

If the Canucks tie their franchise record for points in a season and finish the season at a .700 points percentage in the final 33 games, the Golden Knights would need to record 53 of the final 64 points, playing at a .831 points percentage to tie them. For comparison, last year’s team went 22-4-5 after the All Star break. That’s a points percentage of .790, which isn’t even close. But, what if Vancouver plays a little worse?

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

(Photo Credit: 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, 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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Golden Knights Find Their Late Frame Scoring In Edmonton

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights did something they hadn’t in their previous four games, they scored in the 2nd and 3rd periods. In fact, they did it twice in each. The reigning champs may have lost but they certainly rediscovered their offense in the final 40 minutes in Edmonton.

When you look at an 82-game season, whether we win the division by one or two points, these points matter. Even when you’re not playing your best hockey, you have to bank these points. -Mark Stone

Inevitably the Golden Knights were going to bump into some scoring slumps. Until last night’s four goal flurry, the Cup champions have had trouble finding the back of the net. Previously, the local squad was averaging as little as 0.75 goals per game.

VGK’s Late Frame Follies: 11/19 – 11/27

  • 0.75 Goals Scored Per Game
  • 2.00 Goals Allowed Per Game
  • (1-2-1) .375 Points %
  • 2 First Period Goals
  • 0 Second Period Goals
  • 0 Third Period Goals

Some have mentioned the lack of scoring in the opening 20 minutes. The Golden Knights are 22nd in the NHL in 1st period scoring, whereas they rank sixth with 25 middle frame goals. Since November 8th, Vegas has been below average in middle-20 scoring. Even worse, they’re 21st in 3rd period tallies. Up until last night, late game scoring this month has cost the Golden Knights attainable points in the standings.

However, after a 11-0-1 start coach Bruce Cassidy can live with a late autumn scoring slumber.

How we tied it was exciting for me because it was our third and fourth line that went out and scored the goals that we need to start scoring. It can’t always be your top guys. That’s why it feels like no matter who won the shootout, we still feel pretty good about leaving here. -Bruce Cassidy

For whatever reason, when offenses go belly-up the timing of the drought always seems to stand out. The two 2nd period goals Vegas scored put them in a position to force overtime and pick up a point. Most likely the reigning champions will find consistent success in all three periods like they did throughout October. More matchups with Edmonton will help with that.

This might be far fetched but there’s a strong chance Vegas would have won in regulation last night had they scored one more 2nd period goal. Time and time we’ve seen it happen, the Golden Knights are built to overcome a deficit whereas the Oilers are built for late game meltdowns.

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

(Photo Credit: 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

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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VGK’s Championship Identity Unmatched In Pacific

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

Let’s take a look around the Pacific Division. Self-proclaimed contender loses 8-1. California’s brightest was outpowered by Colorado and the Western Conference’s surprise team is 0-2-0 with one goal in 60 minutes. Like years past, the Golden Knights will greatly benefit from their light divisional schedule. Five out of the eight Pacific teams are considered out or borderline playoff rosters.

NHL Power Rankings – Pacific Division Teams

  • Edmonton Oilers (2nd)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (5th)
  • Los Angeles Kings (11th)
  • Seattle Kraken (16th)
  • Vancouver Canucks (18th)
  • Calgary Flames (21st)
  • Anaheim Ducks (27th)
  • San Jose Sharks (32nd)

After their 4-1 opening night victory against the Seattle Kraken, the reigning champions walked into their locker room where they undressed, gave their postgame interviews, and moved on. It was business as usual for the Golden Knights, even after an emotional, jubilant celebration. At the end of the day, Bruce Cassidy complimented his guys for playing a full 60 minutes and the focus turned to San Jose. In an unsurprising fashion, Vegas handled their duties and left Northern California with two more points.

It won’t be that easy for other clubs in the division. The Golden Knights play with an identity, a championship identity, while the other seven are trying to find theirs. Take the Kraken for example. On Tuesday, Seattle left the ice and patted themselves on the back for their effort in a losing cause. Coach Dave Hakstol fluffed off the result and bizarrely tossed it aside because it was opening night.

Transition, execution in and around the net, getting to a couple of more rebounds. It’s early, it’s game one. There will be a number of things I’m sure we’ll want to look at and improve. That’s typical at this time of year. -Dave Hakstol, SEA coach

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Eichel & Draisaitl Agree Playoff Series Came Down To Depth

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

On the night of May 15th, 2023, after the Golden Knights eliminated the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the 2023 NHL playoffs Jack Eichel and Leon Draisaitl walked into two very different locker rooms. Eichel was promptly drenched with celebratory champagne and puffed on Ashton Aged Maduro’s with his jubilant teammates. Draisaitl stepped into a locker room that was emotional, furious, and unsatisfied with how their season abruptly ended. In fact, it was in that moment Oilers captain Connor McDavid sternly stated that he and his teammates were on notice.

We’ve heard the story now from a few places, that he cleared all but the closest team staff out of the room and laid down the parameters for his franchise going forward. That the window for learning how to win was slamming shut, and the time for applying those lessons — and winning Stanley Cups — has officially begun. – Mark Spector on

Now, both Pacific Division contenders are preparing for a new 82-game regular season with a mutual agreement on how that six-game series ended in mid-May. In Elliotte Friedman’s latest 32 Thoughts blog, Draisaitl noticed the difference of quality bench players on VGK’s side.

At the NHL/NHLPA media tour in Las Vegas, Jack Eichel said the difference between Edmonton and Vegas in that second-round series was depth. Leon Draisaitl conceded that, but added, “We couldn’t get to our top game…They didn’t make those little mistakes we made and that was the difference.” –Elliotte Friedman in 32 Thoughts

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Pacific Division: Group of 8 With Only 3 Contenders?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been no secret that over the past six seasons, the Pacific Division was regarded as one of the leagues least competitive. Let’s face it, for basically the entirety of the Golden Knights’ existence three or four teams were annually counted out of contention before the puck hit opening night ice. Vegas is the only team to reach the Stanley Cup Final in that span and the Golden Knights became the first Pacific division team to win the Cup since 2014.

Heading into the 2023-24 season, the division looks to play out the same way it did last year. Of course, it’s foolish to eliminate teams before the season begins but would anyone be surprised if Anaheim, San Jose, or Vancouver missed the 2024 playoffs? According to Sportsnet, they wouldn’t be.

Whether it’s a repeat from Vegas, a breakthrough for Edmonton, or something of a Cinderella story from Los Angeles or Seattle, might the 2024 Stanley Cup champion come out of the Pacific Division again? Might this division also house the team that “wins” the first-overall selection? –

According to William Hill, the Pacific Division is expected to be conquered by the Edmonton Oilers (+180), the reigning champions (+210) or the LA Kings (+440) in 2024. The divisional odds are not much different from last season’s expected winners. Vegas came away with division with Edmonton and LA filling out the top three Pacific clubs. As you go further down the list, the prices drastically get larger, suggesting that it would be a major surprise if any team outside of the top three took the division.

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