With the return to play format set and the league moving straight into the playoffs, the Golden Knights have now completed three NHL regular seasons. Here’s a statistical look at each season in relation to each other.
**Of course, because this season was 11 games short, stats are listed “per game” if necessary**
It seems like every day either the organization or a player is announcing a new program or donation to support the Vegas community during these trying times. So much so that it’s hard to keep up.
So we wanted to take a moment to highlight each and every one of them and we’ll make sure to keep this article updated with any new initiatives or donations that are made in the future.
$1,000,000 to the Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force
The Creator and Vegas Golden Knights Foundation have donated $1 million to the task force set up by Governor Sisolak and headed by former MGM CEO Jim Murren.
The money will be used to purchase necessary supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including surgical masks, N95-equivalent CDC-approved respirator masks, medical gloves, and medical gowns.
Support VGK part-time employees for all games missed
Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK players, and The Creator have committed a minimum of $500,000 to pay T-Mobile Arena employees for any games that are canceled.
This includes third-party vendors, service providers, food and beverage employees, retail associates, medical staff, event personnel, production and cleaning operations. Also the entire VGK Cast and Crew – including in-arena hosts, PA announcer, Vegas Vivas!, Golden Belles, Knights Guard, Knight Line, the dj, The Golden Knight, music director, camera operators, control room crew, Battle Wagon driver, Villain and Watchman – and the drivers of the ice resurfacers. Vegas Golden Knights interns who work game days across all the VGK business teams will also be assisted by these efforts. Also the 51/49 raffle staff.
These funds are expected to be paid when the NHL officially announces that games have been canceled as opposed to postponed.
7,500 meals to doctors, nurses and employees at local hospitals
The Golden Knights made franchise history Saturday overcoming a three-goal deficit to come back and win for the first time. They did it against the defending Stanley Cup Champions and a team Vegas had lost four straight to, the St. Louis Blues.
It was certainly one of the most memorable regular season games in Golden Knights history, so we put a poll on Twitter to see how many would rank it atop the list.
Is that the best regular season win in franchise history?
Of course, posting it 20 minutes after the game ends leads to a bit of recency bias, so I decided to go back through the record books and look for the best regular season games the Golden Knights have ever won. Here are the 14 I came up with.
The first half of the first-ever Dad’s Trip started out well for the Golden Knights as they took a 2 goal lead. With Malcolm Subban in net against his big brother PK, Vegas surrendered three straight sending them into the final minute down a goal. With the goalie pulled, Erik Haula netted the game-tying goal to send the game to OT and eventually shootout. Subban stopped six shootout attempts to help seal one of the most impressive road victories in franchise history.
Things got off to a poor start as Philadelphia spent a majority of the first 10 minutes in the Vegas zone, scoring once, but the tide turned in a hurry quickly after. The Golden Knights scored four 1st period goals to head to intermission at 4-2. Fleury stopped a penalty shot, Jon Merrill scored while playing forward, and Pacioretty scored twice. The game got really interesting at the end as a pair of penalties forced the Golden Knights to kill off a 5-on-3 in the dying seconds of the game. Brayden McNabb played penalty kill hero and the Golden Knights sealed their 3rd straight win of the homestand.
At the time, it wasn’t a guarantee that Marc-Andre Fleury would even be available for the first time his new team would face his old one. He was able to return from injury one game before and made the emotional start against the Penguins. The crowd was fairly close to 50/50 but everyone was cheering for the Golden Knights goalie. A late Jon Merrill goal won the game for Vegas and Fleury allowed just one goal to beat the Penguins.
The Golden Knights were rolling on the team’s first homestand despite losing Fleury a few games earlier. This was a tight game throughout and Vegas used two power play goals to take a 2-1 lead. Then, Malcolm Subban injured his knee and Oscar Dansk was forced to come in and make his NHL debut. One of the first shots he saw tied the game and it appeared it was only a matter of time that St. Louis would put another by him and win the game. But in OT, William Karlsson’s first goal of the year won it for the Golden Knights and the magical run to start the inaugural season continued.
In terms of entertainment, it doesn’t get much better than a game with 10 goals and is decided in shootout. Vegas fell behind 3-1 after allowing two power play goals to Mike Hoffman. The next three goals went to the Golden Knights to give Vegas a 4-3 lead. Florida took a 5-4 lead late into the 3rd but former Panther Reilly Smith tied it up with a shot that fluttered past the goalie and into the net. The shootout was a goalie battle as Fleury stopped all three and Theodore tallied the game winner. It was also Mark Stone’s second game as a Golden Knight
If the Golden Knight fan base ever needed a regular season victory, it was this one. After the nightmare that was Game 7 ending the previous season, the pent up anger from the summer all came out on Opening Night. Like seemingly every Sharks/Golden Knights game, Vegas scored in the first five minutes, and then again in the first 10 but it wasn’t a cakewalk as San Jose cut the 2-0 to 2-1 in the 1st. It was Cody Glass’ first career goal in his first career game that gave Vegas the cushion they needed. The only thing this game was missing was an Evander Kane ejection, but that’s only because that happened a few nights earlier when the two teams met in the preseason leading to Kane being suspended for the first three games of the year.
Gallant says he absolutely considered using Gusev in the series but basically said in the end it came down to the fact that he didn't fully know the systems and it wasn't worth the risk. Opted for Pirri and he thought he played great in Game 7.
A major part of this season for the Golden Knights has been battling through injuries and the suspension of Nate Schmidt. With just one game left on the schedule, Vegas has played just 26 of the 81 games (32%) with their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen intact.
12 of those games have come since the trade deadline when Mark Stone was acquired and the Golden Knights have won 10 of those 12 games. Prior to the deadline, Vegas was healthy for just 14 of the first 63 games (22%).
By healthy, I mean not missing any of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch (or Erik Haula), Nate Schmidt, Brayden McMabb, Deryk Engelland, and Shea Theodore.
In those 14 games, the Golden Knights won just five. They’ve played 48 of the 81 games without a top-six foward, and have won 26 of them. They’ve been without at least one of their four primary centers 38 times and won 19 of them. And they’ve been missing a top-four defenseman nine times and won four.
Going into this exercise (because of these two tweets), I was expecting to see a team that thrived when healthy and floundered when not. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, the Golden Knights have been basically the same under any circumstance. Except for one… since the beginning of “The Stone Age.”
They have a winning record when missing at least one top-six forward and are above a point per game when missing either a center or a top-four defenseman.
Looking at the roster, the Golden Knights appear to be fairly deep. Lose a top-six forward, you can plug in Brandon Pirri, Tomas Nosek, or hopefully Erik Haula. Lose a top-four D and Nick Holden, Colin Miller, or Jon Merrill can take the place. Go without a center and Tomas Nosek or Ryan Carpenter can fill the void.
This is all good news heading into the postseason, where injuries will inevitably happen. As of right now, with just one game left to play, the Golden Knights are about as healthy as a hockey team can be. Since getting Stone, that’s meant nothing but winning, hopefully, it continues starting next week.
**These are NOT real 3rd jerseys for the Golden Knights.**
Around the league many teams have unveiled “3rd Jerseys” this season. There are throwbacks like the Ducks and Coyotes, brand new designs like the Avalanche and Jets, and some slightly off the wall ones like the Hurricanes and Devils. You can see all 15 of them here.
The Golden Knights will NOT be getting a 3rd jersey this season and odds are it’s not even in the cards for next year either. However, eventually Adidas, the NHL, and The Creator will want to pick up a couple extra bucks and a 3rd jersey will be unveiled. With a little inspiration from the Drumbots and the Season Ticket Holder Box, we decided to take a stab at a concept.
These concepts were designed by Drew Goldfarb, former pre/postgame host for the Florida Panthers who has adopted the Golden Knights as his new team of choice.
So, without further ado, here is the “Vegas Born Golden Knights 3rd Jersey Concept.”
This guy is going to have to be much better if the Golden Knights are going to beat the Wild for the first time ever. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
When the schedule was first released it didn’t take most long to realize the quirk in the Golden Knights first 11 games of play. One at home, then five away, then five at home. Both the longest road trip and longest homestand, back-to-back to start out the season.
This odd schedule arrangement put the Golden Knights in a bit of a weird spot with seemingly more importance on the first game than normal. With a win, Vegas would head on the road already with two points in hand and really would only need a few points to stay afloat through the rigorous start to the year. However, they dropped Thursday night’s game and now stare at a five-game trip in which they really need to return with at least five points.
We knew we were a good team (last year), we know we’re a pretty good team again this year, but you got to get back to work. We have to work hard and play the game that we played last year. Tonight wasn’t a good start. -Gerard Gallant
Just look at the numbers. If the Golden Knights get anything less than five points, they’ll return home with just four or fewer in their first six games. Then, even if they sweep the five-game homestand, that’s still only 14 in 11, and that’s unlikely. It’s more likely they drop at least one of the five at home which would mean at best barely a point per game through an eighth of the season. Not a single time last season did the Golden Knights fail to put up at least 10 points in any 11 game stretch. A less than five point road trip would almost assure that to be the case in the first 11 this year.
I’m aware, I’m jumping ahead drastically after one game, but in the NHL, the standings are fickle. If you fall in a hole early, it’s incredibly tough to get out of it. It takes months to make up lost points, especially lost home points.
Road trips are always important to bring home as many points as you can, but we really can’t focus on anything but the next one. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
A win tonight in Minnesota basically erases the loss to Philly, but a loss, even in OT, would instantly put the Golden Knights behind the 8-ball staring at four more consecutive road games including a back-to-back in Washington and Pittsburgh.
Last year, when this team was faced with important games, they always found a way to get them (until the last four, but we’ll skip that for now). This isn’t exactly that scenario, but it’s surprisingly close due to the weird schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if the Must-Win-Golden-Knights still exist or if they were left behind in Year One.
This is the raw audio from every end of season interview we were a part of in the Golden Knights locker room. The voices heard in order are, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, David Perron, Reilly Smith, William Carrier, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, Nate Schmidt, William Karlsson, Nate Schmidt (again), Brayden McNabb, and Luca Sbisa.
Tonight is Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Winnipeg Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights. It will be the first home game of the series for the Golden Knights and the first home game since they won Game 5 of the 2nd round against the Sharks on May 4th. The series is 1-1 and in tied series the winner of Game 3 going on to win about 70% of best of seven series.
Add it all up and you have no choice but to come to the conclusion that this is the biggest game in the history of the franchise and the biggest game for just about every single player on the roster. Yet, morning skate and the locker room after looked as if it was just another day at the office.
That’s the coolest thing about our group. Our guys just feel like it’s another game. We’re just having fun. We’re the same way at the rink, same way in the locker room, meetings are the same. (We) keep the pressure on the outside of the room, that’s kind of the way we’ve been handling things all year. Guys are still giving each other crap before games, it’s the same banter as usual, and it’s helping our guys calm down before games. -Nate Schmidt
If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if this was Game 47 against Columbus or a pivotal Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
This isn’t normal.
We had a lot more pressure on our team (in Washington) to win, so yeah it’s a different feeling for sure. -Schmidt
I feel differently about this group. We’re such a tight-knit group. It’s just fun to come to the rink and battle with these guys. -Shea Theodore
It’s important to stay the course no matter what, that’s how we got here. -David Perron
Smile, laugh, joke, who cares? It’s not like Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is in your home building tonight. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Those are three players who were in the 2nd Round or further last season and they all agree this team is different.
They are different because everything remains the same. The same guys stepped on the ice first to start morning skate. They maintained the same tradition of putting the players with the closest connection to the night’s opponent in the center of the stretching circle (Reaves and Eakin got the nod tonight both being from Winnipeg). They ran the same drills. They stayed on the ice for the same amount of time as they always do, and then they went to the locker room and it had the exact same feel it’s had every single game throughout this inaugural season.