The Vegas Golden Knights are off to the best start for an expansion team in NHL history
After talking to Jason Pothier from SinBin.Vegas, a Las Vegas based website dedicated solely to the Golden Knights, I believe there are three reasons to think the Vegas squad, as currently constructed, can win a Stanley Cup in its first season.
When you consider that at the time of this writing, the Golden Knights are 27-9-2 (56 points), which is good for first in the Western Conference, and only trailing the Tampa Bay Lighting (29-8-2 / 60 points) you get the sense this is no “early-season fluke.”
As a matter of fact, the best NHL expansion team of all-time was the 1993-94 Florida Panthers, who recorded a season record of 33-34-9.
This shows you the season the Golden Knights are having is even less like an aberration and more like an established franchise making an annual push for the playoffs.
So how have the Golden Knights been so successful, and how can the win the Stanley Cup?
- SPEED: Speed kills in the NHL, and the Golden Knights are killing teams with it. They are currently second in the league in goals per game (3.5), and have five players that already recorded 10-plus goals on the season. Combine scoring with the ‘average time on ice’ for the top scores at around 17 minutes per, and you’ve got the recipe for fast paced, high octane offense game after game.
- PUCK POSSESSION: Much like time of possession in football, puck possession is crucial to NHL success. The Golden Knights are one of the best in the league when it comes to possessing the puck and, just like in football, when you posses the puck, you spend a lot less time playing defense, which is a decided advantage for offensive minded teams.
- GOALTENDING. When you don’t possess the puck, you must defend the goal, and that’s another area where the Golden Knights excel. The combination of veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (8-1; 1.77 GA), who won a Stanley Cup last year with the Penguins, and PK Subban’s younger brother Malcolm Subban (10-2; 2.25 GA), have proved nearly impassable for opposing teams. Many teams have relied upon their goaltenders to carry them through a playoff run — Flurry having done it last year, and this year’s Golden Knights may be no exception. Having two ace goalies, however, both of whom could carry you through a series or more, and you’ve got real problems if you’re the rest of the NHL.
-Dave Carney, DAVE@580WKTY.com