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

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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.

Through 48 games, HR’s Playoff Probabilities Report expects Vegas to finish with the ninth-best record in the NHL but could have home-ice locked in for the opening round. Going by the trusted model, LA will likely be battling for one of two Wild Card spots. That’s if they don’t get themselves back on track like the Golden Knights seemed to do over the past two weeks.

Last Friday we pointed out the Golden Knights’ highs and lows against Eastern Conference teams. Their current cross-country trip could upend their lack of success as visitors against Atlantic and Metro clubs. Already earning three points in two games, Vegas will have a chance to go into the All-Star break picking up seven out of eight valuable road points. Even five would be considered satisfactory. Their next two games may be out of conference, but the results could be crucial for their first game back at T-Mobile Arena, especially, with Edmonton looming on the schedule for their first game back from ASG weekend.

We all know how much the Golden Knights organization loves banners. Frankly, why wouldn’t they? They’ve hung Divisional, Conference, and glitzy Championship banners in their home barn and there’s still plenty of room. Computer models may be useful but they’re not an exact science, so don’t expect Vegas to give up on another divisional banner.

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23 Comments

  1. David T

    It’s waaay too early to make that type of prediction. It’s as accurate as someone doing mock drafts in the NFL. A lot can happen in 33 games. A LOT!

  2. While the popular talking point might be about having to win 16 games regardless of who your opponents might be…my talking point is we do not want to have to face the oilers in a 2-3 matchup in the opening round…I expect the canucks to play to what their expected level was thought to be the last 35 games or so…of course I’ve been expecting that the last 20 games too!!…I do believe vgk can still capture the division once we get our injured boys back and they start seeing and reaching for the finish line.. the next 2 games will be important.. rangers will be in a pissy mood after their poor road trip in particular!

  3. Richie-Rich

    Based on the current standings its the easy thing to pick Vancouver as the Division Winner. Is that realistic? No, of course not. Can Vancouver maintain this performance for the remainder of the season? They certainly do not have the historical foundation to stand on.

    On the other hand, the VGK are in good shape winning points without their top players. It’s basically the Golden-Silver Knights.

    It’s way too early to be thinking that the VGK isn’t going to win the Division.

    Stop it.

    • Frank

      This!!! Exactly. VGK have had a rough go with the injuries lately and are still banking points most nights. The Canucks and Oliers have to come back down to earth at some point. As long as we get healthier and have key contributors back on the ice, we’ll finish the season strong. It would not surprise me if the 1,2,3 spots in the division are very close at the end of the year and the VGK could be in any one of those spots!

  4. JB

    Winning the division comes down to A) – WHEN do we get back Jack, Theo and the rest of the injured guys and 2) – Our goalies, especially Hilly, staying healthy and playing well. Of course we would rather not play Edmonton the first round, but if we do, just beat the bastards, that’s all!

  5. RR – these types of articles serve ZERO purpose we all know and are only published to fill in space. Have to keep Ken busy. LOL Unfortunately, the majority of “news” the media in general publishes falls into the same category. Anything to sell papers it’s referred to. The team is well aware of the fact it’s one game at a time which is the determining factor of where they will end up. Worrying about competition is only useful to determine what VGK has to do to beat them regardless of where they stand in the points. Hopefully they can pull off another win or two before returning home.

    • ThG

      Jason wrote this, not Ken.

      VGK are in same position they were two years ago, but with a much weaker roster this time around. If they can hold then kudos to the organization. Hopefully the injured players come back soon, and all of whoever has played the games knows the it is not plug and chug. Players coming off IR have to get 1) their legs (wind)2)timing back and get their head , mentally at a good spot. It’s not easy.

  6. Pistol Pete

    What does anybody think about Marchy here sort of calling out Cassidy after he was pretty harsh about the team’s performance in what I think amounted to blowing the Devils game though I do think Bruce was a bit heavy on it? Marchy here comes out and says it does not matter what the coach thinks about how the team played.

    https://x.com/goldenknights/status/1750021560444846322?s=46

    I do think there will be games where through no fault of their own the roster just can’t close a game out. They know what they have to do but that night it is not happening. But they should cut the coach some slack when he gets frustrated. He’s does a good job, it generally fair and most important coached the team to a Cup.

    • ThG

      he gone next year, teams don’t like pipsqueaks or pop guns ; if he pisses off coach.

    • PP – it’s one thing to know what they should do it’s another thing in executing what’s necessary to win. If Cassidy got under their skin a little too bad – they talk about how they play after games when interviewed and normally without exception indicate, they just didn’t play well enough – normally Cassidy defends their actions so obviously a wake call was in order. Whether Marchie like it or not it was definitely in order. It apparently was a wakeup call to everyone else even him.

    • JB

      I love Marchy, but it is known he does not respond well to any type of criticism ! Thats his onebiggest fault I think.

      • Earl the Replanted Transplant

        Correct – the proof is in his interview about St. Patrick…Roy that is. He whined about how Roy picked on him.

    • Debra Ann Dunagan

      I, personally, think Marchy was out of line, like he didnt’ want to admit they screwed up. They have a great coach and need to listen.

    • NAM

      I think Marchy played like crap (or at least not what he is capable of) for a long stretch this season up until the last couple of games. Not talking goals here, talking overall 200ft play. His passing is very very bad. I am not sure he can call any one out. Bruce says what he thinks. Some losses he says the team played great, we just didn’t win and some losses he says the team imploded and lost because they sucked tonight. I think 81 gets hurt feelings, gets pissed off and then plays better. The same thing happened in the playoffs. Not sure I care about the lip service at this point. The guy needs desperately to work on his passing and his ability to one-time a perfectly setup shot (he won’t take it and instead stops the puck looking for a wrist shot, while the other teams defense shifts into place).

      • Pistol Pete

        Yeah but 25 pts (13 G/12 A) in the playoffs was outstanding. Wayne Gretzky thought Eichel was all around the best player and deserved the CS and I agreed but was more than happy Marchy got it. Question now is, does Management believe he can have another postseason run because if not then what?

  7. Walt

    the Vgk do NOT want to be on the road in game 1 and game 2 of the playoffs.

  8. JB

    Sometimes starting on the road in playoffs might not be so bad. The home team has to win both games . The road team only needs a split to be successful .

  9. JB…wrong wrong wrong way of thinking… there’s a reason and rationality for teams to strive to have that home ice advantage!

    • JB

      Settle down there Larry. I said sometimes. Of course teams strive for home ice. But sometimes being on the road, especially in round one, can be a successful situation. Such as Florida and Seattle last year.

  10. Earl the Replanted Transplant

    Correct – the proof is in his interview about St. Patrick…Roy that is. He whined about how Roy picked on him.

  11. Is anyone aware that #81 is the reigning ‘fuckng’ M. V. P!!!…Mister Conn Smythe!!..and has more heart and substance than most of us wish we had!!!

  12. Thank you kindly Minny!

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