All season long the eyes of the hockey world have been on the Eastern Conference. Based on performance and deep lineups the odds suggest an Eastern Conference team will be named the 2023 Stanley Cup champion. Through 67 games, the Golden Knights are making analysts, computer models, insiders, and pundits rethink their position.
On Saturday, Vegas casually shut out the high-powered Carolina Hurricanes to record the team’s 20th victory against the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night in Philadelphia they can add to that total.
VGK vs the Eastern Conference (30 Games)
- .700 Points Percentage
- 3.45 Goals Scored Per Game
- 2.70 Goals Allowed Per Game
- Shutout CAR, 1 Goal Allowed vs TOR
- Jack Eichel vs East: 26 Points (13G, 13A)
Left on the schedule from the East are the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vegas will likely be a sizable favorite in both games. In 30 eastern matchups the Golden Knights would have a total of of 44 cross-conference credits. That’s 47% of Vegas’ 88 total points. Talk about flipping the script.
The message the Golden Knights sent to the East this season has been loud and it’s been heard.
They’re a good team. They hunker down in front and we knew that coming in. That got us behind the eight ball. In the 2nd period we weren’t very good, but we didn’t give up much. Just one bad bounce and it was a breakaway. Then we were down two. We had a good 3rd. We pushed, we just couldn’t get one by them. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach
Not only did the Golden Knights blank the Hurricanes, they also held the Toronto Maple Leafs to one goal back in October. On top off sweeping the Canes and Leafs, Vegas did the same to the Canadiens, Capitals, Lightning, and Senators in their two-game sets.
— Chartball (@chartball) January 22, 2023
Vegas has fared well in tight games against the Eastern Conference as well. The Golden Knights defeated Philadelphia, Tampa, Toronto, and Washington in overtime and Boston, Columbus, and New Jersey in shootouts. Overall, the Golden Knights made use of every opportunity they had against franchises in the East.
The big question will be, can their success vs the East continue if they reach the Stanley Cup Final? It’s likely that one of those teams the Golden Knights frustrated in the regular season would be the opponent. It’s far too early to begin handicapping the championship round but Vegas should feel comfortable in any matchup. Especially, if Vegas’ best players perform as they did in cross-conference battles this season.
The Golden Knights have proven to the East that they’re a serious threat but unfortunately, Vegas has to get through the Western Conference first.