As we watched over the weekend, the Golden Knights easily dominated the basement-dwelling Anaheim Ducks in two straight games. It’s clear Vegas is the much, much better team. This season the Golden Knights are 6-1-0 against the Ducks and have dictated the season series except for an earlier 1-0 defeat.
They’ve done the same against pretty much every other inferior team in the division as well. It’s been that type of campaign for the Golden Knights. They mop up on inferior opponents, winning games by an average of 1.5 goals per game.
VGK vs. ANA, ARI, LA, SJ, STL (Combined record: 87-104-28)
119 Goals Scored
69 Goals Allowed
3.71 Goals For Per 60
2.15 Goals Allowed Per 60
48 Goal Differential
53 out of 64 Points (26-5-1, .828)
It’s no secret the Golden Knights have had an easy path to a postseason berth. Same goes for the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. All three have built strong records by defeating the teams they should. So, it’s unfair to solely mock the Golden Knights for their weak schedule.
Points Percentage vs West Division Teams
Colorado .744 PTS%
Vegas .727 PTS%
Minnesota .663 PTS%
Realistically, that’s what contending teams need to do. Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota were all handed a light schedule before the season began and have done their job gathering as many points as possible. It shouldn’t matter what level of competition they face. There’s no secret formula for beating and taking advantage of lesser opponents. However, that’ll end in early May when the regular season concludes and they have to exclusively play each other.
VGK vs. Colorado (Record: 30-9-4)
12 Goals Scored
13 Goals Allowed
3 Power Play Goals Scored
1 Power Play Goals Allowed
2.00 Goals For Per 60
2.17 Goals Allowed Per 60
-1 Goal Differential
6 Points out of 12 Points (3-3-0, .500)
VGK vs Minnesota (Record: 27-13-3)
16 Goals Scored
15 Goals Allowed
2 Power Play Goals Scored
3 Power Play Goals Allowed
2.67 Goals Scored Per 60
2.67 Goals Allowed Per 60
+1 Goal Differential
5 out of 12 Points (2-3-1, .417)
One element that should concern the Golden Knights is their lack of production on the power play inside their division.
Currently, the Golden Knights are ranked fifth in the division with a 17.4% power play percentage. Many times, less talented teams have solved the Golden Knights man-advantage strategy. Yesterday’s power-play goal from Mark Stone was the team’s first against the Ducks. It took seven games and 15 opportunities before they were able to net a man-advantage goal against a below-average Anaheim club. Come playoff time, the Golden Knights cannot rely on 15 or more opportunities in one series. If postseason games come down to special teams, Vegas will need to improve from their regular season output. Against Colorado and Minnesota, the Golden Knights power play is hitting at 14.7%, against the rest of the West, it’s 18.3%.
Goals for at 5-on-5
vs. COL/MIN – 17 in 12 games (1.41 per game)
vs ARI/ANA/LAK/SJS/STL – 89 in 32 (2.78 per game)
Goals against at 5-on-5
vs. COL/MIN – 22 in 12 games (1.83 per game)
vs ARI/ANA/LAK/SJS/STL – 55 in 32 (1.72 per game)
Colorado and Vegas have two important games coming up which could decide what team wins the division banner. However, Minnesota isn’t going down without a fight. At even-strength the numbers are close, so if Vegas can win the special teams battle in the playoffs there’s a good chance they’ll advance in a seven-game series.
It may have come against a struggling opponent on a weak schedule but yesterday’s win in Anaheim was the blueprint for Vegas’ future success. It won’t matter who they play if the Golden Knights can count on goals from a top line forward, defenseman, bottom six forward and their power play unit. Forget the lowly West Division banner, hand them the Cup.