(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
For the most part, fans only care about wins and losses, but they must remember an NHL season is a marathon, not a race. I know, blah, blah, blah.
Over the past five games, the Golden Knights have won just two of them. Many fans are up in arms screaming about blown leads, consistency, and scoring issues, but they should be happy with that stretch as their team earned at least one point in five straight games. Look at it as a competitive team finding a way to earn a point, even in a losing effort. Last night in Toronto was a perfect example of a well-earned point.
Somehow the Golden Knights found themselves in a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation against one of the better offensively skilled clubs in the league. With their backup goaltender in net, let’s face it the odds were stacked against them. Vegas held a team that averages 3.35 goals per game to one score in 60 minutes. Even more notable was the Golden Knights penalty killers allowed only one goal in six power play opportunities. That lone Leafs goal was scored 48 minutes into the game. The Golden Knights defensive plan, on purpose or not, worked and earned them a point.
A loss isn’t a loss in the NHL. Overtime losses are half a win, and that’s how I’m looking at the Toronto game. Same goes for Vegas’ overtime losses against Montreal and Winnipeg even though those are understandably tougher pills to swallow. Sure you can look at Vegas’ three OTL’s as late-game failures or you can see it as a step closer to a playoff berth.
This season, the Golden Knights have earned an average of 1.23 points per game. That’s a pace that would give Vegas 102 points by the end of the regular season. Remember, no team with at least 100 points has missed the playoffs. Over the past five games of “inconsistent” play, they’ve racked up seven points, which is good for 115 over an 82 game season.
Everyone, including the head coach, knows the Golden Knights have more to give, yet here they sit right in the thick of the playoff chase early in the season. Their PDO is 97.9, which is the 5th worst in the NHL. (For those new to PDO, read this.) They’ve scored seven fewer goals than the “expected goal” rates show and yet they’ve overcome it. The other teams with negative actual goal vs expected goal rates have all struggled mightily (SJS, DET, NJD, LAK). And, they have the league’s 4th worst shooting percentage at even-strength at just 6.47%. The last two years that number was 7.75% and 8.38%.
Put all of that together, and it all points to the same thing. The best has yet to come for the Golden Knights.
Of course, we can’t sit here and celebrate overtime losses for the whole season because eventually, they will have to start earning two points a night rather than one. But as long as they keep pace, an occasional OTL isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s getting them closer to the century mark.
It might sound too simple, and something you’d hear from a coach, but it’s true. Good teams find a way to earn a point. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve heard a coach say that.