The Vegas Golden Knights continue to defy the odds as they continue to win. They have gone 7-0-1 in the first eight games of the season, the first time that an NHL expansion team has been able to accomplish this feat. Looking at their success begs the question, how have they been able to accomplish such a great record? Let’s take a look at several factors that have contributed to that success and look forward to the next few weeks. George McPhee and Bill Foley set out to create a competitive team straight from the starting line. The current record suggests that the plan has been successful.
Vegas Golden Knights Winning as they Continue to Beat the Odds
Protecting the House – Stellar Goaltending
With the acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury from the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the Golden Knights aimed to allow very few goals. Fleury immediately made his mark by backstopping the Golden Knights to a couple of wins. They opened in Texas, against a retooled Dallas Stars. Expected to lose, instead, they eked out a 2-1 victory. The victory was built on Fleury’s .978 save percentage. His dominant performances continued against the Arizona Coyotes. In a home and home against the Coyotes, the Golden Knights won by a combined score of 7-3. Then came the Detroit Red Wings. Fleury suffered a concussion in the 6-3 loss and has not played since.
Though the Golden Knights were high on Calvin Pickard, he was moved in a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the acquisition of Malcolm Subban on waivers. After starting as the number two goalie, he was quickly slotted into the starting job after Fleury was injured.
Subban won the next three games with a lot of offensive help. In his NHL debut, the rookie netminder held his former club, the Boston Bruins to a single goal. The next two games were much closer affairs, with both won in overtime. Though they were tighter games, Subban recorded his best save percentage, .974%, against a hot St. Louis Blues team. Unfortunately, for Subban, he also suffered a lower-body injury. He is still on the IR while he heals.
This brings us to Oscar Dansk. The third-stringer stepped in after the injury to Subban to complete the win against St. Louis in his NHL debut. He also notched his first win versus the Chicago Blackhawks in the following game. With his game and a half in, net the jury is still out on Dansk. That said, a win against Chicago is always impressive.
We don't have a game today, so why not just keep watching the highlights from yesterday? pic.twitter.com/0yxD4GO4bC
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 25, 2017
Playing the Numbers – Getting in Shots
Another strength of the Golden Knights has been their ability to put numbers up and pucks on net. During the first period against the Blackhawks, they were relentless. Shortly after losing the puck in their zone and falling behind by a goal, Vegas went on the attack.
Rushes through the neutral zone stretched the Blackhawks defence, creating multiple chances. The Golden Knights forwards were taking long-range shots and sending others crashing to the net. This strategy netted them two goals in a matter of minutes, giving them a lead that they never relinquished.
Luck – A Favorable Schedule
Vegas has also had a bit of luck from the schedule. Though they have beaten the Blackhawks, Stars and the Blues by thin margins, they also have four wins against the Sabres, Red Wings and two against the hapless Coyotes.
This does take away from any of their victories, however. The next few weeks should be a better barometer of long-term success. They will be away from their exceptional fan base and veritable fortress of an arena. The Golden Knights also play a number of teams with better records over that stretch. Look for the key matchups against the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators, as well as a rematch against the Bruins, on a long road swing. These games will give a much better indication of the make-up of this team.
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