This season there hasn’t been much that’s been able to slow down the Vegas Golden Knights. They’re currently leading the NHL in points percentage, atop the West Division by four points, and have scored 58 more goals than they’ve allowed in 50 games.
There is one team that has tripped up Vegas, and it’s the team the Golden Knights are facing tonight. The Minnesota Wild have defeated Vegas four times in six meetings, taken nine points off the Golden Knights, and remain without a regulation loss on home ice against Vegas.
With two important games coming up and the potential for a playoff series on the horizon, I thought it would be good to dig a little into the stats of how the Wild have tamed the Golden Knights this season.
First, it’s started with the paltry power play that has had 17 opportunities but only struck twice. That’s good for an 11% success rating which includes a streak of 14 straight in which Vegas has come up empty.
Next, is where the goals have come from. Vegas has been unable to keep Minnesota from the goal crease while the Golden Knights simply haven’t gotten there enough. I wrote a full piece on that before the last series.
It’s the who that has me interested today though. In the six matchups the Golden Knights have scored nine 5-on-5 goals against the Wild while allowing 11.
Seven Golden Knights players have been on the ice for more goals against than goals for at 5-on-5 against Minnesota. Those players are Alec Martinez, Dylan Coghlan, Jonathan Marchessault, Keegan Kolesar, Nic Hague, Ryan Reaves, and Tomas Nosek.
Meanwhile, only five players have been on the ice for fewer than two goals scored by the Golden Knights. Nick Holden, Reilly Smith, Kolesar, Reaves, and Carrier.
This shows an issue in depth that the Golden Knights must account for, especially on the road, against the Wild. Minnesota’s bottom-six has had success against the Golden Knights both in the scoring department and the chance-generating department. Even Alex Tuch, who has been on the ice for six Vegas goals, has just 37% of the expected goals in games against Minnesota. Digging deeper, a majority of the success has come when the Wild identify mismatches. The Wild’s top-six have feasted on Vegas’ bottom-six in limited time against.
The hope is that the addition of Mattias Janmark will help curb that problem in these final two regular-season games. However, with both of them on the road, being mindful of matchups must be front of mind for Pete DeBoer in these two games.
In the last 10 games, which the Golden Knights have a sterling 9-1-0 record in, they’ve only managed to pick up one point in the standings on the Wild. There are four points at stake these next two nights, if Vegas wants to avoid Minnesota in the playoffs, they’ll need improved power play performance, a grittier effort around the goals, and their bottom-six to hold serve against a feisty Wild group.