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Bruce Cassidy’s Record In The Pacific Division Nearly As Good As VGK’s

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Bruce Cassidy is new to the Pacific Division. He is not however new to doing what the Golden Knights have done much of their five-year history, dominating Pacific Division teams.

Since joining the league in 2017, the Golden Knights have won the Pacific twice (and tied for 1st in the West once), they have been the last Pacific Division team standing in the playoffs three times, and boast an insane 82-26-11 record against the seven teams currently in the division.

They’ve outscored every Pacific team in the regular season and boast a goal differential of +126.

Cassidy’s numbers are not nearly as drastic but are still incredibly strong.

OpponentRecordPoints %Goal Differential
ANA3-5-0.375-2
CGY6-3-0.667+2
EDM4-4-1.500-5
LAK6-0-3.833+11
SEA2-0-01.00+2
SJS9-0-01.00+18
VAN6-4-1.591-4
OVERALL36-16-5.675+22

The .675 points percentage would equate to a 111 point regular season.

There are three different teams in the division that Cassidy’s Bruins never lost to in regulation and he has at least a .500 points percentage against six of the seven teams.

Obviously, there will be new challenges inside of the division this year and Cassidy will have to get used to the rigors of the West coast travel schedule, but historically he’s shown an ability to beat up on the teams the Golden Knights play most.

If VGK do that, they’ll be headed back to the postseason without any issues at all.

Flames Head Coach Darryl Sutter: “You’re Going To Have To Go Through Vegas” To Win The West

Apparently records don’t matter to the Calgary Flames. Even with a seven point lead, the Flames felt like the underdog in their 3-2 loss Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena. Currently, Calgary is in 1st place in the Pacific Division but are highly aware of how dangerous a healthy Golden Knights an be.

Well, they’re the best team on paper. They’re clearly the best team out West, maybe other than the team that owns the Stanley Cup, if you look at it.

It’s not even that close, to tell you the truth. -Darryl Sutter, Calgary coach

That’s high praise coming from a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach. Sutter won with teams that didn’t win their division, twice. In 2012 & 2014 the LA Kings finished 3rd in the Pacific Division yet went on to win two silver chalices. Sutter’s Kings were never considered Cup favorites but he believed they were as deep as any opponent they faced. In Sutter’s first Stanley Cup run, LA finished the season with 95 points and eliminated a 111 point Vancouver Canucks club in five games.

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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.

Predicting Pacific Division Regular Season Point Totals Using William Hill Lines

There’s really no polite way to put this, so I’ll just come out and say it, the Pacific Division is bad. Aside from the Golden Knights, there’s not another team in the division that would be shocking if they missed the playoffs, and it’s probable two or three teams are going to be in the hunt for the #1 pick.

Just two of the eight teams set to compete in the Pacific this year made the playoffs a year ago, and the division claimed spots #2, 3, 7, 8, and 13.

There has been quite a bit of turnover with a number of teams in the division and the Seattle Kraken represent somewhat of a wild card.

The William Hill Mobile Sports app recently released their season point totals for all 32 NHL teams. The Golden Knights checked in at 105.5 points, tied with Tampa Bay for the second-most in the league (COL 109.5). No one else in the division has a line set over 97.

Edmonton Oilers
Over/Under – 96.5

The Oilers were easily the next best team in the division behind the Golden Knights last year, despite playing in a completely different division. The challenge with projecting Edmonton to get to 97 points is a combination of their miserable offseason and their reliance on two players. If either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl miss any period of time, 97 points is toast, but even if they are healthy, the Oilers’ depth is so bad that it still might be tough to each the number. The saving grace for Edmonton is they’ve gotten solid goaltending and the division is putrid. Nonetheless, there are plenty of games outside the division to keep them from reaching the number, or challenging the Golden Knights atop the division. Pick: Under 96.5

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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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Playoff Pace For Vegas Is A Manageable 91 Points

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before tonight’s action, the Golden Knights are on pace for 93 points and sit two behind Vancouver for the Pacific Division lead. The Pacific is commonly referred to as the worst division in the league, which it is, but the Central isn’t much better. With the exception of St. Louis, the rest of the division isn’t exactly lighting the league on fire.

Based on points, the Blues are the only Western Conference team in the top seven in league standings. Going deeper, if the league simply used points percentage regardless of conference, 10 of the 16 future playoff teams would be from the Eastern Conference (VGK is #16). Golden Knights fans should be happy that the league is split in half.

The current pace to make the postseason in the West is 91 points. It’s a whopping 99 in the East. Currently, Vegas is sitting three points ahead of the last team in the West. In a make-believe world where the Golden Knights were playing in the East they would be out of the picture entirely. At 63 points, Vegas would be fifth in the Atlantic and seventh in the Metropolitan and fifth in the Wild Card standings with at least two more games played than everyone else.

To ensure Vegas gets close to that cut line of 91 points, they’ll still need to rack up points in the majority of their remaining games. Including tonight, the Golden Knights have 26 more regular season contests. They’ll need to win at least 14 games or earn 28 points to get back to the playoffs. That means they need 53.8% of the available points, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you consider they’ve only cashed in on 56.2% to this point.

Vegas should be aiming for more than 91 points, and I’m sure they are. You don’t fire a coach and have the expectations of limping into the playoffs.

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Christmas Break Has Had An Effect On VGK

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season on December 23rd, the Golden Knights lost their second game in a row, and third of their final four before the Christmas break. This year, Vegas lost again on December 23rd.

You have to stay focused on Christmas break and like I said, I wasn’t disappointed with our team tonight, but I have to give credit to Montreal. They came in here and played a hard game, a competitive game, all the things that we talk about being first on pucks… but again I’m disappointed in losing, but I’m pretty happy with that one point… Gallant-12/22/18

… it’s Christmas time and it just seemed like the last two games we had no jump, no energy and probably a lot of family in town and you’ve got to be focused to play in the NHL and play well every night and to me it didn’t look like we were focused enough.-Gallant, 12/23/18

The coach was a little bit lighter this holiday season after their 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

I don’t think that it was that. We looked tired. We looked mentally tired, to me. We just didn’t look like we had the same jump. We’ve played really good hockey lately and tonight was a game that I wanted to play a lot better against the team that beat us here pretty good last time and it just didn’t happen.- Gallant, 12/23/19

The numbers don’t lie.

The final three games before last season’s Christmas break, Vegas was 1-0-2, this season they were 1-1-1. The question is, are the players fully focused this time of year? Or is it just coincidental? Either way, the coach was happy with the timing of the holiday break.

Big time. Yeah, it’s a great break. We played a lot of hockey. We had a lot of travel and I’m sure the guys are tired so it’s a great point, they have three days off and we’ll get back at it after Christmas. -Gallant, 12/23/19

Could it be as simple as being distracted by family members traveling in for the Holidays, or the stress of getting all their Christmas shopping done? Gallant seemed to think so last year, and it sure looks like the same can be said 365 days later. Looking ahead to the break can be dangerous for a team looking to pick up standing points. However, there’s a second trend that comes along with the three days off. Vegas tends to play like they got everything on their Christmas list.

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Pacific Division Dominances Continues Into 2019-20

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It doesn’t matter which team sport you are talking about, every coach, player, and analyst will tell you the easiest route to the playoffs is by winning division games. While the Golden Knights have had a rocky start to 2019-20, the franchise history of dominating the Pacific has continued.

Vegas currently sits in 2nd place in the division with an 18-13-5 record good for 41 points in 35 games. Against the Pacific Division, they are 8-3-1 or 17 points in 12 games. The Golden Knights started the season winning five of six against the division and have rebounded to win two straight after a 1-2-1 skid.

8-3-1 is a .708 points percentage which translates to 116 points over an 82 game season. Vegas is 10-10-4 against everyone else for a .500 points percentage or an 82 point pace. These numbers are even more drastic over the course of the franchise’s history.

 17-1818-1919-20Overall
vs. NHL51-24-743-32-718-13-5112-69-19
vs. Pacific20-6-318-8-38-3-146-17-7
vs. Everyone Else31-18-425-24-410-10-466-52-12
vs. NHL Pts%.665.567.569.608
vs. Pacific Pts%.741.672.708.707
vs. Everyone Else Pts%.623.509.500.554
vs. NHL Pace1099393100
vs. Pacific Pace122110116116
vs. Everyone Else Pace102848291

Maybe the biggest reason for this is the play of the Golden Knights 1st line.

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Golden Knights Continue Dominance Over Pacific Division

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are the reigning Western Conference Champions. They were able to achieve this in large part due to their dominance against the Pacific Division. A year ago, Vegas went 20-6-3 against the Pacific en route to claiming the division title. They then defeated the Pacific Division’s Kings and Sharks to reach the Western Conference Final.

This year, the standings look a bit different with the Golden Knights firmly planted in 3rd place with 79 points through 68 games. That’s seven points short of San Jose and 10 off Calgary’s pace. However, like last year (and every year for that matter), the road to the Western Conference Final for Vegas goes through the Pacific. And while the Golden Knights are playing at just a 58.1% points percentage, they are significantly better against their own division.

vs. Pacific 14-5-2 (.714)
vs. Metro 9-6-1 (.593)
vs. Central 8-8-0 (.500)
vs. Atlantic 6-7-2 (.467)

Vegas has a winning record and/or positive goal differential against every team in the division as well.

vs. Anaheim 4-0-0 (+11 GD)
vs. Vancouver 2-0-1 (+3 GD)
vs. Arizona 2-1-0 (+2 GD)
vs. Calgary 2-1-0 (-2 GD)
vs. Los Angeles 2-1-1 (o GD)
vs. San Jose 1-1-0 (+5 GD)
vs. Edmonton 1-1-0 (+2 GD)

In the division, only the Sharks have a better record than the Golden Knights, and Vegas has the ability to flip that script with a pair of games against San Jose on March 18th and 30th.

San Jose 15-4-3 (.750)
Vegas 14-5-2 (.714)
Calgary 11-7-2 (.600)
Arizona 12-9-2 (.565)
Los Angeles 8-8-2 (.500)
Vancouver 9-10-4 (.478)
Edmonton 8-11-2 (.476)
Anaheim 7-10-3 (.425)

In two seasons, the Golden Knights record inside the Pacific Division is an incredible 34-11-5 (.730) with a goal differential of +47 (+26 in 17-18 and +21 in 18-19).

The Golden Knights have eight Pacific Division games remaining on the schedule before what is almost certainly a seven-game series against a division foe in the first round and a seven-game series against another one in the second round.

The playoff format is probably going to change at some point, maybe even as soon as next year, but while it remains the way it is, there’s no question it’s advantage Vegas.

Vegas Golden Knights: Pacific Division Champions

Sweet graphic made by our guy Lance Maxwell.

Prior to the game, the Golden Knights retired #58 in honor of the victims of 1 October. Here’s the entire ceremony.

During the game, William Karlsson scored one of the prettiest goals in the NHL this year.

After the game, the Golden Knights awarded their “Inaugural Season Awards.” The winners were:

7th Man Award (Player whose on-ice performance exceeded your expectations this season) – William Karlsson
Vegas Strong Award (Player who was most involved in serving and giving back to the Las Vegas community) – Deryk Engelland
1st Star Award (Player who played best on home-ice) – William Karlsson

Here’s the entire post game ceremony.

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